A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Stuff is Not Important

I watched this video clip today and was struck by one of the evacuee’s statements:

“You learn what is valuable in life, and it isn’t the stuff,” she said.

Fire. Disaster. Hurricanes. Sickness.

Chaos and devastation surround us. It’s during times like this that we are reminded how little value our possessions hold and true value is found in those you love.

Minimized Stuff With Maximum Value

One of the evacuees in the news story described herself as being frozen and not knowing what to grab when she got the five minute warning to evacuate.

Would you know what you wanted to take with you?

It’s harder to know what to take when your life is choked by clutter. When everything in your home is fighting for a place of importance, it’s hard to see real value there.

By whittling down our personal possessions, there is very little that I would be lost without.

It wouldn’t be tough to grab some clothes we’d need because most of us don’t have many extra clothes anymore.

Our treasured family photos are on two backup drives here at the house but they are also automatically backed up to a remote server. All our important documents are scanned and backed up as well. So while I could grab those two devices if I had time, it wouldn’t be completely necessary.

My entire livelihood is run from my 13″ laptop so I could grab that. It would be more of a hassle to replace it than a necessity I would be heartbroken to lose.

Any jewelry like my wedding rings or favorite necklace I’m probably already wearing anyway.

So, in the end . . . all I really need to grab are my kids, pets, and other family members.

It’s the Simplicity that Sets You Free

Do you feel free? If not, what would it take for you to feel that freedom?

What would you take with you if you only had 5 minutes to evacuate?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for updates or follow me on Google+ or Twitter. Thanks so much for reading!

image credit

Article originally published on 09/06/2011

Share the love
Get free updates


  1. We keep a bugout bag packed with important papers, a few days medicines, computer backup drives, etc. This sits near our front door during the day and by the bedroom escape window at night. We just need to grab that and each other and we are ready to go at any time. Because we live in a motorhome traveling around the country we are more vulnerable but also more weather aware than most people.

    • Faith Janes says

      That’s a great proactive thing to have. I think most people just have it in the back of their mind that it would be nice to be prepared but don’t quite get around to doing it. I’m sure that feels very peaceful to have all that on hand. Thanks for commenting, Linda.

  2. I definitely know what I’d take with me (in order of importance):

    1. My kitty. I’d have to get her in her carrier first so I can run around and not worry about her. Other things can be replaced, but her individuality cannot.
    2. Important paperwork. I keep a small, lightweight box in my closet that holds all of my tax forms, etc.
    3. My small jewelry box that holds my sentimental items (ring from my grandparents, other misc from my parents and boyfriend).
    4. Clothes. All of the clothes I own (winter and summer) fit into one suitcase. This wouldn’t be that important – those things can be easily replaced.
    5. My boyfriend. Just kidding making this the last one, but I figure he would be running around getting his own things and can take care of himself. If the situation called for it, I’d make sure he was OK first. 🙂

    It feels so good to be free of clutter and STUFF. 🙂

    • Faith Janes says

      Haha, that’s funny about your boyfriend. But you’re right…he could probably take care of himself.

      It’s nice to have a plan and feel that freedom, isn’t it?

  3. Since we have no more kids at home, I would grab my laptop, my dog, some clothes, and like Katie above, make sure my hubby was okay too! We do have a folder with birth certificates,, I should probably have some other copies somewhere else. And of course I would grab my purse!
    10 steps to a happier mama

  4. Since we live in an area experiencing drought & raging fires, this is always a thought. It’s also in tornado alley so something could strike while you’re away from the house & I’ve taken that into account in my preparations. I have all my important documents scanned & any time I update my accounting programs I back them up–all of this is on a thumb drive in my purse in case nothing is left when I get home. If I’m home, I’m grabbing kids, laptop, & back-up drives, folder of important papers, medications/change of clothes. The barn presents a whole new problem because there are 20 horses & 40 head of calves that must be cared for. That’s where I hope I have warning to make more than one trip. Otherwise it’s going to involve a whole lot of prayers.

    • Faith Janes says

      I never thought about medications until I started reading the comments here. It’s a good reminder. I like the thumb drive idea too. I also like using Dropbox for backing up things remotely. It’s a nice free option if you don’t have a ton of stuff to store. (I think you get 2GB for free).

