Hi, I’m Amanda and I’m addicted to stuff. Yeah, stuff like clothes, toys for my son, and dinner plates. That kind of stuff. I love stuff a little too much sometimes. It’s the thrill of bringing home something new or new to me. Free or not, I like it.
I do call myself a frugal minimalist but I struggle hard. There are points during almost every month where I struggle in the decision to bring something new into our home or not. With frugal minimalism, I want things because I know that they have the potential to bring value into my life. But at the same time I have to keep in mind that I need to minimally bring items into our home.
We practice the “one in and one out” method and that helps keep everything in check. But other times, stuff just accumulates in certain areas that feel hard to control.
With the temptation to buy new things or accept free items almost daily, the struggle to keep our minimal lives truly minimal takes work. I’m here to share with you my personal struggle with minimalism and how I work to keep myself in check.
The beginnings of my “stuff addiction”
I won’t call myself a childhood hoarder because I never wanted all of my trash and every single piece of school work to be saved because I believed it had some future use. Childhood collector is the term I more prefer.
I loved my things as a child. I would sleep covered in stuffed animals. My floor was covered in toys and clothes. Every night my mom would tell me to clear a path through my room because my floor was so cluttered. I played with my things all day and then never wanted to put them away. Often times I would spend a good few hours just looking for something I lost in my mess.
I was never trashy but my room sure looked like it. There was simply too much stuff. Every time I finished with a toy or had outgrown it, I would ask my dad to put it in the attic. Never was I ready part with anything but always wanted something new.
I collected rocks, shells, Barbies, clothes, shoes, notebooks… you name it. There was always a “use” for something new. That was always my thinking: I have a use for this. That’s why I always kept my treasured toys I had outgrown and purchased new things to replace the void of outgrowing it. And all my friends had cool new stuff so why shouldn’t I? I needed that stuff so I could use it to fit in or my friends would never hang out with me (at least that’s what I thought).
Adulting is harder with a stuff addiction
I had come accustomed to stuff surrounding me all the time. When I moved away to college I had a clean slate. I had a small private bedroom in my dorm I could do whatever I wanted with. It wasn’t necessary to bring my whole childhood with me or my whole closet or a lot of anything, but yet I did. I packed my small closet full.
This picture of my dorm might look minimal, let me assure you that there’s stuff jammed into every nook I could find. And that was before school even started!
If I was 25% of an adult my freshman year (ha!), I was maybe 75% of an adult when I graduated. I was married, graduated a semester early and had a “big girl” job managing a retail store. Perhaps my retail career of my teens and early twenties made my stuff problem worse. People came into the store to buy hundreds of dollars of makeup and it would make me envious at times. It made me think well if she can buy that so can I!
So more stuff accumulated. It was stuff I absolutely didn’t need but I had tricked myself into thinking I needed it. That’s the foundation of modern consumerism. I had to keep up with the Jones.
Even after I left my retail job for something that paid slightly more, I still had this problem. Buying new things was an addiction. Making more money made us want to buy new and better things. We had “outgrown” our college furniture, clothes, and electronics.
My husband and I spent thousands of dollars on upgraded things and stuff and new cars. Why? Just so we can move everything twice and PAY SOMEONE to do it?
We hauled our stuff from college, to our first “adult” apartment, to a slightly swankier apartment, and finally to our home several years later. There were THREE boxes of
crap cherished possessions that had not been opened since we packed up our college apartment. Three whole moving boxes full of random stuff. Why I kept it? I just didn’t want to deal with it! Were those boxes trash? You betcha. How did I discover these long lost boxes? We found minimalism.
As an adult, you are fully responsible for all of your earthly possessions. You are the one to decide to trash, donate, reuse, or recycle an item. It’s your choice. Not your partner’s choice, not your mom’s choice – it is your choice when it comes to your stuff.
Can a minimalist like stuff?
We call ourselves minimalists. My husband would like to live with only a sofa and a pocket knife in the house but that is largely impractical for our family, which is an exaggeration of course. He is (mentally) a hardcore minimalist. For me, I love the cozy feeling our home has. We have stuff and things, but not too many. There is nothing in storage and we can park both cars in our garage. We have what we need plus a little (lottle – little plus a lot) more.
Sure I could get rid of more things. But my frugal heart holds on to them. Therefore I am a frugal minimalist. Frugal minimalism is so tricky. I love a good deal at the thrift store or grocery store, but I don’t want too much. I want to buy things at their lowest price now so I don’t have to buy it later at full price… but that requires “storing” the item until it is used.
I love the thrill of a deal. I couponed a lot before our baby was born. A stockpile had amassed so large that I could shower thousands of times before running out of body wash. When we found minimalism in 2017, I donated 80% of what I had to a shelter and regained my closet (and a bit of sanity).
That fear of paying full price or running out of something I need still holds on strong to my mind. I like having a little extra around. Not just for me, but so I can give to others when they are in need.
We have new rules in our house. When an item comes in, one must go out. It applies to everything but grocery items. My stuff addiction is kept in control this way. With a new mindset on our lifestyle, it is safe to say I am slowly letting go of my addiction to all the stuff consumerism tells us we need.
Do you struggle with keeping things minimal? Let me know in the comments below! Together we can be our own versions of minimal.