Enforced luddite-ism

How long can you go without your computer? 

Try, and see, then share! Or at least get rid of all of the dead and dying computers in your house. I’ve been making good progress this week…

How long can I go without my computer? No time at all, apparently.

If it looks like I’ve disappeared or haven’t responded to your posts lately, I’m sorry. I was too busy decluttering one item: my laptop!

My six-year-old laptop bit the dust on Sunday. So instead I sat down at our desktop computer and found that I can’t use it either because the keyboard is suddenly completely dead!

Even though the husband built his own desktop and is something of an IT genius he couldn’t figure out how to fix either item. I tried to use the old macbook I’ve had since college, but it only boots up long enough to grab a few files before it chokes. Three computers, and none work right now. ARGH!!

For the moment I’m a luddite. I won’t be too quick to post or to respond to comments as I’m using a borrowed computer for a little while. I’ll be back to regular posting once we can make a trip out to the thrift store to find a new keyboard for the desktop.

But I can still manage The Reckoning!

Decluttered item 49: my Dell laptop.

Cost: Gifted to me when I took my first telework job in 2009. It was three years old then and had been beat on by medical students all during that time.

Why I decided to get rid of it: Four words: blue screen of death. I have a desktop, so no need to keep the laptop and no need to replace it either.

Fate: Best Buy recycling immediately after we wiped the hard drive. If you are getting rid of a laptop, don’t forget to do this!! If you’re not married to a computer geek, read PC World’s instructions for completely erasing a hard drive.

Money lost on junk: Still $208.

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Boldly GONE!

I’m turning bright red in embarassment as I say this: when I was a kid I went to Star Trek conventions. Let the mocking begin!

I could say I’ve grown out of it, except I’m writing this post while watching Deep Space Nine…but, admitting I have a problem is the first step to recovery, right? Throwing things out is even better!

The Reckoning!

Decluttered items 46, 47, and 48

Cost: I recall these being a couple bucks each, so let’s call it $6 for the set.

Why I decided to get rid of it: They sit there on my junk shelf. And they don’t even look pretty.

Fate: The Original Series card was autographed by Nichelle Nichols so I sold it on eBay for $1. The other ones didn’t sell so they went in the recycling bin.

Money lost on junk: Minus what I sold it for, $5 this time for a total of $208.

goodbye flashlight + where to recycle batteries

How many flashlights do you own?

Of those,

how many would you need in an emergency?

of those,

how many work?

After doing that math, I only found one! Just one! Hooray, something I haven’t stockpiled! On to the trash can with item 45, a flashlight.

But before we go to the reckoning, let’s talk about something that goes with flashlights: batteries.

Cut Your Clutter By Switching to Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries  mean that you no longer need to keep huge packages of batteries lying around anymore. You just need a couple spare rechargeables and a charger. This saves money, space, and helps the environment. Get rid of your dead disposable batteries, use up the good ones and then switch to rechargeables. You’ll have much more space in your battery drawer!

Battery Recycling

Remember that batteries can be recycled if there is no other option, but it really is best to recycle them. I visited a landfill in college and saw that liquid leaks through the bottom no matter how good the collection system is. It’s really best to recycle batteries unless it’s dangerous to get the battery out of the device.

You can search for places to recycle batteries on earth911.com and call2recycle.org. You can also ask your workplace if they collect batteries. Many will accept batteries from home and work.

The Reckoning

Cost:Free. Another damned freebie taking up space in my life.

Why I decided to get rid of it: It doesn’t work.

Fate: The trash can. Normally I would recycle the battery but this one was badly corroded it was too dangerous to try to remove it. I tested my remaining disposbles and took five into the recycling bin at work.

Money lost on junk: Again, nothing this time. Freebies are evil. Pure evil. Total this year: $203.

“it’s cute” is NOT a good reason to keep something

My grandmother unloaded a bunch of her best friend’s possessions on me after said best friend passed away. Grandmom couldn’t bear to see the goods go to waste and I was too lazy to argue that donating goods to the Salvation Army isn’t wasteful.

Besides, the bowls she offered me were beautiful. Clean lines, glass so you could see the food you were eating, and shaped just like the bowls you see in cereal ads on TV. Nevermind that I owned a half dozen bowls already.

As cute as these bowls are, I realized today that they’re not actually that comfortable to eat out of. The shape means that I end up dumping cereal on myself far more than I do with other bowls I own. Pure asthetics were a poor reason to accept these bowls and no reason to keep them.

Items 43 and 44, two cereal bowls

And I’m not telling Grandmom. I don’t even think she remembers she gave them to me.

The Reckoning

Cost: free

Why I decided to get rid of them: I didn’t like using these bowls and I didn’t even realize it. Huh.

Fate: The “free stuff” area in our apartment building’s basement.

