Sometimes when people find out that I am a minimalist, they will confess their secret stash to me….and why they can’t let go of it….and why it is a burden. It is an oddly human trait to share the details of one of our behaviors that we are uncomfortable with, with another human that we perceive has mastered the difficulty. I do it myself. I guess I am hoping for a magic wand or insights to help me find some resolution.
If you are concerned that you are hoarding one or two categories of items, [doesn’t matter if it is logo T-shirts, spaghetti sauce, paperback novels, Dial soap, school/office supplies, automobile parts] ask yourself the following questions:
Are these items part of a business that is a going concern? Is it making money or likely to make money in the near future?* Then keep said items. And best of luck in your entrepreneurial endeavor.
Do you use these items in your daily life? Will you use them up, wear them out before your next move? It doesn’t matter if your next move is to the college dorm or the assisted living center.
Is there a better use for the space they/it is taking up? (In a recent conversation with a friend who was slowly divesting her home of the objects that no one in the family wanted which had belonged to her decades deceased mother, she shared that though it was painful to get rid of her mother’s pump organ, it made room for her grandson’s crib, who lives with her. Well done!)
Imagine that you are going to live to 100 years. Will you be able to use up the stash at your current rate of use? I first asked this question of my mother, when I discovered her Dial soap stash fifteen years ago. She considered the answer, and stopped buying soap when it was on sale. Today, she still has a prodigious stash of greater than fifty bars, which will be enough if she does live to 100. Another friend, who is an artist, confessed his stash of art supplies to me. I asked him this question, and he clearly could see that he had more materials than he could use in his lifetime and donated many supplies to a non-profit that works with disadvantaged children. Win-win! Another friend acknowledged that despite her active readership of more than a book a week, she had more books in her home then she could consume before her 99th birthday. And, she noted, “They keep publishing interesting books every year!” This insight allowed her to let go of many books that were just marginally interesting to her. They were donated to her church, library and a local assisted living facility. Again–Win-win!
In preparing this post, I reviewed my own possessions and noted that I have fifteen manila mailing envelopes, and I use one or two per year. That is seven year’s worth. Will I move before then? Maybe. Will I be 100 before then? No. Are they taking up valuable space? No, not really–they are pretty thin. So I will keep them for a bit and see if I find someone who can use them.
What about you? Are you hoarding anything? How do you decide to keep or toss items?
- For tax purposes, the United States government will allow four years of losses for a farm, but if it does not produce income in one out of five years, it is designated a “hobby farm” and the tax write-offs are greatly reduced. If your business isn’t making a profit in one of five years, you may consider it a hobby.