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An Idiot’s Guide to Living with 417 Things

in MvD Updates, Rants, Sell Your 'Stuff'

Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt.

Everyone has stuff. Some stuff is essential. Some stuff isn’t.

In the past, I’ve referred to this as “Stuff vs. Crap”. Knowing the difference between the two can be an ongoing battle, especially in our current culture.

Early on in our journey, Courtney and I decided to inventory every item we own - in order to stay on the offensive in our own battle against clutter.

To be honest, it was easier for us at that time. We had just started downsizing leading up to our ambition goal to fit everything we owned into two backpacks. Australia was waiting.

Note: If you remember these times here on this blog… thank you. It’s been nearly two years and I appreciate you being there in the early days!

Our “Stuff List” was a core feature of the blog for awhile, but no one is perfect. As we returned from our trip and settled temporarily in Indiana – I fell behind in updating it.

Part of the reason for this was our own stumble off the wagon. Courtney and I accumulated a lot of crap as we entered back into U.S. consumption mode and started filling our 3-bedroom rented house.

But I knew it wouldn’t last for long. We decided that a nice little house in a young part of town wasn’t quite for us – at least yet.

After that decision we turned to the next best option – our new home on wheels. We paid cash for a thirteen-year-old RV and a thirteen-year-old Jeep and pushed off for our road tour.

Most importantly, we made the commitment to consciousness again.

*****

There is a discussion going on these days about how minimalism is “mainstream” and thus no longer the hip thing to do. I never realized it was hip, nor really viewed myself as a “minimalist” – so it’s hard to get deep into the discussion.

You see, when Courtney and I made our decision to fight back against our unconscious consumerism trends, we had no blog. I didn’t have a medium to talk on or a readership to talk with. In fact, there wasn’t a single person in our life that was going to be especially impressed with our decision (freaked out maybe – but not impressed upfront).

Courtney and I just wanted freedom.

We were tired of feeling trapped. We were tired of selling back pieces of ourselves to monthly payments and new kitchen tables.

Most importantly, we wanted freedom for Milligan. We wanted to impress her.

Maybe all this talk of 10 things, 50 things, and 100 things is getting worn out with a small sector of young, 20-something, internet-savvy world travelers.  That’s cool – I count dozens of people in this group among my closest friends.

But what percentage of the population is in this group?  Seriously… less than a percent of a percent? Here’s my point:

Conscious consumerism – no matter what hip name it carries – is a long, long way from reaching its potential to help people.

And what’s the point of enhanced freedom if it’s not used to lift the boats of everyone around you. Not just you… everyone around you. Which I guess leads me to my next point…

I’m not done spreading this part of our message – in fact, I’m just getting started.

Courtney and I have recently updated our list of everything we own.  We own – by our own counting system – 417 things.

We’ve listed them each out, item-by-item. Courtney also took over 250+ photos of the items.  You can find the updated list and all the photos on our “Stuff” page.

Some people could care less about what we own.  That’s cool.

But I know from hundreds of comments, emails, and conversations over the last two years – that it *can* have a positive influence on others.

Why do we spend hours and hours putting together this list and taking the pictures?

To inspire you to do the same. Yes, you – even if on a smaller scale.

Start small.

You can do a single room – or even a part of a single room.

Open your eyes and really look around at all the stuff in your life.

What adds joy, value, and purpose?  More importantly for this exercise, what doesn’t?

I’m not anti-consumerism. Take a look at “Baker’s Gear” section of my stuff.

At 417 things, I probably won’t make the “minimalist” cut either. Oh well.

What I am is a husband and a father who is interested in opting out of a huge chunk of the consumerism madness in order to funnel his time, energy, and money into the things he really loves… the two women who share this life with him.

Oh, and Apple products. Everyone has a vice.

