In a consumer-oriented society, we often believe luxury is something to be purchased. But when it comes to material possessions, could you gain more by having less?
In this day and age, it’s not uncommon for people to do battle with the results of their shopping pilgrimages, sometimes hiring experts to help clear out closets, drawers, garages and basements.
Jennifer L. Scott, lifestyle blogger at “the Daily Connoisseur” and author of “At Home with Madame Chic,” says part of the problem with overabundance is that most people don’t appreciate what they already own and often don’t even know what they own.
The process of rediscovering your possessions, while removing the excess, will present an opportunity to test-drive the idea of living with less. You’ll be free of the endless cycle of spending and save money to boot.
How to get to less in your closet
A productive way to start on the quest for less is in the closet, where Scott says women, in particular, have stuffed too many clothes.
She advocates culling down wardrobes to just 10 essential items you’ll wear on most days. Those 10 items don’t include extras such as special-occasion wear, coats and accessories, but they might include everyday items such as jeans, pants, tops, skirts or dresses.
It will take time and effort to get to the core of your wardrobe. “Go through every garment you own,” suggests Scott. “Pull it out of the closet, try it on, look at it from all angles, ask yourself why you bought it if it’s something you don’t wear. Be brutally honest.”
Scott says once you’ve rid yourself of those things that don’t have a place in your closet, you’ll feel the luxury of having fewer, but better, choices and can move on to declutter other areas in your home.
Face your failures
In order to get to the luxury of less, realize that you’ll be confronted with all the money you’ve wasted when you see the pile of discards. Scott is philosophical, advising people to view it as a powerful lesson.
“The wonderful thing is that afterward, you feel motivated to shop differently,” she says. “Anything you buy will be really thoughtful and you won’t be a sucker for marketing. You won’t walk into a store and be pulled in by a 50-percent off sale when there’s nothing you need.”
Spend wisely and gain long-lasting happiness
Andrew Mellen, organizational expert and author of “Unstuff Your Life!” says it is possible to get long-lasting happiness from purchasing something. It just has to be something you’ve put thought into and, more importantly, you can afford.
“I chose to buy an apartment and I have no buyer’s remorse,” Mellen says. “I could have continued to rent, but every day I look out my southern-facing windows at Manhattan and it tickles me.”
Because he didn’t take on too much debt, he feels free to enjoy his purchase with the knowledge that he spent his money wisely.
Golden rule: Know thyself
Everyone’s idea of material luxury will be different, but the key is to make sure you value each item you purchase and don’t waste time and effort pining for the next thing.
When random shopping is no longer part of your life, it frees up time for more meaningful activities. Maybe shopping is a pleasurable form of recreation for you, but if it’s become a constant quest for items you think you need, it won’t be enjoyable anymore. Perhaps then it’s time to think of other pursuits that bring more joy.
“Imagine what you could do in your free time if you don’t have to go shopping,” says Mellen. “If you only had six months to live, do you want to spend it at a mall or at a ballet with a grandchild?”
Want more ideas from Mellen and Scott? Check out their secrets for living luxuriously, for less.
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