A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Toot Your Own Horn Contest

Let’s face it. Not everyone you know will be as excited with your minimalist progress as you are. Not everyone can appreciate the joy you experience when you clear out a junk drawer or consolidate six boxes of band-aids into one. To some people, getting rid of your clothes or even your car just causes them to shake their head in wonder. It can feel discouraging when not everyone shares the same excitement you are feeling or your progress goes unnoticed.

Well, today is Toot Your Own Horn Day! Shout your progress for all to hear. Be proud of your minimalist accomplishments. Making the drastic shift from accumulating excess to eliminating it is a very big deal. You should be proud of yourself!

To make things just a little more fun, I am going to pick a random commenter from today’s post to win my personal paperback copy of Dave Bruno’s book The 100 Thing Challenge and a free advance copy of my new book on Family Sized Minimalism. Dave’s book is a down-to-earth and personal look about making the transition to living with less. It’s the first book that has me actually considering the idea of counting my stuff to raise a personal awareness of what I own.

So, jump right in and tell me what you’ve been up to. Feel free to cheer each other on as well. I will pick the random winner on Saturday, February 5 so don’t miss your chance.

What I’ve Been Up To

One of our two storage units is totally empty! We have had that particular unit for about six years. Yep, SIX years! It felt so awesome to sweep it out and close the door one last time. We should be finished with the other unit by the end of this month. Holidays and a week of being iced in really slowed down our progress, but the finish line is in sight!

I’m also excited that our new (smaller) bed is arriving tomorrow. We needed a new mattress anyway so we took the chance to downsize the bed and get a frame with drawers underneath. I can’t wait for that transformation!

Finally, I’m hard at work on my Family Sized Minimalism book. I’m getting my own much needed encouragement and direction from Jonathan at By Bloggers. If you are wanting to write your own book, he has some really awesome resources available for free on his site.


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photo by coloniera2

Article originally published on 02/02/2011

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  1. It’s not much, but it’s a start. We switched over to paperless billing for everything we could, shredded and recycled all the paper copies. Donated about two thirds of our book collection. Lastly, donated all of the clothes we no longer wear, which ended up being about half of our wardrobes

    • Faith Janes says

      That’s a great start! Going paperless is a great step. Cutting down our book collection was a tough one for us. Way to go on the wardrobes too! That has to feel awesome!

  2. Hi Faith! I’ve been enjoying your blog for a few months. When we didn’t have kids and lived in a bigger house, we collected thousands of books (about 3000). We now have about 1000 books. For the past 6 years, I’ve gotten rid of a box of books at a time, but the last frontier is the cookbooks. I just wrote a blog about it. I probably have 25, but I’d like to reduce them to less than 10 books. Thanks for the contest!


    • Faith Janes says

      Great job on the books! Living with my parents over 8,000 book collection means there are books everywhere you look. We have donated about 50 book boxes worth so far but they are still all over the place. At least they aren’t something my husband and I have to deal with though. 🙂 Cookbooks can be tough too. What we have done is copy the recipes we know we like and put those in a “Master Cookbook” binder. We found we were holding on to an entire cookbook that we only used 1 or 2 recipes out of it.

  3. I have never been a big collector or hoarder of stuff. However that doesn’t mean we didn’t have much more than we needed/used in the house. So I have spent the past 7 months reducing mostly by donating bags & bags on stuff. Reduced the clothes in closets, the toys in playroom, the decorative items we no longer put out, the holiday decorations that never make it out of the containers year after year. So love having less and still more to reduce.

    • Faith Janes says

      It’s amazing how the little things just pile up over time. I’ve been shocked how much stuff we’ve gotten rid of. Great job on your progress!

  4. What a fun post! I look forward to reading everyone’s entries. How exciting for you to check such large projects off your list! Way to go, Faith!

