Letting Go of Possessions and Embracing Mimimalism

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We’re surrounded by the idea that “more is more.”  Commercials, magazines, and society in general tell us that having more is a good thing: a bigger house, a fuller closet, the latest technology, etc. While I’ve never valued my worth in terms of what I own, I have accumulated a lot of possessions in my lifetime.  The latest seasonal fashions – I want them!  The newest iPhone (even though my current one is completely fine) – gotta have it!  Bath & Body Works candles are 2/$22 – let’s get 10!  I know I am very fortunate to have what I do, as there are so many people in this world who go without.  However, I own way more than I need, and I never considered the negative effects of that until recently. 

It all started a few months ago when I was apartment hunting (spoiler alert – I’m moving soon!).  I kept finding beautiful spaces in great locations at decent prices that I felt were a little small: not enough closet space, not enough kitchen and bathroom storage, not enough square footage, etc.  I became frustrated, because I was looking at some really neat charming places and passing on them because I didn’t think all of my stuff would fit.  Then all of a sudden, a lightbulb clicked on: what if I just had less stuff?

In a split second, I came to a realization that literally changed my life and perception of owning things:

I had too much stuff.  Too much stuff I didn’t need, that it turned out money was wasted on because it didn’t end up getting used enough.  The money was already wasted, already gone, I couldn’t return the items for a refund. Keeping these items was not going to un-waste my money.  Example: sweater I bought a year ago and have only worn once.

So here I am, with all of this stuff I wasted money on, looking to waste more money to live in a bigger place so I can store all of this stuff I wasted money on.  *BOOM*  My head exploded.

So I began purging.  And when I was done purging, I would purge some more.  It wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be.  I looked around my home and began to see how trivial all of the extra clutter was, and the more I cleared out, the better I felt.  When I got stuck, I read minimalist blogs to “inspire” me to keep going. I took a car full of clothing, shoes, and accessories to Salvation Army.  I donated and sold furniture, decor, and other household items.  I cut my makeup collection nearly in half.  IT FELT AMAZING.

While I wouldn’t consider myself a “minimalist” (yet), I have definitely embraced some values of minimalism in this process.  Does this mean I no longer shop?  That you’ll never see a haul video from me again?  No way!!  The way I interpret minimalism is that it’s not about owning as little as possible, but only owning what you really use and love.  There should not be any items weighing your life down that don’t hold a real value to you.  Be a conscious consumer.  It’s also a journey; today I went through my closet again and pulled out about a dozen pieces to donate.  I’ve become much more conscious about new items I’m bringing home.  Over time, I expect that these efforts will result in even more space and less clutter.

One of the best things is, I’m much less stressed about moving!  I have so much less stuff to box up and pack.  Ironically, the apartment I ended up finding happens to have great storage and room, as well as a wonderful walk-in closet that I’m now wondering if I can even fill.  But you know what? I’m finding that I prefer the feeling of extra space to the feeling of extra “stuff.” :)

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  • Austin Wong

    Moving is so annoying when you have so much. Good luck!

  • Laura S.

    Love this post! I’ve also discovered the value of minimalism! My sister and I went through our collection of body products (wash, lotions, face cleansers, etc) and donated a bunch to a youth transition house in our area! They were really happy to have all of these products :)
    xo, Laura
    laurasbestlife.com

  • rchiariello

    Good for you! My boyfriend and I live in a 500 square foot apartment and it is literally packed to the brim with STUFF! Being a borderline hoarder can be very stressful.

  • http://nueyork.blogspot.com nueyork

    This is something I really adhered to when I was moving. Going through all of my clothes and cupboards made me realise how much stuff I hold on to because I attach some kind of sentiment to it. Having room to grow is definitely more fun than being overwhelmed with lack of space.

    nueyork.blogspot.com

  • http://allistewart.com/ Alli Stewart

    “So here I am, with all of this stuff I wasted money on, looking to waste more money to live in a bigger place so I can store all of this stuff I wasted money on.” OMG THIS.

