Decluttering My Life

The sale of my parents’ house, the family home, has finally completed.

An offer was accepted the day after it was put up for sale (slightly above asking price) yet despite there being no chain on either side, solicitors and incompetent bank personnel contrived to drag the whole process out for another 5 months.

I’m sad but mostly relieved that it’s all done and dusted.

In a way however, I was glad it took that long as it gave me (and sis) the time to clear out the house and boy, did we need the time! There were DECADES’ worth of family things to sort through.

“Stuff”

Despite not having lived in the house permanently (or for more than 3 months at a time) for nearly 20 years, my parents still had full wardrobes and personal items in the house. We spent hours and hours painstakingly going through it all to keep, bin, or donate. There were numerous video calls, as my Mum didn’t want us randomly binning things…yes really, even things she didn’t even remember owning!

Other members of the family didn’t have full wardrobes or cupboards but had left so many sentimental items, including things going back to school and university days.

It wasn’t just the bedrooms which were full of stuff – both garage and shed were full of things accumulated over the years. I found 3 fully equipped toolboxes, two faulty lawnmowers, a brand new leaf blower, a Calor gas heater which I last saw when I was a teenager and so many garden tools.

Various household items and furniture from house-moves which family members had said they were going to ‘pick up at a later date’, but which ended up just being stored there permanently.  I even found two large boxes of things belonging to our cousins who had never even lived at the house so who knows how (and when) their stuff ended up in the garage! A WhatsApp message to them threatening to bin everything had them travelling up from London to collect!

Mum wanted me and sis to take some family ornaments – we said no, but in the end, took a couple each. She couldn’t bear to part with some others so these will be shipped to Hong Kong for the family to sort through themselves.

Anyway, among all the junk in the garage were several large boxes which belonged to me, from when I had moved back home after splitting up with the ex…

Our garage looked a bit like this…except more boxes stacked on top of each other

My Stuff

So what was in these boxes, which had just remained hidden from view, unopened and gathering dust for nearly 15 years?

A load of things I had forgotten about, including:

  • My old diaries, which I had meticulously kept from age 12 (my handwriting was so neat!) to my late 20s. This might be a reason why I enjoy blogging as keeping this journal is a bit like a diary. Anyway, I’ve packed these treasured memories away, except that I know where they are now!
  • A shoebox rammed full of love letters from the ex, written before mobile phones and the internet. I obviously couldn’t bear to throw them away when I left him but briefly peeking at one of them was enough for me to immediately shred the whole lot in one go!
  • Loads of photo albums, plus easily 1000s of loose photos still in their Truprint envelopes, along with all the negatives. Back then, when you didn’t have the luxury of getting perfect digital photos, you kept all photos which were developed, including blurry ones. Well I did, anyway!
  • My large comic collection and various sci-fi/fantasy memorabilia – in the 90s, I was really into my Marvel comics (before Marvel became mainstream). I wouldn’t mind reading them all again and some of the signed editions might be worth something.
  • Hundreds of CDs and boxed sets of DVDs galore, I could have opened a small shop!
  • ‘Old tech’, including a mini-disc player, Sega Gamegear, a couple of pre-iPod music players and a Playstation 1. Also the radio cassette recorder the family bought me as a going-to-uni gift, still in working condition!
  • A decade’s worth of paper payslips – I have no idea why I kept those.
  • Some old credit card and bank statements from 2006. I know why I kept these – they were to remind me of how bad I was at managing my finances and how I can’t ever let myself get like that again. The credit card statement showed 24% interest charged (I was only making the minimum payment) and the corresponding bank statement for that month showed a fee charged for going over my overdraft limit and another fee for a bounced direct debit – horrific! I felt stressed and a bit sick just looking at those numbers. I don’t know how I was able to live like that without spiralling into despair yet I did, for most of my 20s and 30s before finally getting my finances under control.

More Stuff

I’ve only mentioned the stuff that was hidden in the boxes in the garage.

I of course had a lot of belongings in the house and as I was effectively downsizing from a 4-bed detached house to a 2-bed semi (with no garage), I desperately needed to declutter.

Cue Marie Kondo and her tidying up book!

Whilst I didn’t follow the book religiously, it helped me enormously as I wouldn’t have known where to start.

The decluttering began slowly but then I got in my stride and started to get a bit ruthless.

In the end, I pretty much got rid of 50% of my belongings.

