Last year I did a complete home inventory. I wanted to estimate the value of my home contents and see of it was in line with what my insurance company would offer me in the event of a “total loss.” Along the way, I gave serious thought to my relationship with Stuff and how I wanted to live. I didn’t end up becoming a minimalist, but I did declutter a lot, and I am now mindful about what I bring in. So I thought I would look at what has entered my house this year and whether it’s in line with my (supposed) values.
Replacement items. Two stonecrop plants for the garden to replace two that didn’t survive. A new 10-year passport. Wiper blades for the car. A tire gauge when the old one went missing. A padlock to replace one that had rusted out. Socks and underwear. Workout tank tops and sneakers. Rain gear and gloves. Additional towels because our existing ones weren’t nice enough for guests! A spatula. Needed 2 water bottles but succumbed to a set of 3 spill-proof ones (the Contigo ones from Costco). Three glass food storage containers – gradually replacing all the plastic ones. A suitcase – gave the old one to Link who has the sewing skills to repair it. And a chrome dish rack – the previous one was vinyl-covered metal and had started crumbling. Rom got a new iPod to replace his old Zune, and replacement earphones.
Lesson learned: Buy quality and think about the eventual disposal of your stuff. Getting rid of that old dish rack bothered me: it will be landfilled forever. And think of the impact on the environment to adhere a vinyl coating to a metal rack! It makes me cringe. What was I thinking?
Consumables. Not including food, of course. But I did buy 3 bottles of wine – one for Mother’s Day and two for Book Club – and still have remnants of all of them in my fridge! What to do 😉 So far this year I have bought 3 books, 1 magazine, 2 DVDs and 7 music albums – 4 on CD and 3 from iTunes. I never regret buying music. The rest I could have done without – they were impulse buys. However, I am determined to read a Dickens book in the coming year, and I thought I might accomplish it more easily if I had one in the house! I also restocked colour inks for the printer.
Lessons learned: #1, I should drink a little more. #2, I debated whether I could find the same books, DVDs and CDs used, but I wasn’t able to, once I factored in shipping costs. Then it comes down to “Do I really need to read this particular book, watch this movie, or listen to this album?” or would something different from the library fill the same need? And #3, my colour printing at home is minimal, but I like the convenience of printing on demand and not having to open my files at the library or at a copy centre. I just have to remember to make a colour print occasionally so my ink and print heads don’t jam up!
New Stuff. I’ve bought 14 items of new clothing this year – 12 practical and 2 frivolous. I also picked up 2 pairs of earrings and a necklace while on vacation. I added a bunch more Dollarama pantry jars to my cupboards. Meanwhile, Rom the IT Guy is always keen to check out new technologies, and he loves his new Chromebook. We invested in a power washer to clean the siding on the house.
Lessons learned: I like shopping for clothes while on vacation because they are budgeted anyway, and buying jewellery prevents me from buying cheesy souvenirs I’ll regret later! I don’t have anything else the right size to use as pantry jars (for rice, lentils, etc.) so the Dollarama ones are working for me. I tried to scrub the house siding using lots of elbow grease but it didn’t work – a power washer is the way to go. And as for the Chromebook, well, Rom is very supportive of our anti-waste household budget, so I overlook a few indulgences!
Used items: Rom brought home a Mac computer from work that was destined for the junk heap! I was planning to buy a desktop to resolve the ergonomic issues of using my laptop so much, so I’m hoping this will do the trick.
Repairs: We had two furnace/boiler repairs this year. We just got a heat pump system but need to keep the old boiler in shape as a back-up. We both have our car maintenance up to date, and we repaired the lawn mower yet again!
Outgoing: Fortunately, I have kept decluttering to offset all of these purchases. My list of recently decluttered items includes a stack of VHS tapes (!), 37 books, 17 items of clothing, 11 kitchen items including a bread maker (bought used), a hot air popcorn maker (am now devoted to stovetop popcorn), and a glass cutting board (the wood one is kinder to my knife and we don’t eat meat). Two broken and unfixable things were discarded: a travel alarm clock and a hair brush. 35 toys and games were sent away after reviewing our extensive toy-and-games list with Link. And I moved out 9 or 10 decorative things like candle holders I no longer used.
My conclusion, as you may have guessed, is that Mastering Stuff is a constant battle and I need to keep on top of it. In the coming years I hope to be more honest with myself about what hobbies I am likely to resume! I am already thinking, “Hmm, what are the chances I will go camping again – in a tent?”
Have you been battling Stuff lately?