The Benefits Of Becoming A Minimalist Are Starting To Sink In

Hey everyone! Since yesterday’s post was so long, and I have two posts for you today, this one will be brief. I just wanted to talk about something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. GETTING RID OF STUFF! I have come to realize that you actually have more by owning less. Getting rid of stuff is almost as liberating as paying off debt. And of course, just like with our debt, it took us a while to realize that it needed to go.

We have recently decided to put our house on the market. That’s right, if you’re like me when you hear that, you’re thinking COMPLETE debt freedom. We’ll save the “it’s better to own than rent” talk for another day, even though I would love to point out why that’s not true on so many levels.

Last week, we were running around at crunch time trying to get rid of as much of our stuff as possible. Why? Well, for one we know we have too much crap, and secondly, this is the first time we have ever sold a house while living in it. So you could say that it was our decision to sell our house that forced us to do the dirty work a little bit sooner. My wife entered about 180 items in a local consignment sale, we gave Goodwill about 8-10 BIG bags of toys and clothes, and took to the dump, a whole truckload of crap.

We feel the benefits already, and we are excited to take it to the next level. We still have one major room to go (the office), and a few spaces here and there to hit with a fine tooth comb. I wanna get rid of anything that I have not seen or used in the last month. Now my wife is not quite that hardcore, but she is definitely on board. Like with our debt, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired of being…surrounded by stuff.

Ironically, my son has been walking around the house singing the Bare Necessities of Life song from the Jungle Book movie. He did not like the prospect of becoming a minimalists at first. He was rather upset, so we talked. We talked about how much stuff he had, how much stuff he would still have, and that another kid would be able to have some really fun toys because of his kindness. Pretty soon he was carefully digging through his stuff picking out things he could put in the bag, but also paying real close attention to what mom and dad were picking up.

ME: “EVERYTHING GOES! Arggghh!!” (except for his beloved Lightning McQueen toys of course.) ;)

HIM: “No daddy pleeez, any toy but that one…take this one pleeeeeez!”

ME: “That’s quite enough son, get in the bag!” LOL (totally kidding)

Well come on, Dave Ramsey does say, “get rid of so much stuff the kids think they’re next.” How else would we make him think he’s next? haha!

The next day Isaac was collecting a pile of books. When I asked him what they were for, he said he was giving them away so another little kid could read them. Isn’t that perfect? Maybe he won’t act like that every time, but for a 3 year old to part with any toys at all can be a challenge. Let’s hope my micro-minimalist remembers the song he was singing earlier this week. I’ll have to remind him about the bare necessities of life if he starts to give me any lip. ;)

So that’s all I have for you. Tomorrow don’t miss a brand new Debt Free News From A Debt Free Reader featuring Debt Free Hispanic. For those still in my Manage Your Money challenge, you need to leave your comments to enter by midnight tonight. The challenge has been great and the ones that are participating are making great strides. Won’t you join them?

Don’t forget to vote for yours truly in the Plutus Awards for BEST DEBT BLOG of 2009! See you tomorrow!

About Brad Chaffee

26 Responses to “The Benefits Of Becoming A Minimalist Are Starting To Sink In”

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  1. Props to you! I’m all for renting and definitely have house buyer’s remorse, but the husband is still pleased with our decision to buy, so I’m practicing that age-old, hard-to-do tradition of marital submission. I think that’s it own blog post, heh.

    Anyway, I just wanted to recommend for anyone needing the motivation to clean or purge or do tasks they wouldn’t want to do to watch “Hoarders” on A&E. Every time I watch that show, aside from my heart breaking for these people who are afflicted with a disease I cannot even fathom, it gives me a B vitamin shot right to the rear to get up and make something cleaner/organized/purged/etc.

  2. I was just talking about this with a friend last night! Moving causes us to separate the useLESS from the useFUL. I have so much stuff that I have accumulated in the last decade and most of it is about to be sold or tossed.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Well said Lakita! “Moving causes us to separate the useLESS from the useFUL” That is perfect! It’s so true!! :)

      It sounds like you can afford to take this journey with us to get rid of it. I’m telling you it FEELS GREAT! :D

  3. Jan says:

    I have been doing a lot of selling of my own stuff on ebay. I made $500 last month, minus shipping, which was about a hundred. Not bad for clutter. I find that it’s easier to clean and I have some satisfaction in lightening my load.