    I just moved, too. Even though I felt like I had culled quite a bit of extraneous stuff while packing, but as I took everything out of the boxes I felt like there was still just too much! I’m still in the process of unpacking and organizing, and was actually putting off working on my closet by reading your latest post… So this really couldn’t have been more appropriate! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    allistewart.com

    • Allison Anderson

      RIght?? Whenever I move I pull so much stuff out of nooks and crannies that I forgot I even had, and it’s like what’s the point of this? Glad the post inspired you :)

  • Erin Smith

    Great post Allison!

  • http://melaniface.blogspot.com.au/ melaniface

    I’m so glad more and more people are leanings towards this idea of minimalism. It makes you realise what is really important in life & that is not your stuff. It also free’s up time & money for things like travel. Great post Allison!

    • Allison Anderson

      Thank you! And exactly, would much rather save money for travel and important things than my tenth pair of boots…

  • Caitlin Bryer

    Can you please right more about this journey you are on. I’m trying to get rid of things I own as well and am really struggling with it. I’m excited for you!

    • Allison Anderson

      Yes! I’d love to do a whole series about it! :)

  • Peppermint Honey

    Glad to see others have the same thoughts as me when it comes to possessions. I just moved recently and that is when I realised how incredibly over-burdened with items I was. Now I am slowly going from room to room and purging. I find it quite difficult as a lot of the stuff has sentimental attachments but its a mental thing I need to overcome. THe items won’t bring back the memories any better than my own mind will. :)

    • Allison Anderson

      Moving really makes you realize how much stuff you have, it’s such a great motivator to purge!

  • http://www.noirettediary.com/ Siham Hamdan

    What a great post! I couldn’t agree more with you on this, last year something similar happened to me. I’m always rearranging my furniture, it somehow keeps me at peace, but as I kept moving stuff around I started noticing that there were many things that didn’t “have a place” and they were just being kept in drawers forever! And not to mention they were things I knew I didn’t need or use but I had them “just in case” and Justin Case never visited my house. One day I was painting my bedroom, I had moved out everything to another room and that night I slept with only my bed and a little table to my side, it felt so good to have literally nothing around! I quickly fell in love with minimalism and decided to get rid of everything I didn’t need (lies, I only have one “just in case” drawer, but one is good). Right now I’ve purged mostly everything and I’m even considering getting furniture that doesn’t have storage just to keep myself form buying more things. That’s my little story with all my extra stuff haha, the only place I’m missing is my wardrobe but I’ll get to that one when I start picking out the winter clothing 😛 X

    | http://www.noirettediary.com |

    • Allison Anderson

      Haha! Justin Case! He doesn’t visit me much either 😉

  • http://standard-t.blogspot.com/ Toyosi

    Having less is such a good feeling! I’m in the process of getting rid of all the things I have just sitting in my closet so I can focus and buy things I really love.

  • http://teainjanuary.blogspot.com/ Aissa

    Thank you for sharing this post :) It’s a great feeling when you don’t have all this stuff that you don’t really need. It’s tough learning to part with some of my stuff, but I’m learning!

    Aissa // tea in january

  • http://www.rootswingswanderings.com/ Caiti

    I really relate to this post; I’ve experienced similar lightbulb moments like this in the past and I’m finding that living with less and being more intentional is such a more peaceful and satisfying way to live.

    I highly recommend the Youtube channel Light by Coco if you’re not already familiar with her (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp12IFoANz_tEY6YgZFqohA/).. She’s a lifestyle vlogger covering minimalism/living light, capsule wardrobes, simple recipes, etc. Her editing style is really great too, so her videos are a real pleasure to watch.

    • Allison Anderson

      Thanks for the recommendation! I have been looking for “minimalist” channels to follow and she sounds perfect! :)

  • http://emiliashea.blogspot.com/ Emily Shea

    This just definitely hit home for me. I just looked all around my bedroom right now and it is full to the brim with a ton of stuff I don’t need.

