My Wake Up Call

03/11/2010

When I started my first full time job out of college, I got my own apartment. For the first couple months, I subletted an apartment that was about 30 min walk from work.  It was great.  I walked to work everyday and it was exhilerating.

Soon after, my lease expired, and I moved into my basement apartment (where I currently live).  It was my first “permanent” home since I started college.  Aside from my kitchen stuff, clothes and toiletries, I had nothing else.

I  bought a bed and found some furniture to fill up my empty apartment.  About half of my furniture came second hand (yay, Craigslist!) – I got a barely used IKEA couch, coffee table, tv stand, and a dining table set.

The dining table set was a real score, I paid $50 – including delivery.  (OK, so the gentleman was kind enough to drive it to my house since he thought it was outrageous that I was going to lug it home with my sister.)

It was really fun to decorate and pick out items to match my new home.   (I love you, IKEA!)  I finally felt like grown up.  I did not have posters stuck on the walls with sticky tack.  And my duvet covers matched my pillow cases!

I was speaking to one of the ladies at work and sharing with her how fun I thought decorating was!  Then, she said something that still haunts me to this day.

“That’s what happens when you grow up.  You buy stuff.  Then you spend money to take care of the stuff you buy.  Then you buy more stuff.  And then you a bigger place to put all the stuff you buy!”

Isn’t that just crazy?!

I decided that I never want that to be me.  Even though it was exciting to decorate and buy furniture, I don’t ever want to be a slave to my belongings.

And I try to ask myself with every purchase, “Do I need it?  Will it make my life better?  Is it worth it?”

Have you had a wake up call?  How has it affected you and the decisions you make on a daily  basis?

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12 Responses to “My Wake Up Call”


  1. It’s true a lot of people buy stuff to fill up their house. Then buy a bigger house to fill up more stuff. I constantly hear people say they don’t have enough space in their house & need to “trade up”. While I’m thinking why don’t you just get rid of some of your junk? But I don’t want to be rude hence, I don’t say anything.

    We live in a 3 bed, 2 bath ranch-style house. It has enough space for all 8 of us (4 humans, 1 cat, 1 dog, 2 frogs). We had a much larger house while we lived in Washington State but you know, cost of living is much less there. We donated much of our furnitures before moving back to New Jersey. We also paid a lot more to buy a much smaller house here in Jersey. We adjust depending on what we feel comfortable with.


  2. My basement apartment is pretty roomy, but I try not to buy things if there is no reason for it. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t have a toaster – I don’t want it to be taking up precious counter room when I could just stick it in the toaster oven for a couple minutes. 🙂

  3. miss esther Says:

    I love the theme of your blog. This is so relevant-especially today when people (including me) are on constant shopping binges. I definitely buy too much stuff-especially when I stop by Target. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  4. Miss Guimba Says:

    This is so true. I was mapping out my life and realized that I was slaving away for a dream life of stuff and vacations, but I forgot about what’s important in my life, my family. This started me towards the path to simplicity.


    • Stuff and vacations are good, but I guess it depends on what we are sacrificing for it. If I am slaving away 50 weeks of the year for that 2 week of vacation – then that’s a little much for me.

      I prefer to take a mini vacation every weekend. Most of the time, I don’t go anywhere far, just explore downtown and parks. Or the couch and Criminal Minds! 😀

  5. Heather Says:

    My most recent “wake up” call happened 9 weeks ago. I tore my ACL in my knee. I have had surgery but am struggling with recovery. I run a pretty tight but simple ship around here but this whole medical issue has me wondering why I still have things I am not using nor will be anytime soon. Just when I thought I was simplified and comfortable, my knee was just the push I needed to realize I could go a bit further and still be happy and comfortable. : )


    • Yikes. I hope that your recovery will get smoother. Good for you to be able to always push yourself a little further. It’s very admirable 🙂

      I guess sometimes, when something drastic happens, we are forced to re-evaluate everything in our lives, especially our lifestyle choices.

  6. Red Says:

    My wake up call was my boyfriend moving into my 650-square feet apartment with me. Once all of his stuff came in, I felt suffocated. I started examining the functionality of the things I owned. I had a desk that I never used but kept it because I had brought it from home. I had so many clothes that I was using two closets, a dresser and a chest of drawers to hold them all. I had so many books that, combined with D’s, we had to have 3 bookshelves to hold them all.

    Now I only keep things that we need. No desk. No books. (That’s what libraries are for!) No DVDs. (Again, libraries!)


    • Wow! Two people in a pretty tight space, that’s crazy 🙂 Good for you!

      I wonder if BF and I can do that. We both live on our own, though I don’t think we have that much stuff each.

  7. Annie Says:

    My wake up call came rather gradually. My parents grew up during the Depression and like to accumulate stuff and I was raised to do the same thing in the name of saving money.

    I ended up marrying a man much much worse than I was, who (at one point) would scream in fury if you emptied his ashtray!

    After the divorce the kids and I tripped all over ourselves, our stuff and our pets in a 10 x 50 mobile home…

    It took several years watching those around me spend obscene amounts of money on stuff they didn’t need and would try to pass off to me, trying to persuade me to catch up to the Joneses–I finally saw how stupid and pointless that life was.

    That was when I realized that a lot of stuff in our house was just for looks.. The television hadn’t been turned on in years, the couch was never sat on and my bed hurt my back… While I had been eliminating stuff over the years, getting rid of things that had been kept cause “everyone had one” — that feeling was incredible! People still offer me couches and beds–I have even been offered a big-screen television! The fun part is watching the look on their faces when you politely say “no, thanks.”

    So I guess the day I got rid of the television, couch, loveseat and my big beautiful queen-size bed was my big moment. Why have stuff if A) you don’t use it, B) you don’t like it, C) it hurts you to use it pr D) you can’t move it without hiring help.


    • Having grown up with enough, my parents always preached that it wasn’t the things in our lives that made us happy. Life wasn’t about showing off our belongings and looking down at other people. It was about being happy with enough and enjoying what you already have. It took me a while to learn that lesson, but I am glad that it is now rather than later 🙂


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