Part One: STUFF and THINGS

My relationship with STUFF has changed a lot in the past few years. My mom even referred to me as “kind of a minimalist” the other day – something I never thought would ever come out of her mouth but in reflecting, I have to agree. I wanted to do a post highlighting the “then and now” of my relationship with stuff – shoes, clothes, jewelry, home decor, furniture, hand me downs, and all that.

I don’t like stuff.

THEN: I used to be a borderline hoarder. I would go to auctions and buy and buy. I had so much STUFF. I had so many pieces of furniture that I might maybe someday sell or paint or fix up. We had two garages FULL of just STUFF and things. It gives me anxiety now just thinking of our garages and basement bursting at the seams with STUFF and JUNK. The clutter was so suffocating.

NOW: I am not afraid to get rid of anything. If it doesn’t have a place to go in our home, it’s gone. I don’t shop at thrift stores unless I’m looking for something specific because I’ve noticed I usually don’t use it/wear it and end up donating it back. I’m aware of everything that’s in our home, there’s no closets full of mysterious junk that needs sorting, there’s not a tote full of clothes I might wear again someday, everything we own has a purpose and a place.

I don’t buy stuff.

THEN: I used to be able to walk around Target and fill up a cart of stuff in an hour and call it “me time.” I would stroll the dollar aisle, find yet another planner/journal I wouldn’t write in, I would get a new piece of clothing for everyone, I’d pick out a perfume, I honestly just bought so much stuff for no good reason other than to buy something.

NOW: That’s no longer appealing to me. Honestly, I don’t even shop like that anymore. I only do pick up orders at the “big box” stores like Target and Walmart so I’m really intentional about what I buy and I can see my entire cart before I make the purchase. I can’t remember the last time I just went to Target to kill time.

When I buy stuff, I buy nice stuff.

THEN: I would buy anything for cheap! I’d go to thrift stores and not even try clothes on because “hey, it’s only $2.00, who cares if it doesn’t fit when I get home?” I would be content with buying a cheap shirt that I knew wouldn’t last through the washing machine because hey! it’s cheap! I was for sure a quantity over quality girl.

NOW: I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a brand snob. At the beginning of the school year, I bought Carver a pair of Wal-Mart tennis shoes. In weeks, they were falling apart. Every once and awhile I’ll try to buy a lower quality item for a bargain and I’ve usually ended up regretting it or it doesn’t last. I am officially a quality over quantity. It’s served me well thus far, especially when I’m buying name brand like Carhartt, Nike, Sorel, Columbia, etc. You can find my FAVORITE Columbia Omni Heat Vest here. I wear the XL for reference – I like it a little loose.

When I buy stuff, I wait for it.

THEN: Impulsive was my middle name. Auctions were the WORST for me. The sense of urgency and scarcity is bad for me. I’d spend way too much money just to make sure I could get it and buy it.

NOW: Long gone are the days of impulse purchases. I recently bought a North Face jacket – I’ve researched and decided on the style, I’ve saved the money, I’ve watched for deals, and by the time I make the purchase, I’m confident in my decision and have no problem handing over the extra money.

When I buy stuff, I’m intentional.

THEN: I remember I would find a shirt I liked at the store and I’d have this need to buy three of the same shirt in a different color. There was a scarcity mindset of “this is the only shirt that will ever look good on me I need them all!”

NOW: I no longer operate on a scarcity mindset. There’s always going to be something for me to wear. Instead of buying 3 dresses to possibly wear someday, I find so much more joy in going and shopping for a dress for a specific occasion. That’s fun for me. Stopping and shopping “just because” isn’t appealing for me. I enter the store with a goal in mind (like buying a dress for so and so’s wedding or going shopping for a long cozy cardigan or a pair of shorts). The exception is one of my favorite gift stores in Decorah – Rendered Unique – I totally only go there to just browse without any intention.

When I buy stuff, I take care of it.

THEN: My carpet used to be made up of layers upon layers of clothes. It was embarrassing. I had the messiest room all through growing up and into my early years of adult hood. I’d throw clothes on the floor and then walk all over them without any thought.

