10.01.2011

on clutter and finances





yesterday morning i went to an estate sale here in town and as i turned onto the street of the sale, i realized that i knew the person who was having the sale.  i soon learned that she is losing her house.  she said she was fine but i was not.  it shook me up and i'm still shook up.  i have a few friends who are going through this exact same thing.  it is so sad and brought back memories.  in 2009 just after renovating this place the economy came crashing down and larry's business took a terrible hit and things got very scary for us too.  we were lucky and his business recovered.  as i wandered through the estate sale i was struck by the amount of stuff that was for sale.  i'm not talking about normal stuffed closets here, but a scary amount of stuff.  hundreds, if not thousands of boxes stacked as high as me filled the house, garage and yard.  it was overwhelming and it made me want to become a minimalist on the spot.  it reminded me that there is a delicate balance between enough and too much.  and in todays world that balance can be hard to maintain.  the glossy magazines and beautiful blogs featuring so many new and pretty things can make you want more than you need.  at least that's the effect they have on me.  i began to wonder about about how the pursuit of more stuff can actually put our homes at risk, or when is enough, enough?

our own financial life is quite simple now but it hasn't always been this way.  we used to live in a big house and the desire to fill it was just as big.  i get a lot of emails asking how we simplified and the answer is that it took a big desire to change and a dose of courage to follow through with that change.  our new desire is to live as simply and cheaply as possible.  because neither one of us makes a big salary, if we don't have the money, we don't buy it.  we don't have credit cards, car payments, cell phones or cable tv.  we can afford these things but we just don't want to live that way any longer.  we know that  to keep things this simple we have to be vigilant and not slip back into the way the media says we should be living.  we have a small house with a small mortgage, which also means small utility bills.  shopping in big box stores and department stores makes me feel uneasy, i'm much more at home in yardsales and thriftshops.  if i do waiver and purchase something from a big store, i always suffer from severe guilt, so i try to keep those experiences to a minimum.  and you can say what you want about a vegan diet, but one thing for certain is, it is cheap!  eating out is kept to a minimum mostly because getting good vegan food is hard around here or anywhere for that matter.  all my skincare and cosmetics are free or next to free because that is my line of work.  i always trade services for haircuts and facials.  our preferred way of travel involves a tent and sleeping bag. this past week was spent under the stars of the eastern sierras and it was breathtakingly beautiful. something that can't be experienced in a hotel room.  if we do stay in a hotel it is always heavily discounted through travelzoo.  earlier this year after a string of car problems, larry decided to give up his car for a week and ride his bike everywhere.  well that week has turned into 6 months now and i doubt he'll ever go back.  he's lost 15 lbs and says he feels better than ever.  larry is also the craigslist guru.  when the house or cars needs repairs that is the first place he looks.  i know this lifestyle isn't for everyone and some days i wonder if we were crazy to change our life so radically but most days i'm quite content and so very grateful to be living this way. 

so what is your take on clutter and finances?  do you think the two are related?  do you know anyone going through the agony of losing their home?

have a wonderful weekend and i'm excited because the temperatures here are supposed to be cooling and i can't wait to share my thrifty fall wardrobe picks!

  xo
janet

100 comments:

  1. I love this post. I promised myself, when I got home from the Peace Corps, that I wouldn't give in to the consumer lifestyle, and just before reading this I was web-shopping on Net A Porter. I know. Thanks for the discussion about why you live the way you do and how you do it. I want to downsize my life and pursue quality over quantity in all things: food, relationships, travel, family life, etc. Thanks again! MamaP

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  2. i think sometimes we get caught up with the "stuff" and the acquiring of "stuff". i love reading your blog, i have learned a lot from you and though i have not tried project 33, you have definitely made an impact on me that i have conquered the need to buy or go shopping for stuff.

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  3. How awful it must be to be losing ones' home.
    You are wiser than most Janet. Your chosen lifestyle is to be admired. If more people lived like you and Larry debt would be a thing of the past.

    I recently wrote about my former obsession to collect and I have no desire to live this way anymore. It is the most liberating decision that I have made n many years.

    You are a caring and empathetic soul and you inspire me to be a better person.

    I hope that you have a fabulous weekend!

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  4. Your lifestyle is perfection. Everyday I have been going back and reading through a few pages because there is so much beauty and inspiration to be found here. I love how modest you are, but your blog shines as brightly as the best of them.

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  5. You are absolutely right. Finances and clutter are related. And the more clutter you have, the more work you have trying to maintain it all, and you get caught up in that and miss a lot of life!

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  6. I always enjoy posts that make you think - and this one did. For the last couple years I’ve been on a mission to simplify and declutter; it’s been rewarding. I love that you share pictures and thoughts about your home, it's helpful to see how serene and lovely a place can be when not filled to the brim with stuff. I totally agree about the messages swirling around that we should buy more, get more, have more – in reality, I think the opposite is true. I’m always amazed at how much I appreciate what I have when I pare back and surround myself with only things I truly love.

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  7. I admire your choices and we strive to live as closely as possible to that model in our own lives.

    We had a similar experience with a older couple losing a home just up the street from us. They were parishioners in our church. A combination of illness and financial difficulties made it necessary to sell the home in and all of its furnishings. It was similarly stuffed to maxed with a lifetime of collecting. We purchased several furnishings of theirs as the era of that home and ours (1926) are similar. I knew the woman as a passing acquaintance and think of her now every time I dust her old tables and lamps. Life is sad sometimes.

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  8. What an encouraging post...I have also been trying to simplify. It's been a life-long process for me and I learn new things each day and along the way. I'm so glad to be re-inspired by you, however!

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  9. WOW! I have chills.
    I JUST got done emailing a friend about my addiction to TOO MUCH STUFF! I was cruising the real estate listings because I feel so overwhelmed by all my CRAP that I just wanted to move!
    I found and follow your blog because I am in love with your home. I lust after your kitchen. Perfection....and yet I am in debt from driving around and BUYING more STUFF. I think we are all sucked into wanting the lastest trend and styles and I know that personally I need to STOP it.
    REALLY, I mean YES! I want a new kitchen sink and faucet but....do I want the stress of more debt?
    Thanks for this post. I am going to start clearing out the STUFF right now and not add more.
    :D - Cindi

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  10. I do not know anyone losing their home. I think shopping is addicting - when the economy is bad - people just look for sales -- crazy!

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  11. Thought provoking, moving and prescient. If we all just bought what we needed how much better off we all would be. A great time to post this - before the big annual consumer rush...

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  12. Martha Beck had a great article about this several years ago in Oprah's magazine.

