I used to love buying stuff, wherever there was a chance of a bargain or even better, free I would be lining up. Now I can’t get rid of it fast enough. My upbringing led me to find bargains irresistible, now I have become an anti-hoarder. If it’s not nailed down at our house, there is a good chance it’s going to be finding a new home pretty soon.
I am extremely grateful that I grew up in a loving and supportive family and yet there can be no denying we grew up pretty poor. We never went hungry, but we were not showered with material things. Being the third of four children I had my fair share of hand-me-down clothes. I remember looking longingly at other kids gifts and clothes and knowing that the best I could hope for was a new knitted cardigan or handmade dress. My Mum was skilled at making clothes and I’m sure if there had been an Etsy store back then she would have made a fortune. Yet when you are a kid you don’t want to be different and though she poured her heart and soul into the clothes she made us, we would have been happier with store bought. We usually each had a special outfit for ‘Sunday best’, the rest of our clothes had probably seen better days.
Matching knitted cardigans and our Sunday best dresses.
When as a teenager I started to make money from babysitting or Saturday jobs I was able to buy my own clothes and there began the bad habits that I am finally leaving behind. Having always had so few clothes, I was determined to get as much as I could for my money. I would therefore search the bargain racks and buy things that were often hopelessly out of fashion. I was probably the last person to wear 40 inch flared jeans, because I got them in a sale as they went out of fashion. It took me years to develop my own style and force myself to pay full price for an item.
My lifelong addiction to bargain hunting left me with clothes that came at a low financial cost and yet a high one in terms of the amount wasted, buying items that either didn’t look good or were never worn. Years of yo-yo dieting also led me to buy clothes I planned to slim into, but of course never did.
Decluttering the linen closet was one of the first things that got me excited about getting rid of stuff.
The closet after decluttering
I finally learned that it is often better to pay full price for something I really like and looks good, rather than have a closet full of unworn bargains. My absolute rule now is can I answer the following questions. Do I love it? Do I need it? Would I wear it today? As it is, with no alterations, this has led to an amazing transformation. I now love or at least like everything in my closet, and it all fits me.
I began seriously decluttering 2 years ago, I had lots of unworn clothes so I began selling on eBay, once all the best stuff had gone I sold another huge amount at a yard sale and donated more to charity. It’s amazing once you let go of an item how you don’t miss it at all. As the process moved on I became bolder and began really questioning why I was holding on to things. Donating my wedding dress was a turning point and after that I realized there was almost nothing I couldn’t let go of.
Some of our possessions have powerful memories and emotions attached to them and they may not always be good ones. Is it useful to hold on to something that makes us feel bad? If you have something that has a negative attachment, even if it is still fit for purpose or was expensive, I strongly recommend letting it go, rather than continuing to be faced with the feelings associated with it.
Many of you may be aware of the ‘KonMari’ method of decluttering. I read the book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, and have found the advice useful. I have recently recycled, donated and trashed a huge amount of items. I don’t believe it is necessary to follow the method to the letter, use what works and makes sense and reject what doesn’t. This is my view on most self-help books, they are written by humans, who are not always right about everything. I firmly believe we should surround ourselves with things (and people) that make us happy. The KonMari method asks us to consider if an item sparks joy when deciding whether to keep or discard it, I found this to be a useful technique. Having too much of anything can be draining, whereas having air, space, light and less, allows energy to flow. I get really frustrated when I can’t find things, having less and having them all in their correct place make life so much easier.
Decluttering is of course about much more than clothes. I have also let go of books, ornaments and electrical items. It’s such a good feeling to know that my clutter may be someone else’s treasure, or at the very least can raise money to support a good cause.
I let go of the vinyl after 30 years!
I am not the child who always wished I could have new clothes; I don’t need things to make me feel accepted or important. Letting go of the unnecessary has been a very therapeutic experience.
If you are considering embarking on a decluttering journey remember it is yours to travel as you choose. For some having everything they own fit in a backpack might be the goal, for others it’s being able to see the bedroom floor.