  • Erika Chan

    That’s so awesome Allison! You inspired me to try and embrace minimalism more. I advocate for minimalism, but recently started working in a mall and find it hard to resist shopping when shiny new things surround me all the time… but now is just as good of a time as any other to try again!

  • http://haveaparade.com Lindsay Weimer

    I totally am on board with the minimalist idea. It wasn’t until my husband and I moved from a large 2 bedroom apartment to a very tiny 1 bedroom apartment that I decided downsizing was actually good for the soul. Then we moved across the country and reduce by about another half. Clutter builds gradually and as soon as I hit a certain point, it’s time to purge again. It always feels great!

  • http://www.modernbeautygirl.blogspot.com/ sisi

    this is awesome! I totally agree with your definition of minimalism and it’s something that I’m trying to adopt for myself because I’m going to college next year and I’m trying to get my makeup and clothing collection down to what I truly love and need!
    -Sisi
    http://www.modernbeautygirl.com
    http://www.othermoderngirl.blogspot.com

  • http://alinaermilova.blogspot.com/ Alina Ermilova

    I fully agree with you! I guess a lot of us can relate to that problem. I personally have started to realize the perks of ‘minimalism’ only recently and I can’t even express how much happier I’m with buying only what I REALLY NEED!

    <3

    ALINA ERMILOVA

  • shirale68

    This post is lovely. Being one that is subscribed to so many beauty and fashion youtubers ,addicted to fashion and pretty things I find that this world can be a little harming sometimes because it really makes you want to buy more and more and have a bigger makeup collection and a bigger closet and it doesn´t end. So by hearing something like that from you, someone who comes from this world ,who I love watching, it relax’s me and almost comforts me to know that it’s ok not to have a ton of stuff and that life isn’t all about shopping. Thank you.

  • Zoe

    Yes I totally agree! Thanks for sharing! Much love from http://devilreturnsprada.wordpress.com/

  • Bianca

    You have been reading my mind! I have a huge medical bill to pay off and I don’t want to go into debt to do it. All of a sudden my hubby mentioned that we should do a yard sale because he can barely fit anything in our spare room anymore and my lightbulb went off… I can sell my stuff and pay off my bill… Two birds with one stone! I need to have things organized and despise clutter, I feel like I function better and my head is clearer, so it’s more like three birds with one stone :)

  • http://thehobbitkitchen.blogspot.co.uk/ holly ; the hobbit kitchen

    Such a great post! Totally resonating with me at the moment – I’ve just moved in with my boyfriend and god, we have a LOT of stuff. I’d love to read some of those minimalism blogs that inspired you – do you have any recommendations?

  • Maggie

    Gotta love throwing things out! This makes room for new stuff!
    http://thatsmagsforyou.com

  • Elizabeth L

    I’ve been slowly purging all my clothes and makeup over the past couple months and it feels great! http://elizabethkathrynx.blogspot.com/

  • Melanie

    great post. And so so true. We all have way to much stuff. Stuff we don’t need and more of a want. I recently moved and boy did I clean things out. It was therapeutic to get rid of stuff that is not used. Now I look at the cost per wear…am I going to wear it, use it. I use coupons wait for things to go on sale even clearance. Its a new found freedom that I am enjoying

  • http://valdesroses.wordpress.com/ Val Des Roses

    Very inspiring, I moved 7 times in the last 2 years, I keep getting ride of stuff every times I pack. Not that I have useless things now but it is just not useful to have that many when you know you’re gonna move again.

