ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Have Less Stuff: A Guide to Purging

Updated on August 7, 2017

My Background

In 2009 I moved to another state, and over the next several years would sleep in spare rooms of families from church, share apartments, or rent my own place. I moved a lot! Since then I've moved back to my home state, and then moved again within the state to a room in a crowded house.

Each time I moved to a place where I would have more space, I spread out to fill that space. When I rented my own apartment in another state, I managed to fill it with furniture that would only get used if I hosted massive parties. I don't host massive parties. I would nap on different couches just to make it feel like I used them.

And then I moved, and I had to figure out how to move all that stuff. And then I moved again. The biggest motivation to have less stuff was always moving, and I've moved alot. What I've discovered is that I always wanted to fill up whatever space I had after moving. Purging in order to move addressed a superficial problem (how do I move all this stuff?) but it doesn't address the root problem (why do I want all this stuff?)

The urge to have more always came back

No matter how many times I moved

moving always reminded me how much stuff I had
moving always reminded me how much stuff I had | Source

What I did then vs. what I do now

What I did then

For my years of room renting and apartment sharing, I could always count on physical space limiting my accumulation of things. I didn't have a reason to consider whether I needed something, I only considered if I had room for it. Each time I moved I had to pack all my things. This was a great opportunity to go through things and purge what I didn't need or want anymore. It felt like a great system.

Until I got to a new place or had more space. Then I found myself refilling that space with things again. More furniture. More appliances. More wall art. More decoration. More gaming systems. More equipment.

I realized I hadn't clarified my values when it came to "stuff." I had let my circumstances determine my relationship with my stuff. It was time to be more intentional about it.

What I started doing

I started with the big stuff. It was time to filter my stuff through a functionality/values lens. If I didn't use it I had better feel strongly about it in order to keep it, or else it was time to let it go.

I had a DVD collection that I couldn't remember actually watching. I liked having the collection. It spoke to my taste in films. It was a nice thing to have on a shelf in my living room. But I literally couldn't remember the last time I picked a DVD off the shelf and put it in my DVD player and watched it. (If you've read my other article on my TV viewing habits, you might know why, I had plenty of TV to watch).

Even worse, I had a PS4 that I hadn't used in 6 months. There were games I bought on Black Friday a year prior that were still in the plastic wrap. It was time to face facts. I had always fancied myself as a former gamer, but if I was going to go 6 months or more without gaming, its time to recognize it and move on. (The XBOX One from a fundraising auction was in the same category).

I had two TVs in the apartment I lived in by myself.

These were easy to purge, as they quickly sold on Craigslist (except the DVDs, I donated them to Goodwill). Please note, I had an easy time selling on Craigslist because I considered the money I made to be found money. If you're more concerned about getting top dollar for your stuff, you'll have to work a little harder than I did.

The next steps would be more difficult. Rather than take it all on at once, I made it a goal each week to do something significant to reduce my stuff. This would either be a goodwill donation, a craigslist sale, or simply throwing things away.

An old PS2 console and accessories sat on Craigslist for a while before I found a buyer. A Playstation Portable went a bit faster.

Clothes that I hadn't worn in a year or more went to goodwill in several different trips. An old set of golf clubs that I couldn't rationalize anyone paying for did the same. Lots of things that sat on shelves in the kitchen or bathroom for months just went into the trash.

What I'm doing now

My line of work had collected quite a book library. I donated a bunch to an organization that spreads those books out. Others I just donated to Better World Books. Others that are worth the effort are listed on Amazon.com if they look like they'll sell for enough money to cover the cost and be worth the time.

Its time to purge the smaller appliances (the Keurig coffee machine I stopped using, the second Light Therapy machine I bought because I didn't know which one I wanted). Now that I've gone through my books, its time to go through my old papers from school to see if anything needs saving.

Since I've moved back to my hometown, I'm also looking to see if anything can be given away. I don't want to add to my parents amount of stuff, but if I can upgrade something in their home I'd love to do it.

I've trained myself to buy stuff more slowly. If its not a consumable or a piece of clothing I'll wear often, I need to wait a few days before I pull the trigger on it. Still, it needs to be a value based decision, and not simply an amount of space I have to put stuff.

Instead of buying things, I am more okay with buying experiences. Tickets to sporting and other entertainment events. Going to the movies. Short trips into other cities.

My relationship with stuff reveals what I value

I wanted to value living, not just having

My mom and I went on a sunset cruise.  The waves were fierce that day my friends...
My mom and I went on a sunset cruise. The waves were fierce that day my friends... | Source

About Me

I'm a 34 year-old who is thinking more and more about how the decisions I make each day lead to a destination. I can't control everything in my life, but I can go to sleep tonight happy with the choices I made today.

For some of you, the topic of my writing may sound like "Life 101" and I applaud you for figuring it out before I did. Please feel free to share what you've learned along the way in the comments below.

That's a tiny house!
That's a tiny house! | Source

The "Tiny House" Movement

One of the shows I'll still watch with my parents is called "Tiny House Nation." Its one of several shows about the Tiny House Movement. I like this one best because of the hosts John Weisbarth and Zach Giffin. They are charismatic and fun to watch. They also keep the show grounded, talking about the obstacles to living a tiny lifestyle. I personally think they also keep out some of the smugness that characterize some of the other shows I've seen.

Other than the loft bed, I can see myself pursuing this in the near future. As a kid, I liked figuring out ways to have everything I needed in arms reach, while also having a place for everything. I liked keeping things neat, clean, and readily accessible. Some of the tiny houses seem like the grown up version of what I was doing as a kid. You can't have your stuff out, because there is no room to leave it out. Things have to get put away when you're done with them. And you have to seriously feel strongly about keeping something that isn't of regular use.

And the lifestyle lends itself towards living instead of having. As I started looking into the homes, one of the benefits I didn't even think about was the way lower cost of utilities, not to mention the lower cost of everything else.

What do you think of the "Tiny House Movement"

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Zac Stringham profile imageAUTHOR

      Zac Stringham 

      12 months ago from Illinois

      @karen: Thanks for the feedback! I've gone from fantasizing about being on one of those shows to making concrete plans (not necessarily being on the show, but going tiny) Who knows if they'll come to fruition, but I think I'm going to try!

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 

      12 months ago from Georgia

      I love the tiny house movement, as you know from reading my post! Nice article. I have too much stuff for my own good and I have to get rid of it if I ever hope to live in a tiny house!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)