Time to go explore Washington D.C.,

Xoxoxo,

-Baker

p.s. To give credit where credit is due… Dave was the first person I ever saw tracking his possessions. Colin was the first I saw to photograph them all.

p.p.s. Tyler Durden is – and always will be – the best source of motivation in this arena.  ;-)

p.p.p.s. Spend 15 minutes tonight jolting your own consciousness. You didn’t read all the way to the bottom to do nothing. Take action.

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna February 1, 2011 at 7:39 PM

I’m moving into a new place in a couple of weeks. This looks like a fun challenge. My roommate is going to love me.

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Tracy O'Connor February 1, 2011 at 7:50 PM

I don’t think I’d like to reduce as far down as you have, but that’s the cool thing, it’s about acquiring things consciously instead of just mindlessly grabbing more and more stuff.

I have friends that pride themselves on bringing home bags and bags of bargains every week, and while they are not paying very much it seems like their mind is always on stuff. There is never enough stuff to fill whatever need they have. I grew up with a mom like that and several times a year boxes of stuff arrive that nobody in my family wants or needs or can use, but that’s how she shows us she loves us. (and I do appreciate her motivations! And so do the places where I donate it. heh)

So, while I still live a rather conventional life in a regular home with far more than 417, I recognize the wisdom in what you are trying to do and see it as motivation to be more mindful of the material possessions I’m bringing into our lives.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Great point, Tracy. It’s about being conscious of you *own* comfort levels. By default, most of us overdo it (including us). We have a lot of room to improve our awareness, too! :-)

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Meg February 1, 2011 at 7:59 PM

I really need to go and part myself with a bunch of stuff…. I have a room full of boxes that are not unpacked and that I have little motivation to unpack, and we’ve been in our current house for two months.

Knowing the military will move us is good motivation to keep down on the stuff, haha. But I have some things kept out of emotional attachment or just not knowing where to get rid of it…. I really just need to part with it already.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Come on, Meg – attack those boxes! Make something fun out of it. Take pictures of your sentimental items and then give them away to be re-used (by someone – ya know – who won’t keep them in boxes!). :-)

Ditch ‘em!

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Christy @ Technosyncratic February 1, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Six months ago we got rid of “everything” so we could downsize and live fulltime in an RV. But alas, we still own a lot of stuff and have a small storage unit in San Diego!

In another six months we plan to really get rid of most of what we kept and live as expats abroad for a few years, moving from country to country. We’re going to get rid of the storage unit, the RV, our car, and anything else we can’t fit in a couple suitcases. But probably still bring too much stuff along with us, lol.

I don’t think there’s one RIGHT way to do it (or right level of stuff to get to) — it’s an evolving process for each individual and family. It’s the process of questioning your own assumptions and needs that’s the fun (okay, challenging) part!

Also – Apple products = total vice! :P

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Haha, awesome – it’s like we flipped it around a bit!

Right now we do enjoy the added flexibility (and storage) of our RV – but sometimes I do just want to pack up and leave it too! :-)

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DogsMom February 1, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Not that you need additional motivation, but Apron Thrift Girl is challenging her readers to list things for resale in February. If you link up you could motivate others. Be the shining example. As long as our addiction to gathering things to resell (and temporarily cluttering up our lives) does not take you off track.

Stay safe in the winter storms. I hear south is getting hit worse than we are in WI

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Sweet, I’ll check out Apron Thrift Girl soon!

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Joan February 1, 2011 at 8:27 PM

An amazingly excellent way to get to what really matters. Though I admit, the “I’m becoming a minimalist” video made for several jokes in our family. “If I keep this bookmark, but keep it IN my underwear, is that only one item?”

But it’s not about a number, it’s that you’re conscious of everything, and that you make “things” a decision, not a bad habit. I tell people the same thing in Weight Watchers. If you CHOOSE to have a certain food, that’s fine. You make other choices to accomodate it. But if that bag of chips just “happens” to you, that’s where you have issues.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Haha, yeah – like I shared on Twitter the day I saw it – I literally had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard!

