After being married for 6 years (together for 11), moving across the Pacific Ocean, and having two kids, we’ve accumulated a lot of crap. It’s not uncommon for this to happen. We get attached to things. We intend to have garage sales to get rid of stuff. We intend to donate the countless items and clothing pieces we’ve outgrown or replaced or never wear (like those skinny jeans from college that you’re determined to fit into again even after having 2 kids). All great intentions. But that’s where the journey usually stops. Sounding familiar? 

Materialism
/məˈtirēəˌlizəm/
noun
a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.

America is the place of “things”, “stuff”, an overabundance of all things material.

“The belief that material possessions improve individuals’ personal and social well-being permeates America. However, contrary to this belief, multiple studies show that materialists, compared to non-materialists, have lower social and personal well-being” (Psychology Today).

If materialism and all of this “stuff” is so detrimental to our well-being, why can’t we suck it up and ditch it all!? 

Daily, my anxiety over all of the stuff we have overwhelms me. We are not even close to hoarders or the like but we have way more than we need. I want so badly to get rid of it, but, the thought of literally throwing away or giving away items that I paid my hard-earned money for or received as gifts brings an insane amount of guilt over me. Do we really need 3 sets of plates? No. Not at all, but, each set has a “purpose”, right? One set for everyday meals. Another set for when guests come over. The last set for holidays. So, I keep them. All of them. Did we use those red holiday plates we got on clearance at Wal-Mart after Christmas? NOPE. They have literally not moved in 2 years.

My brain overreacts and throws me questions and thoughts like “But, what if you want to use them this year!?” or “You’ll be getting rid of brand new plates! You spent money on those! What a waste!”

I know I am not alone in this battle. We, as Americans, have been programmed to think that more is better. If you have more stuff, you have a richer life. You’re happier because you are able to afford all of these things. But, how much of that was purchased with a credit card? A loan? Money you really didn’t have? Could you REALLY afford all of this stuff? How much could we all save without the overspending during unnecessary shopping trips (yeah, I’m talking about you Target!)?

I know that our family could probably go on a yearly (if not twice yearly) vacation. We could afford to do more activities together. Even though we know that spending less would be better, we still act on that impulse. It’s like a drug sometimes. Buying something you want (not need) creates that adrenaline rush and our brain gets excited. 

The journey to a more minimal lifestyle is not easy. I have wanted to do it for so long, but, I always chicken out. I might start purging things from the house, but, they just end up in a big pile of other things in the basement. One group I have found that has been extremely helpful and motivating is the Minimalist Mom group on Facebook. There are varying levels of minimalism in the group, tons of ideas, progress stories, etc. It gives me the motivation I need to push towards getting rid of more. Knowing we will all be happier without so much crap surrounding us. Knowing that without so many toys that go unplayed with 99% of the time, our kids will be able to be kids and use their imagination. 

I am hoping to share more of our this journey as we progress. Our first step is to have a joint garage sale with my parents. We have decided that no matter what, anything that does not sell will be donated. No holding back. No changing our minds. I am excited to have a clear basement again (besides actual storage and holiday decorations). The ability to save more money each month to put towards things like paying off debt, padding our savings accounts, putting money into our retirement accounts, being able to visit family more, take vacations, etc.

Have you ever wanted to live a more minimal lifestyle? Did you take the plunge? I want to hear all about it!

dorian@crunchyontheweekend