  • Mallory Marie

    Love this post, and perfect timing! I am going through this same “journey.” It’s refreshing to see a blogger and youtuber come to this same realization and share the experience. Thanks for posting! :)

  • YuriG

    I had that moment too, when i realised i had too much stuff….and what a liberating feeling is that of giving it away! Almost terapeutic,in my opinion…i still have momente when i want to buy and buy, but sometimes i realise that i don’t REALLY need that item. I’m happy that you also embrace some sort of minimalism 😉 tale care Allison

  • Margery Ho
  • http://accooohtrements.wordpress.com/ Becky : : accooohtrements blog

    i’ve been decluttering for the best part of a year & it feels AMAZING! i’ve still got a way to go but i’m so glad i started this journey.

    i’ve blogged about it too, if you’re interested.

    becky :: accooohtrements.wordpress.com

  • Jennifer X

    All the stuff can definitely creep up on one – happened to me too! One of my weaknesses is books – I like having books, keeping books, reading books – but recently I decided to clean off my shelves and shelves of books, and it just took a lot longer than I would like it to, plus I really got into cleaning them. So, sadly, I am parting with some books. Having a Kindle made it a little easier for some of it. At the end, it does feel good to have space on shelves and not having them so cluttered.

    I’m with you! Keep up the good work! :)

  • Allison

    I like to think about the minimalist approach to life simply because I can’t afford to buy very much (post grad probs) so my tiny closet is not filled but I love and wear almost all of it so its a good thing!

    Allison from http://www.mercuteify.com

  • http://honesttrees.wordpress.com Theresa D.

    I recently did a post on Minimalism too – more specifically, The Minimalists. They’re worth checking out if you’re interested in more mainstream minimalism!

    Theresa

    http://honesttrees.wordpress.com

  • kate green

    Could you post the links to some of the blogs you read? I would love to read them. Thank you!

  • Michelle Barrêto

    Allison, I have just read “Paris Letters”, by Janice MacLeod. It it not a book on minimalism per se, but it is about the journey of a tired woman who wanted to have enough money to quit her job and go to Europe. There is a fantastic chapter on how and why she started letting go of things. It is on Audible, too. It is an amazing book!

  • Olya Kryukova

    After moving to another continent with a huge luggage, I’ve realized I want to live different. To clean up my mind and start with a blank page. Building capsule wardrobe feels like organizing your personal life! My experience of the process I blog here : http://bit.ly/5piecewardrobe

    BTW, minimal makeup collection is a great start!

    Oly from TLV Birdie Blog
    http://www.tlvbirdie.com

  • Miranda

    you should watch Pinksofoxy her video’s, very inspiring with decluttering! Good luck with the move :)

  • BBFF

    Great post, just where I am right now. Use what you have and give away or sell what you don’t need.

  • jenna

    i’m on a minimalistic journey as well and we share the same mindset. The problem I’ve found with a lot of minimalistic blogs is that they focus too much on the number e.g. 100 items, 33 items etc. to me the number isn’t as important as how the items make me feel, it almost makes minimalism seem like a competition – who can have the fewest amount of things. Its funny how overtime it becomes easier to purge and get rid of possessions that 6 months or a year ago I would have been making excuses for why I needed to keep that item in my life. Love reading these minimalism posts from you allison and I hope you keep doing them :)

  • http://diaryofashoeaholic.wordpress.com/ LannyIsaza

    Hi! I started a blog about shoes, I just published my first 10 posts. I would love it if you checked it out. Some people are enjoying it, you might find it fun too. Also I make youtube videos if want to check them out. http://www.youtube.com/otherlannyisaza Thanks :)

    diaryofashoeaholic.wordpress.com/ http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/1264236

  • http://modernmartha.com/ Kelsey Reddick

    A little fall/spring cleaning is essential. I like to go through my closet and makeup collection every six months and toss the things I just don’t wear.

  • Kath Oneill

    I love this. I moved from the UK to Australia about 3 months ago and packed my whole life into a suitcase. I had to leave so much behind and I really thought I would struggle. I’ve still had to have a couple of items sent out to me but for the most part I’m still living out of my suitcase (plus an extra bag I bought – oops). I don’t miss all of my stuff because I don’t really need it. Saying that, there are a few luxuries I’m looking forward to when I get home next summer.

  • Elre van den Heever

    Thank you! I LOVE purging. We are also moving end of this month and I battle sometimes with throwing out even though it’s one of the best things to do. You are an inspiration!

