Is decluttering wasteful if you’re living on a budget?
What if you’re living on a low income and can’t afford to buy something again if you realize you need it later?
I received this question this week and it’s a good one. Most of us have been taught that it’s wrong and wasteful to get rid of perfectly useful items. After all, you spent good money on them, right? They’re worth something.
And if your income is low, you may hold on to as much as possible just in case. You’d be frustrated if you decluttered something and then needed it later.
Here’s how I make this decluttering decision
The most important thing is that YOU decide what you want to keep.
So although I have my ideas, I always urge people to make those decisions for themselves.
This is one of my “decluttering rules” I spell out in Step-by-