My Mid-August Mini Decluttering — Why Did I Throw Them Away?

A Nude top. I don’t like the texture of it. It itches me out.

Vaseline body lotion. Used until the bottom yet I won’t repurchase it as I later found out it contains some nasty ingredients. Lately I am looking for an organic product as I realise body lotion is something to be used vastly over the body so we should be extra picky.

A Media lipstick. It’s a Japanese drug store product. It dries out my lip and most importantly, this particular hue of pink doesn’t look good on me. I am passing it to my sister.

A blue copper essence. This product is super easily absorbed. I can see obvious lifting and hydrating results on my skin. It is now a  staple in my beauty regime. I’d made a note to repurchase it before I threw away the empty bottle.

The latest issue of the With magazine. There isn’t much information that I wasn’t aware of. I’m not keeping it on my bookshelf.

A mask. It came as a free gift. I won’t be using it on my face because I am picky with my facial masks. Often when I use unknown ones, my skin is irritated.

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Donating a Beloved Book

It was a picture of a blonde with blue headscarf, pearl earrings and pink lipstick — almost like a Vemeer’s. I was captivated at the first glance.

In the logic of “time first, money second”, I did not want to pay a visit to the book store every a few days just to patronise the art work and so I bought the book. I spent $131 just for a single page. It isn’t even on my bookshelf anymore for I have donated it to my secondary school art teacher. It’s now a minor asset of her art reference corner.

I didn’t regret buying or donating it as I read into the fate of the book. It can either sit on its bored owner’s dusty book shelf or once in a while be discovered by and inspire a group of art students.

I know how much I’d love to read an newly published illustration book rather than the older ones when I was a student. Of course I could see buying a book but not owning it until the end of my life as a waste of money, but it could also be a present from “the new me” to “the old me”.

💸My Old Spending Habit (2 of 2)💸The Turning Point

My first taste of how minimalism could bring clarity and focus in life was dated back to 2008. During my short immersion in Australia, I’ve experienced how little one actually needs in order to survive and be happy.

As an avid reader, I came across several books written by decluttering experts in Japan and they were great guides to decluttering but I wasn’t ready to fully implement minimalism yet.

Then quite unexpectedly, two months before my graduation, I suffered a setback in the love department. I was so heartbroken that I was forced to re-evaluate every single belief of mine because all along I was wired to think “he” was “the one”. Something must be wrong in my head and I needed to know what it was.

I was in desperately need to move on and start from a clean slate. So I pulled out all possessions and looked at them one by one. “Does it reflect my ideal self?” I asked. If it didn’t, I tossed it to the trolley which was filled with clothes, books and trinkets to be donated to the Salvatory Army.

It was one of the wisest decisions I made for myself because thanks to my determination to downsize my stuff, my two movings in 2011 and 2012 became much less of a burden. I didn’t have a crazy amount of boxes to pack and unpack.

💸My Old Spending Habit (1 of 2)💸

I am not being one of those self admitted shopaholics who take their syndrome proudly as a prize when I say this, but I used to be very, very lavish.

All my friends know my bad spending habit. When I went out, I would spend the last banknote in my purse. There had been times when there wasn’t enough bus fare left that I needed to borrow a few dollars from my friend.

It all started when I was twelve. I didn’t want to feel inferior with my affluent friend. Since we met at weekend for tutorial class, I bought a new T-shirt, vest or sweater every week just to keep up with her abundant closet!

Luckily this friendship didn’t last long, or else I would certainly be broke from the additional expenditure starting from the age of thirteen when I was introduced to k-pop by my friend.

Not many people listened to Korean music in Hong Kong in early 2000s and so Korean stars’ products weren’t that widely available. It was almost like an obligation as a fan to buy every spotted knickknack with a Korean star’s face printed on it. I could have paid the first instalment of a mortgage had I not spent all those money on H.O.T, Shinhwa and some other K-pop bands.

Things didn’t get any better when I was juggling the development of both the brain and the body throughout the four years in college. My thirst for cultural input got me hunting for books and video discs which might not be relevant to my profession. My poor understanding of my body shape and skin type, and most importantly the lies told by advertisers and my impressionability, fooled me into buying an abominable amount of products that didn’t serve me.

Principles I Observe while Decluttering My Wardrobe and Bookshelf

Since I live with my parents, I can only declutter my room. (When decluttering around others, hands off stuff that don’t belong to you to avoid arguments.) The two biggest compartments in my room are my wardrobe and book shelf.

In my wardrobe, I only keep items that flatter my physique.  Also, anything that I haven’t worn for over a year will go to the donation box.

On my book shelf, there are only books that can’t be borrowed from the library or with pictures that can’t be easily retrieved online. For those who find it hard to give away books, embrace the mindset that knowledge is meant to be shared so let the books be passed on. I also keep handwritten notes that I took when I was in college, but even those I gradually digitalised and got rid of the hard copies.

💰New Money Habit 2💰Decluttering

Decluttering has been a buzzword for the past few years now. Even if you don’t feel like joining the whole fad of Minimalism Movement, you should give decluttering a try because it does relate to money management.

First and foremost, decluttering reduces our desire to purchase. Anyone who read KonMari’s book and follow her teachings will agree that decluttering is an exhausting, at times excruciating task! By simply clearing out the clutter in a space as small as the bathroom is enough to be shown how much stuff (in other words, money spent) one actually owns.

Some of the stuff we own are stored in places that are bound to be forgotten. It is only through decluttering that they come to light. We may think we need the latest product shown on commercials but once we see with our very own eyes and touch with our very own hands the stuff we actually own, we will see how bountiful our possessions are all along.

Apart from curbing our desire to shop, confronting with our clutters can resolve our potential to be an achiever to earn more money. Once a space is decluttered and the resources are lay neatly in front of us, there are less distractions and we will have clearer goals and work more efficiently.