    I am slowly working my way through our house. Our bedroom is looking quite serene, which I love! I have purged boxes of books and set quite a few things out at the curb with “free” on them. I have sold a few things and am frequently taking items to drop at the thrift store. The best part through all of this is the change that is happening in my mind.

    I am focusing on my own stuff and not the rest of my family’s stuff. I am telling myself that when I finish the rest of the house, somehow I will figure out how to sweetly help some of my children declutter. In the mean time, I have been so motivated by reading blogs such as yours! Thanks so much!

    • Faith Janes says

      Very nice. A serene bedroom is so important! We’ve had lots of fun putting things out by the road here too. We live on 30 acres and our house is at the end of a very long driveway. It’s amazing how fast things disappear from the road. Sometimes we make a game out of guessing how fast things will find a new home.

  5. Hi Faith, this is a fun post! So, I have been working on a few things:

    Last fall, I did a 75 in 75 challenge – where I aimed to eliminate 75 items from my home in 75 days. I didn’t do 75 items – I got rid of 1,150 items instead! View the journey here:

    The freedom I experienced led to starting Minimalist Monday Mission: Declutter 365 where I am decluttering an area of my home each week and blogging about it every Monday. It’s been fantastic so far! And, I’m only getting to the really good stuff 🙂 Here’s that journey so far:

    Congrats on your storage unit!! Way to go!

    Dr. Laura

    • Faith Janes says

      That is awesome progress! I totally agree with what you wrote in your post about needing accountability and remembering the decluttering takes time. Keep up the great work!

  6. Well, I am on about the 150th bag to the Goodwill. I have slowly been purging away Month after Month working my way through 2300 sq. ft. Yesterday, I tagged three containers full of kids clothes to be sold at a consignment sale in March. My attic is down to about half the stuff it had in it. Then after taking tons of pics off the walls, and getting rid of excess furniture and clutter, we ended up needing to repaint the walls, which I just did. So now I have two hallways, and a starewell, that our freshly painted in a neutral color with no clutter in sight. My kids closets have been downsized along with my own. Even got them to let go of a bunch of toys. It feels good. Oh and the best one, I finally got rid of an old broken down tv that has been a horrible pain to get rid of. You know its bad when even the dump has rules about where it has to go and on what day. Shew…

    • Faith Janes says

      Oh the dreaded attic. Dealing with the out of sight messes are challenging but so rewarding when you’re done with them. Great job!

      Speaking of things that are hard to get rid of, we finally got rid of a giant TV cabinet with doors that was stuck in storage for 6 years. I am so glad to be rid of that massive thing!

  7. I’ve been working my way through Tanja Hoagland’s book 30 Day Clutter Bootcamp and have made great progress. I’ve been decluttering off and on for 6 years and this book is offering great encouragement and inspiration to take it to a whole new level. I’ve been posting quite a few before and after pics on my blog. I’m not extreme in my minimalistic journey, but am finding a level that works for my family.

  8. What a fun idea, Faith! I love it 🙂

    Tooting my own horn now….
    * We have halved the # of our possessions (since 3 years ago, when we moved into our house)
    * We got rid of our car. I’d like to say ‘sold our car’, but for $100 ‘got rid of it’ is more appropriate
    * I’ve started my blog – also about minimalism, but from a Christian perspective
    * I’ve finally got my entire family on the same page as me
    and last but not least…….
    * We’re saving almost half of my (minimum wage) income every month!

    Greetings from the Netherlands 🙂

    • Faith Janes says

      That is an all around awesome list, Jurino! I still haven’t figured out how to eliminate having a car where we live but I’m hoping to go down to one vehicle this year. We’ll see how that goes. I’m still hoping for the day my whole family is on the same page. My husband and I are in synch so that’s a good start. Saving half your income every month is incredible! Way to go! I’m really enjoying your blog by the way. Keep up the great work!