    Boils down to being emotionally whole. Much less stuff is required.

    Been purging interior, garden, & people this year. TV went away too.

    Of course built the Conservatory this year too. It's a pure zone of grace in my life & instigated a lot of other changes. Who knew?

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

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  13. Janet, my husband and I are living an almost parallel life here in Michigan--which is one of the worst states for unemployment thus many foreclosures and job losses. As you know from my blog I have been minimizing like crazy, question the validity of living in a house really too big for 2 people, we rarely eat out, use Groupon, no cable, no landline (in retrospect, I would rather have my landline back and no cell phones--can't convince hubby on that one), etc. We have no desire to impress or try to keep up with anyone. My entire house (at least 95%) is furnished with Ebay, Craigslist, antique stores, thrifting, etc...and you would not believe the compliments I got last weekend during the Historic Home tour (I will be writing more about that in Part 2 on my blog--sorry, not trying to solicit my blog but truly this subject is at my heart). And yes, I think clutter and finances definitely go hand in hand. Rebecca at Cupcake Caramel wrote a great post about this just a couple of weeks ago.

    Good for Larry too! I would love to go down to one car here. It is something for us to consider.

    Love this post! Thanks...xxBliss

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  14. whoa...yours in one the few Blogger spots that has allowed me to comment lately. : )

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  15. I find nothing odd about the way you have chosen to live your life. In fact I am alway so inspired by your commitment. I can wait to see you fall wardrobe.

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  16. Hi Janet, A minimalist I am NOT! But earlier this year I started a shop with a girlfriend and that really slowed down the personal purchases. I joke to my kids that my house is (for the first time EVER)stuck in a timewarp--2010! I get a little tired of shopping and thrifting constantly, so this has become a tonic for me. Pretty soon I'll email pix of the shop. In the meantime, how are your roots???Allegra

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  17. ps--OMG! I just noticed your first commenter is MamaP--my daughter!!!Allegra

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  18. great post my friend. this sounds like our almost daily conversations. Have a great day, I'm off to the car doctors...again :(

    Love you
    xoxoxo

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  19. They often go together, but protracted joblessness and illness/medical bills will put the fix to the most frugal of lifestyles. Where will your neighbor go from here? Where would you if Larry's biz took a permanent hit at the same time your city or county council decides to quadruple your property taxes and the local power company gets the okay to double their rates, and you fall and break a leg and can't work? These kinds of perfect storms have been happening all too often nearly everywhere, even to people who haven't any credit card debt and do have savings. The times are hard.

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  20. I think the way you're living is fantastic. Growing up we never had money. My mom made our clothes and we NEVER ate out. I remember a birthday present that was a big deal was a bike my mom got out of the trash and fixed up for me. It's good for the environment. It's good for keeping us grounded. I did start getting a little caught up in the thrifting when we moved into our house because I wanted to fill the space or I found something I'd seen on a blog. Lately I've been having the urge to purge though. I don't want to have to find a place for things. Keep doing what you're doing - it's good!

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  21. You know I do, my husband is a financial disaster and a complete clutter bug, everything in his life just seems such a mess, I'm the opposite, I keep track of everything, have no credit cards, save for what I buy, have but 17 hangers in my winter wardrobe - yep I am wanting 30 hangers worth, I really do need more clothes, though for the fun of dressing rather than anything else.

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  22. all such great comments!

    anon - you are right, times are hard. we do what we can everyday to prepare for that "big hit." we never saw it coming last time. when larry's business went dead he found himself back in construction at the age of 52. he/we did everything and anything we could do to make ends meet. we have life insurance to protect us from a huge catastrope but for the most part, living within our means is the best strategy we have. my friend says she is moving to hawaii. one of the most expensive places in the world to live.

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  23. We were forced into downsizing when we moved here from the U.K after being defrauded when buying a business. We lost half a million pounds, everything we had ever worked hard for all our lives. Our shopping budget is now $60 per week for five of us after we pay the bills.Our house is in foreclosure although we are fighting it. we have learnt some tough lessons. Yet, I am happy. I am actually very happy! We live in a house full of love, we are healthy and although we live from paycheck to paycheck, we are a team and we are in it together =) This is a lady who drove a new Porsche, changed her furniture and decorated every six months. I worked hard and earned everything I had but I was never as happy as I am now. Isn't that strange? Although we're fighting the guy who robbed us, through the Courts- I should bless him really, for without this experience, we would never have known true happiness. Thank you for reminding us all, Sally xx

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  24. I think you're right on the money! I never thought about clutter and money going hand in hand before. You're such a wise one. I used to love to collect things but no more. The cluttering seems to clutter up my brain somehow and I need it now (my brain) more than ever!

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  25. Janet, I am on the same page as you. The house we just bought is quite modest in fanciness and not big. We chose to spend much less than what the bank would have lent us so we have good equity straight away and mortgage payments not that much more than rent. I love that we life a low-cost lifestyle and find that having cash in the bank is so relaxing. I love that everything is paid for and there is no debt other than our new mortgage. Living on the financial edge is not for me. We don't have pay tv, we only own one car, I happily take the bus or walk. We are the odd ones out among our friends because we don't eat out all the time, don't have a huge house, don't take overseas holidays every year... I could go on and I am. Sorry! Love this post.

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  26. I'm with you, Janet. I'm not a minimalist, but my husband and I are conservative spenders, good savers, and we're content. We bought a house below what we could afford, and it's small so we can't buy a lot of stuff since there's no where to put it. I recently bought a new car, but the one I sold I'd had for 16 years. We have no credit card debt, we don't have cable, we've drastically cut back on eating out (it isn't healthy and we enjoy cooking), and I don't replace things unless they're broken (usually). Before buying something, I ask myself, "Do I really need this?"

    You're right, it's hard not to succumb to all the beautiful things that catalogs, magazines and websites tantalize us with. But in the end, those things aren't what make us happy. It's the time spent with loved ones, the simple experiences (that are free) and the security of knowing you're not living paycheck to paycheck that really brings happiness.

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  27. Another great post! I love all of the eye-candy out there in blog-land, but I am happy with my thrift store and tag sale finds. I am being better about bringing less into my house and find I am happier for it. Plus, it has been so much fun to share through Freecycle, particularly when someone is looking for something I happen to have laying around the house and have no use for, have multiples, etc.

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  28. Unfortunately, we bought our house right before everything crashed and it is now worth much less than we paid. And acting work has seemingly dried up for Don. He's working a day job that pays much less. We are spending as little as possible and are just getting by. Times are very tough. And I have medical bills from 2 surgeries this summer.

