“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” ~Albert Einstein
From day one we have defined frugality as the ability to embrace and enjoy what we have. But let’s just face it, sometimes what we “have” gets in the way — it becomes a burden and a distraction.
In this, my journey toward freedom, one of the biggest challenges in living a more frugal life has been de-cluttering my home and life. Yet it has been the most rewarding step. Now, instead of spending countless hours cleaning, organizing, rearranging, or shopping, I have time for people and things that really matter to me.
As with anything, de-cluttering can be made incredibly simple or incredibly difficult. For many people, their stuff represents status, success, and hard-work…there are memories and sentimental value tied to items which makes it difficult to just let go. For others, de-cluttering is as easy as going through their stuff, one section, closet, drawer, or shelf at a time, and getting rid of everything that isn’t absolutely essential.
How should we view clutter?
Over time, I’ve come to view my stuff in a completely different way. I most certainly appreciate the things I have, but know this…I could let any of it go at anytime. De-cluttering the home has allowed my family and I to:
- spend less money
- live more simply
- spend less time cleaning and organizing
- pay more attention to those things that really matter
Several people have had a great impact on shaping my thoughts surrounding clutter and simple living. Courtney Carver of Be More With Less is a leading clutterfree renegade! She is by far one of my personal blogging heroes…and it is an absolute honor for me to be able to present this interview I did with her.
Andrea: How did you start your be more with less journey?
Courtney: My desire to live with less started shortly after I was diagnosed with MS. I wanted to find ways to live a healthier life with less stress.
Andrea: How do clutter free and frugal living complement each other?
Courtney: Naturally, when you start to live with less, you want less and shop less. I’ve never described myself as frugal, but now that I see the benefits of living debt free and clutter free, my spending habits are definitely more frugal than they used to be.
Andrea: As a beginner, how would you suggest I start living clutter free?
Courtney: It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you realize how much stuff/debt you actually have. Start small and fill one small box with things you don’t need and donate it. Celebrate the accomplishment and repeat.
Andrea: How do you view stuff?
Courtney: I view stuff as something to let go of instead of something to accumulate. I think there is some stuff that adds value to our lives, but most is a distraction.
Andrea: Could you share a bit about invisible clutter and how it affects our lives?
Courtney: I consider invisible clutter anything from obligations to debt and even digital clutter like email and social media. We need to say yes to things we care about and no to things that we do out of guilt or boredom. Sometimes that means doing nothing until you figure out what means something to you.
Andrea: What are the benefits of living a clutter free life?
Courtney: The benefits include time, money, attention and clarity. For me the biggest benefits have been a healthier low stress lifestyle and being more present to engage in meaningful relationships.
Andrea: Moving forward, what are some strategies for preventing clutter?
Courtney: The easiest way to prevent clutter is to stop buying things. It sounds simple and it is. Really spend time thinking about what you buy and why. Implement a 30 day rule to any non-essential shopping. If you decide to buy something that you don’t need, wait 30 days and see if it still seems as important.
Now It’s Your Turn
Daily Goal: Create a plan for de-cluttering.
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Courtney Carver is the writer and founder of Be More with Less. The 42 year old wife and mother launched her blog in May 2010 to share a message of hope in simplicity. She left a 15 year career in sales and marketing in September 2011 to focus on writing, develop new ways to teach others to live more simply, and live a simpler life herself.
In addition to bemorewithless.com she created bemorewithless.com/business to encourage business owners and entrepreneurs to focus on the essential instead of getting lost in busy work.
Courtney was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006 and attributes her healthy lifestyle to simplifying every part of her life, from diet to debt. She moved from New England in 2004 to Salt Lake City where she lives with her husband, and 16 year old daughter.
Read her books Simple Ways to Be More with Less and Living in the Land of Enough and say hi on Twitter.
This post shared here: Frugal Friday
This post about clutter and simplifying life is wonderful. My husband and I started decluttering and downsizing our stuff/junk for approximately 3 years. We both came into our relationship marriage) with stuff. His, mine and ours. Once we went through all of our stuff, donated gently used items, sold a few things and trashed/recyled the rest. Our home felt extremely comfortable, light as if the stress just disappeared. Now we refuse to buy thing unless we really need it. We have even decided to live frugally. Which in our minds means pay with cash when we can and live within our means. We have even tried to in grain this motto into our kids.
I love when you said “Now we refuse to buy things unless we really need it.” You got it girlfriend!
Lisa Lynn says
This is a great time of year for this article. Many people start out the new year with resolutions to reduce their clutter and organize their lives. I’m doing the same! I’m attempting to take one room or problem area at a time so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the task.
We moved to our home 1 and 1/2 years ago. Before the move I got rid of so much stuff that I thought moving would be easy. But when the time came to load our stuff in the moving van, I realized that there were many more things that I should have donated or tossed out! Now I have to organize the basement and garage where a lot of that stuff ended up. Still working on it!
I especially like your thoughts about decluttering the invisible stuff. We don’t often think about those things!
Thanks for the article!
It’s definitely a work in progress:)
What a wonderful post! I’m working on decluttering. I never thought I was one of those people that was into “stuff” but my attic begs to differ. I’m sentimental when it comes to ceratain things, especially when it comes to the things my son makes and does at school. What I’ve started doing is taking pictures or scanning the items and scrapbook about them and then throw the actual piece away. This way I can still “save” it. Certain things I will still save but the majority of will go away. I went to school for graphic arts and I saved every little thing that I did and I have a big box of that stuff so I’ve started doing the same thing with that so I can get rid of the piece of paper but still either have a digital copy or put it into a scrapbook. It’s a lot of work but it will be worth it in the end.
[email protected]'sLittleCorner says
I am really appreciating all that you are writing on this issue. This is where I am having to focus on. I do most frugal things. Like one gal who listed 50 things to do to save money. Well, I pretty much did all 50 and sat and wondered what else I could do. I am coming to grips with needing to be content and de clutter my life. I love how your blog doesn’t sacrifice your good health to save a few dollars either. I am continuing to learn to eat simply but…good. Thank you for all you have put into your site. I have been VERY blessed by it.
Blessings in Him<
It’s good to see thrift, sustainability, and minimalism getting together! Often people seem to feel strongly about one, but not the other, which is fine, but for me they are all inextricably linked. I’m always thinking about how to live below our means, but I’m also committed to living a minimalist lifestyle for the sake of the planet, my own sanity, and the way I feel about consumerism in general.
Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry says
This is a fantastic post! After having children and a home filled with toys and outgrown clothes every few months, I have truly realized how stuff can take over one’s life. I have vowed to give away what we don’t need and be happy with less.
This is one area where I was struggling with. I inherited the trait from my parents. It was hard at first to give stuff away, sentimental reasons, I really like it reasons, I may need it someday reasons. Well it has gotten alot easier. I am really getting the hang of this. I started small and have worked my way up. I was recently in my crawl space the other night and came across a bag of stuffed animals that were mine when I was little. I pulled them out of the bag looked at them and thought what a shame, someone could be loving this animal as I did. I have allowed myself to donate them. My one doll I was unable to donate as she had simply fallen apart. I think of all the years sitting in a bag, when she could have been played with. It was hard to throw her out, but I came to grips with it. I have recently gone thorugh my kids toys and donated them to the salvation army or thrift store. They love the idea that someone who does not have much will then have something. We have a group here that help support underprivildeged parents. I recently stopped by to donate some baby food. I ended up gaining so much back. Seeing how the group operates and what the families out there need, has really encouraged me to go through things and donate to them. In the end it is a win-win situation!