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I’d like to be more like Barbara Raab. The NBC news writer temporarily traded her in her job to teach journalism at a public university. Although she took a big pay cut, she manages it in large part to her lack of stuff:

To me, having and wanting “things” just means more “stuff” to take care of, and I don’t want to be bogged down by “stuff.” Other than a second bedroom, and my own personal washer/dryer (sadly, my building does not allow the latter or I’d have it in a heartbeat), I can honestly say that I have pretty much every “thing” I want, so even though taking a giant pay cut to teach at a public university isn’t easy, I knew I could make it work for a short time without a lot of pain.

I’m in the process of moving and if my constant relocations (nine in four years) have taught me anything, it’s that I have a lot of things. This stuff is not only plentiful, but it’s also, for the most part, unused. Although I’m pretty good at avoiding the “stuff traps” at the mall, I’m still guilty of stupid souvenirs and buying too many pens. I’ve even impulsively bought records despite my lack of a record player. I am reminded of these stupid purchases every time I pack my things up and move.

Packing up and moving is a pain, but at least it forces us to stop and take stock of our belongings. We have to go through every nook and cranny of our homes and separate the things we want to lug across town/country/world from the things we don’t.This is a healthy thing. Not only do we get rid of excess in our homes, but it reminds us to think twice when we feel the impulse to buy something we don’t really need.

Stuff really weighs us down. For me, it’s an overwhelming psychological weight, the same kind of feeling I have when my apartment is so messy, I don’t want to spend time in it. It’s also an economical weight that eats away at our back accounts that has little or no return.

My goal for the rest of October and November is to get rid of stuff. So far, I’ve donated a box of kitchenware, set aside a box of books and CDs to sell or give away and freed a bag of clothing for donation. The stuff that I really hate is paper. I’ve got receipts, bills and bank statements that go back five, six, even seven years. They don’t take up much room, but when I get that organized, I’ll feel a lot lighter.

What’s weighing you down?

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