Experiments in Frugality #1 – Final Update

by Chris Tecmire

Experiments In Frugality #1

 

Approximately one month ago, Trisha and I decided to get rid of 25% of everything we own in order to simplify our lives a bit.  One out of every four possessions had to go somewhere – be sold, trashed, or donated.  We’ve taken an inventory of our stuff, sorted through our stuff, decided which stuff would be dismissed, and then, finally, got rid of our stuff.  That’s a lot of stuff.  Here are the results along with some of the lessons we’ve learned throughout the experiment.

 

What We Used To Have:

 

If you recall, we owned 3,377 items.  The following chart shows a simple breakdown.  Click here if you’d like a more detailed look.

 

 

What we got rid of:

 

In total, we got rid of 848 items.  The following chart demonstrates what kind of items make up that number. (as a % of the total)

 

 

You may notice something – for the most part, the charts actually look pretty similar.  We tried to get rid of items across the board, so that no one category dominated the donate pile.  The one exception is the “Miscellaneous” category.  This represents a lot of items in our garage, bathroom, and office.  The miscellaneous items are some of the most practical and, therefore, were the most difficult to dispose of.

The media and clothing categories had the most fat to cut.  Trisha volunteered her CD collection since she has most of the songs on iTunes anyway, and we also let go of plenty of movies, books, and records for a total tally of 282 media items.

We disposed of over 200 articles of clothing.  This took 2 or 3 different trips through our closets and drawers.  The first time through allowed us to get rid of most of the items we rarely wear anyway, but when we came up short of our overall goal, we decided to take an even closer look at our clothes.  It really wasn’t as difficult as it sounds.  I promise I won’t be naked next time you see me.

Overall, we were supposed to get rid of 844 things and we beat that number by 4.  We are 848 items lighter than we were one month ago.  Not too bad.

 

Questions Answered

 

1.  What did we do with all of it?

We sold the majority of the items for a total of $731.42 (Garage Sale $383, Ebay $348.42).  The rest was either thrown out, given away to people who we know, or donated to our local Goodwill-type establishment.

 

2.  Do we miss any of the items that we ditched?

No, not yet.  I doubt we will.  It’s hard to say definitively that we will never wish we still had an old photography prop in the years to come, or a favorite movie on a lazy night, but I don’t think we got rid of anything that will cause any regret in the near future.  It’s just stuff.

 

3.  What were the most difficult decisions?

Trisha and I each let go of a few memories items that have memories attached, but we are instituting my Sentimental Scrapbook idea so that we can look back fondly any time we want to without having to clutter up our home.  We really didn’t have to cut too deep into our sentimental possessions in order to fulfill the 25% requirement, so no tears were shed, but here are a few examples of the dearly departed (no judgments).

An electric can opener that Trisha loved like a child.  It was the convenience that spoke to her, but we have a nice handheld opener as well that’s more practical at draining liquid like tuna juice.  I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of can opener physics.  She was SHOCKED that it didn’t sell at our garage sale, so she’s giving it to her brother so that she can come and visit every-once-in-a-while. (the can opener – not the brother)

The first blanket that Trisha ever crocheted.  We have a ton of blankets and this time Trisha was the one to suggest we part ways with this historical piece.  She created it with her own two hands in high school.

A roll of toilet paper that some friends gave us as a wedding present.  You had to be there.  Wedding Toilet PaperWe documented the TP in our scrapbook, so the memory will remain, but it had been sitting on our bookshelf for a couple years now.  Plus, we considered using it for the purpose God intended it for, but it didn’t look like the most practical toilet paper, if you know what I mean.

And plenty more…

We also let go of a couple other nice wedding gifts that we just didn’t have room/use for any longer.  That’s always difficult because we’re so grateful for the gift(s) that we feel as thought we need to hold onto them forever, but logic tells us otherwise.

 

4.  How does it feel?

It feels great.  It’s a relief.  It’s like a deep breath.  I feel lighter.

 

5.  Would you go beyond 25%?

If the situation called for it.  We don’t feel like it’s necessary right now, but I think we’d both be open to it.  I think 25% was a good amount.  We had to make some tough decisions, but didn’t have to cut TOO deep.

