April 8, 2008

Starting to Simplify: Step 2 - Get Control of Your Stuff

You have too much stuff. You don't even know everything you have. Knowing this, there is always that temptation to go buy more.

It's not your fault: it's the grist mill of our economy - the message to buy, buy, buy is thrown at you constantly from as many different sources as ad agencies can discover.

Still, you must stop this. The second step of simplifying your life is gaining control of your stuff.

First, stop buying anything other than true necessities - and that means:

1) food which you will cook at home -- a Big Mac is not a necessity: it is a cheap, tempting alternative to a good meal;

2) utilities to keep your home running smoothly -- this means electricity and water and some type of phone service: your home does not need to be air conditioned to the point of wearing sweaters indoors, that is not a necessity;

3) transportation to and from work and school -- this may be gas in the car, or it may be public transportation of some sort; and

4) stuff that goes along with work and basic needs -- child care so you can work or go to school, medicine so you stay healthy, things like that. Only things like that. Don't fool yourself.

Your goal here is to get control of the material things in your life.

Maybe you'll become so enthralled with this process that you'll join the Compact. Maybe you'll just get your home really organized, and cut back on some expenditures in the budget as well as finding other things to do with your time other than spending your cash.

Once you've drawn your line in the sand on spending, it's time to look around at all you've got. And discover what you have already.

Sort your closets, organize the garage, dust the bookshelves. Clean your own house thoroughly instead of waiting for the maid (no, you don't need a maid; no, you don't) -- it is simply amazing what a sense of satisfaction you get from this process. Family memories will pop up, you'll laugh at the fashion horrors you (yes, you) actually wore in public; good books will be read; good movies will be watched; and good music will be heard.

This is a fun process. Really.

Now, during this Taking Control of Your Stuff, you'll find things you don't want anymore, things that are better suited to a tax-deductible charitible donation than replacing into your closet space. Some stuff will just need to be tossed. I've received lots of compliments on my Sorting System and if you're interested, you can read about that here. This is the third part: organize your stuff and get rid of what you don't need or what's not any good anymore.

So, it's really easy, isn't it?
Stop buying.
Discover everything you've got.
Sort, organize, and giveaway, sell, toss -- get rid of the excess.

And, take your time with this. Simplifying isn't supposed to be done at that multitasking, stressful Wall Street speed. Enjoy this process.

For other helpful info on Getting Control of Your Stuff, check out:
How to Clean -1
How to Cook - 2
Examples of Excess 3 - Tweens are Shoppers
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