  9. Karen (Scotland) says

    Tooting my own horn. Hmm…
    In the last week, I pulled out the box of photo frames that have been accumulating over the last decade. No pictures or photos in them – just frames. The ones I know I will NEVER use are now ready for the charity shop. The maybes are sitting next to my photo albums. If I don’t do anything with them by the end of February – they are going to the charity shop too.
    Also, my husband and I created a Lego storage system for our six and four year old boys. Not exactly decluttering but acknowledging one of the loves of this household and making positive steps to storing the Lego in a usable (yet pretty) manner.

    Next is persuading my husband to let go of four empty chests of drawers kicking around the house. I’ve emptied them over the last year or so – he just has to accept that we will NOT be filling them up again. This will free up a whole load of floor space in each room upstairs.

    Karen (Scotland)

    • Faith Janes says

      Oh goodness, the empty frame. I came across a ton of those in the boxes from storage. We’ve been moving a lot of pictures over to digital frames anyway, but I can’t believe how many frames we had taking up space.

      What kind of lego storage did you guys make? My dad is a woodworker when he’s not saving lives in the emergency room and my son still loves Legos. Could be the perfect project.

      • Karen (Scotland) says

        Faith, I just typed for five minutes then thought, know what, a picture speaks a thousand words! I’ll email you a photo later today. I don’t have a blog or flickr or I’d stick it on there.
        It wasn’t too complex in the end, we did it on the cheap, it’s flexible for growth and it suits our six year old perfectly (he’s all about the categories – must be the librarian blood in him 🙂 .) Most importantly, it’s keeping his Lego safe from our crawling ten month old (and our ten month old safe from the Lego!) We were happy to dedicate a whole desk area to Lego as it is pretty much the only toy he plays with.
        OK, off to the dentist.

  10. Congratulations on your storage unit!
    After completing my ‘get rid of ten things a day every day” for the month of December, I still managed to make three full carloads to Goodwill this year so far…and two carloads to a friend who’s getting married (I gave her all of my wedding ‘stuff’ left over from my wedding planner days)

  11. Faith that is a big moment. Oh the money you’ll save. Just say no to storage units!

    I love this post, the toot your own horn, it’s all about community and sharing. All right, I’ll toot. It’s a baby toot though. I’ve been working on my digital clutter. I deleted two whole websites that were partially completed but never started. They’ve been sitting on my hard drive for 2 years now. I’ve also deleted about a 1,000 files off my computer, mostly writing scraps and photographs. It’s been one of my last big clutter hold-outs. It’s been a scary process, telling myself I CAN live without these files, but I’m going strong and powering through them! Next I tackle the overloaded flash drive.

    Next I tackle work-life balance. I’m starting to really understand that I work too much and I’m going through the process of trying to cut back. It’s like an addiction. A very silly one! To start of that project: Yesterday I took off in the middle of the day and walked on the beach with Patrick. Today I’m getting ready to go to the beach again. More play, less work, that’s what I’m striving for right now.

    • Faith Janes says

      Clearing out digital clutter is not a baby toot in my book. I’ve only made a small dent in my files. I have such a tendency to fall into that “I might need it and it’s not taking much space” category. But you’ve inspired me to get back to work on them.

      Work-life balance is HUGE! I know my life isn’t as balanced as I want it to be. Walking on the beach sounds like a dream right now. More play and less work is an awesome pursuit. I’m glad you’re able to grasp a taste of that.

      • Faith & Tanja,

        Had to say kudos to you both here, as I was reading along and thinking what if anything I would toot about, it came down to the tech layer of our life. Since we already culled down to probably easily less that 20% of our physical belongings, like you, Tanja we are headed into our tech territory and dealing with a lap top, music files and pics one at a time. Sometimes this area of simplification feels ‘slower’ since you don’t necessarily have the heady satisfaction of boxes and garbage bags and tubs out the door, down the road or in the dumpster. Still working toward the better balance of digital detritus and work/home life is where we are trooping off to. Its encouraging to hear others plowing through the same stuff! Love it! 🙂

        • PS As to the storage unit triumph? That is huge!! We nearly threw a party when we emptied out our business unit (try being an interior designer turned minimalist, do you know how many household things, plumbing accessories, lighting etc. you get stuck with on jobs? Argh!) Yay for your whole family!!