 

Lessons Learned

 

  • We learned that counting your items 1 by 1 is a pain in the rear.
  • We learned that toilet paper can be sentimental.
  • We learned that just because something’s a gift, doesn’t mean that you should carry it around with you for the next 30 years if you aren’t going to put it to good use.  Quit feeling guilty.
  • We learned that we had too much stuff because we got rid of 25% of it and it hasn’t made even a small dent in our lifestyle.
  • And, finally, we learned that we don’t want to replace the items that we ditched.  If we had too much stuff before, there’s no point in going back there.  An easy way to live a more frugal life is to be content with what you already have and desiring less is the key to being content.  So, that’s what we’re going to focus on now.  Just because there’s more space on our shelves, doesn’t mean that we need to search for new stuff to fill the space with.  Space is ok.  In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that for Trisha and I…space is great.

 

Well, that’s the close of the first installment of Experiments in Frugality.  I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned something along the way.  If so, please share this article with someone (or everyone).  Thanks!

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeri June 14, 2012 at 7:23 am

Ok….i’m impressed — congrats — I still know I have way to many items to count — so that’s out — lol — like the idea of getting rid of 25% — think it would take way more than ONE month to do it — but Congrats — enjoyed the articles….

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Chris Tecmire June 14, 2012 at 7:33 am

Thanks Jeri! If you really want to cut back, maybe do it in stages. No need to count and keep track of everything if you don’t want to. Just go through each room one at a time until you’ve been through the whole house and have a mountain of items ready to go. Then, maybe try it again in 6 months or a year – stage 2 – to see if you want to dig deeper or not. God Bless!

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Laurel June 14, 2012 at 7:48 am

That’s what I want to do Chris …. one room at a time!

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Casey Camilleri June 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I totally agree with the feeling lighter aspect! I’ve been going through my media stuff the last few weeks and have been using half.com to my advantage. If I’ve read the book and I’m never going to read it again I’m selling it. Same is going for movies. Even though I’m not getting a ton of cash for it I can breathe easier knowing I’m de-cluttering my life. Congrats on the 25% reduction!

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Chris Tecmire June 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Thanks Casey. You’re right – sometimes the cash has little to do with it. It’s nice to get something in return, but it’s even nicer to just be rid of the clutter no matter how you have to do it.

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Greg@ClubThrifty June 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

That is awesome, and I love the pie charts BTW! They brought me back to junior high math, which made me giggle.

I can’t believe that you let go of that first blanket. That would have been very painful. Of course, before we got married, my wife whittled my possessions down to a small tote. I still can’t believe that she made me get rid of my Titanic movie poster.

Wait. I didn’t just write that in a public forum, did I?

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Chris Tecmire June 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I’m sorry Greg…I’m going to have to ask you to leave this blog. We have a strict “No Titanic Mention” rule. ;)

Thanks – yeah, I was surprised that my wife was much more willing to get rid of the blanket than the can opener.

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Josh @ Live Well Simply June 15, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Love the graph of the stuff you got rid of! Way cool. :)

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Chris Tecmire June 16, 2012 at 6:36 am

Thanks Josh. It has been an interesting process. It’s quite odd to see everything you own divided up and categorized in such a matter of fact way, but it helps to put it in perspective.

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Matt John Canty June 18, 2012 at 5:09 am

I love this! I hate having useless things sitting around gathering dust. It really is true the less junk you have the better quality of life you can live. What is the sense of holding onto something just incase 1 in a million chance you will need it. But more important than getting rid of junk is to not gather it in the first place. All I need is a good bed and laptop and im set ;)

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Chris Tecmire June 18, 2012 at 8:00 am

Absolutely. I agree that the most important thing is to not gather the stuff in the first place. That’s our new goal – realize that we have all that we need already and be content with that.

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Austin June 20, 2012 at 3:40 am

I have some boxes that have remained packed since my last move about four years ago. I’m about to move again and keep looking at those boxes thinking “why should I move them again?” since I didn’t even unpack them the last time I moved?!?

I’m still on the fence as to what I’ll do with them but I’m leaning towards going through them, selling the items of value, giving away the rest.

Here’s to your $uccess!

~Austin

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Chris Tecmire June 20, 2012 at 6:38 am

Wise move Austin. That’s one of the best indicators that it’s time to move on. I’ve been there. I’ve lived in 20+ houses, trailers, apartments, etc. So, I know how big of a pain it can be to keep lugging the same stuff with you all the time.

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