    If we wanted to put our house up for sale we would lose money. So we keep hanging in there and hoping something will change. In the meantime, I love our little cottage and will do anything I can to stay here.

    Lots of house are for sale around here and they are for sale for months and years at a time.

    xo
    Claudia

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  29. I have always lived frugally because I've had to. Seems strange to me that I had more spending money when I was in my twenties by far than I do now. I learned my lesson long ago to have no credit cards except one for emergencies. I realized long ago that I went shopping for entertainment and that had to stop.

    I have so many friends that just buy and buy and buy. I rarely even go to thrift stores because I really don't need anything. I do feel my one big luxury is cable tv....its bundled with internet and I have to have internet so I keep the cable. But I lived without it for years and years and years. I could live without it again and I probably should. Its such a time waster.

    Thanks for saying it like it is. Sometimes I go shopping with my friends and they fill their carts with just crap and I think oh the things I could do with the money they waste. And yet they look at me like I am crazy because I am not buying lots of crap.

    I realize it's just more stuff to fill the house. My biggest storage problem is all my holiday decorating stuff. Bins of it in the spare bedroom. I'm getting very tired of it. All of it bought on sale over the years. I haven't bought anything new in a very long time...but I think....this is ridiculous these tubs of stuff.

    I have friends that rent storage buildings to store all their holiday things in. Spending money each month to store your crap. That is ridiculous.

    Love you and love your blog. But you know that.

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  30. i think i'm what you would call a born minimalist. even as a teenager i kept my room spare and clean. weird to everyone else but i loved it. i could "breathe."
    then i married. my minimalism was unusual enough that people commented. it was the era of consumption with a capital c. after bob died i went back to my minimalism. (i admitted this next part on the minimalist packrat site..) i would 'clear the decks' and be happy...then feel odd with the rest of the world..then
    i would buy, buy,buy. you said does it go together? YES! i am finally a very contented happy little minimalist now, with just the right amount of beauty and coziness. spare and elegant. forget what the world does or thinks... and for goodness sakes..
    NEVER go into debt for STUFF!!!
    i did. and will pay til i'm 100.
    love,
    tammy j
    sorry! this is way too long.

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  31. Hi Janet. I admire you so for writing this post. My husband and I made a lot of these changes also. Personally I find that I'm happier because I have less stuff to care for, clean, pay for, etc. Without cable, I find more interesting things to do. We just took a 2 week vacation to the beach and people would say, "Oh, must be nice to be you". But it's a choice. Because we live in a smaller house, choose to buy less, etc....we're able to take longer vacations. Sometimes I think people look at us and what we have and think we must not have much money. I don't care though. I have more freedom and options and a richer life. It sometimes makes me feel like an oddball though so reading something like this makes me happy to know there are others like me/us. Thanks so much for sharing. I've always loved your blog. Hope you have a great weekend!

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  32. I like the shadows on your driveway.

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  33. I've written a comment twice and lost it so I'll keep this brief. I discovered your blog recently. I love what you've done with your cottage -- especially your kitchen and minimalist drawers and pantry. I've been very interested in your vegan lifestyle.

    I really appreciate this post. The design blogs I read and enjoy are beautiful but way out of reach for me. Many people have lost their homes. I and many others are facing that possibility in the future. Thanks for your sensitivity in writing about this and keeping us all grounded in reality.

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  34. Great post Janet.
    Since our move from a sprawling old house on acreage to this home we have down sized drastically. After a huge garage sale and countless trips to the charity warehouse we do not ever wish to accumulate so much stuff again. I believe having a lot of space compels one to 'fill it up'.

    My husband shakes his head and says 'all this costs money you know' so yes I agree that clutter and finances go hand in hand. Plus I firmly believe as we mature and age objects don't have the same allure.
    xx

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  35. I agree with a minimalist lifestyle and have written many posts about it. It definitely gives you more freedom in your life. Studies show, more material things don't lead to more happiness.

    An interesting book called "The Story of Stuff," gets us to think about material things in a new way: http://thesavvvyshopper.blogspot.com/2010/09/story-of-stuff-review.html

    You've written an insightful post! I'm lucky to live in a city with a good public transportation system, so I sold my car. But, I'd love to live in a country where bicycles were the norm.

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  36. Your words are inspiring. I have been "in a change" for the past six to nine months. It began with clothing and the "why" and need of constantly wanting to go shopping and to buy new. The pressure to be vogue, in the know can be daunting. But letting it all go I have found is so, so refreshing. In the pocess I am regaining my self. A week or so ago I found your blog. You are refreshing . I am enjoying my visits to The Gardener's Cottage.

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  37. I think we all find our happiness in different ways, I think the key is not to spend what you dont have. i love my collections and have edited alot when we downsized last year. I think it is important to get rid of something everytime you bring something home. I love your blog Janet, but I love many other blogs too, collections and all! it is always good to evaluate the priorities of our lives and learn from others mistakes and accomplishments! Thanks for sharing your beautiful home and wardrobe!

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  38. I have too much stuff. I find it hard to let things go, even things I don't know if I still want/need. I went through many years on very little money, scared to get rid of anything because I knew I couldn't afford to replace it. Now that I have more money coming in I am relaxing my grip a little, in theory if not (yet) in practice. I love blogs like yours for showing me that another way of life is possible. I love the peace and simplicity of your beautiful, well-ordered home. It resonates with something deep within me.

    Tammy J's comment also resonated with me very strongly. I want to simplify in a sustainable way, not to buy/Freecycle more things to fill the gaps, as has happened in previous attempts. I need to appreciate the deeper meaning that stuff has for me in order to not be lured or trapped by it any more.

    The relationship between money and clutter for me is a complex one. Paradoxically, now that I have more money coming in, I'm beginning to believe that I can afford to let go of more things. The relationship between my stuff and my emotions is a harder knot for me to untangle. With the help of blog posts like this one, it's a knot that's loosening. Thank you, Janet, for being my teacher.

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  39. We lost our home. My husband and I never had large salaries either, but we did okay, we never lived beyond our means, but we were also not as frugal as you. We had cable and cell phones etc. My husband was laid off and six months later I was laid off. We both got other, not so good jobs . . . if we did not earn a particularly large amount before we certainly were earning much less after that. That'll do it to a person. That and the bank TELLING US to get behind in order to get a modification, then giving us a TEMPORARY ONE for several months, then after we paid on time they took the modification away from us and said we had to repay what we had short paid the previous months. Please remember that a lot of people who lived sensible (but admittedly not AS sensibly as they could have) lifestyles have lost their homes in the last couple of years.

