You know how the grocery store has an express lane with the sign “10 Items or Less?”
What if you applied that concept to your personal life?
Some minimalist websites have challenged their readers to limit their personal possessions to 100 total items or less. Most notably, Dave Bruno, at his website, guynameddave.com.
I admit I’ve tried it and failed – so far, anyway. But I found another way to limit the amount of stuff I accumulate.
Everyone has certain things they tend to collect. I don’t mean an actual hobby, like commemorative plates. I just mean things you always seem to have too much of. For me it was books for a long time, until I got my Kindle. I also tend to have lots of sweaters in different pretty colors, and I love collecting scarves.
Since doing a massive declutter, I am getting better about buying less stuff, but I found that I still had too many scarves, sweaters, etc. One way to cut down items is to say “Have I worn this in the past year?” But the “one in, one out” concept is even easier and just works better for me. If I see a pretty new scarf at Etsy.com, I say to myself, “OK. I already have 10 scarves and that is my limit. Do I like this new scarf more than one of those, enough to trade it?” If the answer is yes, and I can afford the scarf, I get the new one and donate the “sacrificial” scarf to Goodwill (or give to a friend).
I’ve found that this really stops a lot of impulse buys. After all, I don’t want a ton of scarves that I have to sort through. This method ensures that I will really love every scarf and use it, because if not there is ALWAYS a great new scarf on the Etsy website ( Check out MuseSilkPaintings and sewstacy shops as examples.) And I enjoy supporting individual artists at Etsy – a hand painted scarf from someone who encloses a personal thank-you note is more meaningful than buying it at a department store. They even do custom orders!
Sometimes I’ve had a rough day and I am tempted to buy something pretty as a pick-me-up, but if it means parting with a treasured possession, I don’t want it quite as much! On the other hand, I had four really expensive silk scarves (Brooks Brothers, Pucci, Hermes, Burberry) that I rarely wore. They were just taking up space, but I felt bad since they were expensive. I just stored them for years and got stressed out with guilt every time I opened my scarf drawer. I wore each of them only once or twice each year. Finally I gave them away – someone was probably THRILLED to find them at the thrift store! But I’m getting a lot more enjoyment out of the scarves that I did keep.
And I think that’s the whole point of minimalism – removing the things that you don’t need, and keeping only the things that you really do use and enjoy!