consumerism

Not buying into it

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So I am still on my treacherous journey to living better with less, however I’ve had a few roadblocks thrown my way.  For instance; perpetual moving. We moved last year, and we moved again this year, plus for some added fun we moved our office last month.

When you have to move with deadlines, you tend to throw things where ever they will fit, and this only leads to more chaos.

Welcome to my chaos land.  I have piles of crap, a storage unit that is totally filled again due to overflow from the business move, and a basement that needs to be transformed into livable space by Thanksgiving.

I hate it.  I have been working on this for over a year.   Sometimes it feels as if I am getting nowhere fast.

sampling of my inventory -tip: never do auto-delivery anything!

My focus yesterday was make-up. I didn’t take any photos (took the one above just now), because I just forgot. I forgot that, “hey maybe I’ll blog about this and get back on track.”  Nope, my only thought was, “What the f*ck is all this stuff?”  Tons of anti-aging shit. Really expensive brands that I never even used. I have wrinkles, because I should.  I am the perfect age for me.  But back when I didn’t even need the stupid wrinkle cream, I bought it.  I was convinced I had to have it, time and time again.  I bought into the hype, hook line and sinker.

And still I hang on to it; why?  I mean seriously, some days I don’t have enough discipline to even remove my mascara before bed.

( best tip ever: use a little olive oil to remove mascara, I promise you’ll never go back to anything else )

What makes me think I will ever want to go through some “ritual” every night to see maybe a 5 % difference in fine lines in 60 days?  Nothing.   I would never see the difference anyway.  In 60 days I would forget to even look.

In addition to the many miracle wrinkle creams, I  found duplicates of various blushes,  “glows” and even some Lip Venom. Lip Venom I bought maybe 4 years ago – unopened.  Like I need Lip Venom.  Big sigh.

I rarely wear make-up beyond mascara and lipstick and for special ” I give a sh*t days”  days I may wear some cover.  Even still haven’t pulled the trigger to go ahead and thrown away all these concoctions.

I can see now, I am really writing this post to psych myself into throwing hundreds of dollars of cosmetics away.  Tonight is garbage night.   Which means if I do it now, there is no turning back.  (Update I didn’t throw anything away on garbage night.)

I am half Swedish, I should know this already.

One good thing has come from this huge burden of material things, I have stopped purchasing items I think I want.  I have been sticking closely to buying only needs.  Lucky for me, my “needs” are really very few and far between. ( not to say big ticket items don’t pop up when unexpected -like brakes, tires, tie-rods, flight for children, and animal care, etc.)  But I have stopped buying meaningless stuff, and that’s a step in the right direction.

A guy I know once told me that his goal was to ” live below his means.”  I like that thinking.  That’s where I want to be; less stuff, no debt, and a simple life.  This is my goal.  Everyday we are getting closer, but it’s  a long process and along the way we do stumble.

The only thing to do after you stumble, I mean FALL, is get back up.

Here’s to getting back up.  Cheers.

(*Ignore my foul language that’s  just how the words came out today. )

Free from the grip

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This is basically how I feel and what I believe in a nut shell.

Please watch and actually take a moment to see how materialism has shaped your life.  I was forced to look at my ways, and I am better for it.  At least, I feel better and I am happier.

I am free from the grip of corporations, and I strive to become even more free each and every day.

Cheers!

Sale time, yet again

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I am getting pretty good at organizing garage/house sales, and brother do I kill it with the signs.

I use Craig’s list and signs on major intersections.  That’s it.  I have a sale kit with a staple gun and signs and wire stands from old political signs.  All you have to do is take the political sign off the wire holder and turn it inside out and tape your awsome sale sign to the plastic.  So easy, and they go into the ground perfectly.

I never hold my sale if the weather is bad, and now because you can place ads for free at a moments notice that is easy to accomplish.

