Saturday, August 23, 2014

Determining the Value of Things

Now for some of the nitty gritty on my downsizing process.

Someone asked me today, "How do you decide what is valuable to you?"

I can't answer that question for you. I can share what I've learned in all of these months and months of sorting through my stuff and deciding what to keep and why.

I've learned that things have different types of values. Some are aesthetic, some are sentimental, some are utilitarian. For instance, I have seven or eight scarves. Two were my grandmother's (sentimental); I don't particularly care for the fabric and color (aesthetic) in one and I rarely wear it (utilitarian) but I'm having a hard time parting with it because it was my grandmother's.

It's easy for me to say to myself, "Hey - it's only one scarf! Doesn't take up much space." Which is a really easy way to avoid deciding what is important to my life.

Deciding for each item I have which of these values trumps the other has been tricky. I have asked myself a few questions when I have trouble deciding whether or not to keep an item:

1. Have I used it in the past year? If not, does that mean I won't use it in the next year?

2. What would I do without this thing? In other words, could I replace this thing's use with another thing I already have?

3. Where did this thing come from? Did someone I care about give this to me? Does the thing or its purchase remind me of some special event? Can I remember that person, place or event without having this thing?

4. What items do I want to pass down to be cherished by my daughter and by her family and by their families?

5. Could someone else get more use out of this item than I have gotten?

I don't really need two sets of steak knives or fifteen pot holders. I don't need five pairs of sandals. My daughter doesn't need 15 pairs of pants. I don't need that board game my husband hates playing. But these are the easy questions.

Do I need the dressers that I chose out of my grandmother's estate after she passed away?

Do I need this tiny cat figurine that my best friend in high school gave me for my 17th birthday that I just found in a box I haven't opened in 5 years?

Do I need that scarf?