How to Declutter Effortlessly and Become Richer Without Even Trying..

Decluttering is a busy buzz word that many people throw around in their New Year's resolution lists. You find yourself with a houseful of crap that doesn't put itself away, and causes you to trip over and not be able to find that important piece of paper, and you get rather cross with yourself, and so you take a deep breath and spend an entire week putting everything away, throwing away a third of all your stuff, and popping down to the closest big box store to buy $300 worth of tubs and baskets to artfully encapsulate the contents of your life.

Then a year later you find yourself doing exactly the same thing. It's like we are helpless babes and stuff just appears in our houses ON PURPOSE to annoy us. Oh, whoops, yes, it actually does. And who brings that annoying stuff into our houses? Oh, that's right, we do, straight from that big box store to our front door, and thence onto our bedroom floors and the dining room table because there is no more room in all the cupboards.

The whole decluttering problem of the entire Western world can be fixed right now, today, by never going shopping again. We all have so much stuff that we could try using what we have, substituting something already in our cupboards for what we think we need so badly until we forget we needed it in the first place. Maybe, eventually, we will discover that we really, really can't live a full and happy life without that particular doodad, but by then it will be a truly considered purchase, and we will at least have planned a place to put it before we go shopping. But beware, going out to the shops is a trap and a snare. Best take your scariest friend along who will not let you buy a single other doodad that is jumping up and down in the shop window yelling, 'BUY ME!' (I am available for all such shopping expeditions)

Perhaps we could train ourselves to ignore the blandishments of pervasive consumerism by waking up each morning and greeting the world by saying, 'I have SO MUCH. I do not need any more.' Maybe, eventually, it will sink in.

Now, by not buying anything ever again, eventually, the piles of things in your house will naturally diminish. If you cancel the newspaper, those piles of old newspapers in the garage will disappear over time, as they are used as firelighters and budgie cage liners. The best dinner set that sits in the cupboard will need to be brought out as your old dinner plates break and chip. The three extra cutlery sets that were such a bargain in the sales and still in their boxes, because who needs three sets of cutlery, ever? will be wrapped up for wedding gifts for all your nieces. See? No annoying trips to the charity shops required, none of this tiresome tossing things into boxes and sorting and making painful decisions about whether we really may need this or that in the future.

So stop buying, and one day, three years from now, your house will be looking quite elegantly minimal, there will be room in the cupboards for everything you need, and your bank balance will be magnificent! Effortless, and suddenly you have loads of time to do all those hobbies, the raw materials for which fill all those crates, because now you never have to go shopping.

Free yourself from the manacles of stuff, become a creator and conserver instead of a consumer, and let your house declutter itself.


Unknown said…
You sound evangelical. Im listening, i dare not. Lightening might strike if i reach for my credit card to buy another thing. Sent from Jo in Tasmania!
Jo said…
You had better believe it, honey! Just wait until I start flexing my super powers!
Tanya Murray said…
I do love your cheery encouragement and good old plain old common old sense! Happily I have already come to the conclusion that I don't need another thing and I avoid shops but I want to share with you two things that happened to me this week.

The First - I have been getting the mail for our holidaying next door neighbour and I have been pulling phone book sized piles of catalogues from her letter box. I don't get junk mail and I was almost tempted to look through some of them but I caught myself just in time. The voice in my head said, "don't look or you'll start to believe you actually NEED something when you don't"

The Second- I was with mum today in Hobart killing time in "Bath Bed Table" (did I get that right???) till Tegan could meet us for lunch. I sighed and said to mum, "isn't it all soooo beautiful, couldn't you just throw everything out and change the decor all over again at home....? Wait a minute, we have to leave. This is making me feel dissatisfied with what I've got and you know what? I'm NOT. I'm happy and content with my nest" And just like that, demonstrated very clearly, was how beguiled you can be by clever merchandising and marketing.

It's best just to NOT get catalogues or sales emails and it's safer NOT to even browse in shops. Shopping should NEVER be used as family entertainment (I've seen plenty of that in my retailing years, trust me!) and you should only treat them as a destination in genuine need. In fact watching ad free ABC and semi-ad free SBS is also helpful in the fight against stuff.

Jo said…
Oh Tanya, I absolutely agree. I am perfectly happy with my home/clothes/small library until I visit gorgeous clothing/homewares/book shops at which point I 'need' everything in sight. Hence, the staying home. Kills so many birds with one stone. Saves time, fuel and money and keeps our houses neat.

What is that line in the Lord's Prayer? Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...
I think that about covers it..
Anonymous said…
MASSIVE declutter going on here at the moment and we are most of the way to reclaiming a whole bedroom! The worst bit is we are NOT people to go shopping at all but even op shopping is a catch. I choose to not go unless I specifically need something.

