32 Responses to “Why You Should Give Away 50% of Your Stuff”

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  1. I’m with you on this! The main issue that affects me now on your list is that I sometimes hold onto an item because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Things (especialy paper) still accumulates living more simply and I need to stay on top of this element as well.

  2. barbara

    I did this!!! I moved from 1000 ft squared place to 322 ft squared place last year and gave up all but half my clothes, a few personal items, 30 hangers, two lamps and a table. .. I moved in a car2go! (Really). Have not looked back .. I offered family pieces to family before giving the rest away, have no regrets.

  3. Courtney! Very well reasoned arguments here as always. Since we began decluttering, our home feels nice. It is easy to move through, like butter and it easier to find items. We can see out the windows with no obstructions. Seeing the trees, sky, birds and especially squirrels is critical. 50% may just be that magic number, but it is awfully hard to measure. 50 certainly is a nice round number, no doubt;)

  4. Great post. I’ve only recently started to declutter but I find that with every bag and box I give away, the easier it gets.

  5. Heather

    This is great article! There once was a time I had that regret that I too was wasting $ by decluttering but I am blessed with new thoughts on that through wonderful blogs like this. I know that I value the experience and memories I had with that certain object I’m giving away. It served its purpose and now it’s time to give it to someone else. There are young, just married couples or those new on their own, who come along at that i can pass things onto and charity garage sales I can give too I’ve found. If I keep this object that I no longer love, or has purpose in my life, I feel like I’m stealing from someone who it is now meant for and not doing the environment any favors because that person will have to buy one at the store instead. I’m also blessed with a good neighbor thrift store in my town where donations go to those in need…senior citizens, those whose home burned down, etc…. — keep up the great work here! It goes a long way to bless many people & the environment. :)

  6. such a great article. I have been going back and forth on stuff and what to keep and what to give away. I’ve decided this is my sign.. to get rid of all the junk!! Thank you..

  7. JC

    This is wonderful. I struggle with the guilt factor of having wasted money and the earths resources on stuff I don’ care about. I’m committed to the 50% anyway! And you are right…people will think we’re weird, but so what. JC

  8. Love this. Another good reason to give away half your stuff is that clutter creates stagnant energy. Clearing your clutter is the foundation of Feng Shui – it truly transforms your life when energy can flow freely.

    I’m not quite at the place of being able to move all my stuff in a very small car – but that’s what I’m aiming for. My biggest challenge is books – I’ve already given away about two thirds of my books – still have about 300. Not easy to travel lightly with that many!

    • Kathy Mader

      Keeping the house clean has become such a chore. It’s made me realize that my stuff is simply not worth it…it’s a burden and joy-thief. Ugh! Gotta do this! Recently I debated about giving away a set of china that I found at a thrift store for $35. It was very nice, had a covered vegetable dish and everything, but who needs 3 sets of dishes…in fact, who needs even two…or even a complete set of one? After much mental agony, I gave the whole set away. Have not missed it one iota. Need to write these things on my forehead, as I seem to quickly lose track of my new values. Thanks for the support and encouragement, Courtney.

  9. Morghan Phoenix

    There’s only one tweak I’d add. The “just in case” items will be larger for poorer people. I have a box with my previous version of big ticket items because I couldn’t afford to replace something with a $250-1000 price tag if it gave up the ghost. I’ve had fruit punch added (by a 3 year old) to a laptop before, keeping a decade old one in the closet enabled me to remain connected and able to continue working (backups to external media are your friend) while saving for a replacement. It wasn’t nice, actually wouldn’t even run YouTube, but it worked.

    I’d tell people to keep their situation in mind when decluttering, many will be able to replace destroyed items. Some, however, will not.

  10. Katie

    I just dropped a trunk load of stuff off at Good Will today and it felt awesome. I have to add that I have been looking forward to it all week. I find getting rid of clutter tobe so cathartic. Clutter makes me anxious. I have been accused of lacking sentiment, but I try to explain you don’t need things to hold the experience close to your heart.
    I really enjoy your blog.

    Katie

    • I was thinking the other day that the donation receivers at goodwill must have the happiest of jobs. Normally the people who are dropping off donations are so joyful to be free of their stuff, they can’t hhelp but smile!

