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Collect moments not things

August 23, 2015

Father and son paddling in the sea

I was a terrible spendthrift until I turned 40. Now I aim to ‘collect moments not things’ and I’m much happier for it.

The photo above shows my husband and son paddling in the sea. I remember this as being a really lovely moment, worth more to me than any swanky handbag or fancy gadget.

As I grew up I was told that spending money on experiences, such as going to the cinema or eating out, was a waste of money because I ‘would have nothing to show for it’. But I have learned that buying things just for the sake of it does not bring happiness, it just means your house gets full of stuff you don’t really want or need.

For some time now, I have been buying less stuff and decluttering the stuff we already have. Items that we are not using could be used and enjoyed by other people. I’m never going to manage to be a proper minimalist, but I have already made progress on creating more space and reducing the amount of stuff in our home. This is especially important because our current house is smaller than our old house, and has much less storage space.

I’m a big fan of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever’ by Marie Kondo. It has really helped me to get rid of items that do not bring me joy, and to make better use of my favourite things.

With limited money available, I would rather spend money on experiences than things. In particular, I don’t want to waste money on things that do not bring me joy!

I’ve worked to get my credit card bill under control by having a wishlist, instead of buying things as soon as I see them, and using cash wherever possible. We are aiming to to be mortgage free by 2020, by making regular over-payments to shorten the mortgage term.

This is also about trying to be a good role model for my son. I have talked to him about why I think having fun together is more important than having things, and why having less stuff means that there is more space to play. We still buy toys, particularly Lego, but we are more selective.

When it comes to expensive toys, like games consoles, I have explained that I think it is more fun to spend the same amount of money on a seaside holiday. This seems to have worked (so far!), because my son loves the seaside as much as I do.

So if you carry on reading this blog, you can expect to see more about moments and less about things.

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2015 2:31 pm

    I have the book to read and am taking it away with me next week. I collect memories an d moments not things and we have learned that it is experiences that bring us more happiness.

    • August 24, 2015 8:23 pm

      Let me know how you get on with the book. Some of the things she says are a bit eccentric, but the idea of choosing what to keep based on whether it brings you joy was really helpful to me.

  2. August 23, 2015 4:48 pm

    I definitely agree with ‘moments’ not ‘things’. This is why we enjoy family travel so much- spending time together in an unhurried way and laughing a lot. I look forward to your future posts.

    • August 24, 2015 8:25 pm

      Yes we enjoy spending time together laughing a lot too. Thanks for saying you look forward to future posts – it will encourage me to make some time to write more.

  3. August 23, 2015 6:33 pm

    I really need to declutter. I agree as you get older you realise what’s really important

    • August 24, 2015 8:31 pm

      Yes, now that I’m older I’ve realised what’s really important, and I’m more prepared to do what suits us best rather than be swayed by marketing.

      Good luck with your declutter!

  4. August 23, 2015 6:45 pm

    memories are so much more meaningful

  5. August 23, 2015 7:12 pm

    I am totally with you on spending time at the seaside, it is so much more fun x

  6. August 23, 2015 7:27 pm

    Beautiful Ruth. Very #embracehappy 💜

    The moments are what it’s all about!

    Karin xx

    • August 24, 2015 8:37 pm

      Thanks Karin. I’m planning to do a post about how I write my 3 good things in an #embracehappy notebook

      Ruthy xx

  7. Erica Price permalink
    August 23, 2015 7:56 pm

    You’re so right. We are always decluttering and always seem to have too much stuff.

    • September 13, 2015 9:17 am

      If you are always decluttering and always seem to have too much stuff, perhaps it is because you keep collecting more stuff faster than you declutter it?

      I’ve now reached the point where I’m buying a lot less stuff, partly because I resist buying things that I’m pretty sure will end up being decluttered later…

  8. August 23, 2015 9:38 pm

    I am definitely a believer in experiences over items, but decluttering is not a strength of mine and our house is far too full. I would love to be more minimalist, but I don’t seem to find the time to clear out!

