Becoming a Minimalist Part III: Owning 100 Things or Less

20 Aug

View from Queen Anne | Seattle

View from Queen Anne | Seattle

So much has happened since my last updates here and here about “becoming minimalist.”

In sum, there are two huge things:

1- I have gotten rid of an epic amount of shit.

2- I then moved 3,000 miles away across the country to Seattle.


It Takes Some Work To Do This, Man…*

(*but you only have to do it once.)

It’s been a little over a year since I got really interested in owning less and wanted to see what it’d be like to live with minimal belongings.

In the 3 months before I moved to Washington, I spent enormous amounts of time sorting through belongings and getting rid of as much as possible. I feel like I didn’t even own all that much compared to a lot of people, but nevertheless, once you start identifying every single damn thing you own and trying to decide if it’s worth keeping, and 90% of the time it’s not, you end up with a lot of stuff to deal with to find a new home for.  And whether that home is a friends house, the Goodwill, a recycling center, or the dump, it all has to be dealt with one way or the other!

What’s Gone

Now that it’s all said and done, it feels so damn good to have gotten rid of so many damn things.

To give you an idea, I got rid of my…

  • car: this was a biggie! Coincidentally, my Civic broke down on cue and I sold it to a junk yard for $500.
  • clothes: gave away roughly 2/3 of my clothes to Goodwill.
  • books: sold or gave away  3/4 of my books.
  • movies: sold or gave away 90% of my movies.
  • musical instruments: sold my drumset, antique keyboard, Yamaha keyboard, antique accordian, mic stand.
  • computer crap: sold, recycled, or gave away a RAID server, 2 desktop PCs, computer monitor, speakers, keyboards, & bags of misc computer crap.
  • furniture part I: gave away my TV, entertainment center, bookshelf, computer desk, computer chair.
  • furniture part II: sold my bookshelf, mirror, some wall decor, kitchen table and 4 chairs.
  • furniture part III: have loaned out my bed and my couch. one day I’ll get them back! 🙂
  • misc stuff: I also donated or gave to family &  friends things like a coffee machine, toaster, bulletin board, cleaning supplies, art supplies, picture frames, Halloween costumes, lamps, a queen bed frame, a weight bench, an exercise bike, free weights, a water fountain, a wine holder, misc. wall decor, CD stands, old cell phones, various heating pads, a bunch of shoes, and a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting. It’s all gone.


Owning 100 Things Or Less

Disclaimer I: I don’t really own 100 things or less, literally.

Disclaimer II: But I’ve yet to count what I own. So there.

Disclaimer III: And I’ve cheated in a major way by storing a stack of stuff in my Mom’s attic that I aim to either one day sell or use  –  a big chunk of boxes about 4 feet tall, 5 feet wide, and 5 feet across.

But I love the spirit of owning 100 things or less, and depending on how you want to count it I’ve moved here to Seattle with 100 things or less.I shipped out here the equivalent of about 10 shoe boxes of stuff plus a guitar and then just took a laptop bag and a suitcase as carry-on luggage for the flight.

(Also, one thing that I should mention i.e. Disclaimer IV: I’ve moved into a furnished living space. So I don’t own it, but I do have a couch, a bed, a desk, a bookshelf, chairs, lamps, etc.)

What I REALLY Use In Day to Day Life

When it comes down to it, I can identify the following items as worth having on hand in my life. Why? Because this is what I actually USE!

This includes my:

My New Best Friend in Seattle

My New Best Friend in Seattle

  • My beautiful sunburst Yamaha Acoustic Guitar
  • Laptop + Ipad + Speakers + Ipod + Headphones + Laptop Bag
  • About a Dozen Books + my Journal
  • A Bathroom Bag + Medicines
  • Various Containers +  Baskets + a Luggage Suitcase.
  • The Clothes I Actually Wear and Lots of Socks + Underwear (you really shouldn’t eff around with that.)
  • My Sheets + My Own Pillow.
  • Multitool, Bottle Opener, Kitchen Utensils, Batteries, and a few other similar, practical things.
  • Functional things: microwave,  mini fridge, desk, chair, couch, lamps.
  • Cuddly animals (see photo)

Basically the list above is everything I brought with me to my new pad in Seattle, except for the furniture. It’s really quite amazing to me to see myself settling in with what I actually need as defined by what I actually use. Ironically, if anything, I’ve brought too much here and could stand to ship home, sell, or give away about 1 shoe box worth of things so far.


What’s the Point of All This?

It’s so easy to one day wake up and realize you own entirely too much crap. But when you don’t really own much it’s a lot easier to pursue opportunities that otherwise are harder to actualize when you’re tied down to your belongings.

For me personally, I know that the less I have to own / manage / deal with, the easier it is to:

  • move, travel, and live in different places
  • spend less, work less, and save more
  • have time to focus on the things I want to do

I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious. It’s not like getting rid of all your stuff means you’re a necessarily able to travel around the world and live this amazing life. But if you want to do that kind of thing, it’s a lot easier to manage it if you aren’t distracted and tied down with needless possessions that drain your resources.

Tiny Houses

On a related note, somewhere along the line I ran into the Tiny House Blog. This has stirred up the beast inside of me that really wants to own something again – but something that is small, awesome, and relatively stress free to keep up with. I love the idea of owning a tiny home with some land. Throw up a big deck around the house, set up a garden, and put up some solar panels to power the whole thing – man, that would be fantastic.

With this as my inspiration, I’ve spent countless hours researching the different builders out there making really small, sometimes even portable, homes. But I’m amazed at how expensive they are. For the price of many of these tiny homes I could just buy a 3 bedroom condo and have 5-10 times as much space and be done with it. But that’s not what I want. So I started digging deeper to see what my options are for the cheapest yet-still-awesome tiny homes. This generally meant under $50,000 but ideally waaay under this.

I don’t currently have the funds to do this but when something is under $50,000 – and especially in the $15,000-$30,000 range – it’s not hard to project what it would take to save up that kind of money in X amount of years and buy a home and have zero mortgage. I find this possibility very inspiring.

After much research, I’ve found there are a handful of very interesting options in this price range. With the huge interest in tiny homes  – yet the high price tag attached to most – I’m planning on documenting these affordable tiny homes in a blog post – coming soon!

One Response to “Becoming a Minimalist Part III: Owning 100 Things or Less”

  1. Rick May 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    I love the idea of having less so you can do more. It has taken me several years but I am well on my way to getting there. When you are raising kids its a little more challenging. My goal is to one day be able to pack a bag and disappear for months at a time. Anyway, congrats to you!

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