Today I'm excited to announce we have another guest post from a member of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course (registration now open for the next session!). I'll hand it over to Becky and she'll explain all about her relationship with stuff and her simplifying journey. I think we can all relate to Becky's story, I know I definitely can! Thanks Becky!
I hardly know where to start for this blog entry for Mariah. I guess at the beginning. I have always loved to shop, loved getting new “stuff”, whether it was for my house or for me or as a lovely gift for someone. So I was already primed for action when I met my best friend, who is a true shopaholic. And I took my cue from her – expensive purses, expensive makeup and beauty products, expensive clothes. She buys everything under the sun, and I tried to keep up with her for awhile. And I was always swearing I would reform and STOP, because my house was filling up with “stuff” and my bank account was emptying and my credit card balances were rising at an alarming rate.
It never got totally out of control, I just ran through a ridiculous amount of money in a very short time, all for “stuff”.
It was like Christmas at my house every day when I came home from work – boxes from Amazon, QVC, Coldwater Creek, etc etc etc, all stacked neatly at my door, waiting for me to come home and open them. I was so busy buying clothes that I very seldom wore the same thing twice in six weeks. I didn’t know if my UPS guy loved me or hated me, but I sure was keeping him busy, rain, snow, or sunshine. I started buying Coach purses compulsively – I loved them and I wanted them and I wanted people to see that I had them.
I was a CONSPICUOUS CONSUMER, in a big and bad way. Always the first to have the best of everything. Two iPads, an Android tablet, an Android smartphone, and an iMac computer, the latest and greatest model. I’m amazed that I don’t have an iPhone, but even I balked at the $700 price for an unlocked iPhone.
So there I was, 30 pounds overweight, buying stuff left and right, spending all of my money and running up my credit cards. And I wasn’t happy. I had TOO MUCH STUFF, and it was driving me crazy. And part of that craziness was because of the fact that every time I looked at all of it, I had to face the fact that I had spent my hard earned money to buy that now-unwanted item. What was I THINKING???? I shopped when I was happy, I shopped when I was sad or mad, I shopped when I was bored, I shopped for entertainment. I bought into the whole American Advertising Machine lifestyle.
Then I got involved in the Tiny House Movement. Small living spaces have always intrigued me, and (of course) I wanted one. Never mind that I didn’t have the money, that I already have a house, and nowhere to put a tiny house. And I was slowly, slowly beginning to read and understand the movement to simplify your life.
Then the opportunity to take Mariah’s course came in one day, and, on impulse, I signed up for it. Somewhere inside me, I knew that, even if I didn’t move into a tiny house, I needed to make some radical changes to my lifestyle and my approach to money and stuff, both.
One of the first things I did after I got all signed up for the Tiny Transition class was to watch the Story of Stuff video. I was appalled at what I saw and learned. My relationship with “stuff” has never been the same since that day. I also started reading a very good book called Your Money or Your Life. I have been working 6 days a week for about 2-1/2 years, both out of necessity at work and for the overtime for my paycheck. But I was getting tired of having to do that every single weekend, too.
So, I started changing my life, with the help of the Tiny Transition course and the book I was reading. I started seeing how much many Americans have been taken in by the admasters on Madison Street, when really, a simpler life lived closer to the earth is what’s called for, at least for me. And don’t think my friends liked this new “me” – they seemed to feel threatened by what I was doing, in a loving way. They all think I’m nuts to want to live in a Tiny House, and they definitely don’t understand the rewards of living a simpler life, stripped down to the few things we find the most meaningful, the most beautiful, and the most useful.
When I heard on the Story of Stuff that we, as Americans, make up 5% of the world’s population, but are using up 30% of the world’s resources, that hit me very hard. No wonder we call it the Rat Race – and the rats just keep on winning. I am now a dropout from the Rat Race. Yes, I’m still working 6 days a week, but only until my credit cards are paid off. Christmas every day has come to a dead stop. Going home isn’t as exciting any more – but I don’t miss that accompanying guilt, either. Amazon is mad at me – I ordered stuff from them almost EVERY DAY.
Now, between my new found education/attitude towards the “stuff” in my life, I have found out one very important thing: I HAVE ENOUGH. I have enough of everything I need, even with all the stuff I’ve given away/donated/sent to the junk people. The only things I need for the foreseeable future are consumables, like groceries, fuel, beauty products when I run out.
Not spending money like a crazy person has brought a sense of calm and peace into my life – and has left money in my bank account to see me through until next week’s paycheck. I don’t miss the guilt I would feel when I would get the monthly statements. I still have to face those statements for awhile, until I get them paid off, but I know I won’t be adding to the total amount any more. And – extra added bonus! – my house is easier to keep orderly and clean without all the junk crammed into it like it was before I downsized. There is finally a place for everything, so I can put everything in its proper place.
I want to continue living in a mindful, healthy way, living out my Manifesto. Living a greener, simpler life, and keeping my stuff (and my money) under control, finally – this is a HUGE victory for me! I may never have the opportunity to live in a Tiny House, but I have learned so much from taking Mariah's course that even if I don’t, it’s okay – I have gained so much valuable insight and the resulting lifestyle changes have made it possible to live in a way that I have always wanted to live. Also, thanks to a better diet and a daily exercise program, I have lost 20 of the 30 pounds that I had gained, and I can see me reaching my goal of 30 pounds lost by September. So I have lost (most of) my weight and have broken the addictive spending cycle forever! Thanks, Mariah, and all of my classmates for their support – I couldn’t have done this without all of you guys cheering me on.