What Does the Box Say?

Right next to our television, in the main part of the living room, lives a box.  Not a fancy box, just a plain, old cardboard box.

Ain’t She a Beauty?

This box is anything but decorative. If anything it is an eye sore, but to us, it is a constant reminder.

A reminder for what, you might ask?

It is reminder to get rid of stuff that we no longer need.  

I’d much rather see a cute elephant, but the box works too!

According to Becoming Minimalist blogger Joshua Becker,  the average U.S. household has 300,000 things, the actual size of houses has tripled and throughout their lifetime people spend a total of 3,680 hours (equivalent of 153 days)  looking for misplaced items.  That’s a whole lot of stuff and wasted time if you ask me!

So what’s the big deal?

Well, it’s not only the financial cost of buying and storing the stuff, but you must also maintain it, fix it, keep track of it, clean it, think about it, etc.

So what do we do about it?

Glad you asked…

In the past, we used to start a pile in our guest room: one shirt here, one plate there.  Over time it grew in size, ultimately becoming a formidable beast.  It was impossible to pack up, fit in the car and take to a donation center.  Which meant, it would just continue to grow.

Moving is a great time to purge unnecessary stuff.

We moved last May and as we unpacked, we combed through all sorts of things, pitching anything that we didn’t need.  If felt great not having to find a spot for all this stuff that we had accumulated over the years.  And even better that we were able to donate most of it.


After a few weeks, we were finally settled in, except for this one box. Since it wasn’t quite full yet, we didn’t want to take it.  So it stayed.  8 months later and it is still there.  Of course, when it gets full, we empty it, but the box remains.

Fancy home decor don’t you think?

One new thing in the house, one old thing out. 

We’ve even set-up a house rule: Every time we bring something new into the house, like a t-shirt for example; we put an old shirt that we no longer need in the box.  That way we limit the things coming into the house.  It’s a beautiful system.

Almost Full!

Donate when the box is full.

Since the box is of a manageable size, once it is full, we pick it up, put it in the car and take it to the donation center. Easy as..

Wait, wrong kind of pie!

Keeping it visible, keeps it top of mind. 

When it was in the guest room, it was out of sight, out of mind.  But now that it is right where we see it everyday, that means no more unyielding pile.


Also, it is easily accessible to add to at a moment’s notice, since it is right in a central part of our (small) house.

It’s even a conversation piece.

I find it fun to discuss it with guests when they come over.  Though some of our friends do not understand it, others share in our enjoyment of such a simple box.  I couldn’t wait to show it with Tonya over at Budget and the Beach because I knew she would understand.

It’s simple and valuable.

It’s a simple thing to do and helps us maintain a controllable amount of stuff in our house.

So, what does the box say?


I’d love to hear how you manage the amount of stuff in your house.


  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach March 5, 2017 at 7:22 am

    I think it’s a great system! Of course I would understand. I’ve always been sort of a natural minimalist. I just hate stuff shoved into closets, drawers, etc, so pretty often I go through and purge things and I never have trouble doing it. Always feels good!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…February Rewind: The Cat is Still Alive!

    • Mrs WoW March 5, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Why I haven’t always been a “natural minimalist” like yourself, I’m starting to get the hang of it. Its so empowering getting rid of stuff. Which makes me think, what should I tackle today?

  • Mr. Need2save March 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    It’s easy to just hide unused items in a closet or in the basement – out of sight, out of mind. Having the box out in the open is a nice reminder to evaluate what you aren’t using anymore.

    We typically make a Salvation Army run a couple of times per year to get rid of things we no longer use. Throw that in with a yearly yard sale and selling things on eBay and we are starting to make a dent.
    Mr. Need2save recently posted…Finding The Retirement Money You Think You Lost

    • Mrs WoW March 5, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      It starts with a small dent, then it gets a little bigger and before you know it you have empty drawers or shelves. It’s the best feeling!

  • Mr. 1500 March 11, 2017 at 6:05 am

    “What does the box say?”

    Thanks for putting that song in my head where it will stay for the next 6 hours or so!

    What the box say?

    • Mrs WoW March 11, 2017 at 7:35 am

      My plan worked! And now its stuck in my head again too…

      • Mrs.Need2Save March 12, 2017 at 1:38 pm

        Mrs. Wow – I didn’t connect your title with that song until Mr. 1500 had to go and write that. Man – that’s gonna be stuck now for days.

        I’m really surprised that Mr. Need2Save above did not come clean about the box that has been sitting in our living room for 4 months with donations for the animal shelter. In his defense, and maybe because your entry shamed in to doing something about the box – we took it to the animal shelter this weekend. It was mostly filled with old towels, blankets, and sheets that I purged from our linen closet. I hope, those sweet dogs and cats will make good use of them while they wait to be adopted.

        • Mrs WoW March 12, 2017 at 9:30 pm

          I love that! We haven’t taken any donations to an animal shelter before, but have been wanting to that. Think you just gave me the motivation that I needed. Thanks for sharing!

  • wendy June 25, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I too have a box or a bag for donations, at all times. It really does make it easier to purge and it has a built in safety net… some folks worry that they’ll have regrets after ruthlessly purging… but if you put it in the box and it’s still there weeks/months later, when you finally fill it to donate – they you really don’t need it AND you can tell the inner niggling doubter to shut up.

    • Mrs WoW June 25, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      I can honestly say that I have never put something in the box and pulled it back out again. Think it is safe to say that once it goes in my mind is made up.

    • Mr WoW June 25, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      That’s a great point as well. We try to keep tabs on what we actually use, and just get rid of things that we haven’t seen in a while. But yeah, we should do the “pack up like you’re moving trick”. Put everything in boxes like you’re moving. Live with it for 3 months. What you don’t take out of boxes is then pre-packed to take right to the donation center!

  • Debbie June 14, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    First, love your site. Found you through “the retirement manifesto”. I’m planning to retire early and I’m always looking for good sites of information/ideas. I plan on showing this post to my family and saying “see I’m not the only one”. I too keep a box for donations in plain site by the back door. I have found this makes it easier to remember to add things instead of just putting them back in the closet/cupboard.

    • Mrs WoW June 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

      I love that you also have a box in plain view, not sure I have met anyone else who does this. Fritz is absolutely amazing, I’ve been a long time reader of his blog so thanks for joining us on our little abode on the internet. I hope you find some value in our stuff and good luck on the early retirement plans. That’s so exciting!


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