It's Hard To De-junk Your Life......

Until you come to the realization that your stuff owns you, not the other way around. The more stuff you have, the less freedom you have.

Consider how much freedom you would have if everything you needed could fit in a backpack. If you needed to move, you'd be done in 5 minutes. 

In the past year, I've cut the amount of stuff I have in half, and I'm about to take another run at cutting that amount in half. I may not get to the backpack model, but I want to see how close I can get.



onlinegrandpa onlinegrandpa
29 Responses Jan 28, 2010

I am inspired. i would love to be able to just pick up and carry off all my stuff. Maybe not a backpack! But, one carload would make me happy.

LET us plant FREE WIKI-TREES, school-yards, in parks, along roads. Creating of FREE FOOD, FREE WATER, FREE SPACE, FREE MOVE...= real freedom. We have to creeate ALL FOR FREE TO ALL = thus, the real value of things will shine and the entire planet will be to all!
Google / youtube: GIFT ECONOMY, GUERRILLA PLANTING and create FREE STUFF at all levels. This is the best way to beat our profit based system that creates scarcity by design. Nobody will buy/ sell us any more = REAL FREEDOM, PERSONAL SOVEREIGNTY & ABUNDANCE to all 7 billion

Hello Onlinegrandpa,
My daughter has been after me for a few months to clean out my closet and stored clothing. When I was a child we didn't have tons of money, I usually got two pairs of pants at the beginning of the school year when I was in grade school and while I wore one pair my Mom washed the other. I never lacked for anything or went to bed hungry and all in all I think I had a wonderful childhood. But, now it is hard for me to throw things, especially clothing and more so shoes and boots away. I have the means to get what I want at this point in my life but it is still tough for me to get rid of clothes that still have use in them.. Thanks for the comment, I have arranged for my daughter to come help sort, you have inspired me.

Oh, I need you to come to my house. I am in the process but no where near to where you are!!!!!

You'd get on well with my wife, the hates clutter, mainly because most of it's mine. We often joke, that there's nothing better than a good dump (i.e. taking rubbish to the tip!). Maybe one day, she will get rid of me? But if she did, who would she moan at?

I recently went through the same process, more out of necessity, but I have to agree with you. There is freedom in de-materializing your life. Having divorced three years ago, leaving my job last year to move back to and sell my house that was worth $180K less than I owed, I was forced to sell everything I owned. It was a painful process to let things go for a tenth of what I thought they were worth. What wouldn't sell, went to the local mission and what they couldn't take went in the trash. In the end, however, I felt like I finally had some closure on the past and felt the freedom to face the future. Now when I look at the few things I managed to keep (because I couldn't part with them) it is with heaviness and an almost loathing. I’ve removed much of the mooring from my life but I’m not free yet. I am also striving for just a backpack so I can move on with my life.

You're absolutely correct. Back in 1995 my motor home in which I lived was stolen and torched whilst I was out walking. This left me homeless with just a few things in my backpack; no access to my bank, no driver's licence or passport, just a bit of loose money. I had never felt so liberated even though I didn't have a great deal in the motor home. I still don't have very much but, as the song goes: I've got plenty of nothing and nothing's plenty for me.

Nice to see this post!
I got rid of everything, house included, and with a Landrover, an off-road trailer with a tent on top, and a decent camera system, took off to explore East, Central and South Africa.
I have met many wonderful people, have some amazing images, and have never regretted my life-style 'till now.
I am now 65 and am beginning to slow down somewhat. I have been 'in the bush' for close on 25 years. The problem is, I now have nothing concrete to show for all those years spent wandering. My twilight years look bleak in the extreme.

