Minimalism: What I Learned by Getting Rid of 365 Things in One Year

Something I kept: What I Learned by Getting Rid of 365 Things in One Year

Minimalism: What I Learned by Getting Rid of 365 Things in One Year

 

Last year, I had a lofty goal to get rid of 365 things in my home by the end of the year.  The motive was mainly because I was pregnant and nesting, let alone and panicking about living in 450 square feet with a baby.  The ‘things’ that I had to get rid of had to be something that I wasn’t going to throw away anyway (for example, an empty milk carton).

To document how many items I had gotten rid of, I would put a check mark in my day planner when I got rid of something.  If I got rid of 10 things at once, I would mark off ten days in 2017.  One day I did a major purge but it still only got me to about June (or about 180 items).  Most of the time, I was about 30 days ahead.  Sometimes, it got a bit too close for my liking, or about 10 days ahead.

Then I would panic and then proactively think about what else I could get rid of.

There were many things I got rid of, including a souvenir of a ceramic ladle holder from a friend who traveled to Portugal, ceramic tea light holders, old snowboarding boots, photos from high school where I don’t even remember the name of the person in the picture, blank DVDs (I don’t even have a Macbook that has a CD/DVD port anymore), and personal finance books that didn’t “Spark Joy” for me.

I tried selling these for $10. No one wanted them.

I admit, the above picture of a sandstone slab is still sitting on my desk, and I could not have the heart to throw it out.  It still “sparks joy” for me (a la Marie Kondo) because it reminds me of my time in Antelope Canyon.

I sorted the 365 items into these categories:

 

  • Donate– I donated clothes into the donation bins scattered around the city.  I also put some items near the large garbage bins in my condo alley, where things that I set out often disappeared after 2 hours or sometimes overnight.  Our Ikea Poang chair that we got rid of in the pouring rain even disappeared after 2 hours (it was soaked, but someone still wanted it)!  We also have a community book nook (or whatever those things are called where you can drop off a book or pick up a book) where I put books and other knick knacks.
  • Sell– I would sell things on Varage Sale, Letgo, Craigslist, or at the local consignment store.
  • Throw Away- Things that I felt wouldn’t sell or no one would want would be thrown away
  • Recycle– Things that I felt wouldn’t sell, or no one would want, but could be recycled, would be recycled.

I sold this for $15 (bought for $35) from Letgo

Here are some takeaways that I learned after getting rid of 365 things last year:

 

i have a lot of stuff

365 things is nothing.

I still have so much more in my home that I could potentially get rid of.

However, my home is not just my home anymore, and I don’t think my husband will appreciate me throwing away his things.  He does see that I get into episodic panic-mode purging sessions in an attempt to create more space in our small space.

Realizing that I have a lot of stuff makes me realize that I don’t need to consume, and I don’t need to buy, unless I really ‘need’ something.

i’ll never get to the ‘ideal’ minimalist home that i see on instagram

Despite getting rid of one thing a day, there’s still a lot of things that are ‘visible’ in my home and I’ve come to accept that I won’t ever get that Instagram ideal of a minimalist home with no clutter in sight.  After all, I have a baby, and despite an attempt at baby minimalism, we have two baby carriers (which we use), and a lot of onesies.

For example, the Instant Pot takes up a ton of room on my counter space, but I don’t have room to put it in the cupboards, and I use it so often that it doesn’t make sense to hide it away.

i was getting rid of stuff for sake of getting rid of stuff

Another thing I noticed as I was checking off the days to 365, was that I was getting rid of stuff for the sake of getting rid of stuff.  Some things turned out to be helpful if I still had it.  But it was too late as I already threw the item away already.  I threw away some cold weather sweaters that probably would have been helpful in this cold weather.  I also threw away a pair of comfy pants that would have been nice to lounge around in.

be careful what you buy, because it might be worthless later

Now when I buy something, I am very careful to evaluate whether I really need it.  Of course we don’t need things (we only need love, shelter, food, and the Internet, ha) but when you have to painstakingly get rid of something later, you’ll think twice about buying it.  Like, for example, my Via Spiga boots I bought for $200+ which is a money regret for me.  They were the cat’s meow, until I wore them and they weren’t comfortable.  Then they just sat in my closet for the past two years (I wore them under 10 times).  I recently tried selling them at the consignment store on a mission to get rid of 365 things, but because they weren’t Valentino or something higher end, they won’t sell it in their store.

