Personal Finance Challenge #13: Minimize Your Stuff

Now you have successfully inventoried your stuff, and sold and/or given away most of your unwanted items. Now is the time to adopt some minimalist principles to keep the amount of stuff you own at a reasonable level.

As I mentioned before, two great ways to keep your stuff to a minimum is to get rid of anything you don’t use within a year, and to get rid of two things before you buy one more thing.

Another great idea is to use a 30 day buying list. We are all susceptible to impulse buying and if you simply write down the thing you want to buy on a piece of paper, and think about buying it later, perhaps the desire to buy it will go away. Once you realize you really don’t need it after all.

Now try and imagine the perfect life with the perfect amount of things. What would those things be?

With unlimited money people might buy everything their heart’s desired. But they would soon find very little enjoyment in the things they own. With each new thing you have less time to enjoy it. Pretty soon it is just sitting somewhere collecting dust, and it becomes a burden just to have it. Once again, it becomes time to get rid of it, which takes even more work. The cycle never ends…

It is time now for you to break that cycle. And the best way to do that is to really think about the most important “things” in your life. Those physical objects that you simply love and use everyday.

Come on and admit it. Out of the 100 or more pieces of clothing in your closest, you really only enjoy wearing maybe 10 of those pieces. The comfy jeans you wear all the time. That one shirt that looks so good on you. The hat or piece of jewelry you wear all the time.

The can think about this in all areas of your life. Your car, your work space, your kitchen cookware, your bathroom accessories.

The principle here is that every object in your life should add a great deal to your overall happiness. If an object does not accomplish this goal, it should be gotten rid of. No need to be carrying dead weight around.

Now sometimes their are objects that have attained a certain emotional status (nostalgic, sentimental value, etc.) in your life, but have long ago ceased to add much else to your life. It may be hard to get rid of these things for emotional reasons, but get rid of them you must. For they are now a burden to you and don’t serve much function anymore.

The best thing you can do is to create an emotional record of the object, by taking a picture of it, and saving it to a folder on your desktop entitled “Memories”. Hopefully this will serve to satisfy your emotional needs while allowing the physical object to not burden your life any more then necessary.

All of this may sound really hard to do, but know that great joy can come from having only the most important physical objects in your life and no more, and certainly no less. Each additional object you add to your life takes away from your enjoyment of all the objects you currently own. When you start viewing the physical objects in your life in this manner, it becomes much easier to enjoy them all the better!

This is our 13th challenge in The Personal Finance Challenge Series…