    • September 13, 2015 9:23 am

      Finding the time to clear out is hard, especially when you’ve got kids. Perhaps you could try tackling just one category of stuff (e.g. contents of kitchen cupboards) and then see if that gives you the momentum to move onto something else?

      I will never be a minimalist, but I am proud to have made our home less full of stuff than it was, and I’m trying to keep it that way by buying less stuff in future.

  9. August 23, 2015 9:55 pm

    What a wonderful post- the book definitely sounds like one for my wishlist. I am now horrified by the price of the things I bought before kids, and I do agree it’s the moments which create the memories.

    • September 13, 2015 9:28 am

      Like you, I’m horrified by the price of the things I bought before becoming a mum! But I’m trying to focus on doing things differently from now on, rather than feeling cross with myself for mistakes made in the past.

      I hope you find the book as helpful as I did. It’s a bit a of ‘marmite’ thing, some people love it and others can’t get beyond the first few pages…

  10. August 23, 2015 10:30 pm

    I feel that society as a whole is slowly swinging a little against the mass consumerism we live in. I think it’s ok to have indulged a little before kids though. It balances things out when your focus changes.

    • September 13, 2015 9:34 am

      I’d like to think that society is swinging against mass consumerism, but it’s actually very hard to resist the idea that buying a new handbag/car/gadget will make you happier/more glamorous…

      What I’m trying to do is to keep the best of things I bought before, while not buying too many additional things now.

  11. August 23, 2015 11:01 pm

    That’s a lovely picture and happy memory for you. I really need to pull my spending in and actually concentrate on doing the things on my bucket list (and list of things to do before you are 12 – which I will be doing at 38 lol). Stephen :o)

    • September 13, 2015 9:38 am

      Pulling your spending in is hard! I find it helpful to focus on what else I could spend the money on (e.g. by not buying another pot of face cream, I can afford the train fare to London to visit my sister). Good luck!

  12. emmysmummy permalink
    August 24, 2015 7:39 am

    It’s definitely better to collect memories. I hate that my kids seem to expect a gift every time we head off out and am trying to change that

    • September 13, 2015 9:40 am

      My son used to expect a small gift every time we went anywhere (even to the supermarket!), but we have managed to change that now. It took a while though!

  13. nessjibberjabberuk permalink
    August 24, 2015 7:52 am

    We have a small house which is full! I try to take two things out for every one that comes in.

    • September 13, 2015 9:43 am

      I try to take more things out than I bring in too! I’ve just bought the new Jamie Oliver book, and got rid of a few cookbooks to make space for it.

  14. August 24, 2015 10:04 am

    I have been making an effort to declutter recently, but I had never considered experiences as being so valuable before, I totally agree with you, though, it’s brilliant!

  15. August 24, 2015 11:12 am

    Love this and totally agree, I am often guilty of buying things for the sake of it but this summer we have spent our money on experiences instead and I feel much richer for it.

  16. August 24, 2015 12:47 pm

    I spend the majority of my life decluttering! We love being out and about and enjoying time together, we’ve been to the seaside a lot this week.

  17. karaguppy2015 permalink
    August 24, 2015 3:56 pm

    You have borrowed our catch phrase. Life just isnt about things for us anymore either

  18. August 24, 2015 10:18 pm

    Moments mean so much more – I love the idea of collecting moments not things. x

  19. August 24, 2015 11:05 pm

    I am so not a materialistic person. I’d much rather collect special moments. I do collect a lot of junk as well though so I’m well aware of the joy of decluttering.

  20. August 27, 2015 10:21 pm

    I look forward to reading more of your moments. I’m getting into that mindset right now and trying to declutter. Moments are so much more important than things.

  21. December 6, 2015 9:23 pm

    I agree it is much more important to collect moments rather than things. Being together as a family is much more important. I’m looking forward to reading more x

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