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  40. Clutter & Out of control finances are very much intertwined for me. Now that I am finally feeling in control of my finances (mostly) - starting to rid myself of clutter is my "next small step". Thanks for the post. Very inspiring.

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  41. Hi Janet,
    What a strange coincidence that I read your blog today after not being here for a number of months (I've been so busy that blog-reading has been off my radar).
    We have just made the major decision to sell our house and downsize - a two phase transition - the first into a one bedroom city apartment, and then eventually (fingers crossed) a move to Tuscany.
    I love my house and its a big step, but my husband has just had another birthday and is ready to put the architecture profession behind him and spend more time writing.
    I am amazed as I sit here evaluating all the stuff we have collected over the years. We never meant to accumulate so much stuff but it just happened - thats the way it goes when you live in a larger house. I have to say that at the moment I am more excited about starting a new chapter in our lives and living in a new way (less stuff, no financial pressure) than I am sad to say goodbye to our home.
    So ebay, Craigslist, garage sales are definitely in my immediate future.
    Michelle (agardennearthesea - aka pinkrosecottage

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  42. I normally try to refrain from long comments ... but this post struck a chord with me. A few years ago, my husband lost his job, we sold our home and downsized and it has been very liberating. We were never the type to collect a lot of stuff, but over the years, it does add up. I loathe the clutter of cheap, plastic, made in China, junk that adds chaos and stress to our lives. "THE STORY OF STUFF" which is now on You Tube ... http://www.youtube.com/storyofstuffproject#p/u/22/9GorqroigqM ...
    is a real eye opener. I have become such a "declutter-er" that a stray tube of lipstick, or even a good t-shirt that is not being worn, will drive me crazy and quickly get the boot. I even donated some (fairly expensive) kitchen appliances to Goodwill, just because I wasn't using them, and realized that the space they were occupying (both emotionally and physically) in my life, was costing me more than they were actually worth. I still buy things once in a while, but refrain from impulse purchases. By living a very edited, organized life, I have develped a better sense of style and learned a lot more about myself. Ironically, on moving day, as my husband and I loaded a giant POD full of stuff, this little quote fell out of one of my books; I have it today, hanging on my kitchen wall: "Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag." - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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  43. Dear Janet My mother is my best teacher in leading me to a more conscious, questioning and hopefully authentic life. At 81 she continues to buy because she "wants" it - not because she needs it. And at this stage of her life she manages to do this because the bank has given her a loan against their home at 15%!!! interest which will be due on either of my parent's death. This will leave the surviving spouse literally homeless - or living with me. It's the scariest way for a child to grow up being surrounded by "Gucci and antiques" and knowing that the purse is actually empty. The bottom line is that you may fool the people you're trying to impress, but you can't fool your children. Your blog is the first I go to in my weekly online readings and I thank you for inspiring me!
    Pam

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  44. What a thoughtful post and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would love to downsize our home but we have decided to stay in it until my husband retires in 6 years or until the housing market gets so hot we just have to sell (LOL). It must have been shocking to go to a sale and realize you know the person who is in this situation.

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  45. Your lifestyle reads "European" to me. So exotic the average "US lifestlye" always sounds in my ears, so normal and familiar your lifestyle sounds to me: the small home (!), using the bycicle instead of the car, refusing to go into credit card-debts(s) ...

    I could not imagine another life for myself and knowing that there is still a lot left that waits to be de-cluttered in my home equals a thrill of anticipation and not a threat!

    There is a connection between clutter and finances, clutter and debt to be more precise. Unfortunately you can hardly help those who live in clutter, it seems as if they need to realise it themselves and turn their life around. Until then, you will always sound like a missionary to them when speaking in high terms of the minimalist lifestyle.

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  46. So sad to hear of people losing their homes.
    Personally, I'm very fond of simple interiors, but I still think I have too much stuff sometimes. After all, life is what matters, not the stuff we bolster-up our lives with.

    Anna

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  47. I was just talking to a woman at a wedding last night who had recently moved here from Dallas.

    You don't know she said, this area just keeps growing and growing and in the rest of the country people are losing their jobs and their houses.

    I may not live in such an overall depressed area but I am aware of the state of the union and the state of my finances.

    Florists are not big money makers.
    So we rent out the spare bedroom for a big chuck of cash and tho we would love thee house to ourselves, reality doesn't allow.

    And for the fancy wedding we went to last night? My dress cost 55.00, everyone said how European I looked.

    But I also just splurged on a vintage Persian runner for my house. Well "splurged to the tune of 174.00 for a 10ft runner.

    i spend it where I need to and try to keep the wants at bay.

    xo Jane

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  48. Stuff-stuff and more stuff....if you ever drive thru a neighborhood where parking is allowed on the streets or driveways and the garage doors are open..omg. The stuff!!! It's scary. This week, I went to salvation army in Kokomo,In. They had nothing..meaning times are tough, people are selling their things instead of giving away, or making do with it longer, or more people are shopping there. My point is...all the stuff in the garages could help the salvation army. We all have some stuff we could part with. So ladies/gents, take some "stuff" to your local goodwill or salvation army please. I am taking in a load this week. Smiles, Susie
    p.s. Janet, this is one more reason for 333:):)

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  49. I do not comment very often here. Your words resonate with me. Your home is enchanting and your lifestyle commendable. My husband's business has suffered in this economy as well. Life has been economically challenging for some time. Our neighbor lost her house a year ago. We are hoping not to join those ranks. This experience has brought forth reflection "we are not what we own or where we live" this should not identify us. Thanks for sharing your journey on the path it is an engaging read.

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  50. I came back to recomment because when I read this, something about it bothered me a little bit. Having had time to think about it, I think you're intention was to reveal in an honest way how you're getting through the recession. It's a post on common sense which unfortunately a lot of people weren't born with. The person who is losing their home, perhaps, didn't spend their money wisely.

    Missing, though, is a sensitivity or acknowledgment that many people are losing their homes through no fault of their own. Jobs have evaporated, gone overseas perhaps, and never to return. In a situation where someone loses the job they were trained for, and without another skill to get another job, no amount of common sense or cost-cutting will help you keep your home. Also, for people who are significantly upside-down on their homes, losing it perhaps makes good fiscal sense. If you bought a house for $500,000 and it's now worth $300,000, selling your house when you lose your job is going to leave you with a $200,000 debt. Shouldn't the bank who invested their money in the property, and was bailed out but the taxpayers and is now sitting on trillions of dollars it refuses to lend, share some of the responsibility for the bad investment they made in that property?