Also, I learned that I think my stuff is worth more than others would want to pay for it.  My ‘market value’ is higher than other’s market value and there is a discrepancy.

I have to take the ego out of ‘my stuff’ and tell myself these things are not permanent and I do not have any use for it, therefore I should not be so attached to it.

setting boundaries helped

Setting boundaries helped me get rid of things, especially if I thought someone might be interested in buying it.  I would list certain things to sell, like the aforementioned Airwalk snowboarding boots, and when no one would bite after a set time period (I usually gave it 2-4 weeks), then I would just get rid of it.  No one wanted to buy those snowboarding boots so I deleted the listing and just put it in the back alley and low and behold, someone picked it up within 2 hours.

Setting boundaries helped, otherwise, I would have just kept them thinking that ‘someone’ would want them ‘eventually’ (who knows when eventually will actually come?) and then I would continue to keep it.  Which doesn’t help my goal towards minimalism.

And that’s what I learned by getting rid of 365 things in one year.

Readers, have you ever regretted getting rid of some things?  Do you hold on to some things that “Spark Joy” for you even though you know deep down inside, they didn’t?

What I Learned by Getting Rid of 365 Things in One Year

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About genymoney

GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle.

26 comments on “Minimalism: What I Learned by Getting Rid of 365 Things in One Year

  1. GYM, We moved last year and did a big purge. As we have settled into our new house, invariably there have been a few things we could have used that we got rid of. But, we got 90% of it right and that’s better to me than keeping everything for fear of needing it later. Tom
    Tom @ Dividends Diversify recently posted…Blogroll PleaseMy Profile

  2. I love to get rid of stuff, and claim back the space. Less stuff, less hassle. About 6 years ago, I was doing house hunting. Most of the houses I visited were full of stuff, including basement and garage. Typical American way of living. There was an exception: one house was so organized and clean, even the garage was free of any stuff. It would be lovely to keep a house like that!

    • @Helen- It’s such a turn off to buy a place when it’s completely cluttered 🙂 Less stuff less hassle indeed! My mom is a major hoarder, she has so much stuff. She has a table in the dining room area and you can’t see the table it’s covered with stuff haha!

  3. Hi GYM, it seems the longer you live in your home the more junk you acquire. We have lived in our home for 20 years and have purged a few times over the years. Now if we are not using something we get rid of it.

    • @Steve- Yes…so true. We are helping clean my MIL’s house and she’s lived in it for 40+ years. There’s so much stuff to get rid of. It’s definitely more difficult to get rid of stuff unless you have a reason to get rid of stuff- like a new baby on the way or needing more room, or moving.

  4. Hi GYM!!

    Haha the same thing happened to me w/ grade 8 to maybe grade 12 photos. There were faces I knew but forgot their name. So strange that I would see a couple on the bus once in a while but we would not say hi to each other (awkward moment)!…. so yeah, I definitely threw those out though it was nice reminiscing the good ol times.

    Like you, I also sold and donated stuff that I wish I didn’t. There were those moments where I said “oh man… I wish I had that here.. I could’ve wore it.” But oh well…. >.< doesn’t kill but just nice to have for that moment you feel you need or want it.

    450 sq ft is definitely a challenge!!! I already struggled with approx 1000 sq ft! For some reason, idk how things come back. U ever get that feeling? I swear it must have been the random gifts from family and friends….. bc we didn’t buy much things for the year. We mainly spent our money on rd trips, vacation or eating out. Yikes…. this reminds me I gotta declutter again.

