Thursday, May 10, 2012

I have too many things

Nagging at my mind over the last six weeks is the fact that I haven't posted my budget nor spending numbers for what I think is three months now. It's only a gentle nagging though, nothing like the feeling I get when I see piles of clutter in every room of my house. There are stacks of books in the basement, piles of mail on the kitchen counter, random knickknacks on the coffee table. I've gotten used to spending a significant portion of the weekend tidying. I didn't think to question it. But maybe there's another way. Maybe not everyone fights this literal battle against entropy so fiercely as I do.

Maybe I have too many things. Maybe if I had fewer things I would spend less time looking at them and I could spend less time organizing them. And yet, for any given pile of stuff I look at, I feel a psychic resistance toward eliminating any one item from my life. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, to some extent at least.

Looking at piles is exhausting. Processing piles is exhausting. When I have the energy to put my things away, to order the piles, I feel temporary relief. But the piles remain in one form or other. They are a tax on me, constantly, and one which is proportional to the size and number of piles I own.

I can think of only one solution. Fewer piles! I'm trying harder to recognize useless things I don't need and to trash them. I'm making piles of books and clothes (and beanie babies) to be donated, and listing other piles of books and electronics for sale.

My effort has been steady over the past week. My progress seems slow but I know I am moving forward. It has taken me most of my life to accumulate these possessions that surround me. It will take a while to purge them. I have this feeling that my purge will pay dividends in the future.

Items I can sell translate directly into dollars for my Stash. Items I donate show up later as more money on my tax return. Items I throw away will unfortunately end up in some landfill, but at least they won't be in my house.

This exercise shows one more reason to avoid buying things. Even if an item you buy is super useful, it still has a cost long after you pay for it. You need to manage that item for its entire life, until it ends up used and broken in a landfill somewhere. Not a thought that has me running to the mall any time soon.


  1. Keep working on those piles! I just moved and am also going through all the stuff I own, trying to get rid of it. I'm planning to take a few boxes to donate this weekend and hopefully that will make some of those piles GO AWAY!

  2. Keep at it! I've just finished my first purge and it feels great! Not that you asked but i'll put down some advice that helped me. Utilize craigslist or any local free classified. It might take some time but getting a dollar or even five is better than nothing. Failing that turn to your local free cycle network ( This is an awesome resource for getting stuff out of your place for free and not throwing it away. It's not about selling, or trading, it's just about giving. I live in Japan and find plenty of people who want to take my old books, electronics, even an old hair dryer that still worked I just had two of them. :)

    1. That's awesome. I do enjoy unsolicited advice, on this blog at least :). Freecycling is a good idea! I have heard some negative things about those services, but that was from the "buying" side of the equation. It sounds like the "selling" side is much more pleasant. Thanks!