Madness came a month early this year. As winter began to tease us with early spring, we decided to make some resolutions for February. Looking around, we anxiously eyed the “piles of stuff” everywhere- we needed to downsize yet again. A funny thing happens when you live in 200 square feet- five things out of place make your home look like a disaster zone. More than 5? UGH! As January consisted of us settling in from Christmas travels (was that really only 2 months ago?) followed by traveling for three different conferences, it was high time to take some de-cluttering action.
We decided to attempt The Minimalist Game challenge. The basic rules are these:
You throw out one item Day 1, 2 items Day 2, 3 items Day 3 and so forth (you can read more about that here). Additionally, we originally moved with a pile of things we intended to sell on eBay. We listed a couple of things, but certainly not a large percentage. With the limited space, it makes NO SENSE to hang onto these things… but we also didn’t want to just toss them or donate them. So our February challenge became clear: follow The Minimalist Game plan and also try to sell at least $60 on eBay.
Our “failure” in the minimalist challenge was multi-fold. First of all, it was impossible to do it daily. We would catch up every 2 or 3 days, and feel slightly overwhelmed by the compounding nature of this challenge. While we managed to get rid of quite a few things, our minimalist lifestyle caught up with us around day 14.
I’m really on the fence as to whether I consider myself a minimalist. My husband laughs about this as he says “No one lives in 200 square feet and isn’t a minimalist”… the stellar example, however, as I was considering this: I like to apply the power of one (only one item for each purpose) to my jewelry. I wear the same pieces every day. This consists of my engagement ring and wedding band, 2 other rings, a watch (the same model for almost 10 years now), my Scooby-doo necklace (featured) and amber earrings. On “fancy” occasions I like to swap out my earrings- I currently have 5 pairs of earrings. When considering this matter, I realized this means I own waaaay too many pairs of earrings. In the last four months, I’ve worn “fancy” earrings exactly twice. This means I have come to the conclusion that one pair will do just fine!
…Maybe I am a minimalist…
Regardless, getting through this challenge, only to run out of stuff is a combination yay & nay (we are also frugal minimalists- due to various gifts, I have something like a three year supply of lotion. I don’t need all of it right now, but I will use it later. We see this as a “keep”, but other minimalists would label this as “discard”. Do what is right for you!). Technically, we failed at part one.
Ah, the magic of eBay! You never know what will be your “crystal moose”. In case you’re confused (which you should be), here’s the background. Two years ago, we had a White Elephant gift exchange for which everybody was supposed to bring junk from their house- a $0 budget for the win. Among the maaaany amazing gifts exchanged, we received a vintage crystal mouse. It was the perfect intersection of cool and tacky that really defines kitsch. We knew we had no room for it in our new home, so just before taking it to the donation center, Mr. Ss decided to give it a quick search on our old friend eBay. Little did we know, this particular piece of gag-gift kitch was a particularly rare model with an (even rarer) matching wooden base. Long story short- we sold this thing to a nice lady in Portland, OR for $95.49! Netting us around $75 after fees (eBay charges $0.30 + 10% and PayPal another $0.30 + 3%, and crystal moose packaging and shipping ain’t cheap!)
This month alone, we sold $72.97 (after shipping and fees) worth of junk, starting with Mr. Sweetspot’s tap shoes from undergrad. The crystal moose of this round was an Alice in Wonderland pendant from Mr. Sweetspot’s old collection. Yes, we both used to be collectors, me of Scooby Doo, him of Alice… but we were more than ready to let it go. Other items included: a clutch purse, various jewelry we hadn’t worn in forever and our Volvo 240’s hubcaps (we lost one this winter and damaged another digging out of the snow so we decided to sell the other 2 and replace them with a generic set netting $20 in the process (More to come on the Volvo later). With each sale we felt lighter, and we will continue into March with a goal of $75. We will update you on the yay or nay of the outcome.
In conclusion (ah, the writing gold of transitions!) failing on one goal and succeeding in the other still make us feel really good. Tiny steps are better then not moving forward at all, and even this failure meant we got rid of 110 items from our 200 square foot home! At least one source indicates that the average home contains “300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards”, so many that, apparently, we can lose up to 9 items a day and not even notice. Figuring the average house is 2,600 square feet (1,000 square feet larger than they were in 1973) and ours is right around 200, I guess we can estimate we might have somewhere in the neighborhood of 23,077 items. Now only another 22,000 to go.
Is your house a “pile of stuff with a cover on it”? If so try your own month of madness. Shoot, start with one week. Did you succeed, did you fail? We want to know. Post your craziest de-clutter story below. What was your “crystal moose”?
Still on the fence? If so, attend the genius that is George Carlin:
***Warning contains coarse language***