One of the reasons most of us struggle to get around to dealing with all the stuff we already have, is that we keep adding to it, rather than subtracting from it. We pick up bargains at yard sales and second hand stores, buy more than we need from thrift stores, and get items on sale that look attractive to us. If you’re a homeschooler like me, you’re probably a bookaholic too, and constantly bringing home new finds!
Here’s what I want you to do - make a commitment for a certain period of time (at least 3-6 months, preferably one year) to not buy or acquire ANYTHING except basic essentials, and those only when you truly need them! Half measures won’t do - if you tell yourself you’ll get LESS stuff, then you’ll always find an excuse to get this and that. If you make it a firm NO! then it will be easier to be strong.
And how are you going to get by while you’re not getting more?? Two things -
- You’ll learn to be content with what you have. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
- You’ll use up or make use of what you already have. There was a saying during the Great Depression:
Wear it out
Make it do or
Imagine actually reading all the books on your shelves. Or using all those wonderful home school materials you’ve collected over the years but not actually used, instead of buying more. Imagine actually looking at all the recipe books you’ve got, and weeding out the ones you don’t need, instead of acquiring more. Think what it will be like to use (or discard) all those patterns, craft ideas and recipes you’ve collected and hoarded. To use the clothing you have to come up with what you need, before looking for new ones. Think of actually playing all the games your family owns, doing the jigsaws, working together on crafts with what you have.
Imagine finally, once and for all, actually dealing with all your stuff and getting rid of all your clutter. It won’t happen until you stop adding to it!
Here’s what I suggest for the “no adding stuff” period:
- Do not buy or allow into your house any do-dads, knick-knacks or “this would look good in/on my___________” items whatsoever! Make do with what you’ve got in the meantime. Remind yourself the day will come when you house is free of clutter and mostly tidy, and THEN you can get some of those wonderful items you want to make your house look pretty.
- Do not get any more books!! Stay away from second hand book stores and other grounds of temptation. Unsubscribe from the second hand books and curriculum email loops. (Ouch!!) The ONLY exception is purchases of specific, pre-planned curriculum for your home schooled kids or other students that you really need! If you don’t already have plans in place to buy certain items (such as if you are following a specific graded curriculum), then don’t buy anything! Use what you have - come on, I know you have lots of stuff! Get out those unit studies and good books you brought way back and actually use them. If it turns out they aren’t suitable, then sell them! Then, use your library, and free internet resources when you do need extras. But see how much you can actually get done using what you already have on your shelves!!
- For the period of your commitment, you may not cut out any recipes or craft patterns, or collect any papers that “might come in handy one day”. NONE! Until you’ve used, sorted or got rid of all such items you already have stashed, you are not to add to them. Don’t worry, you won’t really miss anything important!!!!
- Avoid garage or yard sales, ebay, sales of any kind, second hand stores and thrift stores! You are NOT in the market for ANY miscellaneous “useful” items of any kind. Be strong!! Only pre-planned purchases for needed items may be made. No extras at all!!
- “Needed” means items pertaining to the basics of life - such as food, clothing and shelter. Plan to buy only the items you REALLY need in these categories, after seeing if you can make do with what you have. Plan to avoid any other spending altogether on “things”. Your bank balance will be much healthier too!!
- No purchases of puzzle books etc - use up what you have, or do free crosswords out the newspaper or online. Save your money; reduce clutter!
- When you do need to get something new, make it a rule to immediately get rid of at least one similar item - preferably 2 or 3. So if you buy a new pair of shoes, immediately throw out the old pair, or if you're the type that has many pairs of shoes, select 2-3 pairs you don't really need and let them go.
There will be the odd exception to the no acquiring rule that is acceptable - when it's something you've long needed to get or replace to truly make your life better; usually it's an item to replace a damaged or worn out essential piece of home hardware (furniture and equipment). For example, I made an exception for myself recently - I've been looking for a better computer/office desk for 3-4 years, and spotted the perfect one outside a thrift store as I was walking past for only $40. I got them to put it on hold, wrote down the measurements, went home and checked it would fit where I wanted, thought about it overnight and then the next day went and bought it. When I put in the office, I immediately advertised the old desk for sale, and I also identified two more desks from the house that I could get rid of. This new desk perfectly fits what we need, and improves our lives, making things easier in several ways. Considering the bargain price, it would have made no sense to pass up this opportunity because of a "rule" - so do use your common sense. Like all "rules" it's purpose is to improve your life, not make it miserable!
So, how about you? Ready to commit yourself to a "no new stuff" for a period of time? Make a simple poster/contract, fill it in, and post it on the fridge where your family can also see it. Or print my one, and use that. Download HERE.