206. Finding peace through downsizing + decluttering the closet and shopping, with Renee Benes of the Unstuffed Podcast

When you think you need all the things and the dream home to be happy…. then you realize you need to shed the weight of ‘stuff’ and consumerism in order to find yourself and find peace. Renee Benes, of the Unstuffed Podcast, shares some of her story of downsizing, decluttering the closet and what it taught her about herself and her life. 


In this episode, we talk about:

  • Renee gave up her dream home to downsize and adopt minimalism
  • The process of decluttering the closet, letting go of those clothes that no longer fit your identity or body
  • How to navigate an appreciation of fashion with minimalism
  • Capsule wardrobes, seasonal clothing, shopping 
  • The influence of social media on us and how it impacts approaches to minimalism 


This episode is a portion of our interview, the rest of the interview covers topics such as:

  • Death and loss
  • Raising kids
  • Scarity and abundance 
  • And even kid’s bday presents

There is audio and video available for the rest of this fun interview! 


👋🏽 Find Renee at the Unstuffed Podcast and on Instagram 

☕️ Join the Simple Saturdays Email

👯‍♀️ Be part of the Life on Purpose Community 



Full Transcript

Speaker 1 0:00
 Welcome to the simple purpose Podcast. Today we have a very unique episode. This is a guest episode, which rarely happens. And the reason you’re hearing it here today is because I have recently started the Patreon the life on purpose community, and I would like to offer guest episodes in that community. So I wanted to make sure and share some of the year so you can meet Renee, who I’m talking with today. And here’s some of her story. Because I enjoy her story. You’ll hear me tell Renee, that I have followed her on Instagram for years. And I was really drawn to her content, because she was talking about the things I was interested in about saving money, but like just the real practical, like discomfort and stuff about saving money and shopping. And she was talking about becoming a minimalist and how it was changing her life. And she was very laid back about it. It wasn’t all curated, tablescapes and rose gold and just do these three things, and your life will be simplified, and it was really relatable. So Renee has a podcast called unstuffed. And she’s also an Instagram I’m gonna make sure to link are in the show notes. What you’re going to hear, hear, hear, hear, what you’re going to hear today is a mini version of a longer episode. There’s actually two more parts to this episode one is an audio podcast, and the other is a video and those will be available on Patreon coming soon. In this episode, though, we’re going to talk about downsizing, Rene’s experience with downsizing our home. We’re going to talk about closets and clothes and how consumerism and social media plays into all of these things about our lives and who we think we are. So I want to just jump right in. I hope you enjoy. Welcome

Shawna Scafe 1:46
to the podcast. I’m so excited to have you here.

Renee 1:49
Hi, Shawna. Yeah,

Shawna Scafe 1:51
thanks for having me.

Renee 1:52
I’m excited to sit down and chat. Yeah.

Shawna Scafe 1:53
So I don’t often do well, I rarely ever do guest interviews. But I’ve been following you on Instagram, I was telling you earlier, I found you on Pinterest started following you on Instagram some years back. And when you reached out to me, as I absolutely like I’ve followed you for a while, I’m going to also be sharing some of this content in the Patreon only. So this was just really inspired timing as well, in my opinion, to be doing this interview with you. So aside from that, tell us who you are. What you do you know the basics. Yeah, well, thanks.

Renee 2:27
I’m so glad first of all, that you still like me from the blog? Like thanks for hanging out. But um, yeah, I started my minimalist blog in 2017. After we had just downsized our house. We downsize our house by 2000 finished square feet, and just started practicing minimalism. And I did it in a way of like, hoping to be able to reconnect to myself, I felt like I had kind of gone through life just on autopilot and collected stuff on autopilot. Yeah. So going through the decluttering process for me was an internal and external just all around life transformation.

Shawna Scafe 3:11
Yeah, and I know, I know some of your story from following you over the years, I know that you were in this huge home. And like you said earlier, there was just a lot of things happening all at once. That kind of prompted you to make a decision to downsize. Could you kind of in a nutshell, give me an idea of what that was like at that time.

Renee 3:30
Yeah, it was like, so obnoxious in the sense that I felt like I had I got everything I ever wanted, everything I thought I should ever want. And it couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t happy. Like, everything just felt worse. It almost felt worse because I thought it would feel better and it didn’t you know, and I started to it talk about like how serendipitously I found, self help spiritual author Wayne Dyer. I didn’t know self help was a thing I didn’t read. I didn’t read after high school. But my marriage was struggling. You know, and my husband had been my best friend so to like, not have my best friend around but this roommate kind of person in my house. You know, it was so awful. So I had a friend say, Well, I’ve been going to the library a lot. And I thought, Well, okay, I heard about this, dude, wait, I’ll just go see what his books are. And they were life changing. And I think that’s how things happen. A lot of times those were just brought to the right message that we need. And it started to encourage me to seek more than stuff in my life to seek a deeper, more fulfilled life that wasn’t just reliant on external things or collecting the things we’re told we should want, you know?

