How We Got Rid of 400-Square-Foot Worth of Stuff

Thanks to my Mom, I always considered myself a fairly minimal person – regularly donating things to Goodwill, purging what I haven’t used in awhile, and only buying something new if I got rid of something else first. As a subscriber to Real Simple magazine, I knew all the tips to making life simpler. Mr. Wonderful, on the other hand, likes to keep everything on hand for a “what if” situation. When we first got married and were packing up his bachelor pad, I found a 1-inch piece of Velcro in a box.

“You can’t be serious,” I said, dangling the white strip in his face.

“You never know when you might need it,” he insisted. I rolled my eyes. Heaving a sigh, he tossed it in the garbage.

Next, I eyed a dusty box of mints. “We’ve been dating for over two years and I’ve never seen you eat these.”

mintsOn cue, Mr. Wonderful took out a mint and popped it into his mouth.

“Still good.”

So you can imagine how much junk has accumulated after eight years of living together in the same place.

With our recent decision to move from the suburb to the city of San Francisco (where the average rent is now more expensive than New York City!), we also faced a loss of over 400sq ft worth of space. Having lived out of a suitcase for seven months, we figured it would be easy to throw out a bunch of things. And whatever didn’t fit into our new apartment, we would stuff into an external storage unit at $90/month. It seemed like a small price to pay to hold onto our childhood memories and sporting goods. Two carloads to Goodwill later, we congratulated ourselves.

Then Mr. Wonderful read this blog. Somehow he became convinced that we could actually get rid of almost everything in our storage unit, too.

I laughed. “What, you’re going to get rid of your golf clubs?”


I stopped laughing. My pack rat husband was serious. The table was turned, and I tried to convince him that getting rid of 20 boxes was not going to be easy. But then this question haunted us – was anything in our storage unit really worth $1000+ a year to keep? What was the point of having 50 DVDs if all we ever watch is Netflix? What was the point of keeping an art easel if I haven’t painted in over 5 years? What was the point of keeping greetings cards from people whom I haven’t talked to in nearly two decades?

None. I wouldn’t bother saving any of it if our storage unit caught on fire. In fact, I would probably feel somewhat relieved.

So…we did it. I still can’t believe it, actually. We did manage to fit a few more boxes at our new place, and I didn’t quite throw out all my greeting cards (things that make you smile are still worth keeping) but Mr. Wonderful did indeed get rid of his golf clubs. I’m so proud of him. I’m so proud of us.

“Hey, I haven’t had these in awhile,” Mr. Wonderful said, pulling out the same tin of mints I almost threw out a decade ago. He popped one in his mouth.

“Still good.”

What are you holding onto that you should probably donate or throw away?

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  1. Jasper says

    Haha this is a great article. I’m afraid in ten years, I may have the same conversations with my soon to be wife! I’d better start those random pieces of chocolate I’ve been keeping around!

  2. says

    My first reaction to hearing the mint story, “Ew, Jason, that’s gross.”

    On another note, I think I need to take a cue from you guys. I’m overly sentimental in things. I’m talking about shirts that I’ve owned since I was 12 that I can’t part with because of memories. So bad. So bad.

  3. says

    hahaha!!! Love this article!

    I have tons of stuff to donate but haven’t sorted them out yet. It’s quite hard for me to live in a minimal lifestyle when my mom lives with me. She likes to keep/ buy things that aren’t that necessary but she will always say “in case of emergency” I guess o can’t really argue with that.

  4. SJ says

    Definitely need to do a purge again… already did a small one, but need to do another before the fiancee and I combine our households. Problem is… afraid to liquidate my books. They’re my children. ;; Not even sure what to do with DVD’s and CD’s anymore – does anyone still buy them?

    • lifeunrefined says

      Amazon will buy back select DVDs (usually classics and recent hits). Not sure about CDs. I usually donate mine to the local library or just Goodwill. :) And I hear ya about books! I’ve kept my favorites, the rare editions, and those with gorgeous photography, but otherwise if they’re available on the Kindle then off they go in the donation pile.

  5. says

    This is hilarious! I feel you completely. We live in a small apt in Nob Hill with a 6×6 storage unit that is about $100/month which we’ve been paying for the past 5yrs. As most SF apartments, we have very little storage space outside of our kitchen which isn’t even that much. I’ve definitely had to be very creative about finding storage for basic things like towels and linens.

    My husband is more of a hoarder than me. I’m not a minimalist though but tries my best to pair down. We’ve been purging little by little throughout the past 2yrs. We’re finally getting rid of our media.

  6. says

    I love this post Jen! I’ve always been one of those “what if I need it?” people. It was really hard for me to get rid of almost everything in order to go live a nomadic life. We did end up renting a small storage unit to keep our sentimental things and some clothes I couldn’t bare to throw away, and even some books and Disney DVDs! I guess it’s worth the $1000/yr, haha. But I think if it caught on fire, the only things I would really miss are my childhood mementos and souvenirs.

  7. Linda Manns Linneman says

    I kind of have this problem also. I always think that if I throw something out I will need it the next day. Thank you so much for this article. It made me realize how silly I have been


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