Author Topic: Living small, or just living with less, and not just because you have too...  (Read 13638 times)

Presents aren't people.  Do you really *need* the useless present to remember the person you love?  I'm willing to bet that they'd rather you reclaimed the space than kept a useless thing about the place. 

I'm trying to (very slowly...) declutter and to buy fewer things.  Bike kit is my big weakness.  (And clothes; I manage that one by staying out of clothes shops & by reminding myself that I have *no more space* for clothes.)  Not having very much spare cash atm helps.

Freecycle, Ebay, charity shops are all good.  If you feel the consumerist urge, try those for acquiring new, as well. 

If you haven't read/worn/used it in the last year, consider whether you really need it.  If it's your best ball-dress that you only get to wear once every few years (yes, I do actually have one of these, thank you :) ) or a drill that you haven't needed because you haven't put any shelves up of late: by all means keep it.  If it's a T-shirt, it can probably go.  If it's a book: will you *really* reread it?  Would you rather re-read it than go down the library & get another one?  If not: pass it on to someone else.  Then they get to read it.

Libraries & friends are great for books.  I agree that there's no such thing as too many books, *but* I also know that a fair amount of what I have on my shelves is either shit or I won't re-read it.  I don't want to buy or build more bookcases, so for me, there's a limit there.  (Same with CDs/DVDs, which are Pete's weakness.)

My current method is 7-things-a-week: on Sundays, I spend 15 min finding 7 things (or thereabouts) to get rid of.  It's slow, but it feels less overwhelming than a generalised "must get rid of stuff" aim. 

The key is not to bring more stuff in...

I've gone from three PCs and a laptop to one PC and a laptop, but unfortunately have accumulated three guitars in the space.  I might sell one of them if the Telecaster works out as well as it should.

Getting a wood-burner in the lounge is going to help, because it forces a declutter (I desperately don't want any kids' toys in "our" space, but Mrs Z does).

Every Christmas and kids' birthdays are a nightmare, because you know more big boxes of plastic crap are going to be given to them.  Depressingly, gifts at birthday parties seem to be in the £15 range in our village (so that can be a £300 haul), and we get duplicates.



Never tell me the odds.

rae

Quote
Every Christmas and kids' birthdays are a nightmare, because you know more big boxes of plastic crap are going to be given to them.  Depressingly, gifts at birthday parties seem to be in the £15 range in our village (so that can be a £300 haul), and we get duplicates. 

Indeed, that is the awful bit.   I simply don't like getting presents from people for exactly the  same reason.   If I wanted something, I'd have bought it by now. 

At least with the kid's stuff you know it will be broken inside a month, so it doesn't stick around for long.     We're ruthless at parties - £5 is the limit, as they left ours, they got a twix.  One whinged at me about the lack of a better present, so I took the twix back.   That caused f**king havoc.   Islington mum having a mental aberration trying to balance her child's incredible rudeness vs. rage at me for making the little sod cry. 

Chipster

I found a very effective (but not recommended) method last year...

A house fire  :o  We lost the entire contents of the first floor..  Clothes, books, boxes of childhood keepsakes etc etc...

After the initial morning period you start to realise what you do / don't need.

Clothes have been replaced but with less items of a higher quality.  Books will only be purchased when absolutly required..

This has lead to a much more conservative view to purchasing and a lot more space..

Clothes are a problem for me, because I have to have four virtual wardrobes:

1) The stuff I wear at home, and used to wear at work; jeans and T-shirts

2) The stuff I now have to wear at work: polo shirts and chinos  :sick:

3) Formal wear (suits and tuxedo), which gets rather dusty in between uses.

4) Cycling kit, which I rationalised a bit.  Ever noticed how only the shorts wear out?
Never tell me the odds.

border-rider


4) Cycling kit, which I rationalised a bit.  Ever noticed how only the shorts wear out?

Not if you have a clingy cat.

When my children were young they had very few big fancy toys. We were almost a polythene-free zone.

One telling moment was when my son, aged about 4, opened a large present from a grandparent, then spent the rest of the morning playing happily with the cardboard box, while its contents stood ignored in a corner.

We originally made a pact that the kids would not have anything that used batteries, or was made in China from plastic.  I think that lasted about two weeks.

At least with two daughters stuff can be handed down, but you can't stop relatives buying them large things.  My sister suffered the ultimate space-eating nightmare when her in-laws brought round a full-size trampoline one Christmas.

Never tell me the odds.

Pancho

  • لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
Actually, huge trampolines are OK. Of all the stuff the kids have acquired, the trampoline has been most consistently used and enjoyed.

border-rider

Actually, huge trampolines are OK.

I just clicked on this thread by mistake, meaning to look at the Thames Gateway river crossing one

Your post startled me at first :)

I have a studio flat. A couple of years ago I bought a very inspiring little book on decluttering and sent about ten bags of stuff to the charity shop/car boot sale. I don't regret sending away any of that stuff: in fact I can barely remember what it was.

A couple of years on, it needs doing again. I had a flood in the mean time which also forced me to get rid of damaged stuff, which was silver lining in its way. There is a man coming on Tuesday to do major necessary work on my flat, so over the weekend MUST clear it out for him so he has a decent space to work in. He needs to get into my built-in cupboards (to install pipes) so I can't hide any crap there as I usually would. Oh God.

