The Problem of Getting Rid of Unnecessary Things

I have more things than I need. Over the past few years, I have deliberately tried to cut back on my property. However, when I have to throw away an old board game, I naturally cannot help but think that I will need it someday. Why is it so hard to get rid of things?

This post was originally published on The Simple Dollar .

Most of the things that I consider “mine” will fit in one room of our house. In other words, I could live in my about 100 square feet office if I slept on an air mattress on the floor. If I were single again , I would be content with a much smaller house.

I still have a lot more stuff than I need.

Why do I say that? First of all, we need to understand why exactly I have these things to start with.

Why are my shelves full of books I have already read, or books that I haven’t read yet? The only real reason to keep a book that I’ve already read is because I think I’ll read it again someday, or because this is something I use for reference on a regular basis. My “reference” books are about 30 and my reading books are the same. Why do I have hundreds of books?

Why do I have a large collection of board games that I’ve only played once or twice? I enjoy playing games at least a few dozen times, but now many of my games have much fewer games. Given the frequency with which I play, I probably won’t feel like I’ve actually played most of my games “enough” for years. In addition, many of these games are owned by other members of the game groups I participate in. Why do I have all these games?

Why do we have so many unnecessary things in our kitchen? We really don’t need all those extra pots, pans and other items. Our under-counter storage space is crammed with all sorts of things, but we rarely use more than a couple of things – like the Pyrex bakeware and the big French ovens we use for everything. Most of the rest simply remains unused. Why do we need all this?

Here’s the truth: it’s really hard to get rid of what you have. At the same time, it’s pretty easy to convince yourself to buy more things, even if you already have things that are hardly used.

In both respects, making the wrong choice is costly. Books, games, and cooking utensils (and everything else) on the shelves are money that just sits on them. If I sold these items, I would really be able to put this money where it makes a profit. Plus, every additional item I buy means that the time spent using all the things I already own is divided even more than before. I literally paid money so that I have less opportunity to use what I already have.

Beyond that, I have very little that I cannot borrow from others — I can buy books from the library or games at the community board game nights I attend. In addition, the presence of many subjects means more care – more dust, more effort when moving objects, greater efforts at cosmetic repairs, and so on.

Again, why do I have so many things? And why am I constantly holding on to this?

One of the main reasons is the perception of missed opportunities. When I think about getting rid of something, I imagine scenarios in which I could use it in the future. Often these scenarios seem realistic, but in reality they are unrealistic.

For example, I might think of a board game night that doesn’t go away because I no longer have a particular game that someone wants to play. Another example: I will imagine a situation where I am preparing a dish in the kitchen and I need a certain kitchen tool and somehow the dish will not work without it.

Another reason is the subtle pleasure of viewing objects. I may not play all the games on my shelf, but it is interesting to look at the shelf and explore all the games on it. Of course, I would not have lost so much fun if my collection were, say, half of what it is. The collection of 20 games offers a ton of possibilities when you look at their shelf, as does the collection of 50 games.

Another reason is the desire to get rid of this material. To get a decent price for many of the items we have, we have to spend some time shipping them, posting them online, and so on. It takes time and effort. Even if we just go the yard sale route , it still means that we will devote most of the weekend (and get much less for the goods than other routes).

So here are the real lessons from all of this.

I need to be very strict and critical of any new durables that I buy. If this something stays in our house for a while, do I really need it? Do I really need this new book with the books I already have on the shelves? Do I really need this new game with games that I already have on the shelves? Do I really need this new brush? Do I really need this new kitchen item if I already have items that do similar things?

I need to scale back my collections when convenient. As I said above, it really does take a lot of effort to sell a property if you’re trying to make a decent profit on it. Instead, I just don’t see the opportunity to sell them. I sold games on board game evenings to people interested in specific games. Sometimes I list shipments on Craigslist, but I do it on my own. The goal here is to make a decent profit on my stuff, but also to reduce the amount of stuff I own.

I need to reconsider why things, not experiences, bring me joy. Why do I feel happy when I see a bunch of things on my shelves? Where is the source of this joy? I think it came from childhood, when I didn’t always have what I wanted, but when I’m honest with myself, I realize it’s an illusion. It doesn’t make me happy. What gives me joy is the experience – cooking, playing, and so on. True joy does not come from having something on the shelf.

I need to use my stuff – and if I don’t, it’s a sign that I’m not really the person I imagine myself to be. If I have a stack of books that I think I want to read … but I don’t really read them … what does that mean? This means that perhaps my taste for books and passion for specific books are not as important as I thought. This does not mean that I am bad or that the books are bad. It just means that I need to rethink my tastes and how I spend my time.

I also need to remember that my life choices are an example for my children, both in a direct and less obvious sense. It is always part of my thinking about everything that I choose to do. My kids watch and learn from me. What do I teach them with my choice?

Remember, the ideal life is one in which you get a lot of satisfaction from the way you spend your time and from the fact that you have the things that support that achievement. Possessions that do not support this satisfaction are unnecessary. They just suck up your money and your financial freedom. They fill the space and make you live in a larger house than necessary. They require you to spend more time on maintenance – dusting, moving things, etc.

Do I need to radically change my life, my property and the way I buy things? No. Do I need to pay more attention to the things I own and the things I’m about to buy? Absolutely.

Every step I take in terms of understanding why I spend money and how I can spend that money more effectively to make my life better is a victory. This means that I can better build a joyful life for myself and my family with less money than before, which in turn means that I have more and more freedom in how to spend my time and energy.

The challenge, of course, is to translate this understanding into everyday life. I need to work harder so as not to acquire more items and gradually get rid of less used items.

Understanding why I am doing this is one thing. Putting it into practice is another matter.

The problem of getting rid of unnecessary things | Simple dollar


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