House move

How to cut down on stuff

I’ve just moved house for the third time in two years, an activity that has forced me to focus on stuff. Actual stuff. Books, plates, old birthday cards, my collection of cords; I don’t know what they’re for but they look important.

House move
Uncle Frederick took the whole ‘moving house’ thing literally. The horses were not impressed.

I am determined not to get myself into this situation again. Hence, my stuff avoidance plan:

  1. Join a library: Do I really need to own a book titled Latin for Gardeners? No, I do not. Not only will joining a library save me loads of money, it will also mean that I’ll never have to move another heavy box full of unread paperbacks, hardcover reference texts with names like What Flower is That and sentimental things like my childhood Golden Books that I am saving for my imaginary child who will probably just want an iPad anyway.
  2. Buy all your stuff from Op Shops: Instead of buying new furniture and homewares, just buy everything from Vinnies. Then, when you move, you can give it all back. No moving required, no emotional or financial attachment to a stupidly expensive dining table or teapot and the warm glow of helping a charity fundraise (not to mention the bargain-hunting fun of it all).
  3. Get rid of your pot plants and only grow annuals: Love gardening? That’s fine but do you really need a potted lemon tree that cost over $100? No, you do not. You can still grow loads of marvellous things like herbs, flowers and veggies in pots (or better still, the styrofoam boxes that green grocers receive deliveries in – hello free!) but you can leave them behind, guilt-free, when it’s time to move. Simply empty out the soil and throw out the ‘pot’.
  4. Ask for money, consumables or experience gifts: Gift giving is a wonderful thing. It makes everyone feel good and it’s a way of demonstrating love and thought. The problem is people tend to give you stuff. Body lotions, vases, hilarious knick-knacks. It’s really tough throwing these things out or giving them away because of what they symbolise. But if you want to avoid having truckloads of possessions please, givers and receivers of the world, heed my words: give Champagne, a massage voucher or a concert ticket. Still not right? Give money – it’s the most useful gift of all.

How do you manage stuff? Are you a hoarder or a chucker? What is the best way to move through life unburdened by mountains of things and yet still have shoes to wear to a wedding?



3 comments on “How to cut down on stuff

  1. It’s an admirable goal. While I find it difficult to throw things out (mainly because I hate wasting things), too much stuff weighs you down. It hangs heavily on your sense of freedom, the sense you could up and leave whenever you like, if you like. I think the key is not to have room for storage (I fail on that one – I have a triple garage and under-house storage area) and to do a little bit of sifting all the time. If you leave it all to the next time you move, it’s waaaay too daunting.

  2. The ZenHabits website has some good tips on getting started. As a reformed hoarder the tips were useful to me:

    It’s so easy to take comfort in our things, until we wake up one day and find then swamping us.

    I’m about to move to my third house in 2 years and though I have lots of stuff, much more of it is in regular use than ever before.

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