Living Large for Less
At some point in the last few months, I came to the realization that I simply had too many things. It did not surprise anyone who knew me when I was able to fill two walk in closets in my new apartment with all of my clothes. I had so many clothes that nothing else would even fit in the closets! I live alone in an apartment with about 1,000 square feet, but I felt like I was drowning in my things. So I began the very sad task of adding up the quantities of everything that I owned. Some of the highlights: about 300 T shirts, 12 jackets, 10 bathing suits and about 40 pairs of jeans. And yet despite all of this, I kept routinely jaunting off to the mall and returning with new bags of stuff. Something had to change.
Where to Start...
I knew that Step One was just realizing that I had too many things, but that was as far as I got for a while. I was onto something, I just didn't know what. And then one day I found this finance and general life blog and I realized where I was supposed to go.
I looked at all of my things and slowly started to ask myself if any of them added any meaning or value to my life. At first I thought that they did. For example, I could hold up one bathing suit and imagine myself wearing it on some tropical island, while another I would envision wearing to a family pool party. And so on until I got to 10 different occasions and color combinations "requiring" different outfits. Step Two: realizing how ridiculous this was.
I suddenly understood that I did not in fact need 10 bathing suits. This may seem insignificant, but to me it was huge. For the first time ever I realized that my life would be no different if I bought one more article of clothing; and in fact, my life might actually be easier if I had a bit less. I didn't actually want to get rid of anything at this point, but I convinced myself that I could sell some of my stuff and make some quick money on eBay. So I did.
Reduce, Reduce, Reduce
In the first week of "reducing" as I'll call it, I listed close to 100 articles of clothing on eBay. Not everything sold, but I still made about $100. The first time I went to the post office to send my beloved items away, I felt very sad. I thought about all of the money that I had spent on everything and all of the times I had worn these things and I was angry that for less than $100 I was giving it all away.
But after a few more rounds of this, something started to change inside of me. I started to feel happy when someone would pay me $.99 for an old T Shirt that I hadn't worn in years. I started realizing that I actually didn't need it at all, and I didn't even want it. Slowly, my closet started emptying and a few dollars would enter my bank account here and there. And better yet, I stopped buying new things. For the first time in my life, I felt happy with what I already had!
It was amazing: I suddenly cut my spending, got rid of extra stuff I didn't need, saved money for a downpayment on a house and felt happy at the same time. But the best part of all was that I could see an immediate reduction in future consumption. I knew looking forward that I could save even more because I would continue not to need the things that I realized I didn't need today. The entire facade of our culture of materialism and consumption began to fall apart right before my eyes. In essence, I had discovered minimalism.
To be fair, I have only just begun this journey, and I have no idea where it will take me, but I do know that I have made a substantial change in my present life to the benefit of my future self. I hope that as I move forward, I will continue moving in this very new and very positive direction.