Over the past week my wife and I finally had time to start making real progress in our goal to declutter and get rid of excess possessions that are adding little to no value to our life and in some ways interfere with our Financial Independence goal. We were inspired by a book we both read titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. While not everything in the book is relevant to our life, it provides a different perspective that actually gets us wanting to declutter and provides a process that we are currently following. The first step in the process is to sort and discard your excess clothing. Between the two of us we ended up donating 31 bags of clothes and it is absolutely amazing to realize the scale of what we had accumulated. Even more amazing is I had done several clothing purges over the last year and already had a significantly downsized amount of clothes which probably would have added 10 additional bags to our total. I estimate that between the two of us we donated about 75% of the clothes we owned through this process leaving us with only 25% of the original total, and it still seems like a lot is left.
A couple of interesting things emerged during this process:
First, we did this in two stages with my wife sorting her clothes first and then I sorted mine second. It took each of us almost an entire day to get through all of our clothes (which is why we had to do it on different days).
Second, it is amazing how much you have and never use or in this case wear. For me, my biggest problem was that things would simply be buried at the bottom of the dresser drawers and never resurfaced.
My biggest area of elimination was T-shirts that had been accumulating for the last 15 years. Most of them were from events, activities, or gifts, and in many cases were free.
We also filled two boxes with just hangers that were no longer needed after emptying the closet. I distinctly remember making several trips to the store just to buy more hangers because we didn’t have enough for all our clothes… what a waste.
Finally, and perhaps the most significant thing for me, I can finally find everything I own (in terms of clothes) because now they are neatly organized (and folded) so I can see everything in both my dresser and closet.
Decluttering may seem like it is only peripherally related to financial independence, but there are actually many direct links to the way we want to live our lives both pre and post FI. A large part of this is simply not being tied down or focused on “stuff”. There is, of course, a financial impact when you are not spending money on buying stuff you may not even value, but it also helps simplify your life and focus on your true priorities when you remove the parts that bring little value or joy. I have said many times that the book Your Money or Your Life had a huge impact on how we are approaching this project, and a big part of that for us is realizing what our “enough” looks like not just in money but in personal possessions.