People often express a desire for simplicity, and then they go crazy buying all the “stuff” needed to simplify: attractive boxes, magazines, books, and clear containers for all the household products that already come in containers. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
Whether you are planning to purge everything to travel full-time like us or not, here are 12 ways you can easily simplify your life every month.
January: How many coats, gloves, mittens, and scarves do you have in your house? The count may surprise you. Think about what your family really needs to stay warm in the winter and donate the rest to someone living less abundantly than you.
February: Winter is the perfect time to watch movies at home. Are you renting them or buying them? Consider renting both for variety and less clutter. If you already have a big collection of DVDs, think about the last time you watched one of them. If you go longer than 3 months without watching a video, it is time to donate it. Children’s movies are a big hit at shelters, libraries, and after-school programs.
March: Let’s talk closets for a minute. You likely wear only 20% of what is hanging in there. Why not donate the rest? Give yourself space for the clothes you really love and for a few new things that fit to become part of your wardrobe. Let someone else enjoy your skinny jeans or your fat clothes. Allow yourself to celebrate who you are right now, not some past or present version of you.
April: Plastic container alert! How many plastic bowls, cups, and margarine containers do you have in your kitchen? If there is dust on that stack of bowls, chances are you don’t really need them. Recycle or donate them and only keep what you will really use.
May: Would you get in a taxi that looked like your car? When you get your first summer car wash, think about how you want your car to serve you. If you need office supplies, keep them organized in container in your trunk or over the seat, not scattered on the dash. Keep jackets and clothes neatly in a bag and off the floorboard. Make it a habit to “bus” your car every day and dump the trash. You deserve a clean transportation system for you and your family.
June: Summer is a great time to read a book on the beach. To keep your home library manageable, consider selling several of your books to a used bookstore. Now that you have room on your bookcase, consider giving away or selling a book for every book you bring into your home. This will encourage your friends to give you books as well and save you both space and money.
July: How many towels do you have in your linen closet? People often buy many cheap towels and keep them until they are almost threadbare. Why not just keep a few nice towels and launder them every week? You save space in your linen closet and enjoy a thicker, more absorbent towel every day. You can donate old towels to shelters or recycle them as cleaning rags that you can wash and use again and again.
August: You may have already experienced a sunburn or mosquito bite this summer and reached for the suntan lotion, aloe vera, or bug cream. Have you checked the expiration date on these in a while? We often buy these products in a large size to save money and then use them so little that they expire before they are empty. Buy smaller containers to fit your actual need to reduce waste.
September: School starts, signaling the official end of summer. Do your children get new backpacks and lunch boxes each year? What happens to the old ones? Instead of letting your entry closet pile up with unused bags, donate them to a shelter or children’s program. You can even ask the principal at school whether they have children who need book bags or lunch boxes.
October: You may have bought a piece of exercise equipment in January hoping to get that miracle body in 20 minutes a day. If that didn’t happen for you, stop using your exercise equipment as a clothes hanger and get rid of it. Craigslist is a great way to get rid of large and small items and make a few bucks. Besides, walking is free and takes up no space.
November: Do you have boxes of photos with no identifying data? Make it a family activity to label the backs of each photo and then have them scanned into digital albums. You can get rid of many snapshots that you never look at anyway and begin to enjoy them online with your family and friends. You also eliminate the risk of your photos deterioriating over time. You can scan them yourself or use a service like ScanDigital to do it for you.
December: Are you buying gifts for 30 relatives and wondering how you will pay your credit card bill come January? Worse, do you still have debt on your credit card from LAST Christmas? Rethink your strategy. Have a family meeting every year or two to discuss how you want to give gifts to each other. Some families choose to draw names, some only buy for the children, and others pool their money to take a trip together. People that love you do not want you to go into debt to buy them gifts.
There. In one year you have simplified your life in a big way without a huge effort. Make yourself a calendar for next year to tackle one thing every month and you’ll develop a habit of simplicity around your home.