40 Days of Decluttering
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Until we bought our home Mr. Kiwi and I had moved every year for the previous six years. First individually, each year at college, and then together in our new hometown. Moving every year is a great way to reset and go through all of your items. It helped to make sure we didn’t start hoarding all of our garbage finds, hand me downs, or things we bought. Also, we were always living in small spaces, sometimes with only a 10’x10′ space to ourselves, so we couldn’t own things that weren’t important.
Then, we accomplished the American dream, and bought a suburban home of our own. While we don’t own a mansion, we do have more than enough space for our pack, which we proceeded to fill. First, we got the guest bed, so we can host overnight guests. Then we took our childhood items that our parents had been storing for us. Next, my parents downsized, so we inherited some of their furniture and decor. Finally, we started getting serious about woodworking, crafting, and creating and splurging a bit excessively and ambitiously on those hobbies.
It is awesome to have all of this space, but our home has quickly filled up, and the walls are closing in on us. Our basement shelves are full of hand-me-downs and neglected items, and our cupboards are brimming with pint glasses.
I’m slow to commit to this being our forever home, but it is our for now home. And I thrive in a space that is uniquely mine. As we’ve filled the nooks and crannies, the simple charm of our 1960s home has faded.
So, in 2018 I am committed to building a better space to create more and consume less. Which, for me, starts with subtraction.
Subtracting 40 Things
I recently finished Cait Flanders’ book The Year of Less, which is a wonderful and raw account of her year long shopping ban and so much more. I knew before opening the book that I wanted to decrease my attachment to physical things, and I hoped the book would inspire me to take on some form of a minimizing challenge.
I thrive when I have a constrained and focused time to devote my energies towards a measurable goal. So, unsurprisingly, I chose to jump on the call from Ms. 99 to 1 Percent to join a frugal Lent challenge. Thus, Mr. Kiwi and I have set the following goal:
We will each get rid of one item every day during Lent.
That will be eighty items in total, and we will not be able to count any of those items we have sitting near the door currently ready to donate.
40 days, 80 things lighter
Like any good challenge, we built some structure and rules:
1. The items must be out of the house at the end of the 40 days, and we can:
- Sell the items,
- re-home the items to a friend or community member, or
- donate the items.
2. No need to get rid of one item every single day, we can do it in batches.
3. Sets of things count as one thing. (No getting rid of extra pens and counting each individual pen.)
4. I will track the 80 items that Mr. Kiwi and I get out of our home.
Ideally we’ll be able to re-home most items, since much of what gets donated ends up in a landfill. Read this to help prevent sending clothing to the landfill. And, while I’m excited that at the end of the forty days our home will have fewer things, I’m hoping that it is a long enough period that we will have reduced our attachment to many physical items.
Minimalism and Decluttering Resources
Before reading Cait’s book I watched some documentaries and read some other books about simplifying, minimizing, and decluttering. Here are some of my favorite resources:
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- The Minimalists (podcast, books, and documentary)
- Becoming Minimalists – Joshua Becker
- The Frugalwoods decluttering strategy
And, thanks to an awesome reader suggestion, also check out The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson. Thanks! I put it on hold at my local library!
Our Why of Decluttering
Over the past three years we have gotten pretty good about not buying things that don’t align with our values. However, our home is still filled with things we bought before setting our current path (or have been gifted). I know we spent money on many of the items (even if they were from yard sales), and long term we may have a use for them, but I would like to be more intentional about the items we have.
Staying in one place long term should not equal filling it with things. I hope to develop my own form of frugal minimalism, where I keep a spare or two, but not twenty. I want organization and simplicity, so I’m rarely running around looking for a tape measure.
And I hope to recognize the things that we have that we simply won’t use, find acceptance, and get them to someone who will.
Finally, we are decluttering and simplifying beyond physical items. We canceled Netflix, drive less, don’t shop aimlessly, and have reduced restaurant eating.
Check back Wednesday for what new/used items I plan to bring into our home in 2018, and which items land on our shopping ban list.
If you are interested in taking on a frugal Lent challenge, check out the roundup at 99 to 1 Percent.
Do you have a favorite challenge? Are you minimizing or decluttering? Are you planning a frugal Lent challenge?