My signs are always florescent poster board, sometimes with added reflective wrapping paper.  It makes a difference having a great sign.  People always tell me they love the signs…lol.  Some of my best slogans are: ” Don’t MISS this SALE”  or “Something 4 Everyone Sale,”  “Best Sale Ever,” ” Turn Around Cool Items. ” Often my signs are a shapes, maybe a circle or the shape of a dresser if we have furniture.  Stars cut outs on top of the signs in a contrasting bright color also helps grab attention.   And note: If you tell someone not to “miss” something they just can’t resist.

But this sale I am going in for the kill!

Eat your heart out Storage Wars.

I am planning to have a table of “Name Your Own Price” items…..who can resist that??? Another sign will say,  ”  HAVE 2 HAVE sale” sign.   “Useless stuff Sale. ”  “TOO BIG wont FIT” Sale…. for my new house.  And a “too little SPACE Sale” sign…..”Help me I’m a Hoarder, Sale.”

I think you get the idea, I am not planning to have many more of these sales, so I am going to have fun. I am thinking I might sell sodas as well.  If it’s warm and the sun is out, I can make .75 cents a can. Plus it keeps people happy, they stay longer and might just buy something.

In our town, garage sales are the ultimate signal that summer is near.  Garage Sale-ing a ritual, every Thursday is always the first day of any sale.  People map out the sales they are going to hit and make a day of it.  I like to be open on Thursday and Saturday.  I cant stand Friday because it  is too slow and Sunday people are too cheap. We’ll see how it works out this time.

My real issue here is most the stuff I have is what I decided to keep.  Ouch.  Now I am going to have to measure each room and be realistic.  It’s going to be a challenge, especially since, this is it.  My last chance.  I am not moving all this stuff one more time, not going to do it.  Minimalism here I come.  That has been my goal all along, but talking and doing are two different things.

The tough cuts await……I have to empty the storage unit and a garage….ugh.

This was the first day of having a storage unit, it looks so naive.

And you know what’s in those three containers?  Pottery made by students and professors from Cleveland State.  More average pottery than anyone ever needs.  At the time,the pottery was the most important thing for me to pack up and protect, err to hoard.  I still love it.  Every item was made by someone learning about design and clay.   Sigh.

Tip: Price everything, people are shy and don’t want to ask.

Inspiration: “You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.” – Eric Hoffer

One-day one -thing: Remember the every decision is an action, and action is how you create change.

Why do we Hang on?

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So this is my question today and I do not have the answer.

Why do we hang on to things?  What is it in our minds that puts value on things that in reality have virtually no value?

Our past is gone.  No matter how great or how horrible.  It’s gone. ( I am not talking about photos, because they actually catch moments in time)  I am talking about things, stuff, and sometimes weird stuff.  Items that we personally value whereas a stranger may consider it nothing more than trash.

What triggers our minds?

A Standard Life study suggests 28 to 40-year-olds don’t plan for the future because they prefer to reminisce about past times. Yet experts say nostalgia can give meaning to our seemingly dull lives.

In the extreme cases people can become hoarders.

From this article: “Some hoarders seem to feel unable to process all of the things that are part of their daily lives and feel “anxious, overwhelmed and ashamed” as the piles of clutter accumulate around them, according to Birchall. These people are often perfectionists and worry about making the right decision about what to do with each possession. The stress of trying to make a decision becomes too much for them, to the point where they avoid having to decide altogether by simply keeping everything.”

However, nothing can scare you straight better than watching A&E’s “Hoarders.”  I fall somewhere in between, maybe…not really as bad as an on TV hoarder, but I have enough crap to really dislike it.

I like to look at websites like Dwell and Apartment Therapy for inspiration of designs with little room or less stuff.  There are many more interesting people and sites out there that deal with living better with less. Some people live with nothing, that will never be me, but they inspire me just the same.

We don’t need to know the exact answer, it could be helpful, but I believe it is unnecessary to know in order to move forward.  Knowing what drives us in the past is good, but forget about it if you cant figure it out.  We only have to take things one step at a time with a dedicated focus as our goal.