Shawna Scafe 4:58
Yeah, I don’t know if this is how you felt at the time. But it’s like we spent a lot of our 20s building up the life people showed us and told us and you know, we’re you go into winners, and this is what you buy, I think maybe you guys call it something different there. But you go in, you buy the things at the store that you think an adult would need. But then you come home and it just fills your home. And maybe it’s actually not really you like, what, what was that contrast, like to notice between, I have all this stuff. But this is actually who I want to be. So it was

Renee 5:30
tough. It was a weird thing that was kind of like, I’m winging it, I hope this helped pave the road for me. But you’re right, like, our parents, you know, we’re born. And we, it’s what we’re supposed to do is listen to our elders, right? They taught us how to eat, they taught us how to walk, they taught us how to wipe our own butt, you know, things that we need. And so then we just kind of keep listening to the messages that were given from teachers and from parents and, you know, go to college, get the house, when are you going to have kids? And a lot of times nobody questions like, oh, but is this actually what I want? Or do I even have an option for these things? And then unfortunately, you know, I think a lot of people already accumulated the things like you said, and that’s where I started to hear a lot of stories from like the minimalists. Who got the climb the ladder at the six figure job, and we’re like, this isn’t, I don’t like this. I don’t want I want to be here. And so I, for me, it started in my closet. And I think you said you find a lot of peace and decluttering your closet as well as like I couldn’t. It’s so difficult to say like, Hey, figure out who you are. Who are you really what do you really want? That’s a big question. So my solution was, well, I’m gonna go on my closet. And I’ll start with the clothes I actually liked the most. So I picked out all the things that I always wanted to wear the most, you know, the, you know, the shirt that you’re like, I always feel cozy in the shirt. I love the way this shirt looks on me. These pants, oh my gosh, they’re my favorite. I picked out all those things. And basically got rid of the rest. Yeah, I kept a few pieces. But the rest was like, Okay, you’re gone.

Shawna Scafe 7:23
Oh, wow.

Renee 7:24
And that was kind of my stepping stone to figure it out. Me.

Shawna Scafe 7:28
That is I think clothing is a great space to start. But you probably hear this often. How do you actually let go of the things that are, you know, maybe I was pregnant, and this fit me then and it won’t fit me right now. Or I used to have a job. And this is what I used to wear? Like, how did you give yourself permission to really let go of the things because we hold on to clothes for like, safety, like a security net? Or, like, I need options? Like, what did you notice going through and letting go of that stuff? Yeah,

Renee 8:00
I in that moment. I think it was just such a deep emotional desire to figure out to figure out who I was to let go of it all to kind of start fresh. It was like I wanted to wipe the slate clean, and figure it out. And I think that’s such an important part of decluttering a lot of times is to, to I mean, not everybody everybody’s journey is different. No one’s no one’s is like mine. It’s mine. It’s weird, I feel like but to like, have a deeper idea of what you’re reaching for because it makes it so much easier to let go of those little things, you know, but you’re right, those those deeper topics. So for me in that moment, it was like, I just need to start fresh. It was really easy. But I remember talking to my aunt who it’s been maybe two years now since she retired, she sold her home. She girl just went crazy. She like she had a home that was very filled. She had a very large beautiful home that was filled with things and she would give me things and then she would do the things she does. If you don’t want this or if you’re when the kids are done give it back give it back to the setback. Yeah, but I don’t know what clicked in her. But she was like sold it all get rid of the house don’t care. And they moved to Arizona with like just one storage tube you know, Storage Cube filled with things. But her she said that her her work. clothing was the biggest struggle for her. Yeah, like you were saying like what about these work clothes? I think that’s so huge, especially and this was part of why I started to declutter was a lesson as we build our identity around our stuff we attach our worth and our value to the things that we own. So for her and I get this man because she’s an impressive woman. She is You know, really worked her way up the corporate ladder. And for her that was in the 80s when women weren’t necessarily taken seriously, and she was the boss she like, was able to accomplish huge, wonderful things. And so for her this wardrobe was a, you know, yeah. It was, I didn’t this this is even high was that Yeah, great. Um, and I think stuff like that is giving ourselves the grace and that emotional healing, like, you’re letting go of more than your work clothes. You know, or you’re letting go of more than the clothes that fit you before you got pregnant. You know, I struggled big time with bikinis after I had babies. You know, me stretch marks, like letting go of a person. You’re like letting go of who you

Shawna Scafe 10:59
used to be version of you. Yeah. Yeah. Letting go of the bikinis is letting go of the version of you that was wearing bikinis. And yeah, all of that setting companies. That experience Yeah. Right.

Renee 11:12
It can be such a tough thing. You know? We’re Yeah, we might think like, why can’t I let go of these, you know, my skinny pants or my skinny jeans or the smaller clothing size. And a lot of it is, you know, maybe accepting that you’re not that person accepting that you’re not that size person. Because chances are like, if I were to all of a sudden fit into my smaller pants that I wore before kids, and I still had all the old ones, I would want to go buy new ones anyway, you know, cuz I wouldn’t want the old ones. I wouldn’t want the old tops that used to fit. If all of a sudden my stretch marks are gone, and I had a six pack at home. To go by myself. New bikinis is what I’m gonna do. You know? Yeah.

