I’m big on cutting back on everything you can, cutting back on possessions and mental baggage has helped me cut down on general stress, my reliance on lots of money and allowed me to travel much easier.
I now travel with one large backpack (100 litres) and a standard backpack. This is practically everything I own except two cardboard boxes of old possessions and memories that are stored at my mother’s home.
Once upon a time I owned furniture, hundreds of DVDs, a bunch more CDs, various cooking equipment that never got used and all sorts of household goods. I kept old things such as a broken laptop, some old cabinets, tons of old clothing and more. My life was pretty cluttered and I wasn’t quite sure how it had gotten that way.
When I started to travel as a lifestyle most of my things went into storage. I slowly realised that most of what I had stored was simply not needed. It took about 5 years to get to the stage I am at right now and I am very happy, however many people think I have gone too far.
I recommend cutting back on clutter is a process for everyone to go through but obviously the question of how much should be cut back is different for each and every person and lifestyle.
I own almost nothing, when I do settle for longer periods of time I have nothing to settle with. That means I need to restock at each new location. Often we rent fully furnished but I always need to acquire certain items that then need to be off loaded again when I leave a place. In some ways having too little brings on a little extra stress in the arriving and leaving situations. However my general lifestyle means that this small amount of stress is worthwhile for me, most people don’t live like I do.
In a general situation it’s easy to get too trigger happy and get rid of everything and anything without fully considering each item. I have known people who have gotten rid of all their tools and then had to run around borrowing and buying new items when something breaks and need fixing. It’s easy to think that you can forgo something like a home insurance policy, but you need to be realistic and realise that expensive accidents can happen at any time. You may decide to dump the washing machine and use the launderette and end up with no time to get your clothes washed, get rid of the microwave and end up not cooking anything (although I do suggest getting rid of microwaves and learning to cook in bulk if you can!).
So how should you approach cutting back?
Here is what I think and it all goes back to pen and paper.
- Go through room by room and write every item you own down. This is a good time to also get rid of useless clutter like old paperwork.
- Get a few marker pens in a few colours. I like to have 3 categories. Needed, not needed and would like to keep. Mark each item with the right colour for its category.
- Sell, give away or recycle all the ‘not needed’ items.
- Now you need to go through the ‘would like to keep’ items. This can take some time and you may need to revisit the list quite a few times to really decide. These are the items you really need to be sure of before off-loading.
- Revisit this process every 6-months or so until you really are living as minimally as is right for you.
Obviously this process may not be right for you but the point is that following something is better than aimlessly getting rid of things and regretting later.
So do go ahead and enthusiastically minimalise. I love hearing stories of the freedom it brings people. However be weary and don’t do anything you will regret.
I would love to hear thoughts on how much cutting back is too much and if you have ever made that mistake.
Thanks a million.