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The Simple Life

My friend visited from Portland, OR a few weeks and inspired me to take a massive step toward living a much simpler lifestyle. He has spend the past year or so as a “vagabonding,” most recently returning from a 4 month visit to Fiji, where he lived on about $10/day….and felt that he was living a fantastic life. Surfing, eating awesome fresh vegan food, and meeting great people every day.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention to retreat from the world or make such a radical shift to my lifestyle, but I have been adopting some of the concepts he has been using to simplify his life over the past few years.

It all started when he walked into my apartment, and threw down a modestly filled backpack on the floor. He strolled about my place and made an observation that I have a lot of “stuff.” That was the first time someone has really said that about me. Most people have the opposite reaction! My apartment is very new, and pretty sparse by most standards.

He then pointed out that his entire worldly possessions fit in the that single bag that was laying on the floor. It made me think about all the things that I had, and whether I really needed all of them. Over the past two weeks, I’ve found an incredible amount of enthusiasm, energy and happiness around the process of getting rid of things I no longer need to have in my possession.

After getting rid of this baggage, I feel an incredible “lightness” and much less encumbered. Just walking into my home feels much better. Things are better organized (since there is less stuff to clutter up) so I can find what I need and not bear the psychological burden of looking at a bunch of stuff sitting around.

So what have I down-sized in the past few weeks? Here’s a run-down:

  • My ward-drobe has been cut in half. I have dropped off at least 6 large garbage bags of clothing to Goodwill. This was tough to do, since many of the clothes were in great shape and fit me, but most of it has not been worn in over a year (and probably won’t be worn anytime soon). My closet now has plenty of empty space on the hangar rack, and my shelves have just a few stacks of clothes.
  • My library has ben cut in half. I love my books, but I had far too many. My bookshelf was tilting to one side from the weight, and they were stacked in piles on the floor and in laundry baskets next to my bed. Many of the books would never be ready (by me) again. They needed a better home, so I’ve given them away to friends or Goodwill. The books I keep are the ones that really matter a lot to me, or ones that I plan on giving away to friends as gifts over the next year.
  • My Visa credit card has been canceled. I already have a Visa Debit Card and have decided to use that for all my “card” purchases. I have an Amex card that I will not use, but keep active in case of emergencies.
  • My extra checking/savings accounts have been closed. I consolidated all my finances with a single company that is currently my brokerage firm. They have a checking feature to their brokerage, so I closed my separate checking and savings accounts. This way I only need to go to one account to manage my checking/cash balances.
  • My extra brokerage account has been closed. I had an additional brokerage account that I used for Roth IRA and special investment vehicles that I have been using for the past few years. These investments have done well (better than S&P consistently), but were a headache to manage (I’ll go into the details of this in another post….maybe). The funds from this account will be consolidated into my single active brokerage account.
  • My XBOX and 30 games that I haven’t played in years have been given to Goodwill.
  • A box of triathlon and tri-related gear has been given to a friend who is actually racing….since I am not 🙂
  • A whole bunch (3 large boxes worth) or miscellaneous goos have been given to goodwill.
  • Two paper bags worth of non-perishable foods have been given away (non-vegan stuff I won’t eat).
  • My iMac now has a new home! I have a MacBook laptop, and decided that I no longer needed two computers at home, so I posted the iMac on Craigs List. 12 hours later, someone stopped by my place and paid cash for it.

So there you have it. Hopefully this post has inspired you to think about where you can down-size. As for me, I am far from done with my own efforts, looking forward to giving away some more clothes, books and some nonsense furniture I have sitting around this week!

11 comments

  1. Heidi says:

    I completely agree with you, cleaning out what you don’t need frees up both mental and physical space. In yoga we practice releasing what no longer serves us, and this goes for physical possessions as well!

  2. Jul says:

    Great job!

    We got rid of so much stuff last year (mainly books, clothes, and things in the attic) and haven’t regretted it at all. I feel so much better having done it.

  3. Scott GF says:

    Great job I am in the process of getting the wife to that mind set. She slowly is. She does feel liberated by doing it. But she is emotionally attached to items whereas I am not.

    I maintain a certain level. If I receive a book, item of clothing or whatever I get rid of one. Therefore I keep the same comfortable amount of things.

    Keep going!!

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  8. Tina Su - Think Simple Now says:

    I’ll take the box of triathlon and tri-related gear when your friend is done with it. 🙂 *wink*

    Thanks for the inspiring post Ravi!

  9. Ravi Raman says:

    Hey Tina! Didn’t know you were a triathlete! I’ll see if I have any other spare equipment laying around and let u know!

    My bike has been collecting dust….haven’t ridden in a few years (well, unless you count riding to the Red Hook Brewery for a few beers!).

  10. Floris says:

    Great article!

    I would never give away books though, even though they take up a lot of space. Books are knowledge and I often revisted them.

  11. Jessica says:

    Love your inspiring postings! I’ve been working on getting rid of stuff left and right around our place, but it seems like it’s a daily thing. Everywhere I look there’s just too much STUFF! I feel like I can’t breathe and I can’t wait until I get the bulk of the excess out of here. I’ve even got a storage unit that I’m going through and cleaning out; out of sight, out of mind. Most of that stuff I don’t need/don’t use/so why am I paying to store it?! Simple is SO much better!

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