Excess baggage: Day 1

Monday, January 7, 2013

Only a week in, I can already tell 2013 is going to be a stellar year. Determined not to lose my resolve, with Husband's help I have already delved in to some of my goals (aka non-resolutions).

First a little background: I have been following The Minimalist Mom for many months now and greatly appreciate her approach to living with less. She wrote an article for Canada's The Globe and Mail, which I have read several times. She is often in the back of my mind and my husband, who is rather resistant to getting rid of stuff, was even influenced by her story. Although a simple, common-sense idea, my favorite line she wrote is this: "We know what we have, we know where to find it and we know what we use."  She is living proof that 'stuff' can keep money tight and distract you from what's really important. I also love that she doesn't take a one-size-fits-all approach. Each person has their own version of what living simply looks like. We are finding ours.

After some thought, more talking, and a lot of letting go, we are well on our way to changing how we live and what kind of consumers we are. I am not abandoning my vintage Pyrex collection anytime soon. I enjoy it. And use it. My husband's vintage travel bar collection? He loves them (and, thanks to Mad Men, they are quite sought-after). We're hanging on to it. But that's the criteria. What we love, enjoy, and can fit into our space, stays. The things that clutter our lives and our home and don't really have our love, go.

We are not ridding ourselves of life's comforts. Anything but! Instead, our mindset is evolving and we are working toward a life we truly love and a bank account balance we can be proud of. The last week has led to a lot of small changes that have added up to a lot. Seeing garbage bags full of regret, emotional attachment, and burden leave our house forever feels so good to both of us.

It began last week after a long discussion about living with less. Mario and I each saw things very differently and were therefore frustrated and at a bit of a standstill. The next day, Mario stopped by a local antique store to inquire about selling an antique bowl and pitcher set his grandma gave us. It wasn't our style, but we felt bad about getting rid of it. Another local antique shop had offered us thirty bucks for it a while back so Mario walked away and it resumed taking up space in our basement. His persistence paid off, because the next store paid him $125 for it. Cash.

We were both in the right that day. We do need to let go of things that weigh us down. But Mario was right to hold off on selling it. I saw things a bit differently and I think he did, too. There is a middle ground, and I'm hoping we have found it.

Inspired and motivated, we gathered up some of our old unused CDs and DVDs and took them to a local record shop (goodbye NSYNC, Jessica Simpson and Bryan McKnight...yeah, some were that old, and I was that lame cool). They only bought about 1/3 of them, but we got $29 out of the deal. In less than 24 hours, we'd lost some of our baggage and gained over 150 bucks. And we are not done yet.

Antique store?
Craigslist, perhaps?
Vintage consignment store?

The money went straight into an envelope in our lock box. We haven't made any plans for it, nor do we expect to right now. Maybe, with consistent contributions, we can take a family vacation with it. Perhaps it will help fund our next move. Who knows? But knowing it's there (and our junk isn't) is pretty awesome.

We didn't stop there. We called Directv, cancelled our movie channels, and reduced our package. We haven't noticed a difference, to be honest. Which tells me that we had more than we needed. We have all the channels we want, and between Netflix and my Amazon student membership, we get plenty of movies right through our TVs. Not to mention our sizable DVD collection; now filled with only the ones we like and want to watch again. ADT agreed to reduce our monthly bill by $6. Not much, sure, but he started by offering $2 off per month and I kept at him. It will save us $75 per year.

On Saturday I tackled our bathroom cabinets, often neglected spaces that easily become overrun with stuff. Our bathroom has little space under the sink, and it had gotten to the point where an avalanche of bath products occurred every time I opened it. 

At first I felt so incredibly wasteful. But I overcame those feelings and threw away all the unwanted, unused bath products I had collected over the years. I found a few expiration dates and realized how long we'd been carrying around some of that stuff. Two 10-year old bottles of Bath and Body Works Frosted Cranberry body wash?!  Some were gifts, but more were products that I'd purchased and disliked. I felt like I was throwing away our hard-earned money.

I have sensitive skin and a grouchy scalp, so many products caused adverse reactions. Others were duds right out the gate. I found prescription creams that were so old they were likely toxic. I also realized long ago that I don't need them if I'm careful about the products I use and some of the foods I eat (I'm talking to you, Dairy). Keeping them around was a safety net. An excuse to slip into old habits. 

My new motto: Try before you buy.
As that giant garbage bag filled, my mindset changed and realizations occurred. I have finally found products that work for me and don't make my skin crazy. I stopped fighting it. Thank goodness. I no longer buy beauty products unless I love them and have used them before. I return lipsticks that are unflattering, foundations that don't quite match my skin tone (thanks to Sephora's no-questions-asked return policy), and shampoos that make me want to claw at my scalp. I only buy trusted brands and, when in doubt, I ask for a sample. Sure, I spend more on hairspray than before, but I know it will work. Besides, one amazing $12 bottle trumps four $5 duds any day.

That's all for now. But the last week or so has led to some lovely and profound changes around here. Instead of writing a 10-page post, I'm going to break it up into several sequential segments (say that 3 times fast). See you tomorrow!


  1. I really like this. My boyfriend and I are trying to go through our own sort of purging process. I've always believed less is more and longed for a more simple life. I like your way of putting it that it's 'evolving' our way of thinking and not losing comforts.

  2. I think this is awesome! Yay for positive changes.

  3. goals! a much much better word than resolution! :) smart girl.

  4. Sounds like you are making a great start! Last year, I did a pretty big purge and really started to think more about what I buy! It's hard, but so worth it! Now, we have a lot less stuff, but I feel like we enjoy what we do have so much more :) (ps. I wrote a series about it too...to keep me accountable! here's the link if you're interested: http://www.homeforhireblog.com/search/label/a%20series%20about%20stuff)

  5. We are a military family, so knowing that we will move often helps us to get rid of things easier. I agree that 'stuff' clutters our life so much more than just our space!

  6. I am totally going through a phase right now where I want to get rid of a lot!! Just having nice, clean, organized, and only what we need! Thanks for furthering my motivation!

  7. Oh my goodness.... you described exactly how I have been feeling, lately. I am trying to go through my house room by room and get rid of clutter. We have so much, yet use so little of it. It makes me a bit ashamed. We have resolved to start cutting expenses and living more healthfully and simply. I will have to check out that other website you mentioned. :)

    Stopping by from the vanilla tulip!


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