And you boiled down the consciousness well… you don’t want stuff to just “happen” into your life. :-)

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Gordie February 1, 2011 at 8:34 PM

How does Milligan feel about all this? Is she content or does she constantly want more toys, etc? :)

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:29 AM

She never really asks for toys – and if you notice – she has dozens and dozens of things to play with in that list. :-)

She occasionally really wants something – like that new Woody doll – when we visit somewhere. If she really, really wants something – we usually let her get it. The concept is that we limit that to be very rare (instead of every trip into every store or location)!

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Kiri February 2, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Simplistically:
Toys that feed mind, spirit, exploration, creativity = good
Toys that are to “have” and belong to a corporate tribe = bad
Not that I agreed when I was 8 and desperate to fit in!

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Dr. Laura @ WhoIsLaura February 1, 2011 at 8:34 PM

Thank you Baker! What is important is not the label (minimalist) but the mindset (conscious consumerism). It’s really an eye opening experience to count and track all of your “stuff” as well. I’m in the middle of paring down and every week I post about it on Minimalist Monday – and so far, I’ve eliminated SO MUCH (almost 2,000 items since the fall), but there is still WAY more to go. So, I haven’t even tried to count everything yet. Maybe when I’m done decluttering my house. Thanks, as always, for being an inspiration.

Dr. Laura

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Woah, holy cow – over 2,000 items purged total – that’s awesome!

I wish Courtney and I had counted back when we started the first time (how many items went OUT the door that is). :-)

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Lee Miller @ rich mystic February 1, 2011 at 9:34 PM

I really enjoy your blog. I have spen much time getting rid of the nonessential things. I just spent a week of going through the house and boxing up things to sell or give away. My home looks and feels fantastic to be able to enjoy each thing I have in every room in the house. I intend to be able to fully enjoy the really nice things that I have.

I’m now looking forward to spring time so I can pass some of my things on to others at a huge sale. I’ve kept the better things and the useful things and someone else will get to enjoy the discards, which they will enjoy.

Wealth doesn’t come from the posessions that we have but it comes from the freedom of not living beyond our income. I have reached a point where posessions do not define me. Freedom from debt is real freedom. Freedom is one of the riches of life.

Enjoy your travels in the RV. Free, free at last. Keep on with your mission and keep spreading the word of freedom of posessions.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:40 AM

I’ll keep at it, Lee – thanks so much for the kind words. I really love what you said here:

“…feels fantastic to be able to enjoy each thing I have in every room in the house.”

It struck me that – *that* should be the goal for people. Well said. :-)

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Alex Humphrey February 1, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Sometime in the next 60 days I will be moving into the apartment that will be my first home as a married man (we tie the knot April 16th).

A few weeks ago the two of us went through my “old” stuff (the stuff I had collected at my last apartment) and gave most of it away. In reading this post I look around and wonder if I still have too much stuff. I tend to be a bit of a pack rat with random things: I have several hundred bookmarks (most of which I never check), I keep notes I’ve written to myself, I let recyclables build up for months before I finally go down the street to dispose of them, there is more but you get the point. None of it is very big or intruding. It just sits there and clutters up my life.

I need an inventory. I don’t even use most of this stuff anymore.

Thanks again, Baker; your words hit me right where I need it

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Don’t just need an inventory…

GET an inventory, Alex. Do it as a project for your site, that helps me. Do it as a challenge with your fiance – or church group – or best friend. :-)

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Wandering Mike February 1, 2011 at 11:24 PM

Nice post. I think you are right in terms of looking at it from a clutter standpoint. With the RV you will be adding and dropping things all the time. For example, your tool box will get more items. This is no different than owning a house. It takes more things to live effectively if you can’t just call the maintenance man. But if you get too many tools of the same kind and just thrown in a box, then you have clutter. Just like a hard drive full of music can create clutter.