Shawna Scafe 11:59
I think there’s that rational part of it. And also like a truly a healing emotional part that you have to let go of more than just the thing. Or release. Yeah, yeah. And clothing is so interesting, because we live in fast fashion where it changes every season. Remember, growing up, you were kind of beisbol I mean, the 80s and early 90s was they were a bit different. But ideally, we were just buying something and we would have it till it wore out or if we outgrew it. But it seems like now we’re in an era where we refresh our closet constantly. And I’ll say I enjoy that. Like, I like the feeling of going and getting something new I love. Okay, how am I going to use this? How am I going to wear it like this is exciting. It’s something new and novel. And I can satisfy that feeling with thrift stores and how many downs but there, but I do notice the contrast of what a minimalism capsule wardrobe should be that we buy these statement pieces that lasted a decade plus, versus how maybe there’s a part of us that enjoys clothes and fashion like, what did you notice in yourself about that as you went through the years of really paying attention to your clothing and your shopping? Yeah,

Renee 13:13
that’s funny that you say that. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Because I did a blog post called How to be a minimalist and so like clothes. I always did. I always liked my clothes. And I think the more I learned who I was, the more I bought clothes that aligned with who I was versus before that I kind of just bought whatever was trendy, whatever was on sale, whatever. Other people you know, if you go shopping with someone, you’re not going to get them but it’s so cute. You’re like, okay, I

Shawna Scafe 13:40
guess I’ll buy it, you know, right. twofer run all the things Yeah. Right.

Renee 13:44
And so I am I’m like you were I feel like I buy things and then have them for a few years and then it starts to be like okay, I you know, I I want to refresh it because I do like having new clothes. And you’re right with the capsule wardrobes. I tried. I’ve tried capsule wardrobes. And maybe you relate to this being in Canada, and I’m in Minnesota here like in the winter, I put some winter stuff, I put summer stuff away. I’m not gonna put on a dress. I think he’s gonna your kids wear shorts in the winter. I am not wanting to do that. Again, in Minnesota, it’s like but in summertime, I still keep all the sweatshirts and the sweaters because,

Shawna Scafe 14:29
yeah, you’re probably

Renee 14:30
going to need them. But beyond that, I I can’t quite limit myself. I do think it’s good to have those basic statement pieces for me at least like the undershirts that are white, neutral, black. Those are something I always turn to like there’s something I’ve always continually used. But giving yourself the grace and the peace to know what your style is and to be okay with it. And if you have an amount of clothing that feels overwhelming for you Maybe it’s out like a little bit, you know?

Shawna Scafe 15:03
Yeah, I think that’s a good point is that we all come into decluttering simplifying with a certain amount of stuff already. And for some of you, it could, like, I’ve watched documentaries and seen people with a rules stuffed full of clothes that they have to declutter, and they get it down to half the room. And you know, that is good work, versus someone who has like the five foot closet, and they just declutter a bunch. So it’s just like meeting yourself where you’re at doing a little bit of work. And I think we’re in this kind of interesting era of social media, where we have a lot of influence on what our home should look like, how we should dress, how we should look, I can’t tell you what my algorithm is, but I’m getting so much information on makeup lately that I’m like, do I need all new makeup? But do I need a makeover? Like it just starts to stick with you? Right? Do I need to buy that? I keep seeing it. I really like it. So there is that component of this mass influence in our lives that’s in our pockets in our faces, constantly throughout the day. What have you seen or noticed for yourself in terms of maybe how social media and being a minimalist and enjoying clothes like how has that all kind of melded together in your world?

Renee 16:16
It’s so tough, isn’t it? I mean,

Speaker 1 16:19
as we continue talking, this interview took a turn to some really deeper content. In the rest of this conversation, we talked more about finances, those existential questions on how we are living Rene Shaner experience on her dad’s death when she was 19, and how that impacted her. All of that’s in the bonus episodes in the Patreon. And that bonus video to where we talk about parenting scarcity and abundance, how we approach minimalism with kids how what we grew up with or without shows up in how we parent, letting go of negative self talk and meeting yourself where you’re at, it was really just this huge range of topics from closets to grief and loss to money to birthday presents. So if you aren’t in the Patreon, I hope you’ll join us this month, you’ll hear me talk about the Patreon all of the time, because I know if you’re here listening to simple on purpose, then you ought to be in the Patreon you’ll love the content in the life on purpose community. That’s where we take whatever we’re talking about here. And we get deeper we get more personal, we expand on things. I like to share worksheets if I can create one for an episode. It’s kind of like we have this monthly theme that we’re able to unpack and work and discuss and just be mindful of throughout the month. Plus being in the Patreon support, so content that I put out through simple on purpose. Alright, I so enjoyed talking with Rene, I hope you go and listen to more of that. Thanks for joining me in this little coffee date I had with her and if you have any guest requests for the Patreon, send them my way. Have a great week.


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