    Another great benefit is that I have been able to pay off two more debts on my debt snowball and am now working on my number ten bill (out of 18).

    I may not be debt free, but I am on my way.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Very nice Jan! We love eBay, and do a pretty good job selling stuff on there. My wife made almost $800 two months in Dec & Jan but she wasn’t selling our stuff. She was buying stuff to sell on eBay. It was a good thing for that consignment sale to come along, we didn’t have time to wait for items to sell on eBay. We feel so much better now that we have removed so much junk from our lives.

      Awesome job Jan!!! You keep paying that debt down and you will indeed be debt free before you know it. Keep pounding away at it!!!

  4. We love our house, but it was getting cluttered. We’ve successfully organized the bottom floor and the guest bedroom. I’m currently working on the garage and our master bedroom closet. Craigslist was working well for me, but now it seems to have been taken over by spammers…yuck.

    I’m close to just donating everything and not worrying about the $500 I could usually make off of it…anybody interested in a complete fish tank setup for $75 or a $550 wedding dress for $200? LOL…we’ll see if I can clear this stuff out in the next week or two. Maybe I’ll have my first ever garage sale…

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      We took this approach. (for two reasons) One we were in a hurry, and two we wanted to make it as easy as possible.

      We decided that if it was easy to sell with little time commitment, we would sell it. Otherwise, off to Goodwill! we did break that unknowingly by entering the consignment sale. It was the first one we had ever done, and we had NO IDEA of how tie consuming that process was. Mt wife listed 180 things or something. CRAZY!

      The reason we were willing to part with things we could have sold, is because we decided that our time was too important and that the sacrifice was worth it. It’s already hard enough to tear up your house to find stuff to get rid off, why make it any more painful?

      Good luck to you and I hope you are able to rid yourself of anything and everything that gets in your way! :D

  5. KelsaLynn says:

    I love this post, it’s one of my favorites and the first in a while that I’ve felt inclined to comment on. I love that you’re changing your habits and blogging about it from such a personal perspective and I love that your son is just so darn precious!

    The last time I was home I was talking w/ my gramps about debt freedom, living on a budget, etc…something he knows so much about & I wish I would have listened to him sooner. He said “back in the day” people didn’t buy something that they only needed once per year, whether that was a yard tool, something for inside the house, etc. He said, you always borrow it from a neighbor. And when they needed something, you loaned it to them. That way every person didn’t own stuff they only used once in a while. He also said it was “the neighborly” way to live.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Woo hooo! KelsaLynn I have been wondering where you’ve been hiding! GREAT to hear from you!

      This has changed ouor life and sent us in a new direction that will enable us to live our life without having to manage a bunch of crap in between. Life is too valuable to let clutter bring you down. we found that it was sometimes depressing to look around and see how much stuff that needed to be cleaned when it was tie to clean. sometimes we quite honestly looked the other direction, which only made things worse.

      Having less to clean up and manage makes life so much more awesome!

      Come back and see me again sometime KelsaLynn!

      Did you read: Great Financial Advice From The In-Flight Safety Handbook

  6. ctreit says:

    When we had our first garage sale last year, I was most happy about seeing a lot of stuff leaving our house. The money we made – not that much – was incidental. I did not know that we had that much space in the basement until we had that garage sale.

    An older colleague of mine once told me very insistently, “Remember one thing: less is more!” He kept hawking on that. I still remember the conversation very vividly; it took place at a nice private golf club in front of the fireplace. Obviously his words sunk in. Now, following these words is yet another matter. But I do try.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Following that wisdom is certainly harder! It’s more of the maintaining that mindset that gives us trouble. It is so EASY to accumulate stuff that it can very easily build right back up! :)

  7. We’ve gone the opposite way — we bought a house — but I still got rid of a lot of clutter before moving. We continue to keep the house pretty neat and with minimal stuff. Anything “extra” we no longer want or need goes to Goodwill or on eBay.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hey RainyDaySaver!! Love when you come by!

      That’s the way to do it for sure. It’s so much EASIER to keep the house neat and tidy when there is less clutter and stuff lying around. :) I am loving it!

  8. Money Funk says:

    That’s great, Brad! I love cleaning out the house like this. It such a burden off one’s spirit to make way for the wonderful important things in life. Like singing Bear Necessities with your son. Too Cute! I look forward to your post about renting over owning.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hey MONEY FUNK! I always love when you stop by and say hi!

