Owning Less

My Digital Piano

This last month has been a month of big changes for me. I moved to a smaller apartment, got a new desk at work, got a new cell phone, and sold my car to purchase a smaller, cheaper one. Part of the downsizing is financially motivated. I have a lot of college loans that I want to pay off and finally be debt free. Part of it is my desire to be ready. Ready for exactly what, I’m not sure, but it might involve travel, or moving frequently, or meeting the love of my life and starting a family! In all those cases, it will be to my advantage to own less.

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t own very much, but what I would own would be very high quality. So, with that goal in mind, I’m downsizing.

I started with several large boxes of toys from my childhood and other miscellanea which I took to Goodwill. Then, I got rid of my old trophies. I sold my oldest computer, so now I only have three machines. (I realize “only” three computers is a relative statement.) I also sold my electric guitar, amp, and effects pedal. I sold several of my childhood toys, with many more remaining in a box, ready to be listed on e-bay. My next areas of downsizing are:

  • My VHS/DVD collection. My goal here is to have all DVDs digitized, their original plastic cases recycles, and the liners and discs stored in a custom solution that takes up a very small amount of space. The VHS’s will pobably be digitized, then the original tapes recycled and the VCR sold or given to goodwill.
  • My musical instruments. I already got rid of my electric guitar, but plan to also sell my acoustic guitar, violin, harp, and antique cornet. These sales will hopefully generate enough money to buy a Taylor GS Mini, a very high quality small guitar. I’m currently undecided on my digital piano (pictured above.) While I can find a smaller and lighter model, my current one is such a high quality instrument that it may be worth keeping.
  • My clothes. I only regularly wear a small portion of the clothes and shoes that I own. The idea here is to pare down the wardrobe to the essentials, only keeping the highest quality clothes that fit me the best and look great. The rest will be sold and/or given to Goodwill.
  • My kitchen. I have a lot of single-purpose appliances that I can probably do without, such as my George Foreman grill. I may decide keep most of the kitchen stuff as I get better at making time to cook meals at home.
  • My furniture. I currently have an Ikea table and four chairs, a rocker/recliner, a couch, and a bed. The rocker/recliner is probably the only item I can downsize here.
  • My unicycle. Yes, I unicycle. I have a 24″ chrome steel unicycle that I almost never ride. The idea here is either to get a smaller unicycle that more practical for indoor use, or sell it outright and avoid replacing it. (I’m not sure I ride frequently enough to warrant owning it, and I’m not sure I want to ride more often.)
  • My longboard. I have a nice longboard from Jati Boards that I hardly ever ride. I’m still undecided on this one.
  • My books. I currently have every Computer Science-related text I got in college, as well as many novels and other books. I rarely use them, even as references. My goal is to replace most of my books with an Amazon Kindle, and e-book versions of the ones I actually do want. I might bring the really good textbooks (like my Algorithms book) to work and keep then on my shelf there, which is where I’m probably most likely to want to reference them anyway.
  • My notes/papers/drawings. I have a lot of old schoolwork, completed tests, and drawings from when I was young all the way through college. I read this post on miss minimalist about an artist who decided to embrace minimalism, which meant getting rid of his past work. I think I may have to adopt a similar attitude to my own creations.

Getting rid of old schoolwork and art projects is probably going to be the most difficult of the items above, since I was generally a good student who took school seriously. My old notes and tests are the product of years of work, and often show the good grades I made. It’s hard to let go of momentos of a time when I worked hard and got recognized for excellence.

My strategy for getting rid of excess possessions is to take a photo of the item in question before selling it or giving it away. Have a ritual surrounding the process of downsizing makes it easier to let go. Most of the time when I have a hard time getting rid of something, it’s because of the memories attached to it. Most of the time, a picture will suffice to help recall whatever memory I’m trying to keep.

I realize my possessions fall into two categories:

  • Stuff I own to use (furniture, computers, instruments, bicycle, skateboard, car.)
  • Stuff I own as keepsakes (pictures, drawings, toys, trinkets, and ornaments.)

My goal is to have the second category be as small as possible, taking up the least room in my apartment and life. The first category should be limited to things that I actively use on a day-to-day basis. I’d rather not own a bunch of things that I only use once a month, year, or even less frequently.

Have you ever downsized your life? Let me know how it went in the comments below!

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One Response to Owning Less

  1. Haruki Kawai says:

    Long time no see.
    I couldnt find your e-mail adress so wrote here.

    Im happy because you looks enjoying life.

    Now, Im traveling around world and staying Nepal.
    If you have facebook account, you can find my account by my e-mail or my name.

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