The whole idea of tangible things being counted and intangible things not being counted is also something that needs addressed. Keeping too many emails in too many folders is as stifling to the mind just as much as too many paper mails kept in manila folders.

Is not counting “consumables” such as vitamins, toothpaste, food, toilet paper and the like generally the accepted route for these things?

But this, like many things, is one that requires each of us to “hike our own hike”. But you pointed that out as well. Again, I appreciate your thoughts.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Mike, you make a great point about the other forms of clutter (emotional, digital, mental, etc…). Ideally, you’d stay on the offensive against those, too. We do have our own tricks, but I’m honestly less skilled at controlling that – and it’s less tangible for purposes of sharing.

However, something we shouldn’t forget!

We don’t include consumables, simply because it’s too hard! :-) I can’t speak for others who attempt the exercise, but it just evolving and changing to much to track food, toilet paper, etc… And – it’s not the core problem for us. :-)

Great comment as always!

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Karen February 1, 2011 at 11:35 PM

“What I am is a husband and a father who is interested in opting out of a huge chunk of the consumerism madness in order to funnel his time, energy, and money into the things he really loves… the two women who share this life with him.”

I so agree, but I’m a wife and mother (to 9), and that’s why I’ve pared down to what we are comfortable with and are more conscious of what we might bring into our space in the future. Our dc love the extra space provided since having less stuff, and fill that space up with joyous laughter playing. That’s a wonderful trade off, in my mind.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:47 AM

9? Are you crazy?

You should be writing an article on how to stay sane – and battle consumerism with 9 kids! Holy bajeebus! :-)

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Mike Moyer February 1, 2011 at 11:55 PM

You have definitely played a role in inspiring Lauren and I to start tracking everything we own. We’ve listed everything and started the process of selling everything on craigslist, ebay and amazon.

I’ve got over 100 listings on craigslist right now. Not only are we clearing all of our clutter, but we’ve also made about $2800 so far (although $1500 of that was a big ticket item).

Thanks Baker. Sorry I missed you in NYC. Let me know next time you’re around.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:48 AM

Nice, Mike! Glad to have helped even a little. :-)

I’ll be back in NYC this fall for a conference. We’ll do our best to cross paths then! Impressed with over 100 items listed on craigslist – don’t think we ever got that high ourselves!

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Karlos Laws February 2, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Hey Baker – Just wanted to say I’m a new fan and I really liked the post. At the beginning of this year, I decided I was going to eliminate a lot of the excess in my life, pay off my consumer debts then my mortgage, and focus on fulfilling dreams that I’ve let slide. I’m a little further along in the journey of life than you are – I have 3 boys – but in the past week, I’ve had two interesting conversations that confirm what you’re saying and helped point me in the right direction.

First, I had lunch with a banker I’ve known for a long time. He’s my age – mid-40s. Lives abroad. Has 4 kids and is raising them in Japan. He said younger kids aren’t interested in the materialism of their parents. And he seeing that over and over again. That made me very hopeful for the state of the world.

Second, I mentioned to my 11 year old that I was working on paying off some debt. He immediately said, “Oh, that’s really bad. You’re not supposed to borrow money with credit cards.” This made me go, OK, he gets it. Something I’m doing must’ve made him say that. I’ve been teaching the three of them the importance of saving for anything they want but also for the long-term. I guess they’re learning.

Keep up the great work. I’ll keep reading and will post my progress.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Karlos, thanks so much for sharing! I’m glad to have you newly along for the ride. :-)

Like you said – you must be doing something right – to have that sort of immediate reaction. I know they’ll likely make similar mistakes (just as we did financially), but that foundation over the years will help them when they do!

That’s the same kind of thing we hope to do for our own! :-)

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Chris Alta February 2, 2011 at 12:10 AM

This is real talk brotha Baker!!

