Stuff I Thought Would Happen (But Didn’t)

10153963_10154814740365231_2309747708397022656_nI have been at this a while now. Three months! Back before I started this experiment on September first, I had some ideas rolling around in my head about how things would look at this point.

I think it’s time I cop to each of them, and let you know exactly where I stand.

(Spoiler: None of this has turned out the way I thought it would.)

What I Thought: My house is going to be so organized.

Reality: Haha. Hahahahaha. Ha.

I thought that by just stopping the flow of stuff into the house, it would make the existing stuff sort of take care of itself. This has not been the case. I’ve learned that getting rid of stuff takes much longer than acquiring it. Some days, I think how easy it would be to just take a big garbage bag and clear-cut the rec room, but my conscience still will not allow me to bin something that would be of use to someone else. So I make piles, I poll friends and relatives to see if they want a particular thing, then it sits in my house till I can off-load it. Freecycle is great, but I’m rarely home. I need to get much better about dropping off regular donations to thrift shops. Hit me with your favourite ways to get rid of your own stuff.

What I Thought: I am going to have so much extra time.

Reality: See above.

I have yet to harvest this particular fruit of my labour. I think I need a solid week to really deal with all the stuff I have stashed away, and this time of year doesn’t come with a lot of downtime. However, steering clear of malls and larger centres of commerce all month long is an appealing thought.

What I Thought: I am going to save all kinds of money.

Reality: Sort of.

While it’s true that I don’t feel as flush as I expected to, objectively, I do have more in the bank than I would have otherwise. I have had some planned, one-off expenses for which I have paid in cash, whereas I might previously have put them on a credit card. My credit cards all have zero balances, and my total debt load has decreased by $1500. I have not managed to maintain the $1000 minimum balances in my Chequing and Savings accounts, so I am re-evaluating these numbers. I’ve also decreased my cell phone bill and I have some big plans for the New Year. Since I won’t have Christmas to pay off, I should be able to make some real headway.

What I Thought: I might lose some weight.

Reality: Food is good.

One of my rules is that I am not allowed to buy convenience food, and I shouldn’t be eating much of that stuff anyway. For the most part, I have kept the rule. One consequence which I didn’t foresee is that I learned to make really good bread. Who among you can resist a freshly baked roll? My weight is unchanged, and it’s possible that I’m eating more of the things I might have avoided otherwise. Clearly, this experiment has not been the cure-all I wanted it to be, and I need more work in this area.

What I Thought: I am going to give up.

Reality: This is who I am now.

Today is Cyber Monday (as if you didn’t know), a day when there are deals to be had Internets-wide. People are asking me if I feel like I am missing out on all the deals and sales this year. I don’t. There isn’t even a twinge. Nothing. If I can get through this week without the desire to buy, I think I can get through anything. I have a purpose. To those of you who have known me a long time, this must seem like a drastic change. It doesn’t really feel that way to me. My consumer behaviour has been evolving in recent years, gradually and deliberately, so that this step feels logical and inevitable. The woman who dragged her mother and toddler all through Shenzhen to get a (very, VERY good) “Birkin” bag? She has faded into memory. The girl who casually handed over her Visa card for $500-worth of monkey-picked oolong tea? She exists only as parable. From this point on, there shall be no tea undrunk, no clothing unworn, no yarn unknitted. And I have you to thank for it.


6 thoughts on “Stuff I Thought Would Happen (But Didn’t)

  1. We regularly make trips to drop things off at Value Village. I slacked off in this department over the past year and our little house showed it. We carted off 6 bags and a BIG box a few weeks ago, and have likely another 6 to go. Todd pointed out that we could have had a pretty kick-ass yard sale with all of this stuff, but at this point, I just want it out. I did manage to save a few things for some family members who could use them (like hand-me-down clothes, toys and games), but other than that, I tried my best to be pretty ruthless in the de-cluttering department.