I was in a beautiful bookshop yesterday (Daunt books) drooling over all the books like some sort of book perv, but I've made myself a one in one out rule, and managed to leave with only the OS map I'd gone in for. Thank God for libraries.

I'm not interested in moving just to get more space (unless I am suddenly seized with a desire to reproduce, you couldn't have kids there) as I know full well that the stuff would expand to fill the space I'm in. Much like a salary. I find it more satisfying to keep getting rid of stuff and live with less.

RainOrShine

Actually, huge trampolines are OK. Of all the stuff the kids have acquired, the trampoline has been most consistently used and enjoyed.

Edit: but you do need a huge garden, I suppose.
Not at all.  Our trampoline takes up almost 1/4 of our small garden but it is probably the single toy which gives the kids (er, and the grown ups occasionally) the most pleasure (unless raining, when it is re-christened the "pondoline" :D).   

I appear to be in the same position as Rogerzilla in that I am slowly sinking in a shifting quicksand of plastic tat.  The problem is that getting rid of it takes time - listing items individually (on freecycle or ebay) is tedious.  We got rid of a carload in a morning at a boot sale, which was fun and raised some funds for the coffers, but depressingly has not generated much free space.

PS: £15 for a kid's birthday party present?? :o  Yikes.  When you have one almost every other weekend, that's a lot of money!

RoS: try listing it by the binliner-full on freecycle?  (Or indeed on Ebay: "to collect".)  Will your local charity shop or domestic violence refuge (or similar charity) take toys?

RainOrShine

We've given some things to charity shops - it presents a good opportunity to explore with the kids the idea that giving away something they don't play with any more can have a positive effect on someone else's life.

We are experimenting with bundles (of baby clothes) on ebay at the moment - if this proves worthwhile it could be extended to toys.

PS: £15 for a kid's birthday party present?? :o  Yikes.  When you have one almost every other weekend, that's a lot of money!
It's a fairly affluent village, with some City types (despite being 80 miles from Lahndon) and almost as many BMWs and Mercs as Kensington.  There is something of an arms race among kids' birthday parties; nearly everyone hires the village hall and buys in professional entertainment.  Last year we just hired a bouncy castle for the back garden* and everyone who came got a box of crayons or something  ;)  This year, happily, Miss Z senior's birthday coincides with us being away on holiday so she has been promised a bag of chips by the sea, which she's perfectly happy about.

*probably never again, since it appears the hirer can be sued out of existence if a kid is injured.
Never tell me the odds.



PS: £15 for a kid's birthday party present?? :o  Yikes.  When you have one almost every other weekend, that's a lot of money!

O/T

I'm informed by the keeper of the social awareness barometer that the current price level in our part of Edinburgh for our kids (7/5/3) is £10.

I am also a founder member of the PAP Bags movement - 'Portobello against party bags'  So far its an idle chatter of dads with a single enthusiastic mum, but no one brave enough to implement it (although smarter peeps now seem to give seedlings or similar, much to childrens horror!)

vince

Speaking as one who does not have kids, there is a great deal of pleasure to be gained in purchasing large items of plastic tat for the off-spring of one's middle class friends. The kids love it and the look on their faces is matched only by the one of horror on their parents'  ;D

Of course, I'm away on my toes before it breaks and they have to find somewhere to put it/replace batteries.

Party bags are horrid.  We have to bin the boiled sweets (they seem to make Em hyperactive, although sadly don't do the same to me or I'd save them for long rides) and the rest of it normally has no apparent use other than to keep the crap foundries of China ticking over.
Never tell me the odds.

Those Hummer-type limo's are awful.  But then, so too are the Chelsea tractors the little darlings get ferried to school in.  In terms of living small and with less, I reckon its best to avoid having sprogs altogether.  Sure, I'll have no visitors to wipe the drool from my chin in the old folks home, but my conscience will be clear!!! O:-)

Eugenically speaking, it's your duty as a DECENT HARD-WORKING BRITON* to reproduce and prevent Britain from being over-run with little proto-chavs.  Unless you actually are a chav, of course  ;)

*(c) the Daily Express
Never tell me the odds.

Currently on another declutter drive (we normally have one once a year).  Last one was helped by a burst pipe under the stairs.

Trying to give stuff away on freecycle but it's bloody hard work.  Loads of people want my stuff but do any of the buggers turn up?  Do they rollox.

I'm thinking that someone has invesnted a freecycle autoresponder - it just claims anything that's offered and the people later decide if they want it or not at their liesure.

Think I'll just put another shed up.

One issue I have with Freecycle is that people may be collecting the stuff for free and then eBaying it, which seems morally dubious.
Never tell me the odds.

I would certainly rather something went to someone who needed it than someone who was selling it, but I guess even someone selling it is better than it going to landfill.

Pancho

  • لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
I've steered clear of Freecycle as I'm fearful of the worst type of freegan that might turn up. Instead, I have become such a common visitor to the recycling centre that I can virtually speak Polish.

rae

Another advantage of living in Hackney - you can leave unwanted things by the front gate and they are gone inside the hour.   I don't care whether they eBay them for personal gain - I can't be arsed to.