I recently have actually been getting rid of a bunch of stuff haha

I was looking for an iMac since my PC just wasn’t cutting it, and so I sold my snowboard, my flat screen tv, and other little things. And I still haven’t paid off the guy who I bought it from, he’s letting me pay him off in installments but at the end of the day should I not be able to keep my iMac it is just a thing, doesn’t necessarily reflect who I am! (Although it would be dope to keep it so I can keep doing what I do)

I’ll have to check out those 417 things you and Courtney have!

I’m always in the kitchen

-Chris Alta

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Thanks, Chris! If you can afford it – and can buckle down and pay off your friend – you may want to keep it. However, if you aren’t using it (and loving it), I’d suggest you get rid of it like the snowboard, tv, etc… :-)

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Chris Alta February 10, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Hey everything worked out pretty weird. I set my mind to getting a macbook pro 17″ and it happened in the weirdest way!

I ended up selling the iMac and paying my buddy off the remaining balance. Then with the money I had left over, found a 13″ MacBook Pro and bought it for $500, sold it the next day for $1,000, then found a deal 2 days later for a 17″ MacBook Pro and got it for $1,000 flat..it’s the newer i7 unibody ones..guy just needed to pay bills so he hooked it up since I was the only guy that offered him straight cash.

It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it, and when you sell a bit of your stuff ;)

sell your stuff! pay off your debts!

haha thanks bud

cheers!

I’m always in the kitchen
-Chris Alta

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Kevin M February 2, 2011 at 12:24 AM

Baker – how do you guys handle gifts from others for Milligan? Honestly that’s our biggest source of incoming “stuff”. I’ve thought about a one toy in-one toy out policy, but that takes work on my end. I’m open to suggestions.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Kevin, this is a great, great question. I should likely post about it! :-)

For us, we just try to be as clear as possible with family members. Our family is really great – and have supported Courtney and I in everything we’ve ever done.

Now that we’ve been on our “path” for a few years – most recognize this. So the quantity of gifts – even during the holidays/birthdays has gone way down. We still get too many – and end up giving them away afterward.

I think it starts with “the conversation” – which can be a tough one, but really helps die things down. We always encourage “experiences” over “possessions” too (as gifts)!

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Amie Wilson February 2, 2011 at 12:47 AM

Adam, Courtney and Milligan,
My husband and I have just finished our initial count of all the items we own, 2603, and are now beginning the process of getting rid of it, before beginning to travel in May.
Thanks for the inspiration, it’s pretty funny to hear the reactions we get from people when we tell them we counted all our stuff, and then to tell them we are getting rid of it! :)
Can’t wait to be free! :) Cheers and best of luck to you on your Road Trip journey!
Sincerely,
Amie Wilson

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:56 AM

WOAH!

2603? That’s awesome that you were dedicated enough to follow through on that many things. I hear from a lot of people about how it would be “impossible with all the stuff we have”.

Nice work, glad to be of help – and I’ll likely use you as an example for when people make excuses. :-)

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David Willis February 2, 2011 at 12:55 AM

I am a new reader as of a couple of weeks ago. I have been very inspired by what I have read. Your openness and candid talk on this subject is good stuff. I agree with your stance on avoiding consumerism. More stuff can mean more expense and less time doing the things you really want to do. It would be a shame to wake up one day in the future and realize that I have been living in a prison cell of my own making (a comfortable one albeit) and know that I could have done so much more with less.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Thanks, David. Appreciate the kind words and I’m stoked to have you as a new reader! :-)

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Charlie Morrissey February 2, 2011 at 1:05 AM

Baker, I — like many of your readers, I’m sure — subscribe to a number of blogs geared toward frugality, simplicity, minimalism, mindfulness, and other such interests, and I just have to tell you that there’s no other blogger/writer I enjoy reading as much as you. I really appreciate you and the effort you put into your work.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Wow, thanks Charlie. That’s such a great compliment. I really appreciate it. :-)

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Carol the long winded February 2, 2011 at 1:22 AM

You realize of course that most of the world is living with less than enough “stuff”. Any person living with poverty very much has a “conscious consumerism” mindset – just not necessarily the groovy name. So I think you are probably living like most of the world, and that’s probably a pretty good thing. Now to think about reducing your carbon footprint.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Yeah, Carol – but I don’t think I’m living like most of the word – not by a long shot.

