Author Topic: Living small, or just living with less, and not just because you have too...  (Read 13640 times)

goatpebble

I have moved to a flat, after selling a six bedroom Edwardian terrace house. Gone is the luxury of the sheer number of rooms, the study, the library, the dining room, the breakfast room, the sitting room, the drawing room, etc.

It was not as grand as it sounds, just a shabby old house, full of possibilities.

But it has gone.

Now I have to start again, and owning too much stuff seems very wrong. It is not just the news of the last few weeks, but a horror at how different our lifestyles are from most of our neighbours.

We have the luxury of looking at our habits not as necessity, but as 'lifestyle' choice. Damn the politics, but absurd over consumption, and an addiction to expensive toys, seems destructive beyond belief. I am posting this in off-topic knowledge, because I would rather a practical debate might begin. How to avoid the normal traps, and how to re-cycle, or give away the excess that our luck and money has enabled us to accumulate.

If this post has to be moved, then I will go with it, but I really don't want a big contentious argument , but a decent discussion about things that I would prefer to be liberating, some  constructive suggestions, i.e practical strategies for people who have the option to avoid the consumerist rubbish, get rid of stuff, save some money, and hopefully send out a message.

Freecycle, eBay, etc.

I can't believe the amount of stuff we accumulate because of the kids.  It's bulky plastic crap that doesn't neatly stow anywhere.  Kids' toys have zero secondhand value, so it's all tip-bound eventually, and this depresses me.

I read an article about a photographer who lived for a few years in a small bedsit painted white, containing only a bed for furniture (and presumably the odd clothes in a wardrobe).  He said he's never been happier, because he couldn't stand clutter.
Never tell me the odds.

I owe much to my brother for introducing me to the "fad bracket".

If you want to buy something of reasonable cost (my minimum seems to be about £50) I'll give it two weeks. If I still want it after the two weeks (the fad bracket) I'll buy it.

It has saved me from buying many many things that I simply did not need, and I also recognise that when I didn't apply it (and just bought something on impulse) I usually regretted it a while down the line. Nothing I've bought when applying this tool has been regretted or left unused.

Currently I have a Garmin Forerunner 405 in the fad bracket and I think I've got a week to go. Already I'm less enthusiastic about it as I was last week...
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

I owe much to my brother for introducing me to the "fad bracket".

If you want to buy something of reasonable cost (my minimum seems to be about £50) I'll give it two weeks. If I still want it after the two weeks (the fad bracket) I'll buy it.

It has saved me from buying many many things that I simply did not need, and I also recognise that when I didn't apply it (and just bought something on impulse) I usually regretted it a while down the line. Nothing I've bought when applying this tool has been regretted or left unused.

Currently I have a Garmin Forerunner 405 in the fad bracket and I think I've got a week to go. Already I'm less enthusiastic about it as I was last week...

I like that idea muchly.

clarion

  • Tyke
I owe much to my brother for introducing me to the "fad bracket".

If you want to buy something of reasonable cost (my minimum seems to be about £50) I'll give it two weeks. If I still want it after the two weeks (the fad bracket) I'll buy it.

It has saved me from buying many many things that I simply did not need, and I also recognise that when I didn't apply it (and just bought something on impulse) I usually regretted it a while down the line. Nothing I've bought when applying this tool has been regretted or left unused.

Currently I have a Garmin Forerunner 405 in the fad bracket and I think I've got a week to go. Already I'm less enthusiastic about it as I was last week...

I used to do that with books.  Still bought loads :-[

Living simply is hard.  Not quite so hard if you're alone, because you may be able to cope with a more spartan existence than you might ask of someone else.
Getting there...

annie

This is something that bothers me every day of my life and I know I need to do something about it, I have made little steps in the right direction.

I can't concentrate if I am surrounded by clutter, I grew up in a house that was immaculate, so immaculate you could probably have eaten off the toilet floor.

I am a collector of books, far too many.  I now go on the basis of do I NEED it or do I just WANT it, if the latter then I give my self at least 3 weeks to see if I really do still want it, by that stage the want has almost gone.

I give to JC's school or to other friends and family. 

