Monday, April 11, 2016

Mindful Spending and Possessions

Since March, I've been on a purging/de-cluttering rampage. When I first moved to Tanzania, I was only allowed 15kg as checked-in baggage. A little more than a year later, when I moved house, I had amassed double, perhaps triple that. For my age, if you think about it, I don't have a lot of possessions. Apart from my books back home, I don't have much else other than a chest of drawers containing a few odds and ends and hardly any clothes. I don't have anything in storage. Everything else by way of physical possessions, is in this house, in Tanzania. The question is, what do I really need to own?

My current book pile
  • Books. Living in Vietnam converted me to e-books. Traditionalists will argue about this again and again, but I'm happy to say that I'm now able to read a book and let it go. 
  • Clothing. Living in tropical countries, having enough change of clothes is important, both for hygiene and also for the environment. Since I use a washing machine, I need to have enough to last me between (sizeable) loads. I don't need 50 shirts of inferior quality just because they have funny sayings. I need comfortable and sturdy shoes more than pretty ones. 
  • Gadgets. I like gadgets and nifty tools far too much for my own good but I don't need them, not really. I have to think about what I use and what I currently have and make sure I don't buy random things just because I think they're cool or that someday I may need them.
  • Beddings. Three sets of bedding is enough - I can't always trust the weather to comply and dry my sheets immediately and I need to change them about once a week to make sure my allergies don't bother me any more than they usually do.
  • Important documents. 'Nuff said.
  • Stationeries and other paper products. My excuse is I'm a teacher. It's not enough to justify having triples of things I don't use often. Pens are another matter, because I'm fussy about using only ultra fine point and they're not available here as far as I know. I check my locker and my box at home every term to make sure I don't store things I don't need any more.
  • Extra toiletries. Here comes another excuse - toiletries, can be quite expensive here as a lot of products are imported. I tend to hoard when possible by buying when I'm abroad or asking friends to bring them for me. Since my  time in Tanzania is drawing to a close, I have to quite doing this and use up what I have before I leave.
  • Sentimental items. From now on, I'm only going to keep things that make me happy. 

I have always thought words with -ist and -ism mostly divide humankind. I'm not aspiring to be a pure minimalist. I like my wall of postcards, letters, pictures and memories. The laminates of collages I made to raise my spirits during a time of depression, I definitely want to keep. My tables are not always going to be devoid of tiny figures or whatnot. What I don't want, is to not know what I have and to be overwhelmed by choices of what to wear and what to use because I own too many things. I don't want to not have time for what I think are truly important. I want to spend my money more mindfully and for it to go towards my needs and my dreams.

For the remainder of this year, I will only spend my money on the following:
  • Groceries and toiletries as needed
  • E-books (I haven't set my budget, but I also haven't bought anything new since January)
  • Cleaning and shared housing expenses
  • Gifts for others (I need to plan more carefully and make sure I'm not buying random things for gifting's sake)
  • A haircut (maybe)
  • Contact lenses and solution 
  • Trips
  • Experiences (theatre, museums, wildlife safaris, etc.)
  • Any other shopping has to be planned and thought about for at least a month, otherwise, I probably don't really need them

I sort of have an addictive personality (understatement) and I've inundated my sister's and Lily's inbox with links to some articles regarding simplifying, decluttering and minimalism. If you want to read some of them, you can find the best I've found at the following sites: