When I moved to Chicago and started Jess LC from scratch in a studio apartment in 2007 I didn’t have a lot. I was self-funded by my part-time efforts from Jess LC in college and spent a lot of time thrifting for my decor and shopping at inexpensive “fast fashion” stores. It was wonderful because not only was it within my college budget at the time, but it also suited what I enjoyed; vintage decorating and feeling like I had a lot of clothes.
Then after living in the big city for a while, I started to sense a shifting in my priorities and in my personal taste. Suddenly I had a penchant for nice things, high quality things, things that I loved and were meant to last.
The only problem was that I was just starting out and was still “stealing” dozens of free tampons from my business school’s bathroom in order to stay on budget.
That’s right, I didn’t have much money.
So in late 2007 I set an intention to have only nice stuff that I loved, used, and needed.
But at that moment, my stuff looked something like this:
I had a ways to go before I hit that intention, obviously.
But rather than be discouraged by the bleak financial situation and volume of “not nice” stuff that I owned, I decided to manipulate my belongings to tip the scales just a bit.
I started to regularly exfoliate items that I didn’t need, use, or love with all my heart. Though I still love thrifting and some vintage decor, I donated or gave away all that was no longer my personal style. Same went for the cheaply made clothing that made me feel… cheap.
The end result of this concentrated effort was something like this in 2008:
As you can see with less stuff, the pie shrank a bit overall. But the proportion of nice to not nice stuff had increased. For example, if I started with 100 items and only 15 were nice, I was at 15% of my goal.
Then after my exfoliating, if I only had 70 things but the same 15 nice ones remained, my percentage of nice stuff I owned jumped up to 21% – and I didn’t need to spend a penny.
I worked this formula on my possessions consistently and over time and the proportions continued to shift. I started to reach my goal without needing to go shopping.
And as you can imagine, over the next four years I did get more financial stability and was able to make new purchases. Although this time I had a new standard for what was worthwhile to spend money on: nice stuff. I didn’t get to buy much, but when I did – I made sure that it counted.
To continue this example, this might be a good representation of what my current stuff situation looks like:
Now I have a bigger pie since I have more things than after the shrinkage of 2008. But at the same time, the new things I’ve bought and my new exfoliations have continued to grow the good “nice” part of the pie.
Of course it goes without saying that what is “nice” or “not nice” is relative and is a personal decision that only we can make individually. But for those who are in a tight money spot at the moment or who might be unhappy with what they own; the exfoliation math can help fulfill intentions without breaking the budget.