I have been asked a couple of times now why we are on this journey to becoming minimalists. I think it comes down to a combination of things and that I need to start at the beginning to paint a better picture. I am Interspersing various before/after photos to keep it interesting.
When I met my wife to be, got engaged and eventually married both of us were working professionals. We actually met at work. We both had apartments that were fully furnished. So we started out with two of everything and in some cases more.
She had stuff in storage at her parents place. I was even worse. I had moved a number of times and found that it was easier to buy second hand what I needed rather than pay someone to move it. I owned a little Civic Hatchback. The problem was that I didn’t get rid of it, I stuffed it into storage. So I had stuff in storage in three cities and was living in a fourth.
We were now married and living in her condo. We had moved everything into her place. For the first time in a decade everything I owned was in one city. I did get rid of a lot at that point. It physically would not have all fit in her condo. As it was we had the second bedroom stuffed wall to wall to the ceiling. We decided if we wanted a family we needed a bigger place.
We were both working in good jobs and ended up deciding to build on a lovely acre and a half. Well that company got bought out and the plant shut down. Over the next 10 year there were good years where we both worked but far more tough ones where one of us was unemployed.
My wife got involved in the debt freedom board on Babycenter. The result of that was that we decided that we needed to downsize our house, our mortgage and our lifestyle to something far more manageable. We sold our 3000 Sq ft house and bought a much older 1800 Sq ft that was in town.
Selling our house required us to deal with the clutter for the first time in a decade and really it went back much farther than that. It was bad. It wasn’t as bad as those hoarding shows but we seemed to be on that path. It took us two months and we got rid of so much stuff. That is reason one. When you go through stuff and can’t remember what it was, who bought it or why you were saving it it was time for it to go. There was a lot that was in that category.
This was also early in my days as a SAHD. At first it was just another turn in the cycle of one of us being unemployed. This time however we had calculated how much childcare was and discovered that most of my former salary went to childcare. If I could make or save $800 we would break even. I did it partial through some contract work but I also simplified our eating habits.
I have always been a good cook but with both of us working it tend to be prepared stuff that a) wasn’t good for us and b) was expensive. Making more and more of our food from scratch significantly helped our budget. We are now to the point that almost everything is made from scratch with the few exceptions being treat food.
My wife’s journey towards debt freedom also started to teach us that our possessions were just stuff that we really didn’t need and the we shouldn’t have purchased in the first place. Once you start seeing your possessions as stuff it isn’t a big jump towards being a minimalist.
After we moved my wife got a new job with an excellent company that paid us more that the two of together had been making during the good years. That locked in my being a SAHD and I am happy with that role.
After the move we still had way to much stuff and it was sitting in boxes piled against one wall in the playroom a couple deep for months. We slowly whittled it down. Most we found homes for and very little left. We were mostly trying to find the stuff that we needed and the rest got put into the storeroom or under the stairs.
We both knew that we eventually need to deal with all the extra stuff but it seemed like an overwhelming job. The few attempts that we made didn’t really make a dent and was discouraging.
The problem was that the house was not clean enough or even close for me to consider letting guests in. The routine for inviting guests was to spend all day Saturday to get the house clean enough have dinner and then spend Sunday cleaning up from the dinner, particularly the kitchen.
Toward the end of the last school year I started lurking on the “Becoming a Minimalist” board. While I wasn’t an active participant in the board I was getting inspiration and idea from them. Most of the cleaning photos from my weekly wrap up back then were from board. As summer came and we got busy and I stopped.
The current blitz which has made the most difference to our lives started when I went on a new ADD medication and actually started participating on the board with the weekly challenges.
So that is our journey so far. I don’t know were or if we will stop but I am looking forward to having a lot less stuff. I have some other reason that don’t come across in the journey.
First is that I want to teach the kids about consumerism. I don’t want them making the same mistakes that we made and wasting money on stuff they don’t need and won’t actually use.
I want to be able to have guests over without having to plan the pre-visit clean up. I managed the other week to get the cleaning down to half a day without my wife present and cook dessert as well. It meant that we could have them over on a Friday rather than a Saturday. That opens things up and provides more flexibility. My goal is to be able to have guests over with one hour notice.
The final thing is that the house feels more relaxed. As we get closer and closer to that minimalist goal and the cleaning gets easier and easier the overall stress in the house will go down