Our Personal Story of Stuff

Aside from how beautiful Oregon is, the most common remark I’ve gotten from my Danish family and friends who have visited is that our home feels and looks more European than most American homes. I’m sure this is partly because I lived in Denmark, and I appreciate the aesthetic of simple nature-inspired design. While not spartan, our home is noticeably uncluttered. 

It’s also because even before kids, Hubby and I were a bit of stuff misers. We don’t want to be burdened by clutter and waste and we have a pretty low threshold for unnecessary things in our life. We make our choices about what material items we purchase very consciously and deliberately. We lived with an empty living room for almost three months just because I wasn’t willing to buy just anything. And although I love my furniture, I do regret that I was unable to purchase it without flame retardants…but that’s another story.

Here are some of the things we think about:

  • We evaluate carefully whether we really “need” something – We try not to buy something just because it’s a good deal. Not that we balk at sales, we just don’t want them to control our spending and consumption habits. 
  • We avoid impulse purchases at all costs, and usually agree upon the “need” for a purchase at least a month or two before we actually buy it. This helps our budget and ensures that we really want/need it.
  • We buy quality over quantity, like with our new vacuum. 
  • We try to buy used. some times this doesn’t work due to our quality criteria, but I bought Hubby a sweet Weber barbecue from Craigslist last Father’s Day.
  • We think about the life-cycle of the item once we’ve purchased it and ask these simple questions: 
    • How long do we expect it to last? 
    • Will it be reusable? Or recyclable?
    • How quickly will it end up in  our garbage can to head to the landfill?
There are obviously other factors that go into our decision making for some things, but you can get the picture. Asking these questions, thinking about them and talking with each other has helped us limit our spending, our clutter and our impact on the Earth. 

Now limiting stuff isn’t as easy with kids, but I’ve save that topic for another day. 

How do you decide what your family needs?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

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