Remember; if you are anything at all like me and you have too much stuff – change is hard, it takes times, and you will get there, eventually. Keep your focus.

You set your pace, rather your life sets your pace.  Good luck. 2012 is the year for me.  I just know it.

I wish you well.  Cheers!

Tip: Don’t buy anything.  Make a wish list.  Write it down.  Think before you buy.

Inspiration: “To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people. ” ~John Powell

One-day one-thing: Get rid of something, anything.

Barbie is a Hoarder

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I would not have believed it but I saw it with my own two eyes. Look at these storage containers that are for all her shoes, bracelets, hats, her books and her love notes from Ken. She is getting her containers this month, just like the rest of Americans. I hope she gets them on sale!

It took all I could muster up not to buys these, if as nothing more than a reminder, that out of sight is out of mind, and out of mind is out of use. I don’t need more clutter no matter how darn cute it is!!!

Just think how many ways she could use these storage containers – endless possibilities.

We live in a world where even the toys our children play with, multiply and eventually end up unruly and in desperate need of their very own storage system.

In my household it’s Lego’s and Brio Trains. I have them stored. It literally never ever crossed my mind to think of those “holy” toys as something I would ever consider as clutter. These toys belong to my babies, they are sacred. (I am kind of shocked at myself)

I have high hopes that one day I will have grandchildren who will like Legos. Is that far fetched? My realistic mind tells me I am crazy. I mean seriously – who am I kidding?  When I see little children now they are playing on cell phones.

I will keep these toys until the bitter end of my journey, because I can’t bare to think about it…..about any of it right now. That’s the truth.

The good thing , I like to let you know, is I didn’t buy the mini containers, and I only swore twice ten times today.

Life is hard. And life is cruel. Sometimes it’s okay not to be super productive.

(Barbie has all sorts of stuff it wouldn’t surprise me if she had a storage unit. )

Tip: Everyday write your current goal at the top of your to do list. This serves as an affirmation and helps keep you on the right track.

Inspiration: ” What if Andy gets another dinosaur? A mean one? I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection! ” ~ Rex , Toy Story

One-day one-thing: Throw away something that is in your way. Just throw it away. It wont be in your way ever again. :)

Schizophrenic Friday, Schizophrenic Saturday

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Days aren’t just days any longer. We have evolved to a point where certain days are used to market goods, or support movements, or promote whatever even pickles.

Today is Black Friday and  Support Small Business day is Saturday and  Buy Nothing day is both Friday and Saturday, depending on where you live.

For me all this doesn’t matter.  I think everyday should be support small business day, and every other day should be buy nothing day.  Black Friday is nothing more than a flashing red alert signalling to me to stay out of any shopping area.

We consume too much and produce too little. I am as guilty as the next person.  My first instinct is to buy.  I have to fight it.  Even though I know I want to save money right now, when I see something I find appealing I think:  Oh, I should get that, before it’s gone.

That’s one of many thoughts of a recovering shopaholic.   I also caught myself saying, “We should get that because the one you have will wear out eventually.”  I actually heard myself, took a step back and left without buying anything. I can’t believe that after all this time those thoughts still are at the forefront of my mind.

Maybe it is really some sort of addictive condition?  I never believed that I was certifiably a “shopaholic.”  Mind you you, I didn’t buy the things I saw the other day but, WOW, I wanted to.  And sitting here right now, I realized I didn’t even snap a photo of the thing I wanted to buy.

I will go back today and take a photo.  It was a mirrored covered box, which I certainly without a doubt do not need.   But I am drawn to mirrored items.  My favorite color is clear.  Water in all its forms fascinates me, and mirrors reflect like water.

Normally, I take pictures of things I like but either can’t buy,  or can’t keep, or look interesting but I don’t want.   Taking photos is  one of my many coping mechanisms and it’s very effective.