    I feel terrible for anyone who is losing their home but I don't think it's always a matter of irresponsibility.

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  51. Great post Janet! I’m noticing some comments stating a difference between clutter and “collecting” – Apologies if I offend anyone, I’m sure there is a difference, but (simply in my opinion) it is a fine line.
    I believe you are talking about true clutter here. I even take it a step further and feel clutter is not only linked to finances/debt but is also relational to your mental/physical state. I know this to be true because I’m speaking from experience here. Due to a severe abusive/dysfunctional and financially poor childhood, I have issues with “fear of not having enough” and “not feeling worthy”. In my twenties I would buy, buy, buy…..even ordering double meals at the drive-thru just so I wouldn’t “run out of food”…and yes, I would eat all that food just to feel “full”. Of course this has many layers, but what I learned through extensive therapy, is that I was buying material things trying to fill many “voids” I had. Even over-eating was a way of “filling voids”. I was trying to feel “worthy” by buying material things. This lead to maxing out credit cards that I’m still paying off, gaining 60lbs extra weight, and a house full of expensive things that meant I was worthy and somebody important. The real truth is: I was living a lie. Inside, my mental state was as cluttered as my house and as messed up as my finances and as sickened as my gut. Fortunately (with professional help, in my case), I’ve healed a lot of old hurts and battled (and won) most of my “demons”. I live for a simple, balanced life now. Please know this is my own personal experience, just wanted to throw it out there and challenge others to ponder their own “need” for material things and clutter.
    Here’s one example a few years ago that came up to prove my point: My ex-fiancĂ© comes from a very wealthy family. I learned in their family, money had a lot of control and power. There are material things his mother would buy/control him with that I can never even “compete” with, per se interestingly, during a difficult time my therapist pointed out: his mother just put a new jaguar in his garage, but you just shared a yoga/meditation class with him. Which is the “richer” experience? I chose the yoga/meditation, he chose the jaguar. (hint: why he is now my ex).
    Apologies for the long and TMI post. Just struck a deep chord. Jenny
    (Yes, the Jenny that you inspired to watch Earthlings. It's been 4 weeks now, still a full fledged vegetarian!)

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  52. What a wonderful post, Janet! I've never been in the position that neighbour of yours has been in but I see it more and more. People seem to be brain-washed into thinking they need "stuff" and call themselves workaholics like it's a good thing. I hate to think of shopping and acquiring things as being a hobby, what on earth have we become?

    I've dealt with clearing both my Grandma and Mum's mountains of clutter over the last couple of years. It's bad enough losing a loved one without having to face a heap of possessions when you're at your lowest. It's seriously made me think about the amount of stuff I own. Although it's bought for a song I try to resist the temptation of getting anything just because it's cheap as I'd hate for someone to have to deal with it when I'm no longer around. xxx

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  53. A great and thoughtful post. I have so much to say on this and so many struggles of my own with this topic. I have an aunt who divorced 10 years ago and lost her home and since then became more obsessed with "stuff" than ever. She has now lost her apartment and has moved to tiny subsidized housing. She still has not learned and shops non-stop. We think that bankruptcy is next. Insane.

    xo Terri

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  54. LOVE THIS POST. And I'm shouting it. :)

    You couldn't have put it better and this is why I am so inspired by your blog.

    Some great reminders and I can't wait to share with my hubby and sister.

    Thanks Janet once again for all you do for ME. I can't speak for anyone else but I'm sure I'm not alone.

    Jennifer

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  55. I've been following your blog for a few months, but this is my first comment. Your post really resonated with me, as accumulation of excess is something I struggle with terribly. I so want to live more simply. I am actually a minimalist, at least in theory ... not so much in practice. I loathe clutter and excess (who needs three sets of mixing bowls??), but my line of sight is continually assaulted by ever-increasing piles around the house. Where did all this stuff come from, and what on earth made me think we needed it?

    I admire your courage and dedication to living a simpler life. When I am old, I want to look back on a life filled with memories, not a house full of stuff and responsibility that only tied me down. So I know I will never give up striving for being happier with less. I'm the problem, you see. My husband is practically ascetic.

    Like you, we both love tent camping, and I agree nothing compares to sleeping under the stars--once we get our food up in a tree away from black bears, lol.

    I feel like I am making progress. We live in a small Cape with, unfortunately, a ridiculous mortgage because of the parf of the country where we live. I get so annoyed when I look through home improvement books about small-scale living that assume 2500 square feet is small. Try 1000 square feet! We purchase a share in the local farm and we eat almost entirely from that--all year. Our cares are paid for and well tended; mine is over 8 years old, and I won't consider a new one until this one dies. We do have credit cards, but we don't carry a balance.

    My problem is beauty products. I've become a curator, and it feels like a sickness. I don't know what I am looking for, but it's certainly not having 8 blushes.

    I do see the connection between clutter and finances. How can a person know what she already has if she can't find it? Can't find it, must need to buy it. And so it goes.

    Thank you so much for your post, Janet. It came at the right time, and it strengthened my resolve to continue decluttering. I remember a while back you considered stopping blogging, and I hope that idea never crosses your mind again. You are truly an inspiration.

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  56. Not sure I buy the idea that clutter indicates financal woes...plenty of people who save a lot of money by garage sale scanning and craigslist shopping still have lovely uncluttered homes. I do buy the concept that living as such can avoid creating debt. You do offer a lot to think about. I think a mindset that people have to be mindful in their life and do some things for themself can offer a lot of financial relief.
    http://shoresidefarmhouse.blogspot.com/

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  57. steve - i didn't think i was being insensitive b/c i was right there with them. if we hadn't just downsized we would surly have lost our home. and we were beyond lucky that larry's bus bounced back. i think the downsizing and decluttering we did prior to the financial hit def saved us. it's all v agonizing and i feel for everyone in the middle of this shitstorm.

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  58. Wonderful, wonderful post. You are an inspiration to us all. Keep blogging Janet, we need you. I have been reading many things in the news that are saying things with the economy may get even worse. Scary. We all need to get real and work on what is important in life. Thanks for reminding us.

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  59. thank you janet.

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  60. I'm a born minimalist who grew up in a very cluttered home. So stuff and how I deal with it has been a complicated issue for most of my life.

    Although I was stressed out by too much stuff, I was also raised to believe that it was financially risky to get rid of things. Losing stuff was equated with losing money.

    I was always a declutterer-- That's my nature-- But I always felt guilty about tossing things, and stopped short of clearing out as much as I knew I needed to.