      Yeah it is such a great feeling to look around and not feel constricted. haha! We still have a lot to do though. I’m not sure I will ever be able to have all my things on one list like Baker did, but hey you never know. :)

      Renting vs. Owning is a very controversial subject. kind of like credit cards vs. debit cards! The Great Credit Card Debate will be happening starting in April on Enemy of Debt and Budgets Are Sexy. That will be exciting! ;) You know how me and J Money do it. LOL It happened on your blog!

  9. Jan says:

    I would post an ebay warning though, may sure that sellers know how much it’s going to cost to ship. I have gotten slammed on that, even today, I just shipped something at a total loss because the shipping ended up so high. The post office may well be a hammer in the coffin for ebay for me.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah we have made A LOT of money selling on eBay, or I should say my wife has. She is the mastermind and the one that is good at it. we have been burned a few times, and you are tight, shipping can make a profit disappear quickly. We have a scale that we use to weigh the packages that help us better estimate the price. Ebay also has a shipping calculator you can use for the same purposes. Not always completely accurate but since we have been using these two methods, we have done well.

      We have been burned more by selling outside of the country, where you can’t use tracking to make sure they got it. they get it, then say they didn’t get it and you have to, according to Ebay, pay the. There is no way to prove they didn’t.

      I wrote a post a few years ago that detailed our process. You are probably past the basics at this point but I will post it anywy for the benefit of others.

      Selling on Ebay is as Easy as 1-2-3!

  10. Dena says:

    I am so excited that you are embracing the minimalist life, Brad. I know that this is a perfect fit for your family. You will find, the deeper you go into it, that the less stuff you have — the more you know your true self.

    The fact that your children are learning such valuable lessons at a young age is utterly inspiring. You and your wife are fabulous parents.

    I cannot wait to hear how it goes as you move forward on this journey!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Your comments always make me smile Dena! thank you for the kind words and extra encouragement.

      As parents, one of the things that we have learned is that people put unnecessary limitations on children, and because of that, limit what’s possible for them and their family. People say 3 is too young to teach them about money, or that they can never understand adult concepts.

      They may not completely grasp every idea or concept but they are very good at acting like a sponge. I did a bible study with someone from my church that focused on marriage and children, specifically being a better parent. One of the things I learned from that is that instead of limiting what our children know and do, TEACH them! SHOW them! HELP them! <~~~That has been key for us!

      People get upset with their kids and never realize that their kids don't understand because they can't, they don't understand because you have to show them what you expect of them. The other component to this is to make learning fun. If they are having fun, no matter what they are learning, they will grow so much faster.

      Whew, so what am I getting at? Your kids can learn how to manage their money and become less wasteful minimalists as well. My son was excited to be helping other kids out by getting rid of some toys he doesn't play with. LOL that's amazing when you think about it because kids are generally protective of their toys. Minimalism can teach our kids a lot about life and that I am excited about showing them.

      My next post on minimalism will be a letter to family in friends titled: Dear Family and Friends, Just Because You Bought It Doesn’t Mean We Have To Keep It.

      That will be a hard post, simply because some will take it as us being ungrateful. We just want to share the changes we are making and want our family and friends to understand that we are becoming minimalistic in our life, and if you buy lots of gifts for Issac or Noah we may eventually decide that it has to go. (In other words, don’t get your feelings hurt ot take it personally.) LOL :D

      I always love chatting with you Dena! Stop by anytime! :D

  11. Forest says:

    Wow you are really really going for it!! I am in the renting rather than mortgage camp too… If I want a home I decided I need to buy cash…. same goes with everything from now on in :)

    I have really cut back on what I own these days…

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      That means we have A LOT in common! :D I have a series coming up in April called The Great Credit Card Debate. J Money and I are going to host both sides of the debate. EOD the anti-credit card thinkers, and BAS the pro credit card shakers. J and I are debating each other in the first one and then we will be letting others join the debate in the form of guest posts. Hopefully it’s a series with many lessons. We shall find out.

      Are you for or against credit cards? I’d like you to join the discussion. :D

  12. Good topic. I need to see what we can clear out of this house; although we live pretty minimally.

  13. Red says:

    That is so great, Brad! Welcome on the de-cluttering wagon! :) Once you start, it's easy to become fanatical. D is constantly worried he'll come home to an apartment with no furniture! :-p

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