Monday 11 March 2024

Does owning things make you happy?

I've been making a conscious effort over the past couple of years to not buy things unless they're absolutely necessary. I've made a concentrated effort with clothes and during 2023 I only bought clothes that were necessary and have continued this in 2024. Before I buy from the shops I scour the charity shops first and I take my time to buy exactly what I want. I used to donate clothes to the charity shop when I bought something new, but now I find that regularly rotating my wardrobe and storing my winter and summer clothes alternatively, that I'm getting much more wear out of them.

I do the same with things for the home. I plan what I need and I shop around until I find the exact thing that I want/need rather than buying something with a 'that'll do for now' knowing that I'll end up spending more money over time replacing something I'm not totally happy with.

I read a lot but I don't use the library as often as I should. I swop books with my mum, aunt and a friend and when I do buy books I get them from charity shops. I've just donated a pile of books to a book swop scheme at work so I'll have some fresh ones coming in soon to start swopping back round within the family.

In the garden I've been collecting pallets, old pots, canes, bricks left over from building work, tiles left over from the kitchen. I've got boxes in the attic full of old pub and road signs and car badges that I saved after my father died, an iron wagon wheel and some old tools that I've plans for to use in the garden when we start working on it over the spring. 

For 4 years we had 2 homes, 1 in the UK and 1 in Dubai. On moving back to the UK and selling the flat in South Wales and merging everything together we spent 18 months hoarding a lot of things we had no need or use for. Fridge/freezer, oven, furniture, bedding and kitchen equipment. Trying to sell things in Dubai and in the UK is more hassle than it is worth. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people will take things off your hands for free, but won't pay you for them and there seems to be quite a few expectations that if you have something spare, you should just donate it. A lot of things we kept in case we had to replace such as kettles, toasters, hairdryers, bedding and towels and as items have broken or worn away, it's just been a case of locating them in the attic, which saved purchasing new.

The attic rooms getting any emptier though. It's full of things we've accumulated over the years, that we don't actually need or half the time even know we've got up there. There's a 8 man tent plus all the camping gear, we've not used since 2014, it's all in excellent condition, but we've bought a camper van now. The other room is full of my crafting stuff that I'm slowly getting round to using up.

I am also getting rid of stuff. I've given the boys their keep sake boxes that we've lugged around the world, full of sport trophies, school reports, bits of uniforms, first pictures, old school books, old toys etc. It's now theirs to do with what they wish. Their old toys are in the spare room for the grandchildren to play with and as they outgrow them they're being donated to local charity shops. Peter and I each have a large cardboard box with things from our childhood, similar to the contents of the children's boxes, they remain sealed since we moved abroad with them in 2011.

There's a floor to ceiling book shelf full of photo albums that don't get looked at. 2 display cabinets full of ornaments that don't get used apart from a shelf of drinking glasses and some vases. Drawers full of board games and jigsaw puzzles that haven't been opened since covid and 4 drawers of old family movies on video tape and discs that haven't been viewed since the day they were recorded.

There are boxes of items belonging to my late father that I still haven't sorted though, I've a rough idea what's in them, stamps and post cards, posters, papers, cards and photos. Nothing of commercial value, but of great personal value to him. My father collected anything and everything and his home, garage, shed and attic was packed to the rafters with things he owned. Mum and I spent months, selling it all and we ended up sending most of it to a general auction as we ran out of time. There were 30+ fishing rods, train sets, golf clubs, 100's of vinyl records, a drum kit, a snooker table, memorabilia from sporting events and anything and everything pub related including around 500 ashtrays. He collected al this stuff, he knew exactly what he had and where it was, but it never really made him happy and now I've inherited a lot of it and I've no idea what most of it is, where it is, or what to do with it, so it just sits there in the attic in boxes gathering dust.

There's no reason to keep hold onto any of this stuff, but there's no need to just get rid of any of it either unless I'm going to sell it. However, it was a very stressful time clearing out my late fathers things in a short space of time, but then I was living abroad and my mother needed to move house so there was a short window in which to do it all. My father had also placed so many covenants on his belongings that mum and I felt we needed to honour, but over time we realised that, that didn't matter and we should have let a lot more stuff go with a lot more ease than we did.

I'd like to think that owning the things I do, makes me happy, but I don't need to buy things to make me happier. 

I've currently got 6 spare dining room chairs waiting to find a new home. The charity shops won't take them, I've tried selling them and offering them for free, offered for up cycling, but no takers, any ideas?


  1. I have a lot of 'stuff'. Mainly because I hate throwing it away, just in case I need it one day. But I have slowly been de-cluttering and I must admit, it has make me feel loads better.

  2. Decluttering is such a freeing experience... if I can make the commitment to let something go! I've found that if I'm on the fence about letting something go, I'll put it in a box for six months. If I don't think about it during that time, off it goes to the donation pile!

    1. I do similar then take it straight to the tip or charity without even a last glance

  3. I don't think I have too much stuff, I've definitely stopped buying so many clothes (the kids growing up has helped a lot with that, they are mostly staying the same size now) I limit myself to one new outfit a year. I do have some clutter but my biggest problem is books. I've lugged some of them around with me for 40 years now!! I did manage to get rid of some but it's hard these days. A lot of my books aren't accepted on the selling apps like ziffit. I gave the school a whole box of kids books which were in immaculate condition. They didn't seem too keen when I phoned them but when I turned up and they saw how good they were (a lot of them were review books and barely touched!) they were grateful for my donation.

    1. I'm finding it hard to find homes for a lot of things. Well done persisting with the school with the books