    It's only in recent years that I've realized that the more I clear out, the more I enjoy the things that remain, and I have less of an urge to shop.

    I've also become better able to identify the types of things that really matter to me, the things that make me happy. So I make fewer mistakes when I shop.

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  61. ms m - perfectly said. it is a good feeling being able to walk away from something, even if it is dirt cheap, because you truly know that it is not going to make you happy.

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  62. Janet,

    This comment has nothing really at all to do with the post, other than to say I am sorry for those that have lost their homes/jobs/security with this mess.

    I just wanted you to know that I dreamt about you last night! You had a party and invited me, and I was walking around your house, complimenting you on your beautiful decorating style. It was the strangest thing. It was as if all the pictures I have ever seen on your blog just came to life. In fact I remember telling you how much I loved your curtains in my dream!

    Yowza. Do you think I like your blog just a little too much?

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  63. Hi Janet, I've been a stay at home mom for the last 20 years, so one car and not a lot of stuff is a reality for me. Even with me at home I still purge all the time.
    I learned from a yoga instructor years ago to detach myself from things that just fill up space. This tool has been helpful to me. I think money and stuff go hand in hand, but I also see it as a social and demographic problem too. Your dose of courage is inspiring, just like your blog.
    Thanks for this one. Rosanne

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  64. I went through the devastating experience of losing my home and all my possessions to the Oct '07 San Diego ( Witch Creek ) firestorm.
    My husband and I were out of town attending the funeral of my nephew in San Francisco. So we saved nothing.

    I was devastated — and traumatized. But today, 4 years later, I can say I've been blessed. Despite many tears and dark moments, I am deeply thankful for the love and friendship that
    was shown to us. The blessings of love and friendship have kept us going.

    We found after losing it all that we actually "had" more than we ever knew. Our friends and family surrounded us with love, gifts, gift cards,
    pictures of our home from years gone by and so many other things. We were dumbfounded by how much so many people cared.

    Our new house is marvelous. We finished rebuilding 2 years ago - luckily we had great insurance. It feels so good to have a home again. It’s great to get another chance!

    I was not a hoarder or a person who accumulated a lot of "stuff". But I had lots of things that I loved. There were thing I had inherited from my mother and grandmother and aunt.
    There were many treasures lost that had been collected over the years from different places and countries, and wonderful gifts given to us by friends and relatives. We now have felt (even if we knew it only intellectually before), the blessing of knowing that it is not things in this world that are most important, but relationships.

    My husband and I were vegetarians for the last 20 years. We feel that eating meat is like ingesting suffering. Since last Dec 1st we have both been vegan.
    We feel better, have more energy & sleep better. If you eat animal flesh & animal products, PLEASE read The China Study -! The findings? "People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease ... People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored," says Dr. Campbell.

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  65. Janet,

    I just read your excellent, excellent post... My husband and I have a 1600 sq. ft. home, just basic cable and I resisted a cell phone until 2 1/2 years ago. (my plan is cheap, since I hardly use it, for the most part it only costs me $20 every 3 months) The only credit card debts incurred are paid off in full every month. We only owe on our home and last year refinanced to a 15 year term and took NO cash out even though it was so tempting! We have yet to borrow on our home in the last 13 years.

    I also love garage and estate sales. I remember one a few years ago, the woman having the sale had a catering business that wasn't doing well, on top of that she was losing her home. While I scored on so many (some new) items at this sale, I couldn't help but have a heavy heart as I walked away with my loot.

    We have had 4 foreclosures within a 2 block radius of our home. It's the same story over and over, people using their homes as an ATM and now they are underwater or can't keep up with the payments.

    My in-laws are semi-hoarders and they have finally agreed to let my husband and I get rid of some stuff. Going over there has cured me from buying too much crap!

    Last night my husband told me my being so frugal is rubbing off on him. It's sort of addicting isn't it? :)

    Linda

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  66. Janet you know my views on Clutter- I loathe it. I especially hate the evidence of my past mistakes being left around to remind me of less than happy times.

    I strongly know that messed up finances and clutter are very intertwined. I started decluttering seriously in 2008 and it was around then that I was shocked to see how much money I'd wasted. It made me spend less and save more.

    Like you I do not believe in or have any credit card debt. I also don't believe in loans for things like cars or travel. It's not the person who deserves the trip/car/clothes, it's the person who can afford it.

    Everyone knows credit's just a fancy word for DEBT.

    While I will never live as simply as you and Larry, I don't want excess crap in my life either.

    Decluttering, like choosing a simpler life is a journey. It'll never be over for me.

    In the last few days I have done a lot of frugalista/ austerity measure things and they have bought me a lot of joy.

    Wish you lived here and could visit me x

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  67. And another thing, watching an episode of Hoarders is enough for me to want to purge and declutter.

    Decluttering is very satisfying and investing objects with too much power so that you can't be separated from them can only lead to trouble.

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  68. julia - you are too funny! i've been having vivid dreams lately too. i hope i was a good hostess in the dream!

    shell - how truly blessed you are that you could live through such a tragedy and still see the good in life. thank you for your comment.

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  69. Yet another great post. Some things that come to mind though are; library free vs netflix $16/month, blackbeans .69 cents vs hamburger meat $5 lb., TJ Maxx Jeans, $16 vs Gap $69 and on and on. It doesn't seem to be very popular to be a minimalist but then I guess I never was:)

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  70. Janet what a great post and I have read each comment too.
    I loathe clutter and I have been simplifying and purging for some time. I like clean and neat and I am a visual person.
    I've bought a lot of clothes over the last few years and one tip I have is to never store clothes in plastic bins. If I can't see something I forget I own it and then I buy it again. I finally realized this about myself earlier this year!
    I have no more plastic bins and all of my things are hanging in a closet so I can see everything. When I want to buy something new I go and look at all the stuff I already own.
    How much crap do we really need?
    Times are hard, though I am just back from Alpharetta Georgia where the homes are big and everyone was out for dinner on Friday night. Cars and shopping malls everywhere, made me wonder how people afford it all.

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  71. I also live a frugal lifestyle. Never had cable, small mortgage is my my only debt, don't use credit cards, etc. We are also vegan. I pay cash for everything (including new air conditioner and home improvements this year), and am saving for kids' braces right now. I also buy used before new.

    BUT, having said all that, my savings account isn't as big as it should be. If I lose my job (single mom so only one income), how long can I survive? You can be frugal and yet still nickel and dime yourself to death. How many more thousands could I have in the bank if I hadn't bought so much little 'stuff'? So I agree that clutter and finances are deeply intertwined.

