Welcome to Month 1 of my 12-month rehabilitation of my relationship with capitalism/experiment of self control! It’s been a journey already, and I am already running out of low-hanging fruit to declutter.
Instagram is a Fickle Friend
On my main instagram account I follow makeup artists, makeup companies, cute animal pictures, wine memes, and a couple of influencers, as well as a handful of friends. This account *definitely* contributed to my purchases last year – I can think of at least a few makeup purchases that never would have happened if it hadn’t seemed like everyone was using a product I didn’t have. Instagram can have the opposite effect, too. When I set up @why_did_i_buy_this I started following minimalists, which led me to a few different online communities creating a web of support: there’s #projectpanners, who are looking to use up their makeup supply, show off when they “hit pan” on an eyeshadow or blush, and take on challenges such as #nobuy2018. There’s the #debtfreecommunity, largely influenced by Dave Ramsey, where people come together for budgeting support, thrifty living tips, and to support each other as they make debt payments and build emergency funds. Then there’s #10x10friends – the groups taking on the seasonal 10 x 10 challenge (for 10 days, use the same 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 separate outfits – it’s a challenge in minimalism, style, and knowing & loving what you have) led by a couple of bloggers – Lee Vosburgh of stylebee.ca and Caroline Joy of un-fancy.com. Given the nonstop influence of social media, I am finding these communities incredibly helpful in keeping me on track and accountable, and now, instead of scrolling through new products and drunk memes on instagram, I’m scrolling through thrift store finds, debt payments, and makeup empties. The impact of what you see on your feeds is much more significant than what I had anticipated.
Clutter is Magnetic
I learned this when I cleaned off my entryway bench this month.
I cleared off this bench at 12:30 PM. At 9:00 PM my fiance got home and put a bag and a pair of gloves on the bench on his way into the house. I got home 2 hours later and had the following series of thoughts:
Oh, I should have told him not to put anything on the bench.
I could tell him now.
Then again I am holding a heavy bag and the damage is already done.
Then I dumped my bag and purse on the bench and went to bed. So, moral of the story: I am going to need to create some “RESERVED” signs that remind me not to put clutter on spaces I’ve purposely cleared. (I was joking when I started that sentence but I’m actually considering it now).
Clutter doesn’t only attract clutter, by the way – it also attracts cats.
Decluttering with cats is a challenge. Cats are clutter magnets. I left a shirt out because I was thinking of donating it, so of course both felines have decided it would be a great place to sleep. That’s not to mention playing with whatever gets left out on the floor, knocking things onto the floor, and the cat toys (and makeshift cat toys, aka pens) constantly underfoot. #declutter #minimalist #minimalism #detox2018 @catsandpans asked for photos and I can’t resist sharing my cats because they’re the best.
This isn’t really a problem, except that I feel sort of bad every time I put something away that they’ve been using as a lounge spot (See: clean towels, my yoga mat, a sweater I wore once then laid out for later.)
Shopping is Addictive, but So is Debt Repayment, Panning, and Minimalism
My therapist once told me that the brain works in addition, not subtraction. What she meant by that was that when I was filled with nervous energy, I wasn’t going to be able to “just calm down” like I wanted to – that is, subtracting from my nervous energy – I had to re-assign that energy to something positive by adding something, like exercise or tidying up or working on a creative project. Planning is my favourite way to re-assign nervous energy, because when I find myself worrying about next week, I draw out a pretty-looking weekly spread, write down anything I can think of, doodle a little picture, and by the time I’m done I feel like I’ve accomplished something and I don’t have to worry anymore. It’s a win-win.
Anyway, I’ve found that shopping addiction works the same way. The rush you get from buying new things is fun and addictive. But tracking your debt, really diving in there, and getting motivated to pay it down – turns out that’s addictive too. I find myself happily checking my finances to see if there’s an extra $20 here or there I can put towards my credit card and line of credit, and I am most excited about paying off both of those so that I can get started on that mortgage. The best part? There’s no hangover. If anything, I’m setting myself up for an easier, better future, by reassigning my shopping cravings to debt payment tracking and counting nickels to put towards the visa card. (Canada got rid of the penny, did you hear?)
Moral of the story: If you love checking off shopping boxes (i.e. I have every Kat Von D palette in existence, go me!) then you’ll probably enjoy panning just as much (i.e. I used up 3/10 of the eyeshadow shades, go me!). It’s actually kind of the same thing, just one is less destructive than the other to your financial health, and the overall ecosystem of your life & the environment. Yay?
How January Went
No one cares, but I’m going to catalogue everything I got rid of this month:
- A broken bird feeder
- 4 bags of clothes (donated)
- A Staples Easy Button
- A pair of capris (donated)
- A Hershey’s Kiss piggy bank
- A giant pile of hats and scarves (donated)
- 6-7 purses (donated)
- Empty spice containers I was definitely going to use someday
- Broken speakers I kept for 10 months
- Shoes I’ve never worn (donated)
- A nine west tiny purse thing
- A box I hadn’t unpacked in 8 months (less a couple of tax documents and some American money I found in it)
- All my old electricity bills
- My favourite jeans which ripped so I had to throw them out 🙁
- A bottle of febreeze that I didn’t buy
- A bottle of fabric softener that I also didn’t buy
- A floppy sun hat I wore exactly once
- A single slipper/flip flop hybrid
- A lip gloss that I hated but kept for some reason
- A backyard and basement’s worth of construction junk (from demolishing the built-ins that came with the house)
- One of three fridges (long story, but it was given to my great aunt who needed a new fridge, so yay!)
I’m not there yet. Which makes sense, because it’s only been 1 month. But basically, my spending was a lot more than I’d hoped, even though it was less than I was used to. My biggest expenses were related to the basement craft room reno:
We had to buy primer and paint, patching material for the holes in the walls, a shelf, special primer for the cement block walls that we exposed during the demo, and then we had to pay for Got Junk to come and clear out all the guts. Siii-ggghhhh. The good news is, we had a gift card from Ikea as a rebate for buying our kitchen there, so we are furnishing the craft room on a $0 budget.
Goals for February
- No-spend month (except on food). Now that the craft room is sorted, this should be eeeeeeeeasy (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha)
- Vegan month. Easiest thing on this list; I was only not vegan 2 times in January.
- Get through ONE garbage day without putting out any garbage. We have a one-bag per week limit here where I live, making this extra-ambitious, but we also have compost collection, which should help.
- Keep the bathroom counter AND the bench clear for the month.
- End the month with a $0 credit card balance.
I took these without cleaning, as per usual.
Zone 1: The Living Room
The living room is tidier than it was. It’s still pretty cluttered.
I’d like to tackle that coffee table sometime soon.
The kitchen. We gave away our second fridge finally, but other than that not a lot changed in this direction.
The tree is put away, and the cat tree is back to the window. I also picked up the Christmas card from the middle of the floor.
We’ve accumulated an empty box of wine by the door, though.
Zone 2: The Office
I didn’t take this on this month, but I did move some craft supplies down to the workshop after we renovated it, so that reduced the clutter somewhat.
Zone 3: The Bedroom
This is only marginally better. Ugh. If we could somehow find a way to not put the clothes on the floor, that would be great, but for now, this is my life.
Also, I’ve heard of the many benefits of making the bed in the morning, but obviously I’m not there yet.
My closet is not in good shape. I did clear out my wardrobe and everything hanging is in good shape, but then there’s the floor, which I said I’d deal with eventually on January 2 and then never dealt with.
Onwards to February!