NOW: I was wearing an outfit the other day and every single piece I had on, bra and underwear and shoes included, I’ve had for over two years. I take good care of my things. My room is tidy. My boys’ room is tidy. Each piece of clothing has a place. If it doesn’t fit, it’s time to get rid of some clothes. Containers are made to CONTAIN items. If it doesn’t fit in the CONTAINER it’s gotta go – like our dresser is a container and our closet is a container. I sleep so much better when my room is clean.

Tune into PART 2 tomorrow – I’ll tell you how I changed my relationship with STUFF and THINGS over time.

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  1. Amy
    January 14, 2022 / 12:57 pm

    This has happened to me also. My dad was a collector. I bought his house before he passed away. There was 46 years of things in the house and shed. Mom moved to a small apartment and only took a small Uhaul truck of items. It’s been almost 4 years and I am still purging. I have been collecting things myself for my ‘some day’ home. Now, if it doesn’t go in the house where I thought it would, it’s gone. Nothing is sentimental to me anymore. I want to make memories, not collect stuff. As we get older, I think we realize what is more important. My sewing room is a total different story. 🙂 Someday, that will be clean.

  2. Elle
    January 14, 2022 / 4:02 pm

    How awesome you got here so young! The mountain of $ you have in your pocket to hit your debt pay-off goal comes from this massive change.

    There is nothing ‘brand-snob’ about buying a quality item. HUGE money saver over time as you’ve already learned.


  3. Lisa
    January 14, 2022 / 9:16 pm

    I grew up in a very messy house and parents who were into “stuff”. My mother would buy things because they were on sale, regardless of whether they were useful or needed. She bought me clothes in the totally wrong sizes, because they were a bargain.

    I’m completely the opposite. I prefer organization, minimal “stuff”, and quality over quantity. I too, love a bargain – but only on things I really need/want and will use for a long time.

  4. Robin
    January 14, 2022 / 9:46 pm

    I’m much like you. I have gotten rid of almost half of everything in my house in the past few years. My kids used to make fun of me but I would just remind them that I’m doing them a huge favor. It’s less they will have to get rid of when I’m gone. We have three extra bedrooms upstairs and the only thing in them are quilts and extra baby “stuff” my daughter is storing here. The only room left is the basement storage room. Not my stuff, my husbands. As far as clothes, I’m like you, less pieces, better quality, and a color palette that works well together. Simple living is so much more less stressful.

  5. Kim from TN
    January 15, 2022 / 2:34 am

    Lucky you to have reached this point about stuff and your relationship with stuff. The fact that you consider your dresser & closet a container and things need to fit or something needs to go is a perfect way to view how much? When your possessions have a proper place and get put back in their proper place it makes it easy to find what you need or see what you have. I’m happy for you and how tidy your life has become.

  6. Julie+Meirick
    January 15, 2022 / 2:00 pm

    It’s great you’ve realized this at such a young age. I have a couple tricks I use. I NEVER buy hangers. If I’m out of hangers I have to get rid of clothes. And when I buy something new something old has to go. Also I keep a laundry basket in the bottom of my closet. When I put something on that I don’t like, doesn’t fit, etc. instead of putting it back in the closet it goes in the basket. When the basket is full it goes in a bag and goes to goodwill. It makes it less stressful to get rid of cuz it’s in the basket and I can always pull it back out. Guess what?!? I never do! Hope these are helpful ideas for you!

    • thepinkshoelaces
      January 17, 2022 / 4:58 am

      That is super helpful – love the hanger idea – and Julie your home ALWAYS felt so cozy and organized and well put together! I’ll definitely take home keeping advice from you!

  7. Joan Lynch
    January 17, 2022 / 11:35 pm

    I can totally relate to this. Shopping was always my happy place and if I liked it, I bought it. As I’ve gotten older, I too am buying quality over quantity. I want my house to feel like a home and not a really messy store. I have been having fun getting rid of stuff on EBay, Poshmark and Facebook. Feels good to see it head out the door!

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