From the Blog

Downsizing Regrets

About a year and a half ago, we decided we had too much stuff. It wasn’t important stuff. It wasn’t stuff we liked. It was just stuff we were carrying around. Some of it was old. Some of it was from thoughtless purchases. Some of it was stuff we didn’t really use, but kept around precisely because we hadn’t used it. We hadn’t felt like we’d gotten our money’s worth yet. So we were going to keep that crap until we used the hell out of it, damn it! Even if it was just going to sit there and do nothing. We were going to use it. 

We were newlyweds, but we had lived together and already done our “nesting.” We looked ahead to our future, and didn’t see a clear path to the 40 hour office jobs, and the house with the yard, and 2 cars, and the 2.3 kids. We knew that wasn’t the direction we were heading. We wanted smaller and lighter. We seemed to be moving a couple times a year. And hauling all our stuff around every time we moved was giving us back problems.

So we downsized. We downsized old documents, furniture, books, and whatever easy detritus we had lying around. Then we downsized more. Some of the not so easy stuff, like sentimental items, old but useful clothes that had seen better days, or newer items and gifts that we never used. And then we downsized more. It took a long time. But with every trip to Goodwill, we felt lighter and lighter. We came home to more and more space. It felt fantastic.

We had planned to rent small, cheap apartments and try to live with a low-income lifestyle. Plans changed a little when we moved to Astoria, and we ended up with a fricken enormous apartment that wasn’t super cheap, but it had free heat. All the extra square footage has been a test of our “live with less” fortitude.

So far we are doing pretty good at not rushing out to fill our space. We could certainly use a bench to sit on by the door to put on our shoes. We could use a couple more seating areas in our living room. We could use some runner and area rugs in the bedroom and living room. We could use plenty of that stuff. But we have been good at resisting the urge to fill space just for the sake of filling space.

However, I am encountering a different issue. Sometimes I go looking for some useful item that I haven’t seen in a while and I can’t find it. I’ll look and look, and then realize, “Oh, we probably downsized it.” Damn. It happens especially in the kitchen. The kitchen can be a graveyard of single task tools that don’t get used very often. We got rid of a microwave veggie steamer that we never used. We got rid of an “herb keeper” that was just a big dumb piece of plastic. We got rid of a bunch of kitchen crap. We haven’t missed most of it.

But it might have been cool to keep the cheese slicer. And earlier this week, I had to go get a rolling pin because we had downsized ours. We never needed a rolling pin, but now I’m making homemade pasta. And the beer bottle I was using to roll out pasta dough was creating ridges and thin spots in the dough. Likewise, I fished around in the kitchen junk drawer (we still have one of those) and found the glass juicer. That would have been a prime candidate for downsizing, but for some reason, we kept it, and I was glad.

I don’t miss 99% of the stuff we’ve gotten rid of. I don’t even remember most of it. It’s mostly kitchen stuff that I wish we kept.

And maybe, that one pair of PJ pants with the busted elastic. They were still pretty cute.


  1. Not the Herb Keeper?! I gave you that!!!!! (kidding…) Well, here’s what happens. The more you give away, the less you feel like you should have kept The Thing. You’ll chuckle to yourself and say (outloud) “What the heck. Who cares. Somebody needed it more than I did.” You’ll feel proud of yourself and even try to reach around to pat yourself on the back. I used wine bottles for years as a rolling pin (full ones work better than empty ones and, thankfully, I always seem to have one around) and a knife (really, any old knife will do) will cut the cheese (I didn’t do it! It’s not me!!) so keep up the good work and never fear. You’ll be glad you didn’t.

    • Bettie, that is sometimes a serious consideration when we get rid of stuff. “Crap, was this a gift that someone will notice is missing from our household?” Better keep it for another five years.

  2. What do you mean by free heat?

    • The heat is included in the rent. So, not “free,” but awfully nice when you live in a 130 year old building. I have been told that the heating bills here are outrageous in the winter.

  3. FlamingAtheist says

    We go through what we call ‘Stalinistic Purges’ now and then, just get brutal and goodwill stuff. And have run into this exact issue in our new place – didn’t we have XXX? Oh, got rid of it when we moved into the apartment and forgot. Tough to not ‘fill your space’, we’re really fighting that with a big house for two people and a cat.

  4. Just wait till you are at Goodwill and end up regretting something you donated so you buy it back! I did that once…..ugh, regret.

  5. My mom never had a rolling pin but made bread and pie crusts for years. She always used a heavy tall glass. She would wrap her fingers into the open end for more weight.

    I’m starting the process of some downsizing but starting with a spreadsheet of necessities based on my lifestyle and work requirements. I’m putting a lot of thought into it before anything goes out the door. :)

Speak Your Mind