The Art of Letting Go: 5 Ways to Minimize and Simplify Your Relationship to Stuff

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.” -Anthony J. D’Angelo

We live in the land of plenty, where almost everything is disposable and replaceable, but even so, many of us tend to buy non-essentials and then horde them – just in case we might need them one day.

In fact, non-essential spending makes up one fifth of our personal income statistically, and since 2009, non-essential spending like jewelry and jet skis surpassed essentials like groceries and over-the-counter medicine.1

The new school says less is better. It’s not just about wasting less – it’s about owning less. But sometimes our owning habits are so ingrained, it can be very difficult to let go. Conversely, it can be difficult to see just how many problems we solve by relinquishing ownership.

Summer is a great time to take stock in what is important, and do a “cleanse” of the house. It’s garage sale season, and that makes it just a little easier to pass things along that are no longer serving your household.

If this idea makes you nervous, stop and ask yourself a few questions first:


  • Can I think of a time when I consciously detached from an object and regretted it?
  • What are the worst consequences in letting go of this stuff?
  • Is this object adding value to my family’s life?


Living with fewer possessions has a great number of benefits, but here are the five big ones:

  1. “I don’t make enough money to replace the extra things I have.”When you think about it, our possessions aren’t just a single output of cash; they have ongoing costs attached. The second car needs to be registered and insured just like the second TV requires more installation, cables and electricity. Cut down on stuff and save that money for experiences. Over time, it adds up to a lot!


  1. “I don’t have time to deal with it.”This should be a signal that you’ve lost touch with the things in question. They are stuffed in some cabinet or the garage, maybe for years, and they are creating an irksome thorn in your side when you think about them. That feeling is a weight on the psyche whether we realize it or not.


  1. “I work hard, I deserve nice things.” Yes, you do! But sometimes this is a deeper conversation about work/life balance. Do we have the money to buy the things, but then don’t have enough time to enjoy them? Again, going back to that basic question of “is this thing just taking up space or am I actually deriving enough gratification to justify having it?”


  1. “If my space was bigger, it wouldn’t be so cluttered.” It might be that your house isn’t too small – you’ve just got too much stuff! Of course, it can help to be organized, but getting a bigger home isn’t always the best answer.


  1. “If I had more money, I’d buy higher quality things that last.” Well, you might change your mind on that one if you did the math. When it comes to household stuff, you are better off paying more at the outset rather than going cheaper and consistently replacing the mop, the trashcan, and all those other incidentals. Go big, and do it only once – it’s cheaper over time.


The relief of owning less is palpable. It’s a feeling of freedom that we easily miss in our consumer culture. The lightness that comes with knowing where everything is, of truly appreciating the beautiful things you do own and the leverage you gain when you can spend less and do more, is a real gift to you and your family.




About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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