I love the idea of minimalism, it frees the mind and the soul, it creates harmony and tranquility.

andygates

  • Peroxide Viking
The fad bracket sounds wise.  I may be much richer if I'd known about it when I was, oh, fifteen ;)

I like giving away useless tat to people wot need it.  It's not the same as chucking stuff out, but frankly, I need the space more than the stuff.
It takes blood and guts to be this cool but I'm still just a cliché.
OpenStreetMap UK & IRL Streetmap & Topo: ravenfamily.org/andyg/maps updates weekly.

tonycollinet

  • No Longer a western province of Númenor


I can't believe the amount of stuff we accumulate because of the kids.  It's bulky plastic crap that doesn't neatly stow anywhere.  Kids' toys have zero secondhand value, so it's all tip-bound eventually, and this depresses me.


And this is where freecycle is really good. We've got rid of a load of the kids stuff. It's great when the parents bring kids round to collect - the look on their faces.   :thumbsup:

Becky

I've said for a long time that if I owned my own place, it would be a double garage attached to a bedroom and a kitchen.  I'm not in the habit of acquiring "things" for the sake of it, and don't need a big lounge for a 90" plasma television or whatever.  Unfortunately with the price of land oop north, I can't even build my own little place.

Jules

  • Has dropped his aitch!


I can't believe the amount of stuff we accumulate because of the kids.  It's bulky plastic crap that doesn't neatly stow anywhere.  Kids' toys have zero secondhand value, so it's all tip-bound eventually, and this depresses me.


And this is where freecycle is really good.


Too right! A nice man has just come round and taken away the unwanted single bedrame and mattress that been blocking my landing the last five weeks  ;D
Audax on the other hand is almost invisible and thought to be the pastime of Hobbits ....  Fab Foodie

goatpebble

Let's open up the discussion a bit.

How much do you really need ?

well, lets get a couple of peacocks in then!

My weans are all just at the 'collect everything and then collect some more' stage of life (7/5/3 - special metal ages; they're doing their bit to ensure that I won't have a bicycle made from it...)

The 'things' don't mean much to them in themselves - they can be seashells, snails, pencils, badges or anything.  But it is odd to see that it seems to be an instinctive thing that means they like to create individual collections of stuff that mum and dad then wade through, tidy up and eventually blend with the rest of the stuff.

Maladict

I live in a tip.  I wish it wasn't so.

Last years cycle camping in France seemed like it could go on forever as far as I was concerned.  Life was simple and therefore enjoyable.  I think accumulation of tat has much to do with staying in one place - whatever space you have gets filled up eventually.  Best to stay mobile! 

Maladict

There's a whole board dedicated to it on the Motley Fool (Living Below Your Means).

I always gave the "feed a family of 5 on cheap chicken meat" suggestions a wide berth though.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
We have a terrible amount of clutter. Much of it is down to Mrs. Wow (bags and bags of wool) and me (chess stuff - sets, shelves full off books I've never looked at, that sort of thing) and of course bikes and their associated clutter.

Part of our problem is that 4 years ago we had 8 people living here. We inherited a lot of clutter when my parents sold their place and moved in, some of the best of which has gone to our daughter now she has bought her place. Now there are only 3 of us in residence full time, and the visits by the others are getting less and less frequent.

The house is too big for us but we are still storing stuff for two of the children who are not yet in a position to take their stuff with them.

We ought to start getting shot of clutter. We intend to move some time, but I still have an elderly aunt who relies on us, and we are not going to leave her in the lurch.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

goatpebble

This is something that bothers me every day of my life and I know I need to do something about it, I have made little steps in the right direction.

I can't concentrate if I am surrounded by clutter, I grew up in a house that was immaculate, so immaculate you could probably have eaten off the toilet floor.

I am a collector of books, far too many.  I now go on the basis of do I NEED it or do I just WANT it, if the latter then I give my self at least 3 weeks to see if I really do still want it, by that stage the want has almost gone.

I give to JC's school or to other friends and family. 

I love the idea of minimalism, it frees the mind and the soul, it creates harmony and tranquility.

Annie, don't feel worried about books! Every time you have time to look back at things, exploring your little library might remind you of things you have put aside, and there might so many things waiting for you!

I love the possibilities of all the forgotten things that a collection of books can give! This is the stuff that can teach us things, and open new questions!