Discarding half of my wardrobe was pretty gut-wrenching but did I really need 20 dresses or 30 t-shirts? A couple of those dresses were still new with tags, yet I couldn’t remember when I’d bought them!

Sorting out my clothes took an entire weekend as I spent time trying many items on to decide whether I wanted to keep or donate – only a few didn’t fit me which made the choosing process harder! In the end, 6 full bin bags of clothes went to charity and I discovered ‘new’ (to me!) items to wear, which had been hiding at the back of the wardrobe!

The same culling was done with my shoes, books, CDs and DVDs.

There was a huge box full of folders of ‘admin’ – I shredded stacks of old bank statements, work pension docs and old insurance certs/policies. Again, no idea why I kept so many years’ worth; probably just because I had the space to keep them.

I tackled the kitchenware and crockery – so many sets, some brand new just hidden at the back of cupboards. Sis took some (I decided not to argue when she just took the Le Creuset pot which I had my eye on upon ‘rediscovery’!), I took some for myself, with the unwanted pots, pans, utensils and sets of crockery passed to friends who had kids starting university and also my ex-brother-in-law who had just bought a house and who was after anything for free!

If I had been organised and had the mental capacity for it, I could have probably made some money selling the unwanted furniture, CDs, DVDs and clothes.

But I just needed to get it out of the house asap, so what the buyer didn’t want as part of the purchase went to charity, with the charity collecting large items of furniture for free. Things which couldn’t be donated went to the local tip/recycling centre – I was doing full car-loads every weekend for a couple of months.

As I had registered for Gift Aid with the charity (British Heart Foundation), I’ve been getting emails from them as they’ve sold items I’ve donated – so far, £429 has been raised, so I’m happy my junk has gone to a good cause.

Cathartic

I have to say that I felt a huge sense of relief after the whole decluttering exercise. Not only was there space but I think I felt space in my mind too.

I experienced so many emotions as I came across things (and memories) from what I consider a ‘previous life’, namely my adult life before I discovered FIRE.

Looking at my collections, my belongings, all those things I owned, I think I was a very different person back then – I obviously was not in full control of my life (not financially anyway), yet I don’t recall there being a lot of unhappiness, although of course, there was some.

Decluttering Part II?

I’m sure some people will think that my new home is cluttered (I see my sister’s face when she comes round, ha!) but in my mind, it’s cosy and homely and nowhere near what I think ‘cluttered’ means!

The good news is that having gotten rid of so many of my clothes, I haven’t felt the urge to buy anything new. I’ve yet to complain that I have “nothing to wear”, although that day will come – I’m a woman after all, haha! :).

I did recently buy a pair of boots (using birthday money) to replace a beloved pair which had lasted 30 years. It was my first shoe/boot purchase in over 5 years!

Still, that doesn’t mean that I can’t still get rid of more things – perhaps I’ll do another decluttering exercise, in say a year’s time.

I mean I’m sure I don’t need all those knives (I have 10) in the kitchen but don’t feel like doing anything about that right now.

And some things I’ve just stuffed in some boxes in the shed, out of sight, out of mind…

I know Saving Ninja did the whole Konmari thing when he and his missus sold up to move to Sweden.

Anyone else try Kondo’s methods to help them declutter?

Faith in Eighth

Yet, another year rolls on by and my blog has just unbelievably turned eight years old!

Happy 8th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

So am I still as FIRE’d up about all this after 8 years of writing and sharing my mutterings and my journey?

Yes, I guess I am.

But I’m not half as excited as I was back then.

Eight Year Slog

It does feel like a slog at times, as it continues to be an effort to stay focused.

Sometimes, I feel like I can’t be arsed updating the blog, because I feel like there’s nothing really for me to write about, just the same old, same old.

I’m just getting on with my life and the dogged path of perseverance to get to my FIRE goal is not exciting at all!

Life before I discovered FIRE did seem so much more carefree, when I was just merrily drifting aimlessly with no set goals. Life, that is, AFTER I had paid off my credit card debts – it wasn’t so merry during my dark days of being neck-deep in debt.

But if I want to get to where I’m going, I need to keep at it, need to stay focused, and carry on saving and investing as much as I am able to towards my future.

This blog has undoubtedly kept me from straying and I thank all the readers who take the time to stop by with their words of support, who make me accountable for my actions with their comments and emails.