You wouldn't know it to look inside my house, but a few years ago I filled my drive way full of "STUFF" and the first come first serve was quite fast. Most of the stuff was gone within a couple of days , and the rest to Goodwill. I had a pickup truck then and took about 6 loads to Goodwill.
Now the house and outside storage shedS are filling up. I don't miss the stuff I gave away, and I'm beginning to throw away, starting with paper correspondence, mainly bills from the past few years. I'm afraid of identity theft, so I rip off any addess's of mine, my name or account #'s and shred them [diamond shaped shreds].
I have a tendency to collect cardboard boxes, the ones that THINGS I purchased came it. I can't explain it but I have an affinity towards cardboard [empty] boxes. They would be easiest to get rid of, simply break them down and place in recycled paper dumpster.
Its nice to know there are other MEN [usually hoarding is focused on women] my age 65-70 who have this affliction.
Take for example a simple staple remover, I couldn't find the one I had buried somewhere on my computer room, so I bought a NEW one, only to find the original one about a month later. I did feel a sense of relief when I got rid of THAT stuff a few years ago, and think now is a good time to do it again. Quite often when I need a specific thing, I know I have , but can't find, it becomes frustrating to find it, so WHY NOT get rid of the stuff that is accumulating, while I can move about in this house.
Your right when you say your STUFF OWNS YOU. I want to reverse that.

Hi I'm curious as to how you got rid of it - did you sell stuff, or just junk it all? Did it take a long time?

Onlinegrandpa, I certainly understand your dilemma. However, I just cleaned out some cabinets and spaces in our garage. I wish I had taken before and after pictures but I know how it looked before. Now, it is a million times more efficient and there was a certain feeling of relief to get rid of all of that stuff that I did not use. A general rule-of-thumb that I use is that if I have not used it in a year, it is time for it to go. That includes clothes as well. When I cleaned out my garage, I quickly discovered that I was purchasing some things twice which is costly. I cleaned out my tool box and discovered that I had two of each tool so I donated/gave some of them away. It was a good feeling to know that I was helping others in the process.

The more stuff you have,
the less freedom you have.

Well think about the act of buying stuff.

You give money
for stuff
that you get a good feeling.

Instead of buying a DVD
you could buy food.

This you can eat yourself
or share with someone
but after eating it
it has been gone.

Or maybe you go into a store
and you pay for what you see there
by hiding money
inside the store.

Maybe you'll realize
that you really
don't need
what you were up to buy.

My problem is with paper, all my drawers,closets,laundry basket, purses,floors corners have letters,newspapers,magazines,sometimes i can find bills from the 80s and 90s.


I am a collector of ba<x>seball cards, comic books, action figures, etc... I just moved and it really was awful. It made me think why do I have ALL this stuff.<br />
I need to let go of some of these THINGS

I have problems hoarding and getting rid of shoes ,coats,clothes and toys i do try to fill up bags and off to the charity shop they go but i actually feel sad putting the stuff into the bags and sometimes i even regret it as i say to myself ,( i could have used that top today, oh i shouldnt have thrown it away). I wonder if there is such a thing as help from my doctor as i believe its a lot to do with my childhood. My house is clean but just not alot of room due to so much stuff, has anyone any ideas that can be of help to me.

Some hoarders call it collecting but it's still hoarding. It's not healthy, it's wasteful, and it makes you a whole lot less mobile than you should be. I've firmed up a new goal that all my belongings will fit inside a standard size car, and, in the near future, I'm going to start unloading until I reach that goal.<br />
<br />
I tend to hoard movies, music, and books, plus the usual clutter. Also, 2/3 of the stuff in my closet will never fit again. If I can make these things go away, I'm thinking my new found sense of freedom will more than make up for any sense of loss. <br />
<br />
I'd really like to get to the point where, if I decided to move, I could be ready in less than an hour. I'm optimistic that I can do this, too.

My husband is a hoarder. One freezing winter when our community was holding a coat drive for those who did not have warm clothing, he had to think twice, and a few more times, about parting with his dead mother's several winter coats. That has always stayed with me. He had to actually think about clothing cold people with clothing that was of absolutely no use to him.<br />
<br />
When I was a kid in a small city home, we had no space to hoard. Our paperbacks went to the veterans' hospital, our comic books went to the children's hospital, and our clothing went to the church's rummage sale.<br />
<br />
I know it's a mental illness, but the selfishness is jaw-dropping. I look at everything and anything I am not using and ask myself, "Could someone else put this to better use?" If so, it goes straight to our local thrift store, where people who don't have my advantages put them to good use.<br />
<br />
Purging is green. Purging is love.

