The week after Christmas brings almost as many customers to the big retail stores as the week before Christmas. Shoppers flood the stores to exchange clothes for different sizes, spend their gift cards and refund items so they can buy what no one got the hint to buy them. Customers are also looking for accessories to go along with the presents they received. You need batteries for all the new toys and electronic items and new shoes and a purse to match the new outfit. One of the retailers I worked for had an ad campaign that started after Christmas based on the theme “the stuff you need for the stuff you got”.
It seems that stuff just leads to more and more stuff. A new TV leads to a new TV stand, a Blu-Ray player and home theater system. You’ll need someplace to keep all your new Blu-Ray discs and someplace to store all those old DVDs you just replaced. New clothes lead to matching clothes and accessories. Stuff grows exponentially.
Every general merchandise store has every kind of storage crate you can imagine advertised. They know that you need at least one more crate to store the new decorations you bought this year. Old toys need to be packed up to make room for the new toys. You’ll need a closet organizing system to fit in the new clothes and accessories. Where are all the new storage totes going? Even with the new organizers, the closets are packed. Last year you started parking one of your cars outside so you could use half of the garage to store your barely used exercise equipment. Space is getting tight. It’s time to check the budget and see if you can afford a bigger house or if it would make more sense to just put an addition on the current house.
You can get so caught up in stuff that you never notice when the line is crossed and the stuff starts owning you instead of you owning it. Take this time to resolve to make 2011 the year you return to the right side of the line. Instead of buying the closet organizer, go through your closet and remove the items you haven’t worn in the last year. Donate them to a local shelter. Don’t buy totes to store old toys. You know the toys that the kids never play with anymore. Teach your children about giving and let them come with you when you give their old toys to a Children’s Home. Sell the unused exercise equipment and use the money to pay down debt. Resolve to make 2011 the year you evaluate everything you own and simplify your life by clearing out your clutter.
I got my start in minimizing my possessions through the writings of Tammy Strobel, Everett Bogue, and Leo Babauta. The books “The Art of Being Minimalist” and “The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life” are great resources that can help you begin and complete the process of simplifying your life. If you follow their advice, you can empty your storage totes, park your car in the garage again and move to a smaller house.
A common Christmas wish is for Peace on Earth. You won’t be able to grant that wish, but you can bring some peace to yourself and your family. When you choose to take control of your stuff, when you remove the clutter surrounding you, when you cut the unnecessary expenses out of your life, you free yourself from the responsibilities and the financial burden associated with them. This freedom leads to peace.
If you already bought those new storage totes and organizers, TAKE THEM BACK! Get a refund and use the money for something practical, like one on the resources on my recommended reading page.
Will you resolve to make 2011 the year of less stuff? Please leave a comment and let the world know that this year, stuff is not going to win!