Money lost on junk: Again, nothing this time. Total this year: $203.

four tips for moving

We close on our new condo in exactly one month! But that means that we also have to move in one month. This is my ninth move in ten years (some local moves, some between states, and once internationally). I’ve only learned three things.

Pack one box each day in the month before you move. 

Declutter as you go.

Focus on getting rid of large items. 

Number your boxes and keep a brief list of what’s in each box.

I’m still new to the idea of minimalism and I don’t have time with my full-time job to fully de-clutter in the next month. This means that a lot of junk is still going to go with us. We have a lot of stuff to pack and move. I’d like to take a friend’s sardonic suggestion to just burn it all but I don’t think our neighbors would appreciate the bonfire!

That’s why it’s so important to pack one box a day when you move. Quite simply, it keeps you from going insane.

Moving does have one advantage: it forces you to take a look at everything you own TWICE. You have to pack everything and unpack everything so why not take the chance to rid yourself of anything that’s not worth the work of packing?

Numbering boxes and keeping a short list of the contents will make life easier when you get to your destination. But don’t waste time making a detailed list. “Kitchen stuff” or “bedsheets and towels” is enough to describe an entire box. You don’t need to or have time to list out the 35 kitchen gadgets that went in the box.

Putting a priority on getting rid of the big stuff saves you time, money and space. You may not have time to go through every tiny trinket as you pack but you can take a piece of furniture you don’t use to the thrift shop in a hurry. But your large items will be the hardest and most expensive to move. Make your furniture earn its keep!

Today we’re getting rid of four large objects. Decluttered items 39, 40, 41, and 42 are an office chair, a DVD player, a CRT television and a TV stand.

The Reckoning!

Cost: All free! I found the chair in our apartment building’s “free stuff” area in the basement a couple years back. The TV and stand once belonged to Josh’s mom. The DVD player was a second-hand gift from a friend.

Why I decided to get rid of them: We have duplicates of all of these. Plus the TV has a huge green spot, and we want to become a one-TV houeshold (we’re keeping the game consoles and DTV tuner though).

Fate: The chair went back into the “free” area in our apartment building. TV went to Best Buy for recycling and the DVD player and TV stand went to our favorite thrift shop.

Money lost on junk: Again, nothing this time. Total this year: $203.


Decluttering tip #7: Stop keeping gifts you don’t like just because they were gifts

Everyone has gotten gifts they didn’t like. Many of us have felt like we have to keep the gift simply because it was a gift, or because we’re afraid we’ll be “in trouble” if the gift-giver suddenly shows up at our home and inquires about the gift. Before you let yourself be fooled into this line of thinking like I have, ask yourself these questions:

Is the gift-giver likely to show up at your home? (and by this I mean, are they likely to show up frequently and in the near future, not 5 years from now?)

Are they likely to ask about the gift if they stop by? 

In many cases, the realistic answer is “probably not.” Don’t get caught up on the “probably.” Get rid of the gift!

For many of us it’s not that easy. We are concerned that Aunt Norma will show up and ask about that ugly, fragile cake plate she gifted you at your wedding or the florescent orange onesie she gave you for your newborn son.

A friend of mine had a great solution to this problem: take a picture of you using the object. Put junior in the hideous onesie, snap a photo and mail it off to Aunt Norma. Then give the onesie to goodwill. Aunt Norma feels loved and you don’t have something in your house you hate. And in case she goes asking, you can always say that the object met an unfortunate fate at some point in time.

There are other gifts though that just sit around simply because they were gifts. I got this very pretty perfume bottle from my ex-aunt almost 20 years ago. I’ve never used it once. But I held on to it because it was a gift and because it was pretty.

How do you know if you should keep a gift? Ask yourself, Do you use it? Do you love it? Would you have bought it for yourself if you had the money to? Is it sturdy enough to be kept easily without special care? If the answers are a resounding no, no, and no, then be rid of it and your guilt.

Today’s decluttered object is #38, a fancy perfume bottle. 

~The Reckoning~

Original Cost: Free, a gift.

What convinced me to get rid of it: I only liked it because it was purple (so no, I didn’t love it), I would never have bought it for myself, I don’t use it, and it’s so fragile I’m perpetually afraid of breaking it.

Fate: Left it in the “free for the taking” area in the basement of our apartment building.

Total $ wasted on junk so far this year: $203.

Just what I needed, 300 square feet more to fill with junk! (minus one book)

We don’t need this book on homebuying anymore because we BOUGHT A CONDO!! Squee!

Item 37, one book on how to buy a home.

Unfortunately we now have 300 more square feet to potentially fill with junk. The 1200 square foot place was 2/3 the cost of the 900 square foot places we looked at. Strange.

The Reckoning!

Cost: free. It was a semi-permanent loan from our realtor last year.

Fate: We gave it back to her!

Amount of money spent on junk so far this year: I’m not even going to talk about the idea that I could be wasting money as I go off to sign papers for a mortgage that will bind me to bank for the next 15 years…