My husband is a minimalist, though I’m not sure he was aware of it until we watched the documentary The Minimalists on Netflix last night. (Great documentary – check it out if you haven’t already.) JB hates spending money, is completely averse to debt and would be happy if all he owned was a bed, a few items of clothing, a good chair to sit in, a book and a tv. He doesn’t have much in the way of hobbies and always thinks long and hard before he spends money on something. It took him four years to finally buy a Dyson vacuum strong enough to suck up the dog hair our golden retriever can pump out. And even then, I practically had to goad him into it. (When you have a dog that sheds like crazy, a good vacuum falls under ‘necessity’.)
I, however, am a bit of a latecomer to the idea. I hate clutter. It agitates me beyond belief, but that didn’t stop me from accumulating stuff. The only thing that kept it under control was my ability to organize. This was easily maintained when I was the only one living in my small house, but six years ago when my husband moved in and his son came with him on a part-time basis, the space I had to work with shrunk significantly and the things that required organizing tripled. It became too much and over the past couple of years it’s reached a point where I would avoid the house in order to avoid the clutter. Which often times included a trip to the mall to buy more stuff. It’s a vicious circle.
When my husband and I first got together, he had zero debt with no intention of ever accumulating debt. I, on the other hand, through bad spending habits and a few unfortunate circumstances had racked up $20,000 in debt. By the time he and I moved in together, I had that down to $12K, but it was still enough to make him hyperventilate. Given how much stress the debt was giving me, and the fact that the house and living expenses were no longer 100% on my shoulder, I made a determined effort to pay it off once and for all. It took two years, and it wasn’t easy, but I managed it and I haven’t gone back.
By then, my writing had started to generate an income in addition to the day job and I had more disposable income than I had previously. I’d like to say I stuck all of this into retirement savings or an emergency spending account but that would be a lie. While some did go in that direction, the larger chunk went to spending on things I liked. Things I hadn’t been able to buy much of while paying off my debt. Clothes, books, yarn, more clothes, more books, more yarn. Trinkets, miscellaneous things I can’t even recall. Some of this was on quality items, but a lot of it was mindless spending. And the ‘stuff’ I was bringing into the house began to accumulate and add to the mess and sense that the walls were closing in on me.
I have mentioned this to my husband repeatedly and his response has always been, ‘Throw out whatever you want. Heck, I’ll rent a dumpster and park it in the driveway if that will help.’ I toyed with the idea, but that would leave us nowhere to park which could prove a problem with the winter parking ban on. However, after watching The Minimalists documentary last night, and talking to my husband about my goals, he is fully on board and more than willing to do his part to help however he can.
With the New Year fast approaching, my goal for 2017 is to move toward a more minimalistic approach to living and in the way I spend my money. I am going to rid myself of anything that is not used regularly, leaving behind those items that have use, value or purpose and a few items that are dearly loved.
But I’m not waiting for the new year to start, I’m beginning now.
Do any of you have a spouse/significant other that is more/less of a clutter bug than you are and what strategies have you found that make this easier?