  11. Nicole W.

    I think your idea of photographing AND writing/journaling about something before releasing it is spot on for me emotionally and will create open storage SPOTS in our home. THANK YOU! I have very few things from my childhood, but they’ve been around so long I can’t imagine throwing them away – this is an ideal solution!

  12. I love that: People will think you’re weird. They do, and it’s ok! I feel lighter and happier.

  13. Julia

    Great post! I’m probably at around 30% at the moment and that’s taken me 3 years. Some items I’ve sold, many I’ve given away to local charities but the most rewarding one was last week when I took a huge box of barely used winter bedding to our local women’s and children’s shelter. They were incredibly grateful for the items (mid winter here at the moment) and that feeling of giving to someone desperately in need was far greater reward than admiring it in my cupboard.
    Sometimes I find myself looking for an item, cursing at myself for having too much stuff still and can’t find what I want. Then I have a look through my photo records of what I’ve got rid of and realise I’ve let it go. No big deal – if I only looked for it once in all that time (and it wasn’t vital) then I really didn’t need to hang on to it.
    Hoping to have another big push to get rid of bigger items this weekend!

  14. Mari

    Don’t really know where I’m at % wise and I don’t really need to know but A LOT has left home already – donated, recycled, reused, sold, given away, and the dreaded *dumped* (–> garbage).

    > The real eye opener for me was when I couldn’t remember most of the things I gave away.

    YES! And when life has gone on without the things that I do remember giving away! Regrets are RARE.

  15. MelD

    I have no idea what % of belongings I’ve given away, I just know I live with a lot less stuff than I used to! I buy a lot less, too.
    No idea what went, either!
    We still have more than enough, and that will be reduced gradually as we get older, our lives and lifestyles alter and our youngest daughter leaves home (that will be a few years, yet, maybe 3-4 before she is able to support herself). It’s always ongoing.
    At present, we are facing the challenge of dealing with an apartment’s worth that has to be disposed of – some personal belongings to come home, which means more decluttering at home (small house), and some will be stored for our daughter, which she wants and will save her money later (plain dishes, basic kitchen implements, couple pieces simple furniture). The rest will be sold, given away or thrown out…
    At some point, we will be responsible for our mothers’ and grandmother’s homes, too – seems this is going to be the story of my middle age!! LOL Getting good practice…
    At least home is now peaceful.

  16. Hi Courtney,
    I really like your blog, thank you for your inspiring posts! This one is very good! :) I am an aspiring minimalist, like voluntary simplicity, freedom and so fourth. But I still have lot of stuff to get rid of.

    It has taken me a long time to get to were I am today, but I am glad to have learned something from my mistakes. I have collected to much stuff over the years..

    The teacher will appear when the student is ready, how very truth.

    Thanks from Sweden :)

  17. Love this idea! I’ve done this with my daughter in her room. An easy way to track the 50% it is I took two similar items (and couldn’t believe how easy it was to find multiple similar items like teddy bears, dolls, scarves, Barbies, etc.) and I would say, which one of these do you like the most? She would (usually very easily) pick the one she loved, and we would throw the other one in the goodwill box. It was actually fun, because once she got into the “giving away” mode, she found items that she wanted to give to specific people (friends who had admired some trinket, etc) and we walked out with a neater room, 50% less cluttered. I also communicated this experience with both sets of grandparents (the source of most of that clutter to begin with) and they have started giving things more precious than stuff (museum memberships, concert tickets, etc). I really enjoy your posts!

  18. Paige

    I think the percentage varies per situation. We (our family of 4) recently moved from a 1400 sq ft house with attic, garage and yard to a 1200 sq ft apartment with 1 small storage closet. We sold, gave away and donated A LOT of stuff. I have continued to take donations to free up more space. This move has really taught me a lot….about what i can live without, about how much money i waste buying things b/c they are cheap, and how much i like a simple clutterfree space. I am trying to be more minimalistic, but i will never be where some of you are and I’m ok with that. :) I would love to see pictures of your home, Courtney. Do you decorate or hang pictures?

    • Courtney Carver

      Hi Paige, I will post pics of our new space in an upcoming post but yes I do hang pics. I love art.

  19. I’ve already let go of over 50% and it strikes me that I’m ready to let go of another 50%. Decluttering is a process as everything is connected to us through our emotions – we’re letting go of many emotions when we let go of stuff – most of us need to pace ourselves, I love this journey. I feel all fired up to get into it again.

    And there are things I’ll use until I sell my houseboat – and they’re not coming with me. I love the idea of being able to move with a couple of car loads – no moving van for me!

  20. Great post!

    I’ve just moved into my smaller place and am in the process of clearing out my storage unit. There is just no way I want to bring everything back in. I never realized how little I could live with until it wasn’t an option. I only took from storage what I needed and nothing more. It was less than 50% ;)

  21. Excellent advice in this post. I struggled with some of the things you discussed here, but I worked through it.

    When I first started decluttering, I didn’t think about a percentage of what to keep. I just knew I wanted less. Later, as I got into the swing of things, I had a goal to really cut my stuff down dramatically. I sold some things, but I would estimate that I gave the majority of it away, especially clothing. Today, I probably have about 30% of what I use to own, and it feels so freeing having less.

  22. We have definitely decluttered at least 50% over the last year and it has been life changing.

    I can’t wait to tackle the next 50%!

  23. What a great experiment! When I first read it, it felt scary. But then I remembered how good it felt when we cleared out our home before our last move. We sold, donated and just plain gave away truckload upon truckload of our possessions including our dining room set. In the 5 years since we moved, there have only been 2 times when I wished I still had something I’d given away – a small price to pay for the freedom of having less to care for. You’ve inspired me to do it all over again (not the move, just the purging:)

  24. I started doing this 13 years ago (allow yourself to take time for some of this, each pass gets easier). At the time we were moving out of a house we’d been in for 25 years – and my Dad said if you’re not sure hold onto it, but try and get rid as they were downsizing! 10 months ago I moved into my own place, and it’s easier to see what I will actually use, rather than holding onto ‘in case I get a house’, etc. My cousin is an image consultant and gave me a good rate to detox my wardrobe. I have about 3 small areas, plus photo albums, and electronic space left to sort now! Every time I get rid of something I feel freer… :-)

  25. barbara

    I have enjoyed reading all the items in this thread .. someone recently reminded me that I don’t need as much renter’s insurance since I have fewer items .. so I assessed my situation and reduced my annual fee and coverage. This is not something I thought much about when I moved last year and got rid of more than half my belongings.

  26. Natalie

    I spent the afternoon getting rid of much of my past, including greeting cards I had kept from our wedding and the births of my children. I kept a couple of the ones that had funny or moving messages. I also got rid of nearly all my DVDs and CDs since they are now available online if I ever need to purchase them (although I usually only watch a movie once or twice!). I also threw out all of the school work I had kept from when I was a kid- I’m not sure why I had held onto all of it all these years! 15 full bags of stuff were donated to charity a couple of weeks ago and I already feel so much lighter. Thanks for your wonderful posts and website!

  27. Kim

    We’ve probably donated/sold around 25% of our stuff in the last 2 years – potentially more. When we bought our house (expecting our first child), both of our parents decided to give us all the stuff from our childhoods. ACK! We were thankful we had a large attic and basement to store stuff in, but when we were forced to move to an apartment with no storage (expecting our third child and four years later!) we were devastated by the amount of stuff we had accumulated. We ended up donating a BUNCH but also had to rent a 10×12′ storage locker. Our idea was to go through a box a week and thus make our way through the storage unit, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Finally, we couldn’t afford to keep the locker and we did a major purge, but then had to move the rest of it into our kids’ playroom :/ We’ve just recently moved (again!) to a house that’s quite perfect for us. We forced ourselves to go through the remainder of the stuff we’d been storing and we moved with WAAAAAAY less than we’d had coming from our house. So freeing!! We still have lots of work to do (LOTS), but it’s amazing how much better I’m able to breathe in a living room without boxes in it!

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  29. Courtney, thank you! Your clarity of purpose is a beacon for those who struggle with stuff. In my job I see people overwhelmed and drowning in their own possessions. It’s an inspiration and a joy to read how you lightened your life by having less. Thanks again :)

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