Monday, July 21, 2008

The Financial Side of Clutter

As many of you know, I enjoy reading the personal finance blogs. My favorites are listed in the right sidebar, check them out if you're interested in personal finance.

Retail therapy is a common practice here in the U.S. It probably is in other countries as well. So many of us shop for the sake of shopping, buying new things to cheer us up or to give us a little thrill. I can attest to the reality of that thrill--it's literally like a high, a hit of endorphin to the system. Some people can become addicted to that high--see this recent story on The Consumerist for more.

Times are a bit harder these days, and still, retail therapy occurs. I read the paper, and every day there are articles about shopping habits and how little they've changed despite the slowing economy.

When I started my decluttering journey, I knew that retail therapy had to end. I was never profligate (although, yes, there were some incidents involving scrapbooking supplies--long story), but I bought items we as a family didn't actually need. Now need is an interesting word. What do we really need? Food, shelter, some would say love. Dozens of episodes of old TV shows on DVD? Kid clothes from anywhere but the thrift store? Books the library has? Barbie dolls? Not needs. Wants. Wishes. Hopes for a different life or a better tomorrow.

I don't shop anymore. I do sometimes browse, and I've found that when I walk into a shop not intending to buy anything and being clear to myself on that, I can browse and be inspired by the items that catch my eye. Perhaps there's a color that calls to me. I can examine why that is, remember it, and consider it for a home decorating idea in the future. It doesn't mean I need to own that item right now.

Books, ah books. Used to be I couldn't leave a bookstore without buying something. The other day, I explored a lovely used bookstore. Amazing stock, the place was a maze of shelves, all carefully labeled, with that wonderful smell of old books. Saw many books that, even two years ago, I would have bought. I left with the title of one book in my head so I could put it on hold at the library. Didn't buy a thing. It felt like a victory.

My home is on a journey that will likely never end. I try to enjoy the journey itself, for that is where the learning happens.


Anonymous said...

I remember the aroma of the old Powell's Book Store in Portland. And the aroma of the laundry my mom hung (my entire childhood) on the line. When I am in serious stages of dieting, I especially enjoy the aromas of the spices and herbs of ethnic cooking. It's the experiences that add the joy to our lives. And the people, and the surprising familial connections that spring up.

Momma P

Michele said...

I like your comment on the house being on a journey that will never end. It is a philosophy I have lived by for a while since moving into a fixer upper. People constantly ask when it will be done, and I just say I cannot foresee a time when it will be done. There is always more to do on the renovation. I also view my decluttering as an ongoing process sort of like laundry. It doesn't ever get "done," it's a way of life.

Anonymous said...

I still remember how surprised and pleased I was when I realized I could admire something and still NOT want to live with it, ie, buy it and have it cluttering up my house. kcn

Monica said...

I can relate to your home being on a journey. Mine took the scenic route recently and it is now working its way back to the main line. :)
Target clearance endcaps were my weakness. I've only been to Target twice this year. I glance at the clearance stuff, do a quick "ooh" and "ahh", pick it up, hold it for a moment and put it back.
I love the smell of bookstores. My kids think I'm weird when I inhale almost audibly when we walk into one. I need to uh, pay off my overdue fine before I can check more out from the library.

paisley penguin said...

Seems like my decluttering and home improvement projects are in a constant state as well. It's nice to feel not so alone.

Check out this post from July 21 (can't seem to directly link ti it). I think you will like it. :)