I need to remember to stay the course of de-cluttering and saving money and not buying “stuff.”  With the cold weather creepy in it’s so easy to forget about the garage and the storage unit.  Out of sight out of mind.

I don’t want more stuff.  I have too much stuff.  Less is more.

Cheers!

Tip: Put a rubber band on your wrist, snap it before you make a buying decisions. (ouch)

Inspiration:“Obstacles are those things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”- Hannah More

One-day one thing: Sort make-up again.

I am the 99%

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Typical media and political spin - Ridicule and discount the message.

I am the 99%.

And I am proud of each and every person who has taken their time to express themselves.  A message such as this would have gone nowhere if it wasn’t true.  Keep on keeping on.  They may not  listen but we will.  There is power in numbers and it’s about time we took our power back.  Here are some things you can do to support the people: we are the 99%.

1.) Donate food items to your local food banks.

2.) Donate winter coats and blankets to shelters.

3.) Foster a pet, who may have lost it’s home.

4.) Support local small business whenever you can.

5.) Send a message to the bank behemoths, by moving your money to a smaller local bank.

6.) Stop investing in the stock market.

7.) Write your congressmen.

8.) Register to vote.

9.) Support local movements.

10.) Drive less, use less gasoline.

11.) Show your support, yard signs, sticker whatever.

12.) Stop using your debit card and credit card.  Pay with cash.

13.) Don’t let yourself become silent. Do not allow yourself to be belittled.

Remember it’s all about the mighty dollar and your vote.  Don’t give in.  This peaceful movement is going exactly as Gandhi quote says:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then

they fight you, then you win.”

Link: http://occupywallstreet.tumblr.com/

Link: http://occupywallst.org/

I was a crystal ball

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During my years of irrational consumerism, I could see the future.  It’s true. I knew exactly what everyone needed before they even thought about what they needed.

Once, I bought an alarm clock guaranteed never to turn off, until a person caught it and turned it off.  It was self propelling, and if it wasn’t turned off by the sleeping human quickly,  it would jump to the floor and run away by rolling under the bed, or any other out of reach place while still sounding the alarm.

I bought this two years before my son went away to university. Every single day of his high school years, I had to wake him up over, and over, and over again.  In the future, I wouldn’t be there to wake him up.  I could see this clearly.  The clock still sold by MOMA today runs 48.00, I think I paid more.  That never opened brand new clock,  sits inside a blue plastic container that contains an assortment of new things, on the second shelf inside U-Store-It unit #227.

I know of another new thing that’s in there.  I bought it for myself.  It’s a bank that is a replication of a wooden water tank like the ones on top of  buildings in Manhattan .  I was “saving” this for when I had a “cool” office not a cluttered mess of an office.  I have an awesome office.  It’s not yet “good enough” so I am using old tea bottle for loose change.  As I am write those very words I see how pathetic this is.  ( I’ll fix the coin bank issue Monday)

Other  purchases are back-ups, duplicates.  I bought these because I already owned the item and I liked it.   Like a certain Ikea scrubber,  I could see in the future this scrubber would no longer be available.  I even taught my daughter if you like something – buy two of them….ugh!  Some of those thing I don’t even like anymore.  Other “new” items I bought for future gifts. I could see who needed the gift and what it was before I even met the person.  I was good.  Unfortunately when it came time to give these gifts away, either I couldn’t part with them, or they weren’t the right gift for the occasions.

When I shopped I shopped with conviction, no second guessing, everything had a purpose.  A purpose in the future that I could clearly see.   I was clairvoyant.  I could see the future as far out as I needed, to infinity.  That is, until I  could not.

What I could not see in the future was not being able to sell our house that was on the market for 14 months.  What I couldn’t see was all our equity was going to disappear.  What I couldn’t see in the future was losing our home of twelve years and having no place to live.  Once I lost my ability to see the future, I was sad for a long time.  I could not see anything and I certainly could not see joy or any shred of happiness in my crystal ball.

