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How much should we have?

by May 12, 2020

When we ‘retired’ and moved abroad, we only brought with us four suitcases, cabin baggage size. They were so small! 😱

We were meant to live out of those 4 suitcases until we found a house, so around 3 months, after which the rest of our things would arrive from the UK.

Traveling light

Of course, not having to go to work meant we didn’t need to bring office clothes. And as we were moving to the south of Spain, we packed lots of summer clothes, which take less space. We did have some spare jackets and some warmer clothes though, just in case.

We thought we would miss a few things, but we could cope for just a few months.

Bliss: empty wardrobes

Our clothes were filling 10% of our wardrobes. We liked very much the feeling of space and order every time we opened them.

And after a few weeks, we realised the stuff we had was even too much! We could have brought a quarter less!

The thought of receiving the rest of our things started to become daunting. I did not want to lose that sense of order, in exchange for little benefit. Of course there were items we were going to need (for example, winter clothes). But for the best part, those boxes from the UK were just going to bring more of the same. More t-shirts, more trousers, and so on. I was barely using the things I had, what would I do with the rest?

As expected, after receiving the boxes, my wardrobe immediately turned into piles of clothes, of which I use the top 2 or 3. I often use things because I have them, rather because I need them.

The cost of having too much

Once I realised how much surplus things we have, I also thought about its cost. Not just the financial cost (although spending on something I don’t need is a financial mistake), but also the mental cost of having too much. Opening an half-empty wardrobe, to me, is more relaxing than opening one which is full to the brim, even if the t-shirt I wanted was just before my eyes.

It’s the same feeling I get when my to-do list becomes too long. It may be full of low-priority items with zero chances of ever being done, and yet the simple fact these things are there gives me some mental stress and makes me lose focus on the important things.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
– Leonardo Da Vinci –

Clutter everywhere

The reality is that we are surrounded by clutter. It’s not just clothes. It’s documents. It’s old things we have accumulated and we’re not sure whether we should throw away. And how about CDs? I haven’t listened to one in 10 years, and yet they’re still around. And don’t get me started on old contacts on my phone – more than a year ago I sold something online and still have the mobile number of the buyers! And what about the mobiles of former colleagues. What do I need them for? I’ve retired!!

I know I should probably set aside some time and, one by one, fix all these cluttered areas. But so far the thought of doing it has been too daunting. Let’s be honest, sifting through my contact list and deleting them one by one is not the most exciting activity!

Maybe lockdown will come to the rescue. Given we are going to spend a bit more time at home, I might come up with a plan to tackle the clutter! Stay tuned…

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