We are in the process of reclaiming that space currently filled with stuff. That includes Martin's shed, my "clear the house" dumping ground and the spare room which is where the kids "clean up" their toys. I'm in a ruthless frame of mind so there is lots going including furniture. Freecycle is a wonderful place and the Op Shops will score much too. :) It feels so liberating.
A blog I follow - Ben Hewitt - talked about how we carry the burden of our clutter with us and it lightens the personal load to be rid of it too. I feel MUCH lighter already! :D
As for going to buy that "must have" item. If you are determined to do so then take only the money you need for that, $5 for a coffee if you plan to have one and money for parking if needed. Make sure you carry at least 1 5c coin to avoid vagrancy and you're set. ;) You can't buy something if you have no cash, no access to it and the good old plastic fantastic is sliced up or at the least, at home. :D
Love this Jo! Exactly the kind of philosophy I am trying to embrace. There's still a lot of crap that won't ever be gifted to my three nieces though, so I'm working on the not buying AND decluttering in the hope that one day I might achieve something approaching minimalism...
Anonymous said…
You bolshie radical you Ms Jo! Well done on beating the bank into submission. Like anything else in life, it's just force of habit that takes us mindlessly shopping (or a serious addiction but that is a whole other story) and once we start to really justify what we are putting into our basket/car, we start to realise that want tends to seriously override need when it comes to purchasing and we are being led by the nose by advertisers so very slick and clever that they utilise some serious mind games in order to get us to buy. Nothing gets you spending like thinking you are being "left behind" in the race to accumulate but who cares if the people you are racing spend all of their God given days accumulating, pointing at their latest acquisition with joy when you visit (in order to show you how superior to you they are) and sobbing into their pillows at night when their credit card statements hit the mailbox next month. It has to stop somewhere and the only place it can stop, as you so rightly put it, is with "YOU". I am really loving this series of "Don't shop!" posts Jo. They are invigorating and empowering and if we all do our bit and stop shopping for useless or superfluous things, we not only minimise the bampf in our lives but we redirect the course of the industrial world. Imagine if everyone stopped buying plastic storage containers or those plastic wine stoppers or plastic bread boards. Do you think that manufacturers would still make them? Nope...they might try to direct our shopping habits but they certainly don't make money if no-one is buying said product. We have a LOT of power, we just don't realise it (same goes for voting folks!)
CJ said…
You talk much sense, I love this post. There's been decluttering here too, and yes, the odd purchase of a storage box. I shall be very guarded about not letting anything else back into the house.
Jo said…
Jessie, CJ and Sarah, I am not actually against decluttering, as you well know, so I am so glad you are all going lighter into the New Year:)
Fran, I have just started reading permaculture co-founder David Holmgren's essay Crash on Demand (google it, it's on-line). It's rather long and involved, but in essence it's saying - if enough of us middle-class consumers just stop consuming (his magic number is 10%), then the economic system will be forced to change - somehow. Possibly by crashing altogether, which in his eyes will be an excellent way to combat climate change.
My plan is always to favour the local over the global, and if 10% of consumers did that, then our local economies would begin to thrive again, and at least provide a cushion in the event of another global recession. So as always, yes, yes and yes to your comments:)
Kristen Johns said…
Hi Jo - I totally agree with your post! I have a few tricks that help keep me and our family on track and filling our house with things we love. I decorate our house with things like kids art, my art, flowers and branches from the garden, big bowls of fruit, and books. I also love to have things around me that I've been given from my parents and grandparents. I use my grandma's fancy teapot as my regular teapot. I have my mom's metranome on the mantel, and my husband's great grandfathers watch on the book shelf. And for things like clothes and other household stuff, I have a "one bag in - one bag out" approach. If I buy a new set of sheets, I've got to toss one set I already have! Or, rip them up into rags! Another thing that helps us, is we don't have a basement - and no extra space to put things we don't use anymore. Although I will admit there's been MANY times that I've said "I wish I could just put this in the basement!!!
Jo said…
Ha, Kristen, we had a 'basement' (lower story of our house built into the hill) and we filled it up with a terrible lot of junk. As I cleaned it out to renovate I kept saying to myself, 'What on earth were you thinking when you kept THIS?' So - no basement, good:)

Your house sounds lovely - full of objects that are beautiful and meaningful. I love using things that my grannies used. It gives me such a sense of connection to them. I am writing this sitting in my great grandmother's chair. I never knew her, but I think of her when I sit in her chair..
Anonymous said…
I don't get how people go on about decluttering but still keep buying!

And I truely don't get how the people on those hoarder shows on TV can afford to buy so much crappola.

You are so right. Stop buying, and use up what you have. Now if only I could live those words!

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