  • http://www.lifesopenpages.blogspot.co.uk/ Jade Morriss

    I can relate to this post as I’ve recently had to same thought process, giving myself little decluttering projects every so often. I’ve got rid of a fair bit with just one or two projects left – my aim is to go in to 2015 with a more minimalistic approach to life.

    I hope the apartment hunting is going well!
    :-)
    Bits & Bobs

  • Camille

    Couldn’t agree more! Awesome post…I hurts everything 2 months. If I don’t wear something in that timeframe or haven’t even reached for it…time to go!

    • Camille

      *purge not hurts…lol

  • http://perlasancheza.blogspot.com/ perlasancheza

    I really liked reading this, sometimes I feel really bad not being able to afford things I want but maybe I wouldn’t even use them. I really want to become a more conscious shopper and get the things I’ll actually use.

    http://perlasancheza.blogspot.com/

  • Jessica

    Love this post! I learned this a few years ago when me and all of my co-workers got laid off because of cuts. It was a scary time and I looked at my huge makeup collection and all of my stuff and realized how much I spent and could’ve saved. It was an eye opener for sure. I have a great career now and I’m picky with how I spend my money.

  • http://www.impressionblend.com/ Marianna Neal

    Good for you, Allison! I’m a big fan of the “if you’re not using it—give it away” strategy. It makes things so much easier! I have moved a lot for the past few years, and that definitely contributed to this philosophy. I am regularly analyzing my possessions on a seasonal basis, and if I notice something hanging out unused—to Salvation Army or friends/family it goes.
    Good luck apartment hunting!

    Marianna | http://www.impressionblend.com

  • http://svenjalivesherdream.blogspot.de Svenja67Beer .

    Lovely post! I’ve read a couple of posts lately about minimalistic wardrobes. It’s sounds like a really good idea to me. Since I’ve moved to London and sorted out my closet in the process, I now only have clothes I really wanna wear and not just laying in my closet.
    Love,
    Svenja

  • http://www.beautybumper.blogspot.com/ Camilla

    I feel inspired, I might do some cleaning out tomorrow :)

    http://beautybumper.blogspot.com/

  • Bruna

    This is exactly the moment I’m going through right now: the purge! It just feels so good, that my new motto is: buy only what I need and use what I have!
    Could you post the links of the minimalist blogs you mentioned? =)

  • Hannah

    I would love to see some of the minimalist blogs you read! Also, huge kudos to you, girl. So many Youtubers and bloggers have so much stuff and would never get rid of half of their makeup like you did. What did you tend to do with the stuff you didn’t want? :)

    Watching for Pigs on the Wing

  • Shifra Weissberger

    Thanks for this post! Buying and keeping stuff i don’t need is definitely something my family suffers from, parents down. Now i realize how much stuff i can give away rather than keeping. Thanks again.

  • http://Avaaz.org Glory Eriksen Gupta

    What a beautifully written, detailed account of the journey we ALL begin when embracing minimalism. I began my journey to not let “stuff” weigh me down and take hold of my life in my very early teens. I even went through a phase where I wouldn’t buy it if it wasn’t used, unless it was a matter of hygiene or food. It has set me free in so many ways. I encourage you on your journey and wish you balance and peace. Be well, Allison. Take good care of yourself and your family, that’s paramount at the moment. Btw, my mom has had cancer too. If you ever feel alone and so inspired, we can work out some way to communicate. My email is my name at gmail. No obligation, no worries if you read this and never think of it again. I’m just here rooting for your family, for your mama, and for you. Be well and greetings from Chicago. <3

    PS Maybe try listening to DMB, if they're your style. I have emerged from many dark times because of their music and lyrics.

  • Emily

    i would love to know what ‘minimalist’ blogs you read :) trying to de-clutter my life!!

  • Rachel Kerzner

    This really inspired me! Lately i’ve been feeling overwhelmed and stressed and recently I discovered it’s because of all the clutter and disorganization in my life. My goal for 2015 as well is to adapt more of a minimalistic lifestyle. Thats so much for sharing and please keep us updated on your journey! :)