The Amazon Kindel or the new Apple iPad could certainly put a serious dent in how one stores their book collection. Of course, the obvious storage solution is to let the Public Library do the storage for you.

Digitalization certainly has its attractions. I finally got an up to date computer in November after many years of limping by with an antique; I've loaded my CD collection. If I could stand to read books on the screen, that would be another swath of data I could clear physically out of my space without feeling that I'd lost anything. As it is, I'm in the middle of an extended weeding of my library, and have been keeping a list of new books purchased in a prominent place so that I can see whether I'm buying them faster than I'm reading them. (And the list has been near equilibrium for the year, so it's working.)<br />
<br />
Nevertheless, there's still way too much junk in the house, so it's a good thing that this thread is inspiring me to have another go at it this weekend. (The worst stuff is the stuff that I know ob<x>jectively *does* have value but takes effort to sell...)

I've been working on my rather large DVD collection and what I've settled on is moving them all to Case Logic 336 disc binders. 3 of those binders take up a little more than a foot of shelf space. Dump all those jewel cases. I'm cataloging all my movies with a DVD inventory application. When I'm finished, I'll start working on my CD collection.<br />
<br />
However, the latest, greatest technological solution would seem to be 1TB external hard drives. 1 for movies, 1 for back up. Digital storage. The price of these drives is falling and that makes them even more attractive as a storage solution.<br />
<br />
As for my 4 computers, somehow I'm going to bite the bullet and get rid of the 2 oldest ones, a tangerine iMac and an eMac, keeping my 24" iMac and my 17" iMac for back up. That, I think, is about as far as I can go with de-junking computers without having a stroke.

Ah, but it's such a nice goal to shoot for.

Amen. I'm working toward minimalism/simplicity as fast as I can. I have told people for years that my goal is to be able to pick everything I own up at once...but that I'd settle for cutting things down to where they'd all fit in my car. (And it's a Toyota Yaris hatchback, so that would take some discipline.) Succeeding, now that's another story...

A sad admission.......I have 4 working computers. For some odd reason, I can't seem to part with them. And I won't even discuss my dvd collection. I mean, why do I have a dvd collection? Netflix knows where I live and they will send me any movie I want to see, so why do I have a dvd collection?

I have an attachment to my stuff too. I also would love to have the courage to live out of a backpack. You're right, its so freeing to not own anything. Though its so hard for me to throw away my things. I made sure NOT to collect anything I don't really need or love as too keep my clutter to a minimum. Though it is more than I want. I think I'm a hoarder even though I don't keep everything. I definitely have OCD its like my common sense is a war with my heart. Its really hard to explain. Thought what you wrote, I have exactly thought that. Thank you for your story.

I am just the opposite. I give away and throw away like a mad woman. I have never cared about owning "stuff." In this digital age there is no reason to own music that isn't in mp3 format, actual movies, or even books--I have a Kindle. I can think more clearly without clutter. I will never have more stuff then I really need. Except maybe shoes.

My mother and her sisters were like that, but they got the drop on other hoarders by being shopaholics too! When my mother passed away, we had to order a dumpster just for the stuff that wasn't worth either selling or even giving away, and there was plenty of both. Before they retired, My aunt and uncle's home was so stuffed full of everything that they had created these narrow walkways through the rooms and up and down the stairs so you could actually get from one room to another. When I think of the money these folks blew on "stuff" I go crazy!

im a hoarder as well and i just ended up moving with my bf who is a minimalist and i didnt even look at this gigantic box of stuff i had and threw it away and it still bothers me im like hmm i wonder what was in there

You, too!