Introducing You To “Experiments in Frugality”

by Chris Tecmire

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Welcome to Experiments in Frugality, a series of personal experiments aimed at pushing the envelope of frugal living.  My aim is to more fully explore simple living, learn new lessons, and possibly inspire you to do the same.  If all else fails, it should at least be entertaining :)

Each of the “experiments” is designed to last between 2 weeks and 3 months and will be updated occasionally to show my progress.  Most of the experiments are designed to go further than I would normally choose to go, in order to explore boundaries and determine the concept’s validity.  I’ll be the guinea pig and you can sit back and watch.

 

 

 

#1 – Get Rid of 25% of our Possessions

 

The first experiment is designed to explore how much stuff we have.  I feel like we have too much, so we’re going to put it to the test.

Let me make this clear – we don’t have nearly as many possessions as the average American family.  My wife and I are 29 and 32 respectively, so we haven’t had a lot of time to accumulate.  Also, we’ve only been married for two years and neither of us had much to bring to the marriage to begin with.  Previously, I had a small apartment and Trisha lived with her parents.  Currently, we don’t have a storage unit, a 2-story garage, or a 3,000 square foot home.

But, when it comes right down to it, I still believe we have “unnecessary” in abundance.  I suppose we’ll find out.

 

The rules of the experiment

  1. We have one month to organize and remove 25% of our belongings.
  2. We will take an initial inventory of our belongings in order to determine what 25% entails.  One week will be allowed to complete this step.
  3. Certain items like a silverware set will count as 1 item, not 50 or 60 individual spoons, forks, or knives.  A list of these items will be made known at a later date.  I don’t want to wiggle out of any tough decisions just because we could always ditch a couple extra spoons to meet our quota.
  4. The discarded items will not end up in storage.  They must be thrown out, donated, or sold.  No exceptions.
  5. The following items will not count toward the total:
    • Food
    • Toiletries that are regularly cycled through like deodorant, toilet paper, and Q-tips
    • Diapers, wipes, creams, and ointments

So, I won’t count the leftover casserole, but I will count the container it’s in.

 

I’m hoping to learn how much value I place on my belongings and make a few tough choices along the way.  Maybe I won’t.  Maybe 25% is just skimming the surface.  Maybe I’ll need to follow up this experiment with a similar one later on that digs a little deeper.  Who knows?  That’s why it’s called an experiment.

 

Coming Soon:

Taking an inventory of everything we own.  Oh boy.

Next week I’ll reveal the details about how much stuff we have and how much must be discarded.

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim May 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm

This might prove hard for young folks who have just begun on the journey of “aquiring” stuff. Easier for old folks like us who have had 37 yrs to fill up every nook and cranny. Good Luck – and hopefully you develope the habit of non-clutter.

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Chris Tecmire May 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Thanks Kim :) Yeah, I’m excited to see what happens. I tend to be a non-clutter kind of dude to begin with, so getting rid of things has never been very hard for me, but 25% will make it more interesting.

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Claudiu Nazarie May 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm

You guys are crazy!
We had to inventory everything just a month ago in order to have it shipped via container. We had to write a few prices next to it: what’s it worth and how much will it go for sale in a garage sale. Again, we HAD to do this. I don’t know why a person in their right mind would do this just for fun, unless of course the outcome would be invaluable in helping many break bad habits and result learning more about us owning our things and not the other way around. Have fun and keep us posted! We will, however, have sympathy pains.

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Chris Tecmire May 3, 2012 at 7:39 am

“Unless of course…” :) Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. Value is the key in this situation. I see it as an investment. We’ll invest a week or our time taking inventory in order to hopefully learn a few things that will help us in the future. But, yes…we are crazy.

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Rebekah B May 3, 2012 at 3:54 am

This could prove to be quite interesting…”Clutter” is my middle name – so curious to see how this turns out for you guys. Might be an inspiration…who knows! :)

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Chris Tecmire May 3, 2012 at 7:41 am

Miss Rebekah “Clutter” B,
I hope it provides the inspiration you’re looking for.

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Joylynn May 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I can’t wait see how this experiment progresses! You might have just inspired me to take inventory of what we own, however the thought of it makes me want to dry heave a little (we have a 2 years old and a 3 month old..enough said). I go through “purge the clutter” phases from time to time, but have never given myself a quantifiable amount to get rid of.

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Chris Tecmire May 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Yeah, I hear you. I don’t know if I would have named a specific percentage if it weren’t for the website. The inventory process isn’t exactly a fun one. On the other hand, it’s a sure bet to open your eyes. It’ll be nice to put a real number behind our things. So, maybe a week of climbing through clutter is worth it after all. We’ll see.

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Carol May 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I would find this very difficult. I am not a clutter bug. My motto is, if you haven’t used it or worn it in at least 6 months, then get rid of it. Sorry to say, my husband doesn’t have this motto. He still has toys from childhood and things he made in metal class. Good luck Chris with your experiment!

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Mary Lou Ely May 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

We will be married 60 years in June and still have stuff Trisha played with through the years. The Grandchildren and Great grandchildren love our closett. And why buy new stuff when you already have stuff and they are happy with it? Of course you haven’t accumulated much that Landry will be attached to yet. But you wouldn’t have those cookies if I had considered that recipe 25% of my stuff. Good Luck!

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Chris Tecmire May 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Absolutely – My mom still has toys that we played with that she’s saving for Landry, and I love that. It’s neat to see them handed down. Not everything has to go. The point of the experiment is to determine what we need and what we don’t, not to get rid of items that are really important to us. For example, my baseball card collection is 100% useless to me, but I’d like to save it for Landry when he’s older, so I’m definitely holding on to it. Same thing with our “memory totes” that Trisha and I still have. But, I’m guessing we’ll have lots of other items that we can stand to lose – I guess we’ll find out :)

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Jamie May 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Love the idea! I’ve begun this process already (need to fill up my car and head over to Salvation Army) as we are looking toward getting a larger house to expand our family. Get rid of the stuff now before we move (i.e. old computer monitors and tvs that don’t work). It’s just stuff, right :o )

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Chris Tecmire May 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Good luck Jamie!

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Sergio Felix June 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Hey Chris,

Seems like a great experiment and I could actually implement this myself.

I have a ton of things just accumulating dust and I don’t want to get rid of them because they have sentimental value but I also feel I need the space and the peace of mind with it.

Will check out your other updates on this experiment and thanks for sharing it!

Sergio

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