Let’s do some serious soul searching. Shopping is fun. There’s no denying that. But do you really need 50 pairs of shoes or two-dozen handbags? Is there any point in buying up to four-dozen rolls of toilet paper or 10 bottles of milk at a time?
People are always on the lookout for great deals, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The only problem is that, at some point, society’s practical approach to shopping evolved into a hoarding mentality. We all seem to want more, even when we could really do with a lot less.
Do you have too much stuff? For one out of every two people who read this, the answer—even if they refuse to admit it—is yes.
Supporters of minimalism, such as Andrew Hyde, believe that people can live comfortably with less than 40 possessions. That may be a little extreme for most, especially if you have kids, but it does lend credence to the fact that you can live a normal, happy life with less—a lot less. With property prices on the rise, space is at a premium. Cutting down on the amount of “stuff” you have lying around enables you to get the most out of your living space.
So when should you be concerned about your shopping? There’s no hard and fast rule. If you’re trying to sort out your stuff, here are some signs you can use to tell if you’re accumulating clutter and need to trim your possessions:
1. Your attic is full of boxes and you have no idea what’s in them.
2. You seem to constantly have piles of stuff in the corner of your room.
3. You buy doubles of things you already have.
4. Your family constantly expresses concern about the disarray of your home.
5. You have things lying around your home that you haven’t used in years.
6. You have shelves and closets that are hard to close because they’re overflowing.
7. You spend a lot of money buying organizers.
8. You have multiple copies of the same book or CD.
9. You have the same outfit in three different shades of the same color.
10. You save cartons, food boxes, and plastic bags for emergencies.
11. You’re constantly bumping into things when walking around your home.
12. Your energy level instantly lowers when you walk into a room in your house.
13. Every year, you consider holding a yard sale.
14. Your wardrobe and shoes take up an entire room.
15. Your car is parked outside because the garage is full of your old things.
16. You’re constantly tidying and arranging your home.
17. You feel you need a bigger home.
Fixing Your Clutter
If these signs sound familiar to you, it’s easy to feel like your clutter will never disappear—but it can. You can do something about it.
One way to trim the amount of stuff you have is to focus on value shopping. Instead of buying items because they’re cheap and affordable, buy things that you really need and that offer genuine value. Too many people’s wardrobes are filled with outfits that they never get to wear.
Don’t buy three shirts for $20. Spend $20 on one really good shirt that you will actually wear. Sometimes, choosing the more expensive option is actually the wiser course of action. Your life can become a lot simpler in the long term if you take this approach to shopping and buy high quality items, but fewer of them.
Sure, you can get a pair of jeans and a cheap knockoff purse for a few bucks, but those things will only last for a few weeks or months. After a few washes, the cheap clothes will no longer be wearable, and then you’ll be forced to buy replacements, which will mean spending more money and accumulating more stuff.
However, making the conscious decision to wait until you can afford a more expensive option that offers better value will limit the number of items in your home, because you’ll stop buying in bulk. It will also make you more appreciative of the things you do have. Instead of treating your items as disposable, you’ll take better care of your possessions because you know how much they’re worth. You also get to spend money on things that you do like.
The Option of Storage
But what happens when, despite your best efforts, you still have more things than you have space for? The easy compromise in that situation is to rent a storage unit. As peripheral attachments to a home, storage units are unbeatable. They give you a convenient way to keep the clutter securely out of sight.
However, having a storage unit shouldn’t be an excuse for you to continue hoarding. The key is to make sure that you only store items that you will still use. If you’re just going to keep something locked up in storage for another decade, then it may not be worth it.
A welcomed benefit of storage units is that many of the modern facilities come equipped with climate control features, allowing you to store delicate items safely. This way, you won’t have to worry about your book collection being destroyed by humidity during the winter or your furniture being baked in the summer.
If you do decide to use a storage unit, don’t forget that the same rules of organization in your home apply. You can get a lot more out of your storage facility by neatly packing your items in boxes and arranging them in organized stacks.
The Bottom Line
Clutter doesn’t resolve itself automatically. To improve your living space, you must make a conscious decision to that end. Create limits and stick to them.
Get rid of all the things you don’t use. You can donate them or get some extra cash by having a yard sale. If you find that you still need more space, consider renting a storage unit. It’s a lot more affordable than renting a larger apartment.
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