  12. wow Faith! You’ve got an amazing community here! Here I thought I did good by clearing out 40+ bags of stuff. I’ve got nothing compared to your other readers. Either way, that means less clutter for someone and that is a win-win situation.

    • Faith Janes says

      They ARE amazing and very inspiring!! I saw you were able to get rid of an entire closet. That’s pretty cool progress indeed.

  13. I am so happy for you that you emptied out one of your units! Yeah! And #2 on its way!
    I have focused on 4 areas so far, my clothes, my jewelry, my books, and my kitchen/pantry. I would say that I have reduced my clothes, jewelry and books by at least 50% if not a little more. And my kitchen, we got rid of about 25% of extra utensils, etc, but in the pantry we got rid of probably 50% of the stuff. Some of it dated 2006, yuck!
    Now I need to deal with papers, and with my utitity room! Not looking forward to those! But I can do it!
    A break from our regularly scheduled programming…

    • Faith Janes says

      Thanks, Bernice. I am really excited to be rid of it too. 🙂
      I think the kitchen and pantry have been two of the least fun areas to declutter for me. I found some super gross stuff in my parents pantry too. You’ve tackled some of the harder areas so far so just keep up that momentum! You can do it!!

  14. What a fun idea. Here is my horn tooting. We started purging/decluttering in October. Since then we have purged hundreds of items from our house. My closet is practically empty, and our bathroom and kitchen are much more streamlined and efficient. We made $400 in a garage sale of our stuff, with most items priced really low. We also made another few hundred dollars selling some stuff on ebay and craigslist.

    We still have a ways to go. We’re going to tackle the garage soon, and try to make some more progress in our home office.

    I love the feeling of having less. We had so much useless junk before, and now we feel lighter and more free.

  15. I need to toot my own horn. Nobody else will!!

    I took 2 boxes of kids toys to the resale shop. Cleared out quite a bit of space and made $20 in the bargain!!

    Woohoo!! Go me!! Keep on with the hard work!

  16. I’m afraid to admit that I feel a bit stuck on the home front! I kind of took on Project 333, but am at the point where I have probably about half of the clothes that were originally in my closet, stashed in a rubbermaid. But I can’t bring myself to give them away. Also we recently removed all of the kids toys and gave them back just one medium sized basket worth to play with. They haven’t even really noticed the difference but we sure notice the difference when it comes to cleaning it all up! But again, I don’t think I could bring myself to actually giving away all the other toys.
    I am however doing well with decluttering my office at work. When I started at my current job two years ago I took over from someone who had been there for 20+ years. There’s still stuff around the office from that long ago that is in no way applicable to today, so I’ve been tossing tons of old files and reorganising things to suit me. That’s a good feeling at least. 🙂

  17. I have been working on uncluttering my home for a while. One example is I started a clothing swap so I would not need to store clothes that the girls don’t want or waiting for the younger ones to grow into. Everyone benefits from the event and it is totally free. Bring what you don’t use anymore and take what you need. I hold these every spring and fall. The FB page is http://www.facebook.com/SEMIClothesSwap. The swaps were even featured on on NBC Nightly News – Making a difference. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/31131921#31131921 I have not bought much in the way of clothing for the family besides undergarments and socks for the past 9 years. And I have taught others to do the same. (details how to do one in your area – http://swap.nobucks.net/ ).

    This year’s project is reducing the number of books we have in our library. As homeschoolers that is a challenge. I do have about 80% of the books (200 books) scanned into the computer and filed with the Dewey system. But with the advent of ebooks we are rethinking the need for so many books.

    I enjoy decluttering so much I have been helping clients unclutter their homes too . This past month I have working with a family that has 9 children. That has been a fun challenge as the mom wants to just organize the toys and clothes that they have.and not reduce the amount they have. I have saved a bunch of space by just organizing the stuff but she is not willing to go the next step yet.

