Why You Shouldn’t Throw Your Stuff Away
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Last week I spoke about how the size of homes seems to be ever-increasing over time. One of the reasons, I’m sure, that we seem to “need” more space is because we are a nation of stuff-collectors. Not only have the size of our homes increased, we need to buy even more space to hold our stuff, so we pay extra for storage facilities.
When I was in my 20s I was a stuff-collector. My old roommate and I used to hit Seattle’s chic, kitschy boutique stores and I would buy everything from throw rugs, to pillows, to random items like a super 8 camera, which I think I used once. And don’t even get me started on candles!
I also collected sports-related items as my interest in taking better care of my health emerged in my mid to late 20s. Every time some kind of new event came up, like taking an REI adventure trip to New Zealand when I was 31, I would buy new gear to go along with it.
When I Realized I had Too Much Stuff
My “stuff” wake up call came when I was relocated from Seattle to LA for a job transfer in 2003. Although for the first time in any of my previous moves a moving company was actually going to pack stuff for me, I realized how much crap I had sitting around that I wasn’t using. I had a storage locker in the basement of the apartment complex, and it freaked me out to sift through things that had tons of spider webs on it, and consequently, spiders. I began to feel the burden of stuff.
So as I went along in my 30s, I slowly began to get rid of things, so much so that every single thing in my life (besides my bike) sits in my 500-ish square foot apartment. I even have a full garage that I can use, but decided since I don’t have extra stuff, I can rent it out to make a little extra income.
But…there is a slight downside.
Although my life is pretty routine, I like to step outside of the comfort zone and do some things to add spice to my life. Case in point, my recent trip to Vegas and Utah. It involved camping and hiking, two things I had done more of in the past, but since it’s been awhile, I got rid of most of my gear.
Thankfully most of the camping gear was given to us by my friend’s cousin to borrow, but I had to search high and low to borrow hiking pants from a friend. I was seriously kicking myself for getting rid of several pairs I used to have from the New Zealand trip!
Stuff I Regret Discarding
Technology is another area where I have gotten rid of things that I now regret discarding. I used to do all my work on my laptop, which with video editing, can be eye and neck straining since the monitor is so small. I finally ended up getting a fairly small cinema display which helped, but then my producer sold me a MAC tower with a GIANT monitor for $500. Because I don’t like stuff sitting around, I gave my old monitor to my friend Jim for free. Lo and behold my giant monitor died recently and I was left without a one, right in the middle of a crucial project. Thankfully Jim let me borrow the monitor I gave him, but it’s only temporary. Yet another situation I’m kicking myself for not keeping the monitor as a backup.
And finally, back in the “old days” prior to my beach volleyball “career,” I used to cycle a lot more. I eventually sold the bike and bought a beach cruiser. In the last several years, many of my friends have gotten into triathlons, and have asked me to participate in a few. One of my main reasons for not joining them? I don’t have a good road bike! Grrrr!
While I’ll never go back to my stuff-collecting ways because ultimately, I believe being frugal means not paying for extra storage space, there are definitely times in my minimalist life that I regret not keeping certain things around. I guess the trick is to try and find a healthy balance.
What have you gotten rid of that you now regret discarding? What is the right balance between keeping stuff and letting it go? How do you find that balance?
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