My 97 Things
I’ve wanted to count and document all of my things for some time now. I remember reading Colin’s site almost four years ago and seeing his All 72 Things I Own post and thinking, “I want to do that at some point.”
A few days ago I packed my entire life into about six bags.
Since then, I’ve pared it down even further and I now have exactly 97 things. This is what it looks like when all my bags are packed.
On the list, I set myself the goals counting and documenting all my things:
- Count and document all my crap
- Own fewer than 300 things
The overarching goal is to count and document my crap, which is a bigger task (but a much easier one now there’s not much of it ). I like the idea of having a specific purpose for all my things. If it doesn’t serve me, I don’t utilize it anymore, or I think someone else could use it better, I try to give it to someone who could utilize it better. If it’s broken, I either fix it or throw it away.
Over the last four years, I’ve been paring down what I own. A couple of years back, I took four bags of t-shirts (t-shirts!) to Goodwill. These days, I don’t buy very many “things”, but, still, every six to twelve months, I’ll go through my belongings and toss or give away stuff I no longer use. As recently as last week, I took three bags of things that had been sitting around at my parents’ house to Goodwill.
For me, minimalism isn’t a number and I probably won’t write much more on it as it’s more of a feature rather than the focus of my lifestyle. I like nice things but, as a rule, I prefer investing in my business, travel, and life experiences rather than in collecting things.
Note: I realized I wrote about that almost four years ago when I wrote this piece: Experiences > Things.
I’m only counting the physical objects I own. I have “own” several things for my business which don’t take up any physical space (domains, hosting, backups, etc.) but for my “X things” challenge, I’m only counting physical items that take up physical space.
This isn’t a static number – almost nothing in life is. It will probably grow (in fact, I can guarantee that this number will grow in the next twelve months) and shrink as I continue to live, work, and travel. But my goal is to use the stuff I own and to make sure the things in my life have a purpose and that they aren’t just taking up space.
Interestingly, the toughest part of this from a strictly numerical standpoint is that minimalism + athletic apparel = tough. Unless you want to wash your gear every other day, it’s tough to get down to one of each athletic item. For that reason, you’ll see that athletic apparel takes up a surprisingly large percentage of my items (following a breakdown similar to 80/20).
The Main Benefit Of Minimalism
The main benefit I get from this minimalist lifestyle is that my stuff is lightweight. It’s flexible. It allows me to work, travel, and have more options because I don’t have a bunch of stuff taking up mental energy and physical space. Having lots of stuff can be burdensome, mentally, physically, and financially.
Having less stuff allows me to do things that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Want to move across the country to San Diego because you don’t like the Chicago winter? Well, I did that three weeks ago. Things like this are a lot easier when you only take three bags (although I have to admit I was relatively annoyed that I had to check in a bag for the first time in over five years).
Anyways, onto the list.
My 97 Things
I’ve documented all of my belongings here.
As of my last count, I have 97 things, so I’m quite a bit under the 100 things mark. It wasn’t necessarily even my intention to get the number that low but, as I started getting rid of things I didn’t want to bring across the country, the number just went down naturally.
Here’s a list of all the things I own:
- GORUCK GR1
- Ignoble Marion Tombs Backpack
- Ignoble Cora Rucksack
- Ignoble Lorna Case (this is packed into my other bags & mainly used for coffee shop trips).
- 1 pair dark Jeans
- 1 pair washed jeans
- Nike sweatpants
- Khaki shorts
- Nike zip sweatshirt
- Chicago Bears zip sweatshirt
- 2 pairs Nike black shorts
- 1 pair Chicago Bears shorts
- Under Armour warm gear
- Under Armor cold gear
- Long sleeve grey athletic shirt
- 2 IMPOSSIBLE grey shirts
- 1 IMPOSSIBLE blue shirt
- 1 IMPOSSIBLE black shirt
- 1 grey NF shirt
- 1 blue SpotHero shirt
- 1 grey Dynamite Circle shirt
- 2 white shirts
- 1 Strength Camp shirt
- 1 WDS Shirt
- 1 red Fitwall shirt
- 1 Selfless tee
- Kevin Johnson jersey (because it’s KJ, seriously)
- 1 express black MK2 shirt
- 1 express Red MK2 shirt
- 1 black tie
- Red UVU track jacket
- Black Patagonia windbreaker jacket
- UVU athletic shirt
- Black t-shirt
- Black “A” shirt
- O’Neill swimsuit
- Blue 2XU tri top
- 2 UVU running shorts
- 4 pairs Nike Combat Compression Shorts
- 6 pairs black Ex Officio boxers
- 1 pair Under Armour compression shorts
- 2 pair Zensah compression sleeves
- Socks (grouped as 1)
- Merrell running shoes
- Cheap pair of sandals
- GORUCK fitted hat
- 3 notebooks
- 4 pens
- Contact case
- Toiletries case
- Prescription glasses
- Original Grain black on black watch
- Rubix cube
- Mission Belt silver
- Electronic shaver
- Macbook Air and charger
- Wireless mouse
- Tripod stand for iPod Touch
- GoPro and accessories
- SM 58 Mic
- Mic stand
- XLR cable
- iPod Touch
- iPhone 5
- Exped hammock
- Road ID band
- Fringe Sport jump rope
- Resistance band
- My triathlon bike
- A junky beach cruiser I bought off craigslist for $50 last week
- A few business documents (stored at my parents’ house)
- One outfit for when I visit the Midwest (It’s completely replaceable and I only have it because it gets very, very cold in Chicago during the holidays and I don’t like having to re-buy that stuff when I’m there.)
Lessons From Paring Things Down
Quality > Quantity
In short, I’d rather spend money on something nice which will last and which I’ll be able to enjoy, than on a bunch of middle-quality stuff that I may or may not use and which I may or may not even truly want.
The GORUCK and IGNOBLE bags listed above are relatively expensive but I gladly pay those prices because I’ve lugged these bags all over the world and know that they’re durable and that they’re the best travel combo I’ve had to date. I’d rather pay more for an object one time than have to buy one multiple times because it wears out quickly.
Except When Quantity > Quality
Of course, I’m going to completely contradict myself here.
The exception to the above rule is when it comes to stuff that I expect to break at some point. Case in point: sunglasses. I can’t own a pair of sunglasses for more than a month without dropping them, sitting on them, running over them,or otherwise completely destroying them. So I buy the cheapest pair I can find and plan on breaking and replacing them over and over and over again.
Everything Is Replaceable
When you start downsizing, you realize that everything is replaceable. There’s almost nothing on my list that I would be terribly sad to lose tomorrow.
I would be pretty bummed if my passport and laptop disappeared but they’re both very replaceable. My passport has a small amount of sentimental value but the hassle of dealing with the gov’t is the bigger deal. Losing my laptop would be annoying because of the data I have on it, but that’s all backed up and I could have another computer set up with my data tomorrow if I lost my laptop to a freak coffee incident today.
When you realize that everything is replaceable with a little bit of leg work, you start to wonder why we try to hold on to things so hard.
Have you ever tried counting your things? Do you think you could you even do it?