    I love the elegance and simplicity of your home, Janet, and am trying to declutter my own. Great post.

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  72. This is very true and the comments, too. I agree with Paula that your lifestyle sounds pretty European, though sadly, Europe only limps behind the US in trying to imitate it, flaws and all. We bought our historic little house at the height of my dh's career and could easily have been lured to buy a super-villa that everyone around here is trying to achieve these days, with much too high a percentage of salaries going on mortgages.
    Fortunately I had already decluttered a lot and since then even more, in my attitudes as much as anything. I think deep down I do have minimalist tendencies!! Now that jobwise we had a really bad year, a high amount of unexpected delayed taxes to pay and no work all of a sudden, we have been so glad to have our small house that it is almost impossible for us to lose, small simple cars that are paid off (mine is 16 years old) and a lifestyle of needs rather than wants, in the nicest possible way. Our family is of much more value to us and we are just sad that my in-laws have spent their lives collecting and maintaining so much material stuff and have almost no relationship with their grandchildren, none of whom know what to do with the very valuable heirlooms (family history back to the 16th century) when this prematurely sick couple leave us... Nothing in this house has high material value, only a few sentimental items, really. Our treasure is in having our family visit, eating together, simple pleasures, family holidays.
    Anyway, much of the luxury house-buying here has been reliant on the low mortgage rates and if they ever go up again to what they were 15 years ago, a LOT of young families will lose their fancy houses. So sad but people seem to expect to lead a luxury lifestyle with lots of fancy clutter these days.

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  73. Janet - you are welcome & thanks for your comment. I love your simple lifestyle and your wonderful cottage. Every detail is so inspiring.

    I think after losing everything I realized I was still the same person I was when I had all
    my "stuff" - so I was not defined by my "stuff"...and it was good to know that about myself.
    Still, there were "things" I was very attached to.
    The saddest part for me was my family history was wiped out. All my photos - gone. I have no photos of my parents of grandparents anymore. Original art,
    vintage pieces of furniture I had inherited, Japanese porcelain, my mother's peals - all destroyed. But one has no choice - mourn the losses and go forward.

    I agree with what Faux Fuchsia said - ha ha- watching an episode of Hoarders should be enough for most people to want to purge and declutter. Some of the stuff we lost was "accumulated clutter" - 10 years worth of X-mas decorations in the attic - don't miss any of that...I do think finances and clutter are intertwined.

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  74. We don't have a car, just bicycles and public transport. And neither of us are high-earners. We live quite simply in a small apartment in London. Which if I'm honest is probably a bit cluttered - though I am quite ruthless when it comes to a clear-out!

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  75. Janet,

    I've read this post several times and the comments...I so agree with you! It is terribly sad to hear of people losing their homes. I do believe there is much in common with clutter, finances and even diet. We can do with so much less. We are embracing the idea of living a much more simplified life. I love having a smaller home and could even go much smaller. I know what I need and living simply makes me so much happier at the end of the day. As Hostess said..."you inspire me to be a better person."

    xo annie

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  76. Janet, clearly you have given your readers much to think about and their range of responses indicates that our life styles are not always an indication of our means and that living simply isn't necessarily a consequence of a down turn. I deeply respect and admire your frank revelations of your own experiences and the adjustments which resulted from these and sense an ease and conentment which make all that you share compeling and appealing. Thank you, Janet.
    Linda in Virginia

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  77. I have gone through some rather life changing and thinking experiences in the past 6 months. Things are just things. I really found my priorities in life and one of them is not spent finding just the chostkie or "thing" for my home. It's about family, health, happiness and living. I do like to save what money we do make but enjoy life. I always search for coupons or discounts and only shop at certain stores or for certain brands that I am faithful too. This keeps the clutter out, my bills down and me happy. I am perfectly happy staying home, making something yummy to eat and watching movies and taking walks with the family. My son does have his football right now, but he is learning to enjoy one thing instead of many and he gets just as much joy out of coloring with me on the floor as he does running around town. Quality of quantity...I have learned that lesson well.

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  78. Janet you are a real inspiration and you always make me think about the way I live my life. A wonderful post. Thank you so much. x

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  79. Such an intelligent and insightful post. You are leading the way to what all of us must definitely start considering.
    -Suzanne in Illinois

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  80. Janet, your post was very timely for me. Lately I've been extremely out of balance with excess in all departments and feeling lousy as a result (poor digestion, depression, headaches, bad memory, anxiety) and it all stems from too much consumption and too little self-discipline. I was just contemplating vegetarianism (again!), yoga and restraint when I decided to check in with your blog. Thank you for the reality check. I appreciate all your great ideas about how to be stylish and healthy--simply. Allegra

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  81. love this.

    especially like the story of larry and his bike. i am so inspired!

    we've done almost our whole home renovation through craig's list (windows, fridge, chandelier, free landscape stones, so much stuff out there!). we try so hard to not go to the big stores. (ryan is much better at that than I am!).

    thanks for sharing so honestly.
    xo tera

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  82. Wandered to your blog--I tend to wander--and could so identify with your post. We lead a simple life in the material sense, always have...but it is so easy to want more, or something different, or something newer, etc.
    Thank you for putting into words what I do try to live daily.
    Stacey
    www.downtoearthdigs.wordpress.com

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  83. I have to agree w/you. I love my big old house and the land we have. Also, I know I'd fill this house or any house regardless of size just because I like beautiful things...but I'm ready to downsize. I just don't want the financial responsiblity any longer...or the upkeep...OH...and you are not in the old lady category....!!!

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  84. I once blew $40,000 very foolishly. A vintage Mercedes was one of the things I bought. Six months later, it broke down and I couldn't afford to fix it. Regrets, regrets. They say it's only money, but if that's true, why does it hurt so much?

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  85. So Honey, did you ever, hit on a hot topic or what.
    A truly earnest and thoughtful post, it is. Not to mention quite honest and quite private and I believe this is why you and your blog are so well liked.
    Keep up the good work!

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  86. Debt freaks me out. We avoid it.

    I feel a huge de-clutter approaching, our kids have outgrown so many toys, they are first on my list!

    Woo, you make us think, and we love you for it! Bxx

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  87. What a beautiful post. I feel you on the simplifying. In my heart I have always leaned towards minimalism, but as time progressed found myself surrounded by stuff. Lately in planning an upcoming move, and reading about zero waste, I've been inspired to give away many of my things (my coworkers are thrilled!). I absolutely LOVE it and recommend it to anyone on the fence. Its freeing.(Though sad if you are being forced into it like your neighbors.) Less is so much more.
    Love your blog!