    PS. Nothing will ever look picture perfect like IG! It’s all staged and we will never live in a staged bright white Home with a couple pots of green plant haha.
    fin$avvy panda @ finsavvypanda.com recently posted…How To Save (and Spend) Money The Sexy WayMy Profile

    • @finsavvy panda- I was better at recognizing names when I had Facebook (I think because I could see their name on the screen) but now I am really bad with names. Yes, the clutter slowly seeps back in. I think maybe decluttering should be done on the same months as portfolio rebalancing is done haha, so it kind of resets it back to order. Haha, ‘staged bright white Home with a couple pots of green plant’ yes, that is like #homegoals. Good I feel better now- but I do have some friends who are quite minimalist and their place is like an Airbnb. They threw away all their textbooks from university. I still have some textbooks I haven’t thrown away yet, it’s on my ‘maybe’ list.

  5. Hi GYM, I did the same last year for about 6 months, just with my stuff (not house because we had done that when we moved) ! I never did get ahead like you did, it was hard to pick one item a day. I was pretty happy at the end but do look for things once in a while and remember I got rid of them!
    Caroline recently posted…Being 21 With $30,000, Who Wants To Play?My Profile

    • @Caroline- Haha, just today I ran out of Oil of Oregano for my cold and I had thrown away a duplicate bottle during my purge (thinking, I don’t get sick very often, I don’t need two bottles!). It’s a fun process isn’t it? I am doing more or less the same thing this year (throwing out stuff) but I do admit it’s more fun trying to challenge yourself and keeping track of it.

  6. Great post GYM! Minimalism is really catching on and I can see why. I feel so much better after I get rid of something that has been sitting around for a while. I usually try to get rid of at least one items each week when the trash comes almost like automating your investments it slowly rids us of our clutter.

    • @Bob- It’s the new ‘it’ thing, just like ‘hygge’ is haha. That’s a great idea, getting rid of one item each week. I don’t have the garbage truck come since I live in an apartment, but I will keep this in mind when I move out of an apartment.

  7. Nice post! I like how to set a time limit on how long you would wait to sell certain items! I over-value my stuff as well and then realize not everyone wants to pay big bucks for an old dresser haha! Can’t blame a guy for trying I guess!

    • @Shaun- It’s human nature to over value our stuff and our value is usually higher than someone’s value who has the intention to buy. We all do it. It’s easy to get attached to the ‘ego’ of the item haha.

  8. I’m positively embarrassed by how many things we had to move when we moved last year. I tried my best to be on top of the accumulation of things and keeping that under control but there’s a shocking difference between having the things you need to use regularly or occasionally and what it looked like to have a show-ready home (for sale purposes). I wanted our place to be that empty again but also wanted the comforts of our home. It’s a weird balancing act! And as I try to organize our remaining possessions (keep, donate, sell, etc), I’m struck by the need to divest ourselves of things that we don’t need while trying not to get rid of so much that we regret it. There are things that have gone missing during the move that I miss a lot!
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Cutting off my father: update 2My Profile

    • @Revanche- Thanks for visiting and sharing Revanche! I don’t think you should be embarrassed 🙂 There are tons of people who pay $100-200 a month for a storage locker for their possessions, at least your family wasn’t one of them? 🙂 Ohh it must have been amazing to have a show ready home. It’s definitely a fine balance!

