by Mira Reverente
It hit me the other day. Staring at my wide open cupboard, I realized that I had too many mugs. Not a collector by any stretch of the imagination, I just slowly accumulated mugs of all shapes, sizes and colors over the years.
There’s the “thank you” holiday mug from a fellow PTA volunteer, souvenirs from friends’ travels, give-aways from press luncheons, extras from a friend’s husband’s company anniversary and even one from my ex-mother-in-law. People have come and gone in my life but for some reason, I have held on to the mugs.
It was just too much. Being the only coffee drinker in the house, I had no need for over 20 mugs. Even if I don’t run the dishwasher for a week or two, I would not run out of mugs. So I did what I usually do with excesses of any thing. I added the mugs to my donation pile and bade them “adios.”
What a relief. Many years ago, I was introduced to the concept of minimalism. At that time, it sounded radical and near impossible. Over the last few years, I have slowly honed the practice of decluttering and sticking to the basics. A friend of mine swears by the “one in, one out” practice. She bought a new suitcase one time and promptly donated her old one.
No more back-ups and no more extras. They take up space, use up your time and waste money. There are a few exceptions of course, like toiletries and school supplies, especially if you have kids.
Here are some ways you can slowly incorporate minimalism and get rid of the extra “mugs” in your life:
- Downsize your wardrobe and cultivate a uniform look or style. Remember the late Steve Jobs and his trademark black turtleneck and jeans or Mark Zuckerberg and his grey shirts and hoodies? Interviewed about their get-ups, both men have been quoted as saying that sticking to a simple wardrobe frees up their time so they can focus on better decision-making where it really matters – at work.
- Donate, sell or toss? Go through your things every season, twice a year or whenever it suits you. Make three piles of things to donate, sell or toss. Not ready to part with stuff? Box and label them. If you don’t miss the items in 30 or 60 days, donate them. A local charity stops by my house once a month to pick up donations. I get rid of stuff I don’t need and it benefits their thrift store, so win-win.
- Don’t succumb to retail therapy. Feeling low? Don’t head to the mall. Take a walk. Have coffee with a friend. Borrow a book from the library. Chances are, whatever you end up buying at the mall, will only provide short-term relief from the blues.
- Spend on experiences, not things. If you have some money to spare, invest in experiences and vacations you can share with the people who matter to you. My daughter remembers the summer road trips we take. The outfits from Target? Not so much.
- Adopt a backpacker lifestyle. This is a long-term goal of mine and a long shot with kids in the house. I just love the thought of carrying everything I could possibly need in my back and owning nothing else–a couple of sets of clothes, a pair of shoes, a first aid kit, a water bottle and a stove. Wouldn’t life be simpler?
Remember, when you learn to live with less, you can have a richer, fuller life.
Do you have your own mug story? Sound off below or on my Facebook page.
Mira Reverente is associate editor of CVH and a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in many local publications. Her first book on money came out last fall. Read up on more money savviness on her Facebook page.