Red Pill Money: Cutting Out The Clutter
“Minimalism is about creating space to live simply and meaningfully; it’s about living intentionally.” Clutter, the archenemy of minimalists, is anything that interferes with us living our best lives. In modern times, this is often the clutter of materialism and consumerism, as well as the obesity-inducing habit of recreational eating rather than eating healthfully. Americans spend their lives in the Church of the Mall and in restaurants, buying things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like, to paraphrase Will Rogers. Dave Ramsey frequently uses this quote when he tell people how to get out of debt.
The simple truth is, as men we don’t need a lot of stuff. So, how do we start getting rid of all this junk to open up time and money for more worthy and masculine pursuits than turning ourselves into feminine gatherers?
Minimalists say we should start by getting rid of one item a day to pare down material possessions until we have a less cluttered, more stress-free life. In a week, then a month, and especially over the course of a year one will start to notice a completely different appearance developing at their place, rather than the typical, junked up look. The awesome feeling of freedom from being bogged down by “things” comes at no extra charge.
Some of the best advice I ever received was from my best friend’s dad, who told me it doesn’t take much for a man to live on. Realizing that simple wisdom freed up my life and it can free up yours, too. When considering the maintenance, cleaning, and endless accessories to go along with the new toy we’ve purchased, it becomes obvious too many things also rob us of our time, not just our money. Here are three simple steps to get rid of clutter from your house, and your life.
Whether you use the tried and true method of eliminating one item a day, or going through your house like a whirlwind and tossing things out all at once, gathering three boxes and labeling them with each of these titles will help organize things of value vs. things that are just in the way. The three boxes you’ll need are as follows:
Sell It. If there’s something of value you have that you aren’t really using, consider selling it on Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon. An example: I bought a Nintendo WiiU last summer and played it almost daily until I went through all of the games. Even though I had an emotional attachment to it, the console was really just taking up space and tying up money I could leave in my bank account. So, I sold it and the games individually on Amazon and got 75% out of the retail price I paid for it and the games. It was win, win. I got the enjoyment out of the console until I played through all the games I wanted to experience, then got most of my money back out of it to use for other things. That’s just one example. You likely have many things of value you won’t miss if you sell them, but you will notice the money is in your bank account, ready to be used for another purchase or saved for a rainy day. In addition to selling things online, you can set up a garage sale for miscellaneous items.
Give It Away. Once I decided that I wasn’t going to let things determine my happiness or my worth as a human being, I also started giving away stuff. Lots of stuff. This is a great way to make a man realize just how much money and time he is investing in shuffling stuff in from the store and shuffling stuff out into the trash can, or letting it sit in a closet getting on his nerves. I had numerous suits that had gotten too big for me to wear once I started exercising regularly and lost a few pounds. So, I took them to Goodwill. There is really nothing quite as awesome as a clean and clutter free closet. Then there’s the FreeCycle network to help hook you up with someone who will gladly take your excess stuff of your hands. Be More With Less tells us why we should not be afraid to give things away:
The real eye opener for me was when I couldn’t remember most of the things I gave away. I’ve never searched for something that I didn’t keep or felt like I made a mistake giving things away. I’ve learned that living with less is a blessing and not a sacrifice.
Throw It Away. Admittedly, most people don’t want to throw away their things but if it has no resale value and nobody wants to take it as a gift, and it’s in your way, just toss it. Or, put it in a garbage bag (along with other junk) and let it sit in a closet somewhere for a week or even a month or so. If you haven’t missed it by then, chances are it’s not going to kill you when it goes. This can help soften the blow of tossing out a lot of things at once. Alternatively, rather than putting it in the landfill (other than not purchasing it in the first place) some items can be recycled, and there are even electronics recycling programs in some cities.
While decluttering, keep a mental tab or a written tab of just how much junk you’ve accumulated that you’ve sold, gave away, or thrown away. How much of that stuff really gave you pleasure? I’ll be willing to bet most of the stuff only brought a fleeting moment of pleasure into your life before it faded into the background and your mind shifted to another purchase. Developing a mentality that scrutinizes each purchase and whether or not it’s something you really need or if the money would be better off left in the bank or spent on an experience will help minimize impulse buys and wasteful spending. As Josh Becker, author of the Becoming Minimalist blog knows:
Our excessive possessions are not making us happy. Even worse, they are taking us away from the things that do. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.
Spending on experiences often brings far more happiness than things, anyway. Which will you remember most? That $2,000 television upgrade or a once in a lifetime trip to an exotic island, surrounded by beautiful girls? To me, it’s all about the experiences in life, not the things. I am living abroad on less money and with less things than I have in my entire life, yet I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Once you figure that out, you’ll realize all the messages you’ve been given by marketers and the media are designed to make them rich at the expense of your bank account and your happiness.
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