Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Minimizing stuff to maximize family time

We've really been working over the past year to minimize the amount of stuff (junk, nicknacks, etc.) in our house to be able to ultimately maximize our family time.  Doing this has definitely simplified our lives in so many ways, sometimes more than we imagined.

Finishing out our basement has forced us to go through a lot of stuff.  We even found boxes we'd moved in several years ago and had never unpacked!  Needless to say, most of that stuff went to Goodwill for a nice tax deduction.  And it's so freeing to not have all that stuff hanging around in the basement.  I also unearthed several picture frames that I've repurposed around the house for cork boards (using recycled wine corks), hanging pictures in little man's room, and I'm thinking of using one or two more for homemade chalk boards since he's in a chalk loving stage right now.

The craft room downstairs is now dedicated to all things crafty, with lots of shelving that will soon be painted and put to use holding craft supplies.  I also plan to mount a decorative shelf to hold some family china, etc. to pretty up the space some.  It will be nice to unpack those boxes of china that were in the basement and really be able to look at all those nice pieces.  There's extra space under the sink down there for many of my canning supplies, which is a nice bonus.  And I'm going to use some old fabric to make some curtains for some of the shelving to be able to hide pantry staples, painting supplies, and sewing projects.  (That old fabric was in another basement box.)

Cleaning out has also allowed us to make a bundle selling stuff on eBay.  We've sold some handmade items I had stashed away, electronics, gaming stuff, Mary Kay supplies, some collectible items, and a bunch of other random things.  Whatever we weren't successful at selling after a few auction postings went to Goodwill for another tax deduction.  We did find that selling things in lots helped with the smaller stuff, if you're thinking you might try your hand at it.

We've worked on cleaning out our closets too, both little man's and our own.  This has freed up space, which is a huge blessing in our house where closet space is at a premium.  (How did we build a house with no linen closet?!)  Since we anticipate Wubby sharing a closet with a one-day sibling, we want to get that closet as functional as possible for two kiddos now.  We're hoping next summer to tackle building some open shelving in one end of that closet, and adding another hanging bar on one side to double the hanging space.  Cleaning out ours has been a slow process, at least for me.  I have to look long and hard at some things and be realistic with myself about how often I wear something and if I'll really miss it.  It would be great to sell some of my clothes at the next consignment sale, especially the nicer ones.

The ultimate goal with all of this cleaning out has been to make it easier to find what we need when we need it.  This has definitely been true with the tools dept. in our basement.  It's also make it easier to find our holiday decorations, clothing items for little man as we rotate into new sizes, etc.  By finding things sooner and knowing exactly where stuff is, we end up saving time and having more time as a family.  Renting out the basement means that we'll also be able to free up more time to spend together as a family, rather than committing to working more than we'd like.

We know we're frugal beyond many of our peers (paying extra on our mortgage, keeping to $100ish for groceries a month, making our own cleaners, bread, etc., not eating out, eating little meat), but it allows us to worry less about our debts.  We know that by doing this, we're giving a huge gift to our child by modeling good financial (and environmental) stewardship for him, and it ultimately will probably allow us to retire earlier than some peers, meaning more family time overall.

How are your decluttering efforts helping your family?  I'd love to hear from you!

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