Two months ago, we did something drastic.
We were feeling the frugal-fever, excited to save money, and so we made a bold decision.
We moved our entire storage unit into our living room.
Our camping gear, 11 boxes of cosmetics (stacked against the wall…don’t ask), our childhood memorabilia, 4 standing lamps, a glass hookah, 4 bins of old clothes, a heater, and 15 smoke alarms (definitely don’t ask…); the accumulation of 53 combined years of living.
I know what you’re thinking – how did I end up with a storage unit in the first place?
Well, a couple months ago, when we downsized from a 1450 square foot 3-bedroom house to a 620 square foot 1-bedroom apartment, things got a little ugly. Some accusations about who owns more pairs of shoes were thrown, and as we emptied out our massive garage, with floor to ceiling racks filled with bins, I started to panic.
So we decided that we would temporarily get a storage unit. I found a deal on Yelp for 1/2 off the first two months of a 10×6 foot unit.
When the guy behind the counter asked if we wanted to sign up for direct withdrawal, I resolutely shook my head.
“We’re only going to be renting it for the two months,” I told him. “Just until we get settled.”
He gave me that look like, “that’s what they all say…”
And for a while, it looked like he was going to be right.
As Day 60 drew near, we discussed incorporating the storage unit ($72 once the promotion was over) into our monthly rent, and just accepting it as part of downsizing.
Our new apartment has no storage space, no closets, and no garage. It seemed impossible to ever store it in our apartment. We talked about slowly, box by box, going through our unit and getting rid of stuff. But weeks went by and we never went to the storage unit, or even thought about it.
And then one day I had an idea.
If we wanted to keep the stuff, shouldn’t we be forced to live with it?
By having our extra stuff safely stored away in a storage unit, we are having our cake and eating it too. If you have a clean living room and organized closets, but all your junk is being stored out of sight, does that really count as being a minimalist. What greater motivation would there be to get rid of our extra stuff than if we are seeing it every single day?
That night, I pitched it to A: “If we keep our stuff in storage, we have no incentive to get rid of any of it. But if we put it in the living room, we’ll get rid of 80% immediately because we’ll both go so crazy.” I also delicately pointed out that if a certain unnamed person in our relationship wanted to own 45 pairs of identical Nike sneakers, shouldn’t that unnamed person have to (literally) live with (and trip over) that choice?
Amazingly enough, he was on board.
I was actually shocked he agreed. I pitch him on a lot of crazy ideas…running a dog sitting business out of our home, eating canned beans to save money, having only 39 pieces of clothing (more on this soon), getting rid of our TV, going without internet, giving up the cars…but this was up there on the crazy scale.
Not only did he agree, but he offered to move the entire unit himself. For one week, he took a load every day before work, and gradually our living room looked like something on the Hoarders show.
On Day 52, we marched into that rental office and cancelled our storage unit.
It felt fantastic!
Until we got home, and saw our living room…
It was awful. So messy. So chaotic. So unorganized. It was like everywhere you stepped, or looked, or turned, there was stuff.
Weeks went by, and it felt like our experiment was working, but in the worst possible way. We were having to live with our consumer choices, and it was agony!
So, we decided that our Columbus Day weekend, a holiday usually devoted to sales and shopping, we would tackle our apartment and get things organized and cleaned once and for all.
We used the $20, 20 minute rule, and took 2 full car loads to the thrift store.
I went through three bins of school assignments, childhood writing, and saved birthday cards. Everytime I wanted to keep something, I asked myself, “is this item worth all the time I’m going to spend in my life organizing it, moving it, sorting it, and dealing with it, and all the stress I’m going to feel because of the additional work?”
Without further ado…the after picture.
What do you think? Pretty good, right?!
Happy Columbus Day everyone! I hope whatever your home looks like, it makes you as happy right now as my home is making me