What have I been doing these past 8 years? Continue reading

Seven-Year Itch

[From Wikipedia] “The seven-year itch is a popular belief, sometimes quoted as having psychological backing, that happiness in a marriage or long-term romantic relationship declines after around seven years.”

I’m not married, nor currently in a long-term romantic relationship so the itch in my case must refer to my relationship with my blog, which last month unbelievably turned seven years old!

Happy 7th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

So has my happiness (and enthusiasm) declined after 7 years of writing and sharing mutterings about my FIRE journey?

I would say no, not yet anyway!

Seven Year Slog

Let me just start by saying that whilst it hasn’t been particularly difficult, it hasn’t been a breeze aiming for FIRE all these years because it still takes me effort to stay focused, to stay on this path I have chosen.

There are occasions when I feel like I can’t be bothered any more, although perhaps lockdown/the pandemic has probably put these thoughts in my head – my life seemed so much easier when I was just merrily drifting aimlessly with no set goals. But that way points to regret and I would rather not have any regrets.

Whilst I’m no longer the younger me who used to just spend money like there was no tomorrow, if I don’t maintain focus, laziness and apathy will make a reappearance in my life and costs will spiral until I’m no longer saving and investing as much as I am able to towards my future.

Anyway, aiming for FIRE is a long-term slog and the only thing that really keeps me from straying off the path is this blog and the words of support from the readers who take the time to stop by and who inadvertently make me accountable for my actions with their comments and emails.

What have I been doing these past 7 years? Continue reading

Changes and The Psychology of Money

Back in August 2019, my blissful bachelorette living situation was turned upside down when my sister and nephew moved in with me following their relocation back to the UK.

I’d been happily living on my own for around 12 years so it was a big change to my life and lifestyle.

Actually, it was a big change for everyone, since the last time us siblings had lived under the same roof, we had been squabbling teenagers.

Anyway, all will be quiet again for me as by the beginning of next month, they will have moved out as my sis has bought a house and I will be all on my own again.

I have mixed feelings about this.

All Change Again

It’s all very well me thinking that I would have been alright during lockdown had I been on my own but the reality is that I’ve been extremely grateful that I had some family around me during the worst of the pandemic, particularly as I’ve been unable to travel to see other members of the family (I last saw my parents and my Gran in summer 2018…).

I believe the COVID situation was made a lot more bearable having others in the house – a couple of my friends who are on their own have really struggled with coping with isolation and are a lot more desperate for things to return to normal.

Anyway, in the same way that I had to prepare myself mentally to live with other people again back in 2019, I will need to prepare myself for living on my own again.

Yes, of course I will miss them and their company, but in a way, I’m also looking forward to being back on my own again, with my own quiet space, doing my own thing.

My sister’s new home is less than 15 mins away in the car so not so far that I can’t just pop round to see them (or vice versa).

I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with, to get to know and to see my nephew mutate from a little boy into a gruff-voiced (though still very chatty) teenager.

I’ll miss my sister’s cooking (I’ll be going round to theirs for the odd Sunday roast!) but also relish going back to cooking for myself again – I have a few more recipes in my personal cookbook now compared to before!

I think the first few nights after they have moved out will feel rather weird.

The Psychology of Money

On an unrelated topic to the above (I’m squashing two draft posts into one), one of my goals this year is to read four non-fiction books – easy for some but not for me as I far prefer to spend my spare time getting lost in fiction.

Anyway, 1 book down, 3 more to go, as I recently read ‘The Psychology of Money‘ by Morgan Hounsel (it was on my Christmas wishlist and a member of my family kindly obliged!).

I thought this book was easy to read and digest, full of interesting stories, anecdotes, wisdom and great advice.

It’s not often that I enjoy reading educational/informative books but I did enjoy this one.

Not all of the stuff was new to me but it was nice to be reminded of it and to re-learn.

I won’t give any spoilers as I’d recommend that people pick it up to read but the chapters intriguingly include:

  • Luck & Risk: nothing is as good or as bad as it seems
  • Never Enough: when rich people do crazy things
  • Confounding Compounding: $81.5 billion of Warren Buffett’s $84.5 billion net worth came after his 65th birthday

The book reminded me that all this FIRE stuff goes far beyond just numbers on my spreadsheets, because us humans are such complex creatures with complicated relationships with money.

Despite these lessons however, I’ll probably continue to make some mistakes with my money – the key is just to not so many mistakes!

A book to keep and re-read.