      I thought dealing with a couple dogs was something but WOW that’s a lot of horses and calves to care for. I hope you won’t ever need to deal with figuring that part out.

      • I have all my photos backed up on my Pro Flickr account. I use the thumb drive for stuff that I prefer to not be able to be hacked–financial stuff & personal info. It’s on a keychain with my spare truck key.

        We train cutting horses, that’s why there are so many horses & cattle. I hope we never need to figure it out too. We have many friend in Texas dealing with that exact problem right now with all the out of control fires. All I can do is pray for them & offer the few extra stalls we have.

  5. Assuming people to be safe . . . I’d grab my emergency bag, throw in my purse, and if I had time grab the laptop too.

    I’m like you, I earn a living (Health Coach and yoga teacher) on the knowledge in my head, my yoga mat, and my laptop. So I keep a copy of everything important in Dropbox (LOVE that service).

    My emergency bag is pretty awesome and I could live out of it (and just it) for a couple of weeks. My yoga mat slides into special made loops right on the outside. It doubles as a sleeping pad if necessary. My sleeping bag is already strapped to the bottom in a waterproof bag too.

  6. I lost my house in the Bastrop TX fires. I grabbed a very few clothes, computers, back up jump disk, pictures, my sewing machine (it’s an old Bernina and hard to replace and I very much love this machine), some Peace Corps stuff from when I was a volunteer, my time capsule (from my 30th birthday time capsule), some sentimental quilts, an afghan that my great grandmother made, some cookbooks from my great grandmother, family jewelry, documents… and of course, my 3 year old daughter and 2 dogs. What I have fits into 2 cars.

    The important thing that we didn’t have that is critical is an up to date list of everything you own, with pictures, receipts, serial numbers… so that you can file an insurance claim.

    We are OK and have lots of family and friends rallying around, never fear. We are one of many, over 500 in our small town alone… This is only the beginning of a new start.

    • I am so so sorry to hear you lost your home, but so glad that you and your daughter are safe. It’s good to have friends and family to help out but I imagine the magnitude of the situation is quite overwhelming.

      A few years ago a tornado completely flattened a house a couple properties past our home. All that was left was the foundation. I vividly remember watching the tornado with my brother overhead before it touched down. It didn’t even seem real.

      Do you need any clothes for your daughter? My daughter is also three years old and she has some clothes to spare. I’m sure there are others here that would love to help you or any of the other neighboring families in your area. Please feel free to email me if that would be better for you.

      • Thank you Faith. Unfortunately, when I wrote that comment, the 500 count was accurate – but it has since risen to over 1500 homes destroyed. It is overwhelming but we are making it through.

        As far as needing anything, I think that we are OK. Clothes are in overabundance for the kiddos and as we are tall folks, it is really hard to find donated clothes for us adults. (I’m 6 foot, too, and hubs is 6′ 2″)

        I am planning on writing a post on my blog in the next day or so about the do’s and don’t’s of donating to disaster victims. Hopefully, people will read it and have a better idea of what really helps after something like this.

        Also, I want to add a bit of perspective to the “bug out” kit and the like… In the midst of the moment, when you’re throwing stuff into boxes to evacuate – your brain does NOT work like it normally does. Clearly, having less will help you find what you need, but you may still not remember everything. It’s just one of those things. And, sometimes this stuff happens when you’re out of town (did for a friend of mine). The best way, in retrospect, is to have everything stored someplace else… like on the internet or in a safe deposit box.

        Also, even if you take the important stuff with you, when it comes time to file a claim with insurance, the pictures of your contents will be critical. In disasters like this, many insurance companies will pay a lump sum for contents, but it varies from company to company and is not 100% – ours only paid 75%. We could get the rest, but would have to itemize and the value would have to be much more than the total to account for depreciated value.

        And, this is different than a normal house fire or theft claim – I think then the insurance company will require serial numbers and other stuff that most people likely don’t have… Be sure to check with your insurance company BEFORE you need it so that you can get the documentation that you need NOW.

Speak Your Mind