Minimalism: The Urge to Purge
Hello folks! Thanks for stopping by The Green Swan. One of the reasons I have enjoyed and continue to follow so many personal finance blogs (now over 115 blogs…there are so many good ones out there!) is because of all the ideas they give me. For example, not long ago the Physician on Fire and then later Mr. Slowly Sipping Coffee went through a de-cluttering exercise to purge all the extra stuff that builds up over time. And I knew I was due for a deep cleaning myself. Their examples helped motivate my wife and I to pick up the challenge and we’ve made some solid progress to report!
Mr. SSC called it his 70 in 7 challenge which means picking up 10 things a day to sell, donate or trash for 7 straight days. Knowing how much build-up I’ve had in the last 4+ years since my wife and I moved into our house, I figured that challenge would be too easy for me (shamefully so…) and not sufficient. So I stepped it up a notch…I went for the 140 in 14 challenge!
A Timely Purge…For Baby #2
I know I’ve needed to declutter massively and I’m actually ecstatic to finally have mustered up the motivation to do so. This purge comes at a very timely point…if you’ve been following The Green Swan for a little while now you know that Lucy and I are expecting our second kiddo. We are waiting to find out the sex, but the babe is due in early April. So time to clean out some extra space!
We have started to setup our ~2.5 year old’s next bedroom and will hopefully begin the process of moving him out of the nursery in the coming months. As we’ve done so we have started to clean out the closets. It’s just amazing how quickly they fill up though and we need to find some more space. The problem with homes in Charlotte is that they don’t commonly have basements (I think because of the clay dirt and it holding too much moisture in the ground). So our storage is pretty limited to begin with. We are forcing ourselves to realize that holding onto too many things “just in case” we need them down the road is not the most efficient solution. So expecting another child has served as an extra kick to begin the purge!
A Timely Purge…For a Potential Move
As Lucy briefly mentioned in her October Swan Life update post, we continue to narrow in on our next move. As a quick refresher, the opportunity for me to move for work originally came up in September and we began the debate of moving to Europe, and if so it would ultimately be in either Dublin or London.
As it turns out, it seems the most likely business need is for me to be in London. We are somewhat indifferent between the two cities and were sort of hoping for the choice to be taken out of our hands and that’s been the case.
The timeliness of the move is still up in the air though. Lucy and I are both okay with a slow process given we’d prefer to have the baby in the US. Lucy will then go on maternity leave and that would provide her more time (~12 weeks with some degree of ongoing pay from her employer) to find a new job in London (albeit with the same employer). She has a few contacts through her Company in London already which will likely provide a helping hand in the transition.
But back to the topic at hand, the potential move to London is yet another timely reason to purge. So if we do end up moving it’ll certainly be nice to move less junk! As we’ve gone through our 140 in 14 challenge, we’ve tried to bucket our junk into four categories.
- Things we’d move with us (just a mental category at this point…we aren’t actually packing yet…)
- Things we’d move to storage and keep in the US
- Things to donate
- Not worthy of donation…so trash it goes
We also recognize that if/when the day comes we pack for London, other things that aren’t cost efficient to store will either be sold or donated as well. We’ll likely sell the house, cars, and sell or donate much of our furniture (a Craigslist buyer’s dream…maybe…we don’t have too nice of stuff really).
The 140 in 14 Challenge
So how did we do with our challenge? I’d say it was a marvelous success. I thought going in with a target of 140 items to clear out was an ambitious goal…turns out we crushed it. I’m proud, but at the same time it is a bit of a shame how much junk we’ve just held onto. In total, we donated or trashed 150+ clothing items. Plus we trashed tons of other small items that weren’t worth tabulating including countless pens and old desk drawer items, old electronics including cables and chargers, etc, and other miscellaneous things such as old picnic supplies, paperwork and forms and on and on.
I wouldn’t consider us hoarders by any means, but I do personally recognize that I loathe throwing things away or donating old items, even gifts that I receive and don’t really ever expect to use. This is definitely a personal weakness of mine and an area I’m trying to improve as I focus on a slightly more minimalistic lifestyle.
I can confirm that I’m not a big shopper. A lot of the things being donated or trashed is not a result of over-shopping for myself and then later realizing a lack of need for them. Lucy and I both maintain a pretty reasonable shopping budget every year and don’t really have the urge to splurge at the mall, online, etc.
So the vast majority of all these items have simply been accumulated over many years. Like I said at the beginning, it was certainly time for an urge to purge. But how about this gem…I can’t get rid of this yet…unless, of course, Mr. 1500 is willing to place a bid to add to his fun shirt collection.
I must say, it does feel good. It’s nice having a cleaner closet for sure. And it is also a bit of a relief knowing that a move to London will be manageable (moving “stuff” can always be a daunting experience).
So all in all, it’s been a great success! And going forward, my goal is to maintain a more simplified household and purge more frequently. Heck, if we move to London, it is guaranteed our housing s.f. will be much smaller which will be a forced mechanism for minimalism.
Anyone else ready to take up the 70 in 7 challenge?
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan