Cutting Back to 100 Things?

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I don’t know if it’s becoming popular again, but I’ve read a few articles online in the past week or so which involved people committing to the 100 thing challenge.  In taking part in this, people have cut their belongings down to 100 things (in some cases less).  I really enjoy reading about how people do this, and would really like to get close to that point as well, but I think it would be pretty difficult to maintain a 100 thing inventory.

I’ve read quite a few of the stories of people involved in getting down to owning 100 things, and I have to admit, I’m jealous of how freeing it would be to do this.  There wouldn’t be much to clean up, to fix, or really to buy, because anytime you purchased anything, you’d have to get rid of something.  I can understand the attraction to this movement but for me, I don’t know how I would get to this point.

In order to get to the point of 100 things I would have to stop the vast majority of hobbies or interests.  Tools take up a lot of the allotment, but not having tools would seem to cost more money.  I like to make my own beer – this takes up a considerable amount of space, but (so far) has saved me some money on something I consume fairly regularly.

By limiting the amount of stuff I would have, it would definitely focus the hobbies I was involved in because I would only be able to manage one at a time, rather than several that I have going on right now.  This sort of focus would be good, but may be boring at the same time.

My wife and I are constantly trying to get rid of stuff.  This seems to be a modern day problem, being able to accumulate enough stuff that some people need to move into larger houses.  When my wife and I were looking at houses, we were amazed how full the number of people who had closets which were just rammed full of things.  We, along with many people are continually fighting a battle against stuff.

Ideally, I could get down to 100 things, enough stuff that I would be easily able to live in a Tiny House.  As it stands now, my 1,000 square foot home is relatively clutter-free, but there is still some room for improvement.  I just don’t really see the point in getting rid of stuff only to need a tool, some sort of sporting equipment, or something else that I have stored in my basement.  Additionally, things such as seasonal decorations (especially Christmas) just seem wasteful to throw out.

This topic seems quite similar though to an Early Retirement plan.  I am not going to tell someone who has achieved this sort of achievement that they’re wrong, I just realize that it doesn’t really work for me.

Do you think you could get down to 100 things?  If no, what do you think would hold you back?

6 thoughts on “Cutting Back to 100 Things?”

  1. No, and I have no desire to own an arbitrary number of things. My current goal is to declutter and throw away anything that no one else would want/use if I were dead, and donate the things that are useful but that I am not really engaged with at this point in my life. But I will likely never get down to 100 things.

  2. Impossible. And kind of silly, to be honest.

    I mean, our cutlery drawer must have 30 items alone. 😉

  3. I’m in the middle of reading one of the 140+ books on my kindle: “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place.” It’s a good book and the whole 100 things movement seems a little OCD-ish to me. Yet I can see the appeal of traveling light – on trips or in life. I traveled in Greece almost 20 years ago with an Aussie girl who had been roaming for 6 months through Europe with nothing but a single backpack of stuff – let the tool fit the lifestyle.

    I prefer the saying: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Fortunately, books are beautiful to me. 😉

    I’ve read that Thoreau – the poster boy for minimalism – had his mom do his laundry once a week and went into town every couple of days. So much for “I went to the woods…”

  4. I’ve often wondered what the 100 things actually includes. For example, if your dining seating is built into the home, does it still count? Or does the 100 things not include daily use furniture? Why would one count and not the other? Same with built in closets vs dressers?
    I battle with clutter, and am doing better than I was (being raised by a pack rat father and a hoarder mother).

    I’d say I’m a combination of Tara and Jacq. I’m striving to only have things I love and use, and not to store things just for the sake of not sending it to a landfill.

  5. I do want to reduce the number of things that I own, because I realize that they cost me more money (upkeep and needing larger living space) but also because psychologically they weigh me down. I a, reluctant to move cross country or overseas due to the cost and hassle of moving all this stuff. But I don’t have a number in mind of the number f things that i Should own. I would rather focus on keeping what’s useful or memorable to me, and just making sure I really need or love it before I buy. I find that focusing on experiences instead of souvenirs or things has really helped me cut down on my shopping.

  6. Dave; you touched on a very important point in your post. Self-sufficiency. Once a person reduces their personal items down below a certain level, they become more dependent on those around them(services). If we were to use “things” as a method of relating the value of something(consumerism), then how many things would food cost, or the internet, or a car; laundry, a library? They are just “things”, however it could be argued that electricity has more value than all personal things put together, for without electricity, none of these things would even matter.

    So although I admire the reduction in peoples spending on things, perhaps a better goal would be to reduce material, non-useful/unnecessary things, and to reduce reliance on others. Probably not possible in 100 things, especially if you want a house, and a comfy chair in the war living room.

    For example, if owning a box of tools means that you can perform repairs to your house that negates hiring someone else, should that not be an admirable goal. If you own a sewing machine and use discarding clothing to make blankets, could not those supplies and equipment reduce consumerism?

    In today’s modern comfort driven society we often forget that the ultimate goal in life is to live, but we allow others to provide all the requirements of life, vice air, so that we can look after nothing of importance. True anti-consumerism is a model of self-sufficiency, not a shift of responsibility.

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