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  88. There are many woes now in our world and it is sad to see so many suffer due to the economy or worse just to lack of living smart. Letting go of things can be liberating as well as riding a bike or baking one's own bread. There are many ways to live simply. It is all about choice.
    Thanks for inspiring many as well as sharing your empathy to others -living with challenges.
    pve

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  89. We just recently decided that two cars was one too many. And, after 3 months of living with one car we are making due with little or no problem. As a Canadian I have been hearing about the numerous Americans losing their homes and thinking that we all have to make a shift in our thinking....and I do believe it is not simply a tilt but a complete shift.
    Inspiring post

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  90. This post, and the comments following, were timely and thought-provoking.

    A couple very close to me are in the process of losing their home, through no fault of their own. They are victims of the terrible economy.

    The beautiful decorating blogs were mentioned--and that's actually how I discovered your blog, through a link on one of the decorating blogs--and I love looking at the photos, but couldn't live surrounded by as much stuff as some of these homes tend to have.

    My husband and I tend to live simply, and I can't tell you how much less stress we live with, compared to the average person who is caught up in the rat race.

    I'm really enjoying your blog. :)

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  91. Thanks for this lovely post. I haven't read all the comments yet. From my perspective here in rural England I have frequently been really shocked by the amount of 'stuff' other women seem to have.

    It really isn't sustainable or desirable to have more shoes than you can wear in a year, a handbag 'collection', enough scarves to stock an Hermes shop etc etc etc ..

    I am so sorry people are losing their homes in the current economic situation but I'm not surprised.

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  92. I am sorry to hear so many on this blog page has lost jobs/ homes and have done the best they can. We live in hard times. My husband and I are retired on a modest income. We are not able to get SS so we have our combined retirement. What so many people do not understand at our age when people were working and paying into SS the wages and economy was much lower. So the people that just get SS are living very tight and medicare keeps raising prices and also deducting what is covered etc. We are Christians and we put our Trust in God. Our Country was founded on Christian principals. I feel strongly America needs to turn back to God. There is too many (gods) for us Americans that it pushes God out of the True Picture.There is only one True God and that is Jesus Christ who went to the Cross and died for our sins and rose again and soon will return for His Bride. America's answer and Hope is turning to God and Trusting Him moment by moment. God loves His Creation and desires for a personal relationship with them. He does not punish us. Yet when a person is out of the Will of God, can a person still expect to be Blessed. And yes, in our church we have many families that have lost their jobs, their homes , but have not LOST Their Hope and Love In God. We are living in times that are tuff and very challenging at times. But do not loose Hope. Run to God

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  93. each time I visit here I adore you and your wise ways even more. thanks for the inspiration. donna

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  94. The Bible says the eye is never full. The rich and the poor struggle with it.....it is universal.
    There is always something more pretty to see and nicer to own. Piling things up around ourselves that we love, will hinder our lives in many ways. We will spend our time protecting our things, rearranging our things and end up not enjoying our things because we HAVE SO MANY things!

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  95. " i'm not talking about normal stuffed closets here, but a scary amount of stuff. hundreds, if not thousands of boxes stacked as high as me filled the house, garage and yard."

    Agony, what agony, I'm surprised, given the frugality of many of the commenters, that they aren't more willing to take pride in what the DID NOT DO. If you are continually using credit cards with no cognizance the fact that things might go wrong (read: a fact of life for any adult) then that's a form of premeditated theft. The banks were the catalysts for this mess, no doubt, but someone had to take the other side of the trade and spend it all. Think of it this way, you all had to go out and earn money, pay taxes on it and then buy what you needed with the rest. This woman probably spend $100,000K or more tax free, will sell her stuff for pennies on the dollar and walk away free and clear. Deserving of pity - I beg to differ, you should as well.

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  96. anon - i knew this woman and yes, she was irresponsible with her money in many ways but she also had many, many personal problems that would have put most people into a looney bin. she did sell her stuff for pennies on the dollar, but i do not think she walked away free and clear. she is an emotional, physical and financial wreck. hardly what i would call walking away free and clear. this is just my opinion and i thank you for yours.

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  97. Thank you for posting my comment and thank you for your reply. No doubt her personal life is a wreck, but the thing about financial problems is that they aren't contained to one's personal life. This woman still has access to the clean water, hospitals, police protection, etc. that are provided by your community. And please note: we don't have to abandon compassion for people to recognize that their constant state of chaos/tragedy is their coping mechanism for getting through the day. It's like the alcoholic who tells you they have to drink because they've had their heart broken, ignoring the fact that almost everyone has to face heartbreak and disappointment and then make it to work on time anyway. I'd be curious to know how many times you've walked into her house and she's asked you how YOU'RE doing. At any rate, thanks for letting me vent and I really am enjoying exploring your blog!!!!

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  98. Years ago I read a great book Your Money On Your Life, which speaks about how many work hours it takes to buy something and that we shouldn't look at a sale of a dress as an example, that is 50% off, but look at how many hours we worked to get the money the dress is, and just how often will we wear the dress? And that many people buy stuff because they are bored or lonely. Add in the interest on the credit card, and most items end up costing more than when originally bought.

    Maybe if someone would make saving money and not spending money more of a game, rather than looking at it as a punishment it would be a good start. There was an article in 2007 before the 2008 economic down turn, which was about how one of the biggest businesses here in the states were the storage unit places. People would buy so much stuff and either rent a storage unit or buy a bigger home. Rather than step back and take a look at all the stuff one has, and downsize instead. How about the French, Brit's and folks in NYC, San Francisco who live in smaller places and yet live well with less?

    If you have never experiences hunger, nakedness, homelessness perhaps one doesn't know how to plan long term so that they know they wont experience those again. This means putting extra money in savings, not a new pair of shoes. Being happy with the one tv set you have, rather than thinking you need a flat screen wall model. Rather than fast food which isn't healthy, how about save money and buy healthier fresh food and eat less and become healthier and save money in the process?

    Am interested in how many people will go back to their old horrid ways, once the economy improves.
    Read the book The Millionaire Next Door.

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  99. 100th Comment! Janet, Thanks for sharing your experience. I always love reading about decluttering and finances. I'm sure what you saw was an affirmation of the lifestyle you have chosen. We always need to hear personal stories like this so we can keep on track or get back on track. Sometimes a little perspective is all we need to tweak our habits here and there. It can make a big difference :)

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kindness is never out of style.