    I love reading about all your success stories and baby steps to the goal of reducing the amount of stuff each of us has. Less is More! And congrats on getting rid of the storage unit. I am sure it felt very freeing.

  18. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ve gotten rid of about 20 very large trash bags in the past couple months. I’ve worked on my clothes, hobby stuff is almost totally gone because I never used it any more, all books gone except 2 small series (I kept maybe 15 books total) that my daughters & I re-read often. I cut my jewelry in half. I got rid of a lot of stuff in the kitchen and bathroom. I took all the DVDs out of their cases & put them in a big binder thing–I only got rid of a few of those because my 3 kids are still fairly young and watch them regularly. All of my CDs are burned into my computer (iPod library) and the physical disks are gone. The biggest area still to go for me is my office. My husband and I are both self-employed and there’s a lot of paperwork. I’m trying to sort through it all and see what I can scan and/or eliminate. Also have a lot of work left to do on scanning memorabilia and photos. I also hope to someday get my husband and daughters on board which would help lighten the house up a lot!

    • Please remember to back up your files. I would hate you to lose all that music (and your time & effort) and have to recreate the library without the original CDs.

      • It’s all backed up to an external drive and another drive that I keep at my in-laws of photos and such. I’m SO phobic about having stuff backed up as I have had a hard drive crash before.

  19. Last Saturday, we took an entire carload of stuff to a thrift shop we support. This was just one of many loads. We also have a buyer for some windows we posted for sale. We’ve been seriously decluttering for several months, and it’s been great watching things go and knowing we no longer have to tend them. Also on Saturday, we emptied our grown sons’ storage building. Some of it will be sold and a large pile will be donated. Once this winter storm leaves our area, I’ll be putting together the next load for the thrift shop. I can’t wait!

  20. I began decluttering in August 2010 eliminating 10 things a day. I began with my books. In my bedroom, I went from three full bookcases (with books double-stacked) down to 1 and 1/8 bookcases. I also eliminated 6 crates of books from my children’s collection. All of these went to my public library and I’m happy to say that the proceeds from the book sales help to pay for the programs that my children and I enjoy at the library. I also started working on my kitchen cabinets. I returned 3 bags of plastic containers that belonged to my mother and sister and I gave 3 bags of Tupperware products to my newlywed niece and her husband. I still have such a long way to go, but finally, I’m beginning to see a difference.

    Reading blogs like yours and Rachel Jonat aka The Minimalist Mom have been very inspirational. I go to bed trying to figure out what area to tackle next.

    Thank you for giving me a view of minimalism from a mom’s perspective.

  21. We have cleaned out closets, given away unneeded clothes and toys, and been buying less! This has lessened my clutter, helped my sanity, and improved my budget! I’m looking for ways to keep going!

  22. Since October I have been taking one room a month emptying the rooms of anything we don’t use or I don’t think is valuable to me or my family. I’ve made my way through the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and now I’m in my daughters room. The house is feeling more spacious and bright every day. Next month is the bathroom. My goal is to have decluttered the whole house by September. I’m on my way.

  23. Sandra Bukoski says

    Last year I tackled too many resolutions. I don’t think I met one resolution to satisfaction. This year I have one resolution and that is to progress toward a minimalist lifestyle. I’m striving toward a less cluttered home and cluttered schedule. I want to get back to basics with my family and create experiences. I have removed many unused kitchen items, clothing, and documents. I still have a long way to go and just starting.

  24. I’m not aiming for minimalism. Just sanity. Do we count? Maybe one day when I have a normal amount of stuff, I can think about paring down even further.

    I’d like to toot my husband’s horn, if that’s ok! Not only has he refrained from teasing me too much about all the money I wasted buying stuff I’m now throwing out He’s thinking bold, like getting rid of his records and record player. He does plays his records often, so this is big for him. I only want him to do this if it will make him happy. And he’s agreed to do some areas that I can’t do – like the tools.