We are extremely fortunate and have thousand of advantages over the average human born on this planet. Our challenge is to live the best life we can in our circumstances, which is what I gear our goals/challenges around. :-)

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Jesse February 2, 2011 at 1:42 AM

Hey Baker, if you guys end up traveling through the U.P. (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) we’ve got a house on a lake with some extra bedrooms and my wife and I would be happy to host you, Courtney and Milligan (We’ve got a seven year old and a seven month old:). And we could trade Australia stories!

Cheers!

Jesse

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Thanks, Jesse – we may be there in the fall! I’d love to meet. :-)

-Baker

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Jesse February 2, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Sounds good man! Drop me a line.

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Ponderless February 2, 2011 at 4:04 AM

Your right it’s not about the number. It’s about have you accumulated crap simply for the sake of it. People spend to much time accumulating the physical and emotional crap instead of focusing on what matters most to them.

Minimalism isn’t a number it’s individual.

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Baker February 2, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Boom, you nailed it! Love it.

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Freedom | Rethinking the Dream February 2, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Baker, you and your family are a constant source of inspiration. I appreciate your openness and honesty. It’s very interesting how you started accumulating crap just because you had space to fill. I’m happy to see that you were able to pair it back down for your RV trip.

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Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog February 2, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Baker –
Great work on getting back onto the stuff wagon. It always seems like once you get back into a familiar environment, you start to fall into the same old habits. I’ve noticed this now that I’ve been in my current house for almost 2 years, it seems like there’s just junk everywhere! We used to have whole rooms that were basically empty! One the one hand, I just want to wait until moving day again (always so much easier) but on the other hand, I have no idea when that will be. Any advice to help me take the bull by the horns and doing it?

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Miles February 2, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Very well said!

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MutantSuperModel February 2, 2011 at 11:53 AM

I love it when life has rhyming events. Here I am reading Your Money or Your LIfe and last night I read about the inventory. And I went to bed thinking about all of the things I own and was feeling so incredibly grateful. And now, I read about you and your inventory. And maybe, just maybe, I might really do this. While I am on a quest to be clutter-free, I don’t consider myself on a minimalist voyage. I don’t care about how many items I own, I just want everything I own to be something I really use, love, and/or enjoy. I had a major major major garage sale last year and thought I’d gotten rid of everything then. I didn’t. There’s more. Probably enough for ANOTHER garage sale but I don’t want to hold on to things until that date and I hate arranging to sell things via Craigslist (I’m a single mom, don’t want people coming to my house, and don’t have time to meet somewhere else). I donate freely to the Vietnam Veterans of America who come to your house and pick up your donations from the front porch. I think, the important thing here is consciousness. And it’s not just about conscious spending, it’s about conscious living. I was in such a fog during my failed marriage, this has been a true awakening for me and it’s the decision to do or not do that is incredibly empowering. The more you exercise it, the stronger you feel.

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Sean Phinney February 2, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Once again nice post on stuff and consumerism. My wife and I are trying to cut down on crap one room at a time. It is easier for my wife to part with stuff slowly. The cool thing is that the first room we worked on-the so called office. We cleaned out 4 trash bags of crap (stuff that just needed to be thrown out) this was in a room that we thought did not have much crap in it. It is amazing what you can hide under the spare bed and in a closet! The room now is one of the best rooms in the house. On to the kitchen next.

Keep up the great work on your site.

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Steve M February 2, 2011 at 1:23 PM

I agree Baker – it’s all about the freedom that letting go of consumerism and things brings – it’s not about the minimalist label or the number of things you own and therefore whether you can join the club. It’s about simplification and detachment – and enjoying the journey.

