Have you ever come across an article written by someone you don’t know, but you think you could have wrote it (or at least something very similar)? Well, I saw this on Facebook the other day and it definitely range true with me.
‘I Went 200 Days Without Buying Anything New and Learned How Toxic Our Need for Possessions Is’
Which lead me to her blog: Green High Five
This year has been rough, as you probably know. During this past winter Mom said she wanted to live closer to us and was willing to go to a doctor if that was required (which was a shock at the time considering she hadn’t been to a doctor in about eight years and had refused to go every other time we said it was needed to move into a independent / assisted living place). In hindsight we should have known that mom thought she had a health issue. Well, two plus months later my mom died (after living in an apartment in the independent living place) and I was abruptly the executor of her estate (which included her independent living apartment [and all the items in there] and her house in another state).
So, at first my time was taken up with notifying people, companies, dealing with her prepaid burial insurance (which I am so glad she did since I didn’t have to make as many decisions), getting death certificates, clearing out her independent living apartment, etc. Then I took a break so my family could celebrate our daughter’s graduation from college (went to her Senior project day, went to graduation, etc).
Which brings us to the beginning of June and starting to clear out mom’s house. Mom had been slowly been giving items away, but there was still a lot of items in the house. I first tried to contact a local company that would hold an estate sale (I could not handle the idea of doing a garage sale by myself), but the company never even called me back (I found out later that they were starting to focus on high value items – which mom’s would not fall under anyways).
Luckily, the neighbor said they were interested in buying the house and said they would be willing to take any and all of the large pieces of furniture (beds, couches, refrigerator, washing machine, etc) that we did not want. They even agreed to be ‘Mr and Mrs Junk’ if they decided that the items that were left needed to be recycled, donated or trashed. (This was a huge blessing since I was going to have to pay a company to take away most of the items.) So, the big items were avoided and left for the end. (This also made it possible for me to stay at Mom’s house when I went over. Was that tough? Semi, but it did allow me to work from early morning to late at night, which in hindsight wasn’t the best idea since I definitely was overdoing it).
So, it was decided that the other small items that were not wanted (or thrown out) would be given away. Since we know some young families and I see on the Facebook groups that there are always people looking for items (clothes, blankets, pots & pans, etc) I thought giving the items to a thrift store would be ‘easy’. Well, that wasn’t always the case. I was told a few times that my favorite thrift store was full and not taking any donations. I luckily found a local church this summer that was holding a large rummage sale so they took a large portion of the items that were actually brought to me house. Remember me saying I over did it? Well, due to that we had to box up a lot of items and bring them to my garage so I could go through them little by little (which I am still doing, but the pile of boxes is definitely getting smaller).
So, after a few months of random trips I finally got the last items out of mom’s house at the beginning of September.
Oh, and as a side note the neighbors did decide to buy the house ‘as is’ (needing new paint, flooring, some repairs, etc) and escrow even closed last week.
So, what did I learn from all of this?
a) I want to give activities OR items I know a person wants as a gift. Reason: I found multiple items that I know were given to our Mom as Christmas presents (some of them I had even given to her). At the time she was really happy to receive them, but then they were put away either in a cupboard or in a random box (some of them not even opened). I know some of this was due to mom’s age, etc, but some of the items were things we thought she needed (and I guess it turns out that she didn’t).
b) There is just a lot of ‘stuff’ in this world. Have you ever thought about how many items are sitting in your house, thrift stores, storage units, and then new in the stores? I am not saying you have to be a minimalist, but maybe it is time to really think before you buy your next new item (could you find what you need used or could something else be used instead)?
Oh, and before you complain at me (since if you know me you know that we just bought a new vehicle) you need to know that it was a necessity AND we keep our vehicles FOREVER (i.e. the vehicle that we are replacing is 20+ years old!).
c) I want to work on my projects. I have plenty to work on (sewing, scrapbooks, around the house, etc) so it is time to spend some of my free time working on those instead of shopping for items we really don’t need. So, I am hoping to not buy any new ‘fun’ projects (at least for a while) and only items that will help me finish some of the ‘fun’ projects I already have.
d) After realizing what I am going through and our Mom even had a trust, prearranged burial, etc it is time for me and my husband to start putting our wishes in writing. So, in the next year I hope we have everything in place so our family doesn’t have more headaches than I have had in the last few months if/when something happens to us.
If you read the link to her blog you will see that she is doing another 200 day challenge (only buying the essentials new – food, medicine, etc) and wants everyone to do it with her. I admit I am not ready to commit to that (at least not at this time), but I do know that I have been reviewing everything that we have been buying to make sure it really is needed.
My challenge to you is to really think about a purchase before making it:
- is it a quality item; i.e. will it fall apart the first time I use it?
- can I find it used? (you might find that the older version actually lasts longer than a newly made one)
- can I modify something I have and make it work?
- can I borrow it?
- do I really need it (versus want it)?
I would love to hear if you are taking either the Green High Five challenge or mine.
And, if you made it to the end of this then I applaud you. I haven’t written a long blog post in awhile, but this topic really spoke to me.
Later – H