    I’ve gotten rid of so much random stuff, I don’t even want to think about it. I am most proud of my pruning of two collections I have. It is hard to realize you bought something just because it fit in a collection. I’m trying to only keep the pieces I love. (Oh the money I’ve wasted!)

    Today I’m proud of clearing space in our cupboards so all our bulk foods like rice, beans and spices are now tucked away and off my limited counter space. (But maybe it’s because I just did that yesterday.)

    I’m looking forward to your book. I want to teach my children by example.

  25. This past year I have been reading more about uncluttering and simplifying our lives (which is how I came across your blog). The need for this is becoming more apparent as my son gets older (he just turned 4 in December) and as we are preparing to welcome son #2. I must say that I was relieved that we were having another boy….I can reuse all the stuff that I had been holding onto for the past 4 years. 🙂 I did have 2 bins of baby girl stuff that I had “just in case” and recently let a friend of mine go through it. She is expecting twin girls and managed to take a bin full of stuff to use. The other bin I will tag for an upcoming consignment sale and probably put that money into savings for son #2 college fund.

    I also enjoy signing up for freebies/samples. Of course by doing so, I accummulated quite the bin of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deoderant, and other samples. Over the past 2 months, my husband and I have only been using the toiletry samples for our daily needs until we run out. This has been a great savings. I now only have a couple toiletry samples left and set aside in our travel bag to use for upcoming trips.

    Also during the past year, we have taken 3 loads of stuff to goodwill, held a yard sale, and taken items to a consignment shop. It really feels good to purge things that we weren’t using.

  26. Faith Janes says

    I have to pop in here and say I am absolutely LOVING hearing everyone’s progress like this. Your progress is so encouraging to me that I might have to do this once a month! Thank you all for sharing your stories. I have to get back to building my new bed frame that’s in a million pieces, but I had to say you’re all incredibly awesome!

  27. I must admit I am a horder. I don’t particularily like it but I get so attached to things I have a hardtime letting them go. We recently sold one of our businesses and closed the other so life could settle down. In doing so I added such a weight of “stuff” to each and every corner of our home that even I am having a hard time breathing in it. I am happy to say that this week I donated 6 large garbage bags full of stuff to a local thrift store. It makes me feel better thinking someone else might use it 🙂 As we try to de-clutter our lives and souls, albeit slowly, I am happy to have found your blog and will read it regularly and hopefully find the inspiration I need to help me clean out and let go!

  28. The biggest deal for me is allowing my kids to let go of things. Sometimes their toys, clothes, etc. have more sentimental value to me than they do for them. They are growing up, and able to move on, and I am learning to allow them to do that. Their rooms are looking much neater!

  29. My goal for this year has been to minimalize our shopping list. So far, I have: replaced shampoo & conditioner with baking soda & vinegar, learned how to make my own baking powder, started making my own dishwasher detergent, made my own glass cleaner with vinegar, and my next project is to begin making my own laundry detergent.

  30. In the past few months I’ve downsized a lot of stuff in my life; my clothes, my shoes, my Cd collection, my DVD collection, my books…. I’ve also been organizing and streamlining items I’m keeping like my toiletries (which I am diligently working on using up!) My next item to tackle is my paperwork. I’ve gone paperless billing on a lot of items, and I’ve got a file box full of stuff that can probably get the heave ho! So here is to more decluttering in 2011!

  31. Well done on the storage unit!!!

    A couple of weekends ago we finally let go of a sofa bed. We really wanted to keep it, but just didn’t have the room for it. We gave it to my brother and his new wife on permanent loan.
    They also took off my hands some casserole dishes that I never used but they needed, which meant I got a whole cupboard back in my kitchen.

    I’m culling knick-knacks this weekend – did it once a year or so ago, but want to do it even further – and then I want to attack board games.


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