Frugality is two-fold: First, frugality forces us to make the most of what we have.
Second, frugality requests us to clear away anything we do not need and distracts us from our ultimate goals.
If you’re one of the more seasoned readers of frugality, one of the most touted pieces of advice for those of us seeking to live a more frugal life, is to clear away our cr*p.
Doing so helps us make better use of things we have, and avoids the accumulation of things we don’t need or want.
This week I’m taking a good hard look at what I have in the apartment. I already got rid of two small bags of clothes as I transitioned from winter to spring clothes, and now I’m going through what I’m bringing out to wear for warmer weather and donating whatever doesn’t fit me or no longer suits my taste.
It’s surprising how therapeutic this process can be. Not only are you allowing yourself to let go of what those things represent- which are usually very silly. Typically, when we hold onto things we no longer use, it’s an emotional thing. We can look at an item and lovingly remember acquiring it. Granted, that shirt from your vacation never gets worn out anymore because it makes you feel frumpy, but that resort was so much fun! These emotions can also include the fear of letting go, guilt or shame that you never used it or no longer use it, or even sometimes the worry that if you don’t hold onto it, you’ll need it someday (or you keep it to honor the thoughtfulness of the giver).
Sometimes we hold onto things out of hope too. We get a serious case of the “somedays”– even when those things we hope to do no longer serve us. If you haven’t read that best seller by now, will you ever read it? Do you even want to anymore when you’d rather just watch the movie? We hope that we’ll finally use that exercise equipment, but the shame that we haven’t used it yet doesn’t propel us to action, it just makes us feel worse. Ditching the idea and the false hope behind it can be freeing. You don’t HAVE to finish or start anything- give it to someone who will and don’t let your guilt or your “someday” projects keep you from focusing on what you actually want to do.
I took 10 minutes today (Yes, that’s all it took) to look around the room, from where I’m sitting right now, and without even having to move my tush- I was able to list 5 videogames, 5 books and a few unused things on Amazon.com
I took an additional 5 minutes to bag some clothing items I no longer use, and will take them to the donation bin by the church.
In total- 20 minutes made me feel so much freer and will undoubtedly make me about $50 richer so I can pay off those summer clothes I just bought.
For me, it’s more about striving for authenticity and personal focus than coupon clipping and stocking up on ketchup. Frugality combines both the appeal of minimalism, the clarity of being in tune with what surrounds you, and the love we all have for shiny, new fun things in moderation. Doing frugality right doesn’t mean a mad dash to find something on sale, it means slowing down to find out what really matters to you, and directing your energies to getting without losing out on your money or your life.
My hope for you is that you’ll take 20 minutes to clear out your clutter today, make a few dollars (or donate your things so a charity can make a few dollars).
Put that money towards your long term goals: taking an art class, buying a gift for a friend, contributing to your savings, paying off a credit card.
Whatever makes you happy, make room for it in your life!