I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks reading blogs and websites about de-cluttering, minimalism, sustainability and frugality.
None of these things come naturally to me. One look at my flat in London and my small cottage in Wales reveals I’m an inveterate pack rat. I keep things because “they might come in useful one day.” It’s an added peril when you’re a keen gardener and a dabbler in crafts from sewing/knitting/crochet to jewellery making and DIY – add to that a weakness for cookery and gardening books plus a scf-fi/fantasy reading habit and an 30 year investment in genre TV shows and you can see where this is heading. There’s a limit to how much stuff you can hang onto and when “one day” may be!
I have lots of stuff – too much stuff – though a fire at the flat in 2007 did result in an very unplanned and somewhat full-on de-cluttering! In 2010 my step-pa passed away and that meant emptying the old homestead in Sheffield. I’d not lived there for decades and the emotional connection to the old house was gone – so unloading 90% of the contents was easy. But I still managed to come home and stash several large boxes of crystal glassware in my attic where they’re remained ever since.
Selling the old homestead in Sheffield also meant I was gloriously debt free for a period of about 18 months. Long enough to stretch a redundancy package from one employment and take nearly 2 years out to enjoy myself and re-focus on what was important.
Cut to 2015 and my attic is full, my bookshelves groaning, I’ve got CDs and DVDs I don’t listen to or watch (hello, external hard drives) and the project to transfer all my vinyl records to mp3s is still not underway despite having bought a converter 4 years ago!
I’ve been involved with my local Transition Group for the last 4 years and part of an allotment society for the last two – and it finally feels as if a number of disparate influences are coming to a confluence.
Transition, sustainability and growing your own are important to me; the transition movement very much focuses on getting more for less, and though I’m carrying a very modest amount of debt compared to many people I would like the feeling of being debt free again. I doubt I’ll ever be a minimalist but I could be more watchful on what I spend and how I spend it.
Working with a Personal Trainer for the last 12 months has massively improved my fitness and stress levels as well as being a object lesson in prioritising budgeting for what’s important. Paying more attention to budgeting will let me carry on with training, keep the fitness going (packed breakfasts and lunches fewer inappropriate additives than shop bought lunches) as well as give me more disposable income to invest in planning for retirement in decade or so.
So I’m aware I’m coming to the party from a position of massive privilege – but there are lots of very knowledgeable people out there posting handy hints, tips and guidance on their approaches to living with less and planning for the future.
So here’s a commitment – to read and learn and listen and put into practice some of the wealth of advice out there.