Finding a balance between hoarding and minimalism

Hoarding vs minimalism - finding a balance

As a ridiculously sentimental person, letting go of stuff is tough for me. From text messages to jewellery to recipes I’ve never made, I’ve always been a hoarder. I once moved three times in less than a year, and all T could say as he did the grunt work was: “YOU HAVE SO MUCH CRAP!”

Yeah, for one person, I did have a lot of crap. Old photography projects. Random books. Shedloads of paper, namely, lyrics to songs I penned back in the day, and drafts of my “great teen novel” that I can’t bring myself to even look at now.

But I’ve actually pared down a lot recently. Perhaps most remarkable was culling my book collection. It wasn’t large by anyone’s standards, but there were very few in there that I liked. I don’t buy books. All of these were gifted, donated, free or basically free to me. So you can imagine…

Until recently, I would have laughed at the thought of ever considering minimalism as something to aspire to. But it’s a topic many of the blogs I read regularly have touched on recently, and like anything else, you take from it what you want.

Living in a small, confined studio leads you to reconsider what you actually need to own. In the future, we’ll have a proper kitchen and utensils. A living room and a dining table, even. A garage and a workshop for T. But for now, this is all we need.

I’m starting to compost, to grow things in our garden – we had our very first baby carrots this month, and I think onions are on the way! – and cut down on the amount of rubbish we put out. I’m not going to make my own detergent or ditch plastic bags in favour of rinsing the bin every other day; I’d rather pay $2 for a box of laundry powder that lasts months, and reuse the free bags we get at the greengrocer. (Real greenies, don’t jump down my throat: we use reusable grocery bags at the supermarket.)

Ultimately it comes down to three things:

Saving money. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Capisce?

Eco-awareness/health. For example, I may not make my own washing powder but I do use homemade, more natural cleaners from baking soda/vinegar. That also crosses over with saving dosh.

Sheer laziness. I mean really, why use more ingredients when you can use fewer? (That’s why I love stonesoup – Jules introduced me to the world of minimalist cooking, plus she’s an Aussie so uses metric mesasurements.)

I don’t know if I can or want to call myself a bona fide minimalist. I’ve never been a shopaholic by any stretch of the imagination, but I still have a lot of trinkets – my clay bears I’ve had forever, a few stuffed toys, and other things (to name a few) which serve no practical purpose but hold some kind of meaning or memory for me. Maybe over time I’ll slowly let go of those too. In the meantime, minimalism to me serves as an extension of personal finance and my own beliefs – prioritising what’s important to me, as an individual, and valuing experience, in most cases, over physical stuff.

9 thoughts on “Finding a balance between hoarding and minimalism

  • Reply Stephanie December 13, 2010 at 18:34

    I agree that you definitely start throwing things out once you don’t have space for them. What I would have done is store the recipes on a computer to save space. Unless they’re books… well, you could always donate the books that you don’t like years after you got them. Hopefully you won’t regret getting rid of too much when you’re not in a studio anymore.

    I’m not sure whether I’d want to be a bona fide minimalist either. It seems nice to have a few memorable trinkets here and there.

  • Reply findingserenity2010 December 14, 2010 at 09:09

    I can completely relate, as this is something I struggle with as well. But unlike you, I can’t bear to part with my books, even if I haven’t read them in years.

    You’re right on the dot with saving money by not getting things you don’t need/don’t have space for, but where hoarders really struggle is getting rid of something they paid money for at one time, or might need in the future, or something (I am perhaps talking from experience there). The only way of getting past that is having someone hold your hand and make you donate the item to someone who really needs it. But you don’t seem to need that too badly. Best of luck in keeping it simple

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  • Reply N.W.Journey December 15, 2010 at 06:46

    What a great read! It is definitely hard to get rid of those things we are attached to, even though we may not need them, until circumstance doesn’t allow for them to be a part of our lives anymore. It’s not often that sheer will power alone allows us to get rid of things. Congratulations on your success in your accomplishments so far.

    Hopefully I will soon be on my way to paring down and using common sense to waste less, do less, and save more 🙂 Thanks for the entertaining post!

  • Reply Red December 15, 2010 at 07:21

    I think being environmentally conscious is all about choosing the things that you CAN do to make a difference. Personally, I’m okay making my own laundry detergent because it will save me money and because I kind of look at it like a science experiment so it’s dorky fun for me. 🙂 But I’m not willing to give up toilet paper. It’s just about finding what works for you and doing that. The only time I get upset about others’ environmental impact is when I see people downright wasting for no reason. My coworker pulls two GIANT paper towels from the roll every time she eats. I’m like, dude, you’d have to be a 12 y/o boy eating BBQ ribs to need that much.

    I haven’t found the minimalism/hoarding balance. But then again, I don’t feel like I’m deprived so maybe that is the balance. Still, I’m constantly looking for things to donate or sell from my stuff. 🙂 Good luck finding your balance!

  • Reply Link love: Powered by olive oil and unshaped plans « Musings of an Abstract Aucklander December 19, 2010 at 14:33

    […] couple of days after I wrote this post on minimalism, Heather Rae also blogged about the same thing and struggling to find a […]

  • Reply Daisy January 3, 2011 at 16:57

    I’m glad somebody is on the same page as me!
    Although I will try making my own laundry detergent, simply because I’m super cheap.
    Our apartment is super tiny, so we don’t have much room for stuff. We thus, don’t have a lot of stuff. Later on in life, I hope to have all the best gear!

  • Reply Financial Samurai May 8, 2011 at 12:30

    I have a lot of clothes, which is a waste b/c the only clothes I really enjoy wearing are my comfy workout clothes when I play tennis!

    It feels so good to declutter. Everytime I load up a couple bags of stuff it feels great!

  • Reply Sunday evening round up - TotallyMoney February 17, 2012 at 06:34

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