Originally published on October 8, 2014.
Three months ago, I turned 29 and announced I was going to live the most frugal year of my life. In an attempt to save more money, I started a yearlong shopping ban. To go along with this, I also decided to do a massive declutter/purge of my belongings and finally embrace minimalism.
Throughout the month of July, I opened every closet, drawer and box in my apartment, took everything out and decided what I wanted to keep/donate/toss. In the end, I removed a total of 377 items from my home – or 42% of my belongings. Since then, I’ve removed an additional 44 items, which brings the total up to 47% – and I’d like to hit 50% by the end of the year. I’m happy to report I haven’t missed or mourned the loss of any item, so far. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I thought I’d accidentally gotten rid of my copy of The Alchemist, which stressed me out because I’ve had it for years and reread it often. Fortunately, I found it at the bottom of the stack of books beside my bed (phew!). So, other than that, I haven’t missed anything.
I have, however, been curious about how this declutter/purge changed my life – if at all. So far, I’ve found that having fewer things means I have fewer decisions to make about what I do/use and where it goes when I’m done. But has it changed anything else? Have I adapted to this minimalist lifestyle? And three months later: is my condo still clutter-free!? Take a look.
When you first walk in, the front closet contains all the same stuff it did three months ago. I’ve noticed that having fewer pairs of shoes gives me fewer outfit options, which is actually a good thing. I wake up, look outside and can quickly decide what to wear, based on the weather. The only thing that’s changed about the closet is I hung a tote bag filled with the few other tote bags I kept, which I use for grocery shopping. (I was also wearing the TOMS that are missing from the shoe rack, when I took these pics.)
The bedroom closet also looks the same, except that I managed to remove a couple more items from it – things I kind of liked but couldn’t remember wearing at any point in the past 12 months. I’ve gone from using 16 hangers down to just 13 – 14 if we include the green hoodie that I was also wearing while taking these pics. Oh, and I moved the 1 box of sentimental items (yearbooks, etc.) into this closet.
The top of my dresser looks almost identical, except for the candle I brought in from another room. I do look at some of these items and wonder what purpose they serve. But some were gifts, some were handmade by friends and I love them all, so they’re here to stay.
My bookshelf is where I, surprisingly, managed to do more decluttering. I always thought books would be the hardest things to part with, but the more I looked at my shelf, the more I realized there were books I enjoyed but was just never going to read again. So, to the library they went. (There’s also a small stack beside my bed, at all times.)
It’s business as usual, at my desk. I sometimes have a book or two on it, if I’m doing research for a post. Otherwise, I’ve found that I need it to stay clutter-free, in order for me to get any work done. Having anything else here would takeaway my attention from what I should be focusing on: writing.
In August, I gave up my desk at my co-working space, which means I now do 100% of my work from home. In doing so, however, I had to bring my printer home. I know many people don’t use printers, but I need it at least once/week. So, it hangs out beside my desk now (which means my side table has a purpose).
I’ve added a few things to my cork board, but otherwise it still looks ok. The only thing that really serves a purpose here, though, is my calendar, which I use to mark all my workouts (green dots), appointments, birthdays and trips.
My friend A would be happy to see I purchased a new sea salt grinder. I also finally filled my pepper grinder. As well, when I was in Portland, I picked up a few food items at Trader Joe’s, including the pomegranate vinegar seen here (it’s amazing in salad dressings!). Otherwise, the kitchen looks the same.
Well, except for this. When I looked back at the pic from a few months ago and compared it to this one, I couldn’t figure out why I had accumulated so much stuff – until I realized it’s all coffee-related. Apparently my no-takeout-coffee rule has made my make-coffee-at-home habit a little more serious! The only things I’ve purchased here are a few bags of coffee beans, but then I brought out all my coffee-related appliances, so I can make something delicious every morning.
Then we have the formerly messy drawer that started this all. It’s a thing of beauty still, I tell ya – and not because I’d just put away all my clean dishware before taking this pic, or because the can opener is finally here. No, it’s because everything has a home, so I always put things where they belong.
Just for fun, I thought I’d show you guys the inside of my fridge. My friends always make fun of me for how empty it is, but this makes sense to me. I live alone and travel a lot, yes, but I also just only buy things when I need them (so I don’t waste food, which is important to me) and always keep the basics on hand (almond milk, yogurt, some fresh produce and eggs). Oh, and my freezer is always empty, minus the ice packs I use on my back + some frozen berries for smoothies.
Moving into the bathroom – I thought I was happy with how many toiletries I’d tossed in July, but last month I realized I’d barely touched that bag of stuff since. I managed to find 10+ more items to get rid of, then fit everything into the bag so I could toss that basket. The only thing new here is the big bottle of hand soap. (It’s much cheaper to refill your soap dispensers than to keep buying new ones! But I can’t deny I miss the scents of the soaps from Bath & Body Works.)
Here’s my TV + Apple TV that I only turn on when I want to watch Netflix.
And that’s that. My home!
If you’re wondering if it always looks this clean and organized, the answer is yes. Growing up, I don’t think my parents ever had to ask me to clean my room. They had to ask me to do the dishes, but my room was always clean and tidy. I was the kid who organized her books by size, then colour, then the author’s last name. My desk at school was the same, which meant I never needed the 15-minute slot teachers gave us to clean them (so I usually helped my best friend clean hers).
If you came over for tea right now, you might see some clothes thrown over the back of my loveseat, a few papers/bills/my wallet/keys on a corner of the kitchen counter, or post-it notes all over my desk after I’ve been brainstorming. Otherwise, this is what I live in every day. So, the declutter and purge aren’t entirely to thank… but it sure is nice to have fewer things around my place and, therefore, fewer decisions to make about what to use and where it should all go.