Never apologise for having too many books!

vince

Hmm,

I did something similar a couple of years ago when I went to live in a shared house to study for a year. My laptop played DVDs, music and gave me internet access. A radio was handy for convenience sake, but not strictly necessary. My mobile phone kept me otherwise in touch with the world. The rest was clothes, cycling kit and a couple of bikes.

I now have a one bed flat and more clutter, there is a pressing need to get rid of stuff that I don't use. If you don't seek to entertain it is possible to live very sparsely. The problem comes when you think about accommodating others, either to visit for dinner or stay a couple of days. At that point you start to need all sorts of stuff. I am trying to stop buying books, other than reference stuff, but the library up here is not great.

My brother has it down to a fine art. He goes to a project and usually has a breezeblock hut with a bed and a chair. He travels with his possession in a Bergen and piece of carry-on luggage. Usually a laptop, iPod, solar charger, DVDs (although we are planning to digitally store these), running shoes, mobile phone and clothes.

Downsizing by choice and having the resources to upsize at will is fun, I don't know about doing it without choice - that might be a much harder thing to do when all around appear to have so much.

rae

Quote
I've said for a long time that if I owned my own place, it would be a double garage attached to a bedroom and a kitchen.   

Yup, I'm a sucker for tools.   I'm old enough to have learned that buying crap tools simply leads to a pile of things that you never use, but can't justify binning.   Tools are good.   The hideously expensive set of snap-on stubby spanners that I bought a few months ago on a whim (they looked bloody useful) have just saved the washing machine, and assisted in restoring it to "as new" condition.  New dampers - v. good idea, and all of £12.   I have solved the garage clutter problem by having a huge roll-cab, and everything has its place in there.   6 mm T-handle hex...top draw left hand side. 

Kids clutter is annoying - as Roger says, unstackable plastic crap.  Make friends with the local playgroup - they usually love the stuff.   The thing you do learn (unfortunately some time after having them) is that it is quite unnecessary to buy anything new for children under 5 - there are legions of people desperate to get rid of it, and small children don't care.

At home in the office I am ruthless - everything digital, paper records kept for legal reasons for 2 years max.   At work in the office it is the same - email is my filing system.    If it is important, I will have sent it to someone.

Of course, the proper answer is to buy a bigger house....


Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Of course, the proper answer is to buy a bigger house....

Believe me, you just end up with more crap.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

vince

Quote
Kids clutter is annoying - as Roger says, unstackable plastic crap.  Make friends with the local playgroup - they usually love the stuff.   The thing you do learn (unfortunately some time after having them) is that it is quite unnecessary to buy anything new for children under 5 - there are legions of people desperate to get rid of it, and small children don't care.

You're right, my friends' kid is 4 and has been clothed and provided for almost exclusively from eBay and friends and has no idea that some might think there is a difference. It will be a real shame when she gets older and starts to want all the new stuff that her friends have.

arabella

  • no se porque yo no lo se
My neighbour pointd me at something called Vskips.  You get an account and anything you want to get rid of you post there instead, and can go skip hopping in all the other vskips.

Personally I like real skips, we just got some bricks from down the road and had a big natter with the person filling the skip.
But of course skips are for acquiring stuff.  When I get round to buying a wood burning stove I'll be forever on the lookout for ... wood!
In the dark, all views are the same.

goatpebble

well, lets get a couple of peacocks in then!

My weans are all just at the 'collect everything and then collect some more' stage of life (7/5/3 - special metal ages; they're doing their bit to ensure that I won't have a bicycle made from it...)

The 'things' don't mean much to them in themselves - they can be seashells, snails, pencils, badges or anything.  But it is odd to see that it seems to be an instinctive thing that means they like to create individual collections of stuff that mum and dad then wade through, tidy up and eventually blend with the rest of the stuff.


I am sorry I edited my post! The peacocks are going mad tonight! They can hear the drunken idiots from the inn, and they don't like it!


rae

Quote
When I get round to buying a wood burning stove I'll be forever on the lookout for ... wood! 

Skip wood is usually nasty, painted or finished and full of nails.   I wouldn't bother....

How much do you really need ?

having moved house twice in 6 months, I can say "less than we have".

but how to decide what to bin?  the wedding present we've never found a home for, but love the person who gave it (10 years ago)?  the hammock I use once a year, if I'm lucky?  The old books from university that I really enjoyed reading but dont know if I'll have time to read again?

where do I start?  where does 'shite' end and 'precious memories' begin?