    I knew a minimalist-type lady once who was always in the process of de-cluttering. She would remove things from general space that she didn’t think people were using, and just put them away in an out of sight bin. If no one came looking for it after a month, she would donate it. She swore by this method and always had a very clutter-free home! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Get ready for the longest comment ever.

    My big project this year has been getting rid of things, while very carefully considering the need of anything new I bring into the house. It’s far from a buy nothing year, but I’ve bought far less and gotten rid of so much.

    So what spurred this change? Downsizing. January of this year Sean and I moved out of our large two bedroom apartment and into a small one bedroom basement flat in order to save some rent dollars. Now. I’m not so good at the square footage thing. But it’s safe to say that our new space is about 1/2 (maybe 2/3) as big as the space we came from. More importantly, we lost the crazy large amounts of storage that our old place had. And, of course, those crazy large amounts of storage were crammed full of junk that would not fit into our new place.

    We started with the big and obvious things before moving. For example, about a year before moving we replaced our old dining table that was falling apart with an Amish built piece that will probably outlive me (if I could marry a piece of furniture this would be it), but we somehow failed to get rid of the crappy old table. Instead, we put in the corner of our office with delusions of using it for things like fixing guitars and wrapping gifts. Predictably, it was piled high with random things in a matter of weeks and was never used for its intended purpose. This table, along with our second desk, an uncomfortable office chair, and an awkward end table were placed outside next to the building where they were quickly scavenged by neighbours. I hope they made better use of these things than me.

    The harder part has been getting rid of all the little things that fit on shelves or into cupboards and take up very little space on their own. But they add up. The kitchen was full of these things.

    We’re cooking on induction now, which means that not all of our pots and pans are compatible with the stovetop. The first reaction was to tuck them away because we’re renting and they will probably work again in the next place. But after about 6 months of shifting unused pans around the tiny amounts of storage space that we do have, I finally decided they need to go. And really, if I’d been cooking 6 months without them, they were unnecessary in the first place. Along with the pans went all kitchen things that hadn’t been used or unpacked since the move. The only exception was a toaster. A sad lonely toaster that lives in my closet and still hasn’t been used. I call him Bernie.

    Once I got started with the kitchen everything else began falling into place. It was obvious that I had too much stuff. DVDs, video games, old game systems, CDs, books, board games, clothes, shoes, etc, etc, etc. It is a continual process. And I still have lots of these things. But we have loaded the Matrix full of things to take to Value Village 3 times in the last few months. We have also put together a number of more expensive items that we intend to list on Kijiji in the new year (I anxiously await the day that I have a piano free bedroom). And, really, it’s about time that I have another look at that kitchen. I know there is still stuff in there just taking up space.

    The flip side to this downsizing is that I have stopped buying frivolous things on the internet. And the internet knows, man. It knows what things I want. Everywhere I look there are ads for Hunter rain boots and Uggs. But I keep resisting them. In fact, I’m proud to say that I made it through this crazy sale weekend having bought 2 only things, and that they were things I really did need. First, a winter jacket because my old jacket doesn’t fit anymore. Second, new winter boots to replace a pair I bought used 5 years ago (they recently started stabbing me with broken bits of themselves, you see).

    Whether it is getting rid of things I don’t use or not buying something I really don’t need, it’s still hard sometimes. I like things. But I’m working on lessening my attachment to them. And my home feels happier with less clutter.

    Sean thinks I’m doing homework right now. I should probably actually do that.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “The girl who casually handed over her Visa card for $500-worth of monkey-picked oolong tea?” Please tell me this is true, not just a funny thing you wrote in your usual funny way. No wait, I don’t want you to have spent $500 on monkey tea (but I kiiiiinda do).

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a real thing that happened, and has brought much laughter to co-workers over the years. You know that thing where you’re going to buy something, and it ends up costing way more than you thought, and you pretend like you knew all along how much it was going be, and give them your credit card like you do this sort of thing all the time? That’s a Monkey Tea Moment.


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