I’ve found in the past few years that being a homeowner and now a parent has motivated me to living more consciously concerning material goods.
Right from the start, my husband and I agreed we do not want our house cluttered with stuff, especially just for the sake of stuff. It’s one of the reasons we took nearly a year to put up pictures on the walls…. okay, that plus the painting, the floods and oh yeah, a baby on the way… but we truly wanted to decorate our home consciously.
We’ve initiated a few habits that help us to spend less, spend consciously, and reduce the “stuff.”
The first is our annual House Buying Day Purging Party! Each year on the anniversary of the date we bought our house, we purge. My friend suggested this and my husband and I both jumped on the idea. There’s a few things we sold on Amazon, some others we gave away on Freecycle, but most of it was donated at Goodwill or the Salvation Army. If you want to make more income you can always have a yard sale, but for us it was more worth it to just get it out of the house.
That first Purging Party took more than one day, obviously, so it happened that we naturally incorporated purging into our daily lives. When we switch our winter/summer clothes out, we purge. When we baby-proof our medicine cabinet, we purge. We try to employ the “one in, one out” rule, where if you buy something you first remove what it’s replacing from your house. These little habits really add up and help keep our house clutter-free and happy.
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” ~William Morris
The biggest change we’ve made for saving consciously is to put away the credit cards and only use cash. This is a hard one for me, since I was used to accumulating the rewards and just paying off the card each month. Now with a house and other bills, it’s harder to spend consciously using credit cards, and nothing takes the wind out of your financial sails like a big monthly bill each month. So we’ve made the switch, and if we don’t have the cash in hand we don’t buy it.
Wardrobes in particular can easily grow out of control, and sometimes it seems I have a lot of the same clothes. Someone shared a good tip with me once: if you can’t wear the shirt/outfit the next day after wearing any other shirt in your wardrobe (because they look so similar) then don’t buy it. This helps me restrain myself when I see another lovely raspberry top that would look great on me….
I recently read a suggestion about creating a “30 day wait list” for purchases (see action #9 in the link) and I really liked the structure of this suggestion. My husband and I do this informally- we’ve been waiting to make purchases like a house ladder, a grill, a beach tent, to see if we would really use them or if we can use what we have already instead. Writing the items down all together in one list with the dates helps prioritize and illustrate the total expense of your “want” list. I’d suggest going one step further and writing the cost down, too, so you know what you’re looking at spending. Keeping this list in Google docs shared with your partner helps with accountability and you can always have it at your fingertips!
This is kind of a no-brainer, but I’ve removed myself from ALL store email subscriptions. This includes the sites like Zulilly and of course all retail stores like White House Black Market that I used to like to browse. I’ve also signed up to be removed from all catalogs, which gives the added bonus of helping reduce paper waste. The only site I still get emails from is Groupon, since I’ve gotten several amazing deals on things I needed to purchase anyway.
Finally, my friend shared with me a tip that I’ve started to do, which is to create a “Do Not Buy” list. This list is of things we already have enough of and do not need any more in our house. Here’s some of my list:
- Candles / tarts
- Baby Clothes (under 18 months)
- Makeup (eyeshadow, nailpolish)
- Stationery, including post-it notes, pads of paper…
- Bags (purses, backpacks, luggage)
- Cleaning supplies
- Baby Toys
- Books (library first)
I’ve found when I reduce the “stuff” it makes way for the “free.” Less “stuff” means there’s less to clean, less to manage, less upkeep, less hassles… which brings in more time for myself, my family, for being outside, for pleasure and deep belly breaths.
“We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it.” ~Donald Horban
What tips do you have for being money conscious and reducing your “stuff?”