Remember George Carlin’s shtick about stuff? Can you say that last phrase three times fast?
Today’s topic is stuff. What you have; where you keep it; what you need versus what you want. One of my writer friends, Annie Brewer, blogs and writes books about having stuff – and how to live with less. I don’t presume to know as much about this as she does, but in the context of prepping, I’m going to give you a few tips.
Your stuff. You love your stuff, or at least like it. Or you did, when you bought it. Somehow it accumulates and takes over your closet, your garage, your shed, your basement.
What happens to your stuff if SHTF?
If you bug in, nothing, probably. If you bug out… well, you can’t take it with you! You have to determine what is useful stuff as opposed to non-useful. That’s probably a good idea any time, but especially if, you know…
So what do you do? First, stop accumulating more stuff! For example, last year for Christmas I got my husband a “volunteer” spot at the Senior PGA Tournament that was here in town. Okay, so he also received, from them, a hat, a shirt, and a jacket. But those things are useful.
For Fathers’ Day, we gave him a ticket to go ghost hunting at The Book House in July. Not only does it benefit The Book House, but again, no stuff! And if he brings home a ghost as a souvenir, he’ll be sleeping with in out in the greenhouse…
(As a side note, for Mothers’ Day I got dirt and garden plants = useful stuff.)
Let’s assume you stop the madness; you stop getting more stuff. What do you do with all the stuff you already bought?
First, you have to decide what’s important – like your great-grandma’s rocking chair or your lawn mower. Or your book collection. Divide all your stuff into four categories: important, useful or potentially useful, necessary, and superfluous.
Only you can decide what’s important to you; useful or potentially useful can include all kinds of things and are what you need when SHTF. Necessary, of course, are things that are needed now, before SHTF. Superfluous, well, again, only you can decide that!
Of course, I don’t mean for you to make giant piles of stuff. Make a list. Or start with one room. Here, I’ll give you an example:
Our guest room.
In this room there is a bed, of course, an antique dresser, an antique dressing table and bench, and a small bookshelf. There are also a few pictures on the wall, some decorative fake ivy, a few knick-knacks, and a closet. The closet holds a hodgepodge of, well, stuff.
Obviously, the bed needs to stay in the guest room or it wouldn’t be a guest room. I’m pretty attached to the dresser, because it was one of my first finds and I got a heck of a deal; plus, it’s over 160 years old. And again, guest room! The pictures, too, are important to me, and some of the knick-knacks, like a couple of tin train cars that were my dad’s. All of these things fall under that “important to me” category, so they’re staying. Oh, and the bed too, because it’s “necessary.” The rest of the knick-knacks would probably go on either a “get rid of it” list or a “eh, whatever happens to it, happens to it.”
The closet, on the other hand is trickier to determine. Most of the hanging clothes are dress clothes which we wear… oh, once in a blue moon. Truthfully, some are decades old and should be given away. I seriously doubt when SHTF we’ll be going out to dinner. Or, well, OUT to dinner, but not out to dinner… oh, never mind, you get it, right?
There are also some miscellaneous stuff the kids have left or lost over the years, and a bunch of wrapping paper, boxes, gift bags, etc. Oh, and my ice skates. Don’t ask. A few clothing items I’m rather attached to – as well as those skates – like my old camp staff jacket and shirt. And my great-grandmother’s confirmation dress, which my daughter and I also wore for our confirmations. So, again, a few things which are “important,” a lot that can be tossed. I also store blankets in the closet – these fall under useful (well, in the winter) and potentially useful. So those definitely stay.
Now, my advice to you, using my guest room as an example, is to pack and store the important things; in my case, that would be the photos, those couple knick-knacks, my staff jacket and shirt, and maybe the ice skates. Hmmm. Maybe.
Anyway, keep these boxes/totes/whatever with your cache of food and supplies; have them clearly marked and, if you have to bug out and you have room for any extras, you can throw them in your vehicle too.
Now, tossing or donating stuff can help free up your time – less moving stuff around, less dusting, etc., – but you don’t want to live in a cell either. There’s no reason you can’t have decorative, um, stuff, lying around, brightening up the place. Just know that simple can be good, too. And, if you aren’t attached to the décor, it won’t be as hard to leave it.
And if what’s important to you is packed and ready to go, it’ll be a lot easier to just GO, without worrying about your stuff or trying to run around and collect it all. In fact, it could be very detrimental to health and well-being when SHTF if you have to waste time trying to find the important “stuff.”