I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the last 12 months or so. Storage facilities are popping up on what seems to be every available parcel of land.
But they aren't ugly sheds with shoddily painted garage doors anymore. These storage facilities – a place for the stuff you don’t want, need or use – are nicer looking places than your average casual dining restaurant. There’s glass, there’s metal and there’s secure access so you can safely and comfortably visit all the things you don’t want, need, or use, whenever you like.
There's the 47,000-square-foot climate controlled warehouse in Scottsdale, Arizona, that will store your luxury car(s) for $5,000 a year. And the local joint, which will store every broken household printer you’ve purchased over the last two decades for just a couple hundred bucks a year.
Both are evidence that Americans love keeping stuff. I know it seems like I’m casting stones here. While I don’t rent an offsite habitat for my things, I do live in a glass house full of objects that I don’t want, need or use.
I’ve been feeling this way for awhile, but haven’t mustered-up the motivation to do anything about it. Then, just like that, as I was perusing Twitter for news, memes and cat pics, I discovered that one of my favorite writers had somehow climbed inside my head and written a book for me – and as it turns out – millions of Americans struggling with stuff.
"The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life" by Joshua Becker appeared like a lighthouse in a stormy sea. I’ve never been on a stormy sea, but I’m guessing people on boats who find direction in the midst of a storm feel like I felt when I began to read Becker’s latest book.
Let’s go ahead and acknowledge this is the quintessence of a First-World problem. I’ve got too much stuff, waah.
But there’s a cost to having too much stuff, and not just the rent you pay for your stuff at the new shiny Profuse Possessions Palace. By holding onto stuff you don’t want, need or use, you’re providing yourself agency to actively accumulate more stuff you don’t want, need or use. What’s three more shirts when you don’t care about the 86 you already own?
Minimalism is at the front of my mind, and I’m hoping soon it becomes my lead action. Alas, it’s the holiday season, which means several well-meaning family members and friends will extend holiday cheer in the form of things they want me to place into my home. Don’t they know I’m trying to get rid of stuff?!
In "The Minimalist Home," Becker arrives with solutions to this problem like some sort of decluttering mystic. When someone asks you for gift ideas, and you’re confident they won’t honor your sincere “please don’t buy me anything” request, ask for experiences or consumables.
That’s a pretty great solution because it slays a long held belief for amateur hoarders: Purchases should result in possessions.
I know what you’re thinking: “People should save their money and not buy all these things.” While I agree, that’s not the point. As Becker points out, minimalism is often confused with frugality. Minimalism is about freeing yourself from possessions you don’t want, need or use. You can still have a nice things. And you can have more nice things because you aren’t cluttering your life with cheap things you don’t care about. Instead of having 10 kitchen knives, you have one nice one. Instead of owning 17 pairs of shoes, you own three really nice pairs.
It’s hard not to think of a journey toward minimalism as a win-win. You get rid of junk, live a cleaner, more organized life and potentially end up with more money and nicer possessions. Sign. Me. Up.
I agree, this does seem easier said than done. Which is why I was thrilled that "The Minimalist Home" provides a room by room battle plan. Becker insists you start with your easiest room first, and then work your way to the space you most dread.
Sometimes people claim my column is a place where I gripe about spending and urge people to forgo pleasure. And sometimes they’re right. But the truth is I want people to consider the finite amount of time and money they have, and create a sustainable plan to get the most out of life. I want you to have the best things, when it makes sense. I don’t want you, or me, or anyone to have a home full of things they don’t want, need or use.
One last note: I realize storage units provide a safe place to store items for important times in people’s lives, such as military deployments and relationship transitions. If your use of these services aren’t tied to an important life event, I recommend you reconsider how important your items being stored really are.
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