The following is a simple story from Aimee of Live Simple Now. Thanks so much for sharing Aimee!
You don’t own your possessions – they own you!
At a young age, I enjoyed decluttering, organizing and cleaning. Life was just easier when everything was in its place, neat and orderly. Something about living in a clear environment with only the things I needed and loved appealed to me. Back then there were no ‘minimalists,’ I never heard that label until years later.
Fast forward to me living out in the world on my own, debt came quickly, quicker than I could pay it off. I moved into my first apartment with my clothes, my cat, a bed, but little else. That’s where the credit cards came in. I was stunned and excited to be selected for department store cards, gas cards, MasterCard, Visa, you name it and I had it in my wallet. As you may have guessed, I went overboard shopping for things I thought I was supposed to have now that I was an adult.
Mind you, it wasn’t stuff I needed, just stuff I wanted and thought I was entitled to own.
The ensuing debt was so great that I couldn’t afford to go to a movie with friends – and trust me, movies were much cheaper back then than they are now! I was paid twice a month, and twice a month the checks I wrote to pay bills emptied my checking account. There was NO savings account, NO retirement account – there was just never anything left over. Talk about feeling trapped!
I wish I could say that I had some spectacular light bulb moment, but there was none. I simply got tired of the way I was living – going to work all day and then being stuck in my apartment all night and every weekend with my beloved possessions. That was not living. I had been living beyond my means and I was miserable.
It took a long time to reverse my financial situation, but what really opened my eyes was when I decluttered. I knew exactly how much money I spent on each item I discarded. Forget buyer’s remorse, the thought of wasting so much money literally made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t look at decluttering as ridding myself of items I no longer wanted, I looked at it as poor choices on my part, and very wasteful. Why did I buy these things? I thought about what it would be like to have all that money in the bank, where it really belonged. Ouch.
It was a hard lesson to learn, but it really drove home the importance of carefully considering ALL future purchases. Paying off the last of the credit cards, student loans and car loans felt incredible. Paying off debt is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself, financially speaking. Never again do I want to sacrifice my financial freedom to have a new TV or piece of furniture.
Possessions have never improved my life in anyway, at any time.
Now I take more time deciding on potential purchases. First I consider whether or not I really need the item I’m thinking about buying. Next, I try to think about what the item costs in terms of how many hours I have to work to pay for it. What an eye opener that is! Are you willing to sacrifice a week’s pay for some shiny new thing? I’m not – not anymore. It took a long time to learn this lesson, but it was well worth the wait.
Nothing feels better than having money in the bank and knowing you can afford if an unexpected bill or repair pops up. I love living a simple life with only the items that I use and love (and it makes cleaning so much easier!). Not being wrapped up in debt and shopping and too much stuff has led to more contentment in my life.
I found motivation in other blogs such as Miss Minimalist, Be More with Less and zenhabits. Their messages encouraged me and propelled me to start my own blog. If you are interested in following me on my journey to a more meaningful life through simplicity, or care to share your story, connect with me at Live Simple Now.