No more coupon books for me

I'm not sure why half the cover is ripped off.

I’m not sure why half the cover is ripped off.

I just tossed this book of coupons into the recycling bin. It expired on November 1, 2013. My brother had bought this book for me as a present last year because he knows how much I love using coupons. But of the hundreds of coupons in it (mostly for restaurants), I only used about 10 of them. So although it was very nice of him and I truly appreciate his thoughtfulness, it wasn’t the most useful of presents. (But really, what presents are?)

The book cost $30 and I probably “saved” about $75 using the coupons, but a lot of the coupons were “buy one get one free” deals so sometimes I think I spent money I wouldn’t normally have spent, just so I could use the coupon.

One good thing to come out of it is that I tried a couple of new restaurants I never would have visited had I not had a coupon. Some of them had dishes that were very yummy.

So there are positives and negatives to getting this coupon book, but overall, I just don’t think that it’s worth it for me. Paying for coupons kind of defeats the purpose of using coupons in the first place.

I’ve told my brother that I appreciate his thoughtfulness, but asked him not to get the 2014 coupon book.

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Another useless item to throw away

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I tried using these cute little cucumber shaped eye packs today. I had a bit of a stress relieving cry yesterday and woke up with really puffy eyes. I put the “cucumbers slices” in the fridge and then placed them on my on eyes to reduce swelling.

While they may look like a wonderfully less messy alternative to real cucumber slices, they are, in reality, a very poor substitute. In fact, I would argue that they have almost no effect on reducing puffiness at all.

Firstly, the plastic they are made of isn’t very flexible, so the slices do not contour to the shape of my face. Thus, the slices are flat to my cheekbones and eyebrows, but do not bend into my eye socket area (which is where the puffiness is).

Secondly, the amount of ice pack material in them is so minuscule that they heat up to room temperature in about two minutes and then get even warmer as they sit on my face.

I came to the conclusion that my eyes were no less puffy after the “cucumber” packs than before.

This is just another example of some of the useless junk that I have accumulated and need to get rid of. I must have tried them before and come to the same conclusion, but couldn’t bring myself to throw them out (probably because I had just bought them). Now I’m ready to admit that I made a mistake purchasing them and can throw them out without remorse.

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Reasons for Simplifying

I know I said on my About Page that the impetus behind my desire to declutter was the process of my clearing out my aunt’s 4-bedroom house once she had moved into a 1-bedroom retirement home, but really, that was just the final straw.

It actually started in the summer of 2012, when I sublet a condo for two months. The person who owned the condo was quite minimalist to start off with and had also put some of her items in storage while I was there. It let me see how other people live.

I had become used to the clutter in my family’s home and in the homes of my relatives (clutter-keeping seems to be hereditary). I thought it was normal to have piles of stuff everywhere and 3 or 4 sets of everything (you know, for backup). But living in this condo with only four sets of dish ware and cutlery, one dvd, zero books, and only the clothes that would fit into one suitcase was extremely eye-opening.

I realized that I really didn’t need as much stuff as I thought I did. In fact, it was freeing to have less stuff. Actually physically freeing. There was room to walk around without bumping into furniture and there was no domino effect of items toppling over if you happened to knock one thing down.

When I moved back home after those two months, I found myself feeling almost buried under stuff. In the next two weeks, I donated six garbage bags of clothes and other items to charity, just from my bedroom. That held me for a while. But things have started to pile up again. That is why now is the time for me to do more decluttering, so that I will have less stuff getting in my way. And I hope that will lead me back to the sense of freedom I had when I was subletting that condo.

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Storage Space is the Enemy

I’ve decided that the reason my family has so many things, is that we have so many places to put those things.

Shelves, Cabinets, Dressers, Wardrobes, Closets, Trunks, Space Under the Bed, Flat Surfaces, etc. – they are all aiding and abetting clutter.

If I can get rid of the stuff and then get rid of the receptacle that was holding the stuff, then it’s more likely that I can keep things uncluttered, as I think it’s most people’s tendency to fill up empty spaces. Isn’t there a law that states “an empty space must be filled”?

My plan is to eliminate the empty spaces.

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Am I really decluttering if I just give my stuff to a relative?

We had our Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday this year and had nine of our relatives over to visit. I mentioned to them that I have started to declutter our house and that I was donating most of the 553 books in my room.

My aunt (not the one that just moved into the retirement home, another one) then asked if she could have a look at the books I was getting rid of to see if she wanted any. I said that was fine, thinking she might want one or two. But of the 60 books I had put into the donation pile so far, she took over 30! And these were mostly children’s books! My aunt is in her 50s.

So, while I am happy to get 30+ books out of the house right away, I have a feeling it’s going to come back and haunt me in the future. 25 years from now, when she has to move out of her house, I bet I’ll have to help her get rid of 30,000 books. (I don’t know exactly how many she has, but it’s a lot. She likes books more than our family and, that’s saying something). Her house is two-thirds the size of ours, but I’d estimate she has three times as many books as we do. She also has a storage locker full of books. Seriously.

So I’m feeling kind of bad, because now my poor uncle has another pile of books in his already cluttered house. A few years ago, we had to switch Easter from their house to our house because they had so much stuff, there wasn’t room for the family. So even though I myself am less cluttered, I feel bad that I have added to someone else’s clutter.

IMG_0957Perhaps I can look at this as finding a good home for my books, where they will be appreciated (because like I said, my aunt really loves books). And I can’t be all that judgemental because I am also guilty of accepting relatives’ cast-offs. My aunt (not the book lover, the one now in the retirement home) recently gave me her 8-setting, 6-piece bone china dish set, tablecloth and napkins. And I accepted them, even though we already have dozens of dishes. They really did make the table look nice, but I’m sure no one cared about what dishes we used. We were all just thankful that we had a delicious meal with family we love.

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