If you’ve read my columns before you have probably figured out that I am frugal with my money.
No, not frugal. Cheap.
I come from a long line of bargain hunters who wear the title of cheapskate like a badge of honor. In fact, I couldn’t tell you the last time I paid the retail price for anything. This perspective on money has allowed me to become totally debt free and build up sizable savings. However, one downside to my passion for finding deals is often times I buy things not because I need or want them, but because the deal is just too good to pass up. I often end up rationalizing purchases by telling myself, “I’d be a fool not to buy it at this price.”
This condition has grown worse all the more recently with the opening of a bulk surplus store near my home where brand new items can be purchased as much as 95 percent off retail. I’m not proud to say that within the past month I have purchased four professional grade snorkel masks, a vacuum food saver, a 100-foot, stainless steel garden hose, a gigabit Wi-Fi router, a meat grinder, an outdoor HD TV antenna, a dashboard GPS device, a 5,000-gallon-per-hour pond pump and more than a dozen other high-quality items, none of which I have paid more than $5 for.
Obviously, I have received amazing deals on each of these items, but at the same time, not one has been used or even taken out of its package. Instead, they have just been moved to the basement to be stored for a later date. For me, the fun is not in owning or using the items. It’s the hunt of finding them on the cheap. As you might imagine, what becomes less fun is finding a place to store them all.
When I visit my parents, who have accumulated more than their fair share of stuff over the years, I can’t help but think about how hard it will be, when something happens to them, for my siblings and me to clean out all of these items.
This fear of what my own future might hold if I don’t change my ways, along with several friendly suggestions from my wife, has really caused me to start thinking about considering a more minimalist lifestyle. As I began to research what it really means to embrace minimalism, I quickly realized it’s not about just purging things you own from your home but instead purging materialistic ideas from your brain. It requires a change in your mindset and a refocusing on what is truly important in your life.
One advantage I have is, I don’t have an emotional connection to things. I can easily give them away, or discard them without hesitation. The trouble is, it isn’t as much fun to get rid of things as it is to accumulate them, so it doesn’t happen as often as it should.
However, as part of my desire to reduce excess stuff in my life I have begun to give away more of the things I own.
This strategy I have found has multiple benefits. It allows me to be a blessing to others who might not have as much as I do, it fills me with a sense of purpose, and it allows me to continue my hobby of treasure hunting but in a way that is far more fulfilling and guilt free.
I bet most of you reading this article have more than you need as well. I challenge you to join me over the next 30 days in completing these five decluttering tasks:
• Get rid of five duplicate items you own.
• Get rid of 10 things you haven’t used or worn in a year.
• Digitize three nostalgic items.
• Sell or give away 1 item of value.
• For all items purchased, get rid of one of equal size.
In a future article I hope to update you on my progress in reaching minimalistic bliss. And would love for you to send me your experiences in reducing the hold “stuff” has on your life as well. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our discussion on facebook.
Luke Davis is the director of operations and compliance at Stewardship Capital in Independence.