  9. We went to Page, Arizona too around 5 years ago and loved going to Antelope Canyon(Upper Portion) and Horseshoe Bend. The rock formations at Antelope are awesome. Hopefully we can take Baby with Cents there one of these years.
    We have so much stuff at our place ranging from paperwork scattered around to items we save for future gifts for birthdays/Xmas that we don’t have room for furniture at our living room. But we plan to declutter when we eventually buy a home. For now we could deal with all the clutter since it’s a temporary.
    Kris recently posted…Give Me a High Five – My Five Goals for 2018My Profile

    • @Kris- I haven’t been to Horsehoe Bend but I saw pictures and it looks amazing. A grand canyon + antelope canyon when Baby is Cents is older would be a lovely trip! We don’t have much furniture in our home either. We have a small twin fold out couch that turns into a futon and our dining table folds into the wall. We had to get rid of a lot of stuff for baby GYM, but he’s worth it! (So far, we’ve got his exersaucer, foam tiles, jolly jumper, play mat/gym strewn about). Future gifts for birthdays/xmas are the best- stocking up!! We started one too (so far, two toys), my theory is that many children’s toys are just regifted haha…or bought ahead of time when there are good sales!

  10. 365 is bold! This takeaway hits the nail on the head for me:
    “BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU BUY, BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE WORTHLESS LATER”

    I try to not let anything in my house that doesn’t have value now and won’t have value later. It’s surprising how simply thinking about purchases that way can totally change how you buy things.

    I just made a list of things to buy to improve our house, so we’ll be doing another purge soon. Although we don’t buy much at all, sometimes I look around and think, “Damn! Where did all this clutter come from???” We don’t have “homes” for a lot of our things. We don’t have a table, for one, or even a place to put our laptops, so those are always strewn about. Our bags and backpacks go on this bench near the entryway, and it looks messy. For us, I think the trick will be to not go overboard with buying organizing units so everything has a place.

    And I have plenty of things that I’ve stored away and never look at. I guess I should write a post about it!
    The Luxe Strategist recently posted…Two Weeks in New Zealand: Extremely Far, Cheaper Than You ThinkMy Profile

    • @The Luxe Strategist- YES…especially with clothes and accessories. I bought this really soft leather $150 Roots purse (it’s a Canadian brand) and I just recently tried to sell it for $20, no one wants it. I’m sure if I sell my Marc Jacobs bag for $20 in a few years, someone will buy it. Ikea I find holds its value pretty well (haha even though there’s not much inherent value in Ikea furniture to be honest), and it is usually easy to sell.

      I find a lot of people don’t have a place to put laptops (when I go to my friends homes) but my husband and I both need a desk so it’s in the living room and looks messy.

      I have things stored away and never looked at too 🙁 It’s organized so well that I forget where I put it! haha…!

  11. I’m guilty of trying to take minimalism a little too far at times. When my scanner/copier/printer broke, I replaced it with a regular printer. I thought it was a good idea at the time because the new printer was cheaper, and also smaller. But now I’m remembering how nice it was to scan things at home instead of having to run to the library to use their photocopiers! I also gave away too many t-shirts last year. Of the ones I kept, I had forgotten that some of them were too big or too small, or they were made with a material I didn’t like. I ended up having to buy more t-shirts!
    Five More Years recently posted…Three Decluttering GoalsMy Profile

    • @Five More Years- Ahh having a scanner is so helpful. Sometimes there are some apps on the phone that you can use to convert a photo into a PDF “Camscanner” is one I use and it has variable success. I still think that taking minimalism too far is better than hoarding too much! Imagine if you can’t even walk in your home because there’s stuff everywhere haha.

  12. Oh gosh, I don’t think I can ever get to live minimalism life to the fullest. My bf is somewhat of a hoarder and it takes him time to finally dump things. Plus he won’t let me get rid of old toys because he ‘thinks’ we can still use it. I prefer to just donate it. However, I do have a list of things that I want to sell around the house. I just have to make the time to post it all up lol.
    Melanie, MommyFinance recently posted…Rediscover Your Blog and Boost Traffic from 0 to 1000 Views [Monthly Report]My Profile

    • @Melanie- Maybe if you have baby #2 you may be able to use it!! Toys are expensive! We plan to just hold on to the toys (even though it’s taking up space) until we are done with children.

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