The beginning of March, Trevor and I made the decision to try to live as lightly as possible and use Minimalism as our guide. You can read the previous posts in the series here; Part 1 and Part 2. In this post I am going to start talking about the biggest step in the entire process: the home-purge.
Before you begin to downsize, I highly recommend doing some research. Please check my last post on our research process for some great places to start that are free, and not. After conducting research you’ll have a good idea of what process you’d like to follow, and a swell of motivation. My tip: begin while you’re motivated.
Having a Leo around to help keep the affair light-hearted has been great. “What’s that? You’re cleaning here?”
Take a large chunk of time out of your life and set it aside for “home-purge.” T and I cut out one weekend, blocking a Friday night to a Sunday night. Was it exhausting? Absolutely, but this is the largest amount of progress we’ve had to-date. It as so rewarding, emotionally draining, embarrassing, and a slew of other emotions that took a few days of recovery.
Since then, I’ve been continuing the process daily. Trevor helps a few days a week. Our progress is much slower.
Since we store like-items in the same place (ex: cleaning supplies are all together, clothing is all together, bedding is all together), we decided we could take on our purge room-by-room. This approach is not feasible for everyone! Do your research!
Starting with our bedroom we tackled all our clothing on Friday night, going through clean clothes in the closet and dresser, and our dirty clothes. Saturday we went through our furniture in our bedroom and the furniture on the first floor of our home, as well as our linen closet and bathroom. Sunday we went through our office, kitchen and dining goods, our entertainment collection, and our books.
These cubbies used to be packed with books. In fact, the second cube on the bottom left is pack with books to donate to a library in the area.
We’re far from done, but this initial purge has left us with a great place to start. Here are our totals for our first go:
- Bags of trash: 23
- Boxes to sell: 14
- Bags to donate: 13
- Pieces of furniture to sell: 13
- Boxes of books to donate: 3
Take a look at those numbers. Isn’t it crazy? Trevor and I have been married since 2012. In three years, two people have managed to amount 53 bags of items to discard and 13 pieces of furniture that didn’t a) fit our lifestyle, b) bring us joy, c) get used at all.
I’m glad we’ve woken up and broken through the American consumer brainwashing; our house has less in it, which leaves more room for living…and this is just the beginning!
How Do I Know What to Keep?
For clothing was asked ourselves this question: does this piece of clothing make me happy? If the answer was no, we put it in one pile. If the answer was yes, was asked another question. Does this piece fit me? Be honest with yourself. If the answer is no, place it with the other no items. If yes, put it back in your closet/dresser/wardrobe. Using these two questions, we amassed 13 bags of trash and 12 bags to donate.
For books we asked ourselves: will I read this book? Again, we had piles for yes and no items. I found this extremely difficult, as I LOVE books, but I managed to go through everything. Was I honest? I don’t think so, but we will be going through everything again before summertime in North America and I plan on being as ruthless as possible to my books then.
Kitchen supplies were easiest for me. I asked: have we used this? If the answer was no, I plopped the item in a box to sell. I went through again asking: do I have multiple types of this item? For some reason, we had 4 different types of drinking glasses. I chose one set I liked, and placed the rest in my sell boxes. I cleared out 7 boxes of kitchen items to sell this way.
For furniture ask the same types of questions, but in a different order. Does this item get used? If the answer is no, get rid of it. If the answer is yes, ask: is this item my style, do I like the way it looks in my home? If the answer is no, plan to purchase something to replace it before you discard it. For example, T and I plan to ditch our sleigh bed frame. Does this item get used? Yes. Is this item our style? No. To replace it we’ve done a lot of research on what kind of sleeping arrangement would fit us the best. Since our mattress is new, but we think Japanese futons would fit us best, we’ve created a hybrid. We’ll ditch our box springs and place our mattress on a slatted frame we purchased from IKEA, on the floor. Now all we have to do is sell the sleigh frame.
How Do I Know What to Donate?
Donating items feels good, but recouping some of the money you spend attaining things would be ideal. Here are the rules I’ve always followed when deciding what to donate:
- Clothing: donate lightly used clothing. However, DO NOT donate undergarments of any kind, or clothing that has stains/tears/questionable structural integrity! Have a little respect for others and don’t donate a ratty item.
- Shoes: If the shoes are slightly used, as in the sole has no visible wear, I donate them. All other pairs get tossed.
- Books/Games/Movies: I donate all books/games/movies I can’t sell back/trade-in online, or get in-store credit for.
- Personal Care Items: if the item hasn’t been used and I bought it within the last year, I donate it.
- Bedding: I follow the same rules as clothing.
How Do I Know What to Throw Away?
Typically I’ll ask myself, “would I ask someone if they want this?” If the answer is no, I’ll toss it. Here are some of the other rules I follow:
- Clothing: all undergarments should be thrown away. Even if you haven’t worn them. If the clothing has rips, tears, fraying, stains, or holes, throw it away.
- Shoes: if the soles show any wear, I toss them.
- Personal Care Items: any items that have been used, are past their expiration date, or I can’t remember how long ago I bought it.
- Bedding: I follow the same rules as clothing.
- Household Items: if the item is damaged, I toss it.
How Do I Know What to Sell?
My rule of thumb is, if I think I can sell the item at a yard sale for more than $1 USD, I put it in a sell bin. The item cannot be broken in any way, or worn; it must be in at least “good” condition. Generally I put these items in a sell bin:
- CDs, DVDs, video games I can’t trade-in online, or in-store
- Office Supplies
- Picture frames and artwork
- Kitchen gadgets
- Dining gear (tablecloths, cloth napkins, glasses, dinnerware sets)
- Unused craft supplies
How Can I Stay Motivated?
After going through our initial show-down with our junk, we were exhausted. However, we were also relieved. I found this feeling motivation enough to begin making a paperless office.
That feeling will wear off. From here, I’ve found revisiting my initial inspiration to be extremely helpful.
Keep in mind this process is a long one.
Another tactic we’ve recently employed: taking a break. Stop getting rid of things and enjoy the space you’ve reclaimed. After a day, or two, I’m sure you’ll get the urge to home-purge again. After a brief vacation from discarding, moving forward will be much easier. Just remember to revisit your inspiration in order to fuel the fire!