Stuff - and the lack of it

Posted June 24th, 2014 by Penny Wise

I always used to worry about my house being a mess - until I started watching a series on hoarders recently and realised that I should stop whinging about the 15 minutes it takes to clean my entire place! Sometimes I can't believe how much I've changed. When I first joined Simple Savings, it took me six hours to clean my house and that was just downstairs! We had so much stuff it was just insane - photos, ornaments, books, candles, oil burners, vases that never held flowers, bowls that never had anything in them and the boys at that stage had more toys than anyone I had ever seen. You honestly had to see it to believe it. Of course it didn't help that at that stage I was going to The Warehouse every weekend and spending around $300 a time on stuff. That was all it was, stuff! It meant nothing, it wasn't appreciated in any way but just like those hoarders, buying and acquiring more stuff had become an addiction.

These days I have very little stuff and what I do have doesn't mean much to me on the whole. Sometimes I look around my room and ask myself what I would rush to save if the house was ever to catch on fire and apart from the kids and pets obviously, the only other things which spring to mind is a bowl of seashells collected from inside an amazing island and a teddy bear given to me by my best friend. That's honestly it. I wouldn't even have to worry about grabbing photos as most of my precious ones are already on Facebook for posterity! Everything else can be replaced or I can live without. I guess it helps that we've moved house twice in the past four years and every time the house gets smaller. Obviously a marriage break-up is also cause to divide and evaluate your possessions but it's not really about that; it's definitely more the change in me which has brought about the lack of stuff.

I realised just how much I had changed the other day when I had a day to myself and decided to go shopping for curtains for two of our large windows. I've been looking for some for ages and have been scouring the local op shops but so far haven't been able to find any the right size or anywhere near. In addition to the two large windows since moving in I've been living with blue kids' camo curtains in my bedroom and Ali's windows are draped in pink and purple stars. Unfortunately our windows are different sizes so we can't swap! So I was keen to go and check out the 50% off sale at The Warehouse. I never really go to The Warehouse any more; we tend to shop online for most of the things we want so it was a nice little adventure to drive 45 minutes over the mountain road. However when I got there I found the curtains were not only lacking in variety, the ones I liked in a suitable colour and size were still going to cost over $200, without the tracks and hooks which I still needed to buy AND with 50% off! Much as these curtains would have looked absolutely perfect in our lounge, I just couldn't justify the expense, especially after seeing fully lined thermal ones in the St John's op shop for just $6! Pah, all that petrol and driving for the sake of a 10 minute visit.

I didn't think there was anywhere else in town which sold curtains but didn't want the trip to be a complete waste of time so thought I would take a leisurely stroll around some of the other shops to see what else was around. I ended up in Bed, Bath and Beyond - ooh there was lots of lovely things in there! I spotted a picture I liked, a very stylish looking standard lamp I had no room for, a funky glass bottle for - oh, for something really important, I'm sure I could think of something! I even went as far as picking up a particularly groovy black resin candlestick which would have looked just perfect on our dining table and was on sale for just $12. But I put it back and walked out of the store with nothing. And then I drove all the way home again with nothing. Because unlike the old me, who would have simply said 'Ooh, that's nice!' and grabbed everything with both hands, I couldn't justify buying any of them. Would they have made our home any nicer? A bit maybe. Would they make my life any better or easier? Nope. And would I go rushing to save them in the event of a fire? Definitely not. So while I was a bit miffed about going all that way for nothing, I was at least proud of myself that I wasn't swayed by all the pretty displays or the 50%-off-but-still-flipping-expensive curtains, even though they would have looked just wonderful and would have added a touch of class to our tiny lounge. For now I'll just keep searching the op shops for the right ones and Ali and I will have to make do with our blue camo and pink stars until I can replace them. And when I do, it will feel great!

The only thing I have bought lately is some new clothes and this was one purchase I was really pleased with. These days I only weigh around 47kg and I've been frustrated all winter at not being able to find any clothes to fit me. Even XS tops swing on me like a tent and having been on both ends of the scale I really can understand now that it is just as hard for smaller people to find decent clothing as it is for larger people. As it turned out, I was walking through the mall looking for something completely unrelated when I passed by the young girls' clothing aisle. 'Look at all their cool stuff!' I grumbled to myself. 'How come we adults never get stuff like that?' And then I had a thought. As an adult I was pretty small - smaller in fact than a lot of the girls who went to school with my boys. What if by some miracle I was able to fit into clothes for say a 12 or 14 year old? In a moment of madness, I tried on a pair of jeans and - not expecting to be able to get them over my hips I was delighted to find they fitted perfectly. In fact, they fitted better than any other pair of jeans I owned - and best of all they were only $20! I would have been looking at paying three or four times as much for the same in adult size! I got bolder and tried on a lovely warm fluffy black jumper too, then I got bolder still and tried on a pair of sneakers. I remembered reading a hint on Simple Savings years before that adults size 7 shoes were the same as kids' size 6. I walked out of that shop with a huge smile and a pair of jeans, a jumper, and a pair of sneakers for under $40. And, unlike all that stuff in Bed, Bath and Beyond, I love all my clothes and have already worn them half to death. Even the boys were impressed!

It's amazing to think that in less than 10 years I have gone from spending $300 a week on complete and utter rubbish to now refusing to fork out $12 for a giant candlestick on special but I know which way I would much rather be and if nothing else, my wasted shopping trip served as a great reminder of how far I've come. If only I knew back then what I know now, but better late than never!

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