But that was then, this is now.  Nothing much has changed except me.  And to tell you the truth, I’m not sure if I have ever had a more defined idea of what’s important in life.  I have learn so much about how we spend our time, how we spend our money and how we interact with people.   My life has completely changed it’s trajectory and I like it.

The more stuff I shed the better I feel.  Simplifying is intoxicating and addictive.  Simplifying has helped me to focus and grow. I like it. I have a long long way to go, but so far it’s good.  I am examining my life on a different level, from a different place.  I am learning about myself and my family and what I am learning brings me great comfort. We are all in agreement that we are on the right track to “living better with less.”

UnPacktheRat is more then a blog to me, it’s my teacher, and for that I am grateful.

Cheer!

Insight:


One Day -One Thing: List at least one new (or not) item on eBay

Shock and “Awe, what’s Wrong with You?”

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I have been telling anyone, and everyone who will listen, about my plan to get rid of everything.  I tell them that I am actually already “in process” of getting rid of everything I own.   You should see the look of disbelief on their faces.   They are entirely shocked at this idea, and at first they don’t believe me.  They tilt their heads….like “really ?”  When they eventually realize I am dead serious, (I swear I can see something click in their brains) right there and then, they think I am crazy.

I didn’t expect this.

I think of myself as a fairly “normal” person, not any crazier than the next. I can’t say that I had any preset expectations at all, but this reaction has been surprising.  It’s so surprising to me, mostly because it is recurring.   It’s not just a few people who react this way, it’s a solid 97%.

I suppose it is going outright against the grain of the “got to have” based mentality of the American consumer.  Three-fourths of our economy, ( 75% percent <-that’s crazy), is based on consumerism.  Businesses want you to want. Want more, bigger, faster, better, lighter, smaller, they even want you to want more that uses less.  The somewhat green marketers say “buy this aluminum bottle” to use less plastic bottles.  That’s a good effort because plastic is evil, but everyone knows glass bottles are by far the best.

For whatever unknown reasons most people can not believe that I don’t want “things.”  I like things, I just don’t want to own things.  I have way too many things!  Besides owning  is work, and it’s expensive.  Maybe I am just cheap and lazy. (?)  I don’t know.  What I do know, is my things stress me out.  They are weighing me down, taking up my time and I don’t want them anymore.

I can’t wait to tell the next person.  Cheers.

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Tips from:  Joshua Becker – via Organizing  Your Way

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Today’s “one day- one thing”: Listing chairs on Craig’s list.

I never met a box I didn’t like

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I love boxes!   It’s true!  I never met or saw a box I didn’t like.  The problem is once I own a box,  I put stuff inside it.  End result, I have a lot of boxes with God-knows-what inside.

By not knowing what is inside, I definitely can’t just throw it away. Therein lies one of my many problems.  Sorting, blah!!!  I hate it.  It takes forever, so of course I don’t do it.

This is the cutest box ever. It’s tiny.  I have saved this box as a reminder to myself -NO MORE BOXES!!!!

The mass marketers would like you to believe that if you buy a container then all your “stuff” will be protected and organized.  They want you to believe that your children will suddenly want to put away their toys or that your house will instantly  become neat and orderly.  They do a good job.  Now  plastic containers come in all shapes and colors. One is bound to be perfect for your “whatever.”  I have a plastic box just for a wreath.  The wreath’s original box was perfectly fine, but no….a green and red one is better. It’s all bullshit.  (I didn’t need the wreath either, but that is beside the point.)

Buying boxes, containers if you will, is a license to hold on to unnecessary stuff!  Don’t do it. I realize there are valid uses for a containers, but if you are anything like me, a storage container stores stuff we don’t need, we may not even want, and stuff that we usually forget we have until we look inside. (we’re never going to look)

Next time you see that shiny new container that is going to miraculously solve your clutter issues, remember my tiny box.  Get rid of the stuff you want to store – you aren’t going to use it anyway.  Be brave, be box-less.