I’m definitely not what you’d call a minimalist – I have way too much stuff for that – but I’ve been taking small steps toward decreasing some of the junk in my house. Awhile back, I cut my wardrobe down drastically when I cleaned out my closet, and I’ve been on the lookout for other things I can consolidate, organize, downsize, and/or throw away.
Last year, when I decided to cut the cable cord, one of my goals was finding a way to get rid of all my DVDs. The cabinet under my TV was bursting at the seams (it was the replacement for the ugly DVD tower I used to have) and I knew there had to be a better solution.
Since then, I’ve spent hours ripping my DVDs to iTunes. From there, Jayden and I can stream our movies to any device in the house, including the TV in the living room (thanks to the miracle that is Apple TV). I was kind of upset to find that my DVDs were only worth an average of a dollar each, but it felt AMAZING to clear out the clutter and reclaim my TV cabinet’s storage space for more important things.
The problem? I found more DVDs in the basement yesterday.
Attachment Leads to Clutter
See the picture above? That’s the stack of DVDs that were shoved in a corner and forgotten for the past two years. About 40 of them, counting home videos, and two brand new DVDs that were never opened. Gee, do you think there’s something wrong when I can misplace that many movies without even realizing it?
I really wanted to just sell them – no need to move them to iTunes when I’ve lived without them this long, right? But then I saw Short Circuit and Short Circuit II. And Van Wilder, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. Oh, and there’s the VeggieTales move that Jayden used to love when he was little! Before long, I was sitting in the floor trying to decide which movie to watch first.
The funny part of this is that I really don’t watch much TV. It’s rare for me to watch movies, too – just ask any of my friends who try to talk to me about recent releases! Yet I look at all those movies and I simply can’t bare to part with them completely. I can let go of the physical DVDs easily, because they take up space and get on my nerves. But it’s impossible for me to sell them before I preserve each movie in iTunes for future viewing. Because I may totally feel the need to watch Cast Away again someday, right? (Has ANYONE made it through that movie more than once? If so, there’s probably a merit badge or something. You should check into it.)
Clutter Leads to Debt
There’s a reason why so many people turn to minimalism (or some form of it) when they decide to get out of debt. When we form emotional bonds with material items, we allow ourselves to spend emotionally, too. We convince ourselves that a pair of shoes, a certain car, or even a movie on DVD will make us happier. Before long, we’re surrounded by stuff and the only thing we feel is disgusted by all the money we spent.
I’ve been very resistant when it comes to minimalistic behaviors – I still enjoy some material things; I just wanted to stop going into debt to get them. And I’ve done that, for the most part, but I can’t help wondering if my reluctance to give up my stuff is a sign that I’m still in danger of adding to my debt instead of paying it off.
I think part of me just doesn’t want to admit that it was a COMPLETE AND UTTER WASTE OF MONEY to buy all those DVDs. I probably had about 200 before the initial declutter, not counting the ones I found yesterday. If I estimate $17 for each disc, that’s at least $3500 spent on DVDs in the past 10-12 years. And how much time do Jayden and I spend watching said DVDs? Maybe 3 hours a month, max.
I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
Decluttering Never Ends
I feel like I’ll never be finished decluttering my house. First of all, I keep finding more stuff. Mainly, though, I keep realizing that I’m in semi-denial about my past debt and spending. Each box I open is more money wasted, more lost opportunities, and more realizations that “recovering spendaholic” isn’t just a cute way to describe myself. Chronic overspending and debt accumulation is an illness, and I was very sick for a long time.
I’m doing so much better these days. I have a budget (that I usually follow). I don’t buy on impulse anymore. I don’t use credit cards to buy things I can’t afford.
But I also have a long way to go – I still obsess about things I want to buy. Sure, I save the money for them first, but could that money be used for something more important? And do I really need anything else when I can find a box of DVDs that I didn’t even know I had? What else do I own that I don’t know about?
I’m learning that decluttering isn’t just about getting rid of stuff. It’s also about getting rid of the attachments and mental baggage that allowed the stuff to accumulate in the first place. And it’s lessons like these that make me feel like my game piece just got moved back to START. And even though I know I should move on, it feels like a good time to rip the rest of those DVDs to iTunes before I bid them farewell.
Do you struggle with clutter? When you open your closet doors, do you shield yourself from the avalanche you know is about to crash down? How does the amount of stuff you have correlate with your spending or debt?