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Living the Balanced Life February 2, 2011 at 1:51 PM

I think the big difference is between concious and unconcious consumerism. We need to be mindful and intentional about what we buy or don’t buy. Instead of spending our free time with recreational shopping, do something more impactful with someone you love.
I will probably never get down even to 500 items, but I am clearing out and choosing to buy very little other than food.Now if I can just stop the influx of people wanting to give me THEIR stuff!
Bernice
A break from our regularly scheduled programming…

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Jessica February 2, 2011 at 2:34 PM

in just a couple of weeks my husband and I are moving from a tiny one bedroom in the heart of downtown to a two bedroom half of a house in the “burbs”. We’ve joked many times about how we won’t know what to do with ourselves since we will have so much extra space. (The space is needed though as we will be welcoming a new baby boy soon – Yay!) But what we have agreed upon up front is that even though we are going to have more than enough space – we don’t want to fill it up with meaningless stuff. We see this as a potential trap so we’re trying to be VERY conscious of what we bring into the new place. We had to find some “real” furniture but we got that for free and while I’m sure there are other things we are going to want for the new place it’s nice that we have each other to lean on in keeping to our “less is more” pact. :)

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Chris C February 2, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Great post Baker…except I could have done without the photos of your underwear! ha
Honestly, doing this in a practical way, one that isn’t XTREME TO THE MAXXX is very cool.

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Matt K. February 2, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Awesome article! Shows that everyone is human and sometimes slips up, but with dedication and a solid team around you (A.K.A. your wife), you can push each other to get back to a debt free, “crap” free lifestyle. Very inspiring. Wish me luck with my sales pitch to my fiance, to do the same. Less is more. Be free of “crap” = freedom!

Best of luck!

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Kelly in TN February 6, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Thanks so much for your list and phtos. I’m not sure I have the energy (or enormous amount of time it would take) to do my own inventory. I know what my purse inventory stands at (I recently counted 19 in my purse “tote”). Of course I’ll blame that on being a girl who likes accessories. I sometimes get craky when I can’t find something I know have (like tape) due to general clutter. (The junk drawer in the kitchen hides a multitude of sins) I seem to get into a rut of unconscious buying of general stuff (pens, organizing containers, plastic crap for the kitchen, etc). It’s good to get my “downsizing batteries” recharged by reading other people’s lists and advice. Thanks again, I very much enjoy reading you blog.

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Susan D February 7, 2011 at 2:42 PM

For not spending too much time surfing the web, I always seem to land on your spot for a reason… even if it is just a reality check to 86 some more crap out of our lives.

The first time I came across your site, I did finally take action! Sometimes you get a chance to purge when you move but the last time we did, that wasn’t the case. And when we unpacked, it was more like…. all this crap goes in that room and we’ll figure it out later. Later didnt come for over a year and I didnt realize how much of a weight it had made on our lives that year.

When I saw what you and Courtney accomplished, I took a stand and we gutted the kids bathroom first… everything out, clean it, sorted stuff by type, had 2 big bags of trash, labeled where the keepers would go (by zones) and when it was all said and done (4 hours later) it was bliss! It even stays clean while being used by 5,8 and 11 year olds, AND they are in there for 1/3rd of the time! That is what I call an impact… getting the kids up for school now has changed our mornings and that has changed everything!

So yes… as a testimony to your efforts with the work you put in on this site… you lit a fire in my ass to get it done one day! The movement is taking over the house in a good way… with the kitchen, master bath, son’s room & laundry room complete…and 7 rooms, a garage and an attic to go. Goal for completion Sept. 2011!

Thanks man.

Susan

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Justin Hamlin February 7, 2011 at 9:26 PM

It is very liberating. Just recently, my wife and I embarked on a mission to get rid of our excess clutter. First target, the garage and attic. I can very proudly say we went from an attic and garage full of stuff, down to about 4-5 boxes. It was a great first step.

We have temporarily moved out to New York now, and will move fully in 5-6 months. We are going to go from a 3,000 sq ft house to (more than likely) a 2 bedroom apartment. We both agree that we do not need more.

It is very liberating, regardless of the minimalist tag, etc.

Thanks for sharing your journey

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Dee February 9, 2011 at 7:59 AM

I SO want to hi-5 you right now. That is all.

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Adara February 10, 2011 at 1:56 AM

I wanted to let you know that I think it’s very cool that y’all are actively battling clutter, especially with a kid. After having kids, too many people succumb to a living space that is dominated by crap.

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Sarah February 11, 2011 at 8:28 AM

So true. Minimalism isn’t dead. Just as it isn’t new. I grew up in a minimalistic household, and I swear stuff and crap find YOU!

I was a professional organizer as a chosen career – nothing like that to make you hate everything that you have to take care of, and choose to have as little as possible. Of course you never want to tell your clients that you are personally a minimalist, they will freak out. Fortunately my skills help others, so I enjoy doing it.

Thanks for being real. Yeah, as a couple, as a family, you do have stuff. No denying, and it’s not always because you are travelling that you chose to be light. Sometimes it’s just because you want to not have to take care of the crap. I love renting, no maintenance, no lawn mowing, and our landlords go to our church and are great people.

My husband and I are late twenty somethings and we’re going lighter just because I don’t want to manage stuff my whole life, I managed my parents house, clients houses, and I was a house keeper for a lot of years, I’m done managing people’s stuff, my own stuff and don’t want to do it anymore. I would like to go do fun things and enjoy a life with my man.

Thanks for being grounded about this!

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Kerry-Ann February 21, 2011 at 5:33 PM

We have been going through the cleaning process. When we started travelling we had two bags now we have a four bedroomed house with boxes that have been untouched for four and a half years. Challenged by a note we found that we made to ourselves ‘travel light’ we moved through every room. Unbelievably in total 180kg went to recycling, some went to the tip and the rest was divided into a ‘sell’ pile and ‘give away’ pile.

We have just started the next phase – paper reducing! I am amazed (no shocked) at how much paper we have. Receipts, invoices, instruction manuals, notebooks, course notes etc… Stuff we haven’t looked at in years but for some reason is still cluttering up space.

Being a conscious ‘de-clutterer’ and going through the back breaking work of empting the house of clutter has made me far more aware of what I am buying. My new motto is – if it isn’t food – it isn’t getting bought!

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D R @ Motivating Minutes March 14, 2011 at 9:05 AM

It is so sad how consumer-driven our economy has become. I’m trying to get out of that mode but first I have to convince my family members to do the same. Any suggestions?

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Roy April 2, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Debt is slavery to corporations. It’s that simple.

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Wandering Mike April 2, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Sorry Roy, Debt is not slavery. Perhaps it is voluntary servitude (or involuntary servitude from say health care costs), but it is not slavery. Also, corporations are comprised of real people at the end of the day. It is real people who get the dividends as shareholders (or perhaps their pension funds or 401k’s). Your doctor is a corporation, so is your hospital and pharmacist. Are they bad? Corporations serve a number of purposes. Perhaps it is better to focus on what is the core root of the situation. Profits. As a general rule, in America we are focused on the idea that profits are good in any situation that is capitalism. Maybe that core premise of profits in all situations should be examined. Should health care for example be a situation that allows people to profit from the illness of others beyond a reasonable value for there efforts in treating the sick? If not, maybe it is time we had Medicare for all.

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Elise June 12, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Hi! Your family is awesome and adorable. I have a 3 year old daughter and have decided we will not live in debt, I am downsizing to move and begin building a tiny house! Love the idea of minimalism, simplicity and less cleaning! thank you for the inspiration…. my goal to tackle this summer is down sizing! thanks for the inspiration.

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