Why I Live With 70 Things

What I own is what I need. Nothing more.

And right now? It’s 70 things.

Q/A About A Minimalist’s Things:

Q: How do you determine what constitutes a “thing”? Is one folder or one sheet of paper a thing? Or is the stack of folders or stack of papers a thing?

A: Yes, it may sound a little funny or ridiculous if you start counting each sheet of paper (and not a good use of one’s time for that matter). Ultimately, it’s up to you.

For me, I count like items, such as pairs of socks, underwear, and art supplies, as 1 thing. So socks would be 1 thing, though I may have 5 pairs in actuality.

To be more extreme, yes, you can indeed count each pair (or each sock?! whoa!) but I find it works best for me to categorize like items. The key is to not go overboard and have a lot of things in that category. So, 4 cars would be considered a lot! Be mindful of what is actually in that category when you clump it all together.

Q: Are there any rules to counting your things or making your own list?

A: There are no real or set rules to counting your things while making your own list. Just like there are no set rules when living your own life. And that’s a great thing!

However, if you are new to this concept of counting your things as a beginning or novice minimalist and just want a certain standard to measure yourself by, myself as well as other minimalist bloggers out there (Leo Babauta, Everett Bogue, Colin Wright, Francine Jay, and Tammy Strobel are just some prime examples) typically do not count shared items (that which you share with your spouse or family members), kitchenware, and furniture. Nor are consumables counted (toiletries, food, things that will be used up or are perishable).

Q: Do you count bedroom, furniture, or kitchenware on your list?

A: You can if you want to, but typically, we do not.

Yes, you can then come back and argue we are not being truly minimalist if we don’t even count those items as “things” but this just defeats the purpose and we’ll just end up going in circles. There are so many angles and ways to look at this “counting” business and you just have to be satisfied with making it your own.

In the end, everything is perishable, including us. We all have to go at some point. Not counting something as a thing versus counting something else as a thing is just pointless.

Make your own list, create your own rules you want to follow when making your list (or do away with rules altogether), and then just do it!

The whole premise behind your own list is that you start evaluating what is actually considered essential to you in your life right now, versus what is just there, due to sheer laziness, emotional attachments, overwhelming clutter, and a consumerist mentality. Whatever you consider as clearly vital to your living right now (and that makes you feel good, has good memories or feelings associated with it), you keep. Whatever has negative emotions, drama, and baggage, or that’s simply useless or broken, you get rid of through 1 of 4 means:

  1. Donate.
  2. Recycle.
  3. Sell.
  4. Trash.

Q: Why aim for 100 things or under?

A: The number 100 is a nice, even number and a good rule of thumb to aim for if one is trying to live minimally. It is, of course, not the end-all-be-all. If you have 102 items, no worries! You’ll still be far more minimalist than the majority of our consumerist friends, family, and colleagues out there.

Really, the number is arbitrary. It’s the concept that is much more meaningful.

The whole point of a minimalist life is to rid yourself of the non-essentials. What you have left should be what is deemed as indispensable to you as a person, in your life right now.

Q (not really a question): You’re insane.

A: Just living my life the way I want to!

70 Things:

  1. Netbook, Acer Aspire One 10.1″
  2. Backpack, Patagonia
  3. Journal, Moleskine
  4. Art supplies (grouped as 1 item)
  5. Books (grouped as 1 item)
  6. Karate gis
  7. Karate gear
  8. Cell phone
  9. USB Flash Drive
  10. CDs (grouped as 1 item, very few)
  11. Headphones
  12. Car, Silver, 2007 Honda Fit Sport
  13. Mini karate gi (displayed inside car)
  14. Sunglasses, Brown
  15. Gym bag, Pink
  16. Linen gym bag, Green
  17. Wristlet
  18. Belt, Black
  19. Trench coat, Black
  20. Track jacket, Black
  21. Winter coat
  22. Peacoat, Cream
  23. Pencil skirt, Gray
  24. Cardigan, Black
  25. Scarf, White
  26. Winter Cap, Black
  27. Earmuffs
  28. Gloves, White
  29. Gloves, Black
  30. Heels, Black
  31. Boots, Black
  32. Sneakers, White
  33. Vibram FiveFingers Classic, Black
  34. Sandals, Brown
  35. Eyeglasses
  36. Underwear (grouped as 1 item)
  37. Bras (grouped as 1 item)
  38. Socks (grouped as 1 item)
  39. Zip-up hoodie
  40. Bikini, Purple
  41. Blouse, Fuschia
  42. Blouse, Black
  43. Blouse, Blue
  44. Blouse, White
  45. Sweatpants, Gray
  46. Jeans
  47. Khakis
  48. Chinos
  49. Work out capris, Black
  50. Work out pants, Gray
  51. Shirt, Black
  52. Shirt, Teal
  53. T-shirt, Gray
  54. T-shirt, Blue
  55. T-shirt, Natural
  56. Shorts, Black
  57. Shorts, Blue
  58. Polo, Turquoise
  59. Tank top, Green
  60. Tank top, Black
  61. Dress, Gray
  62. Dress, Gray
  63. Dress, Teal
  64. Dress, Black
  65. Dress pants, Tan
  66. Dress pants, Black
  67. Sweater, White
  68. Sweater, Red
  69. Sweater, Blue
  70. Sweater, Gray

Owning 70 things in the whole wide world means I can travel with less, move with ease, and pack in a breeze. Just to demonstrate the simplicity of a move, I moved to my new apartment in Bucktown (neighborhood of Chicago) with just the things in my car. And there was still room in my car to fit a passenger in the front! Not to mention it’s a Honda Fit.

I don’t have to put excess things in storage, pay for storage, ship it around or lug it up and down the stairs. What I own is what I need. Nothing more.

If you’ve tried counting the things you own and started creating your own list, tell me, how many things do you own? Or if it’s too much to count now, what’s the ballpark figure? And more importantly, do you want to get it down to a more manageable amount of things? If so, great! I hope this post helps. If not and you think I’m nuts, even better! It just means I’m doing something different, something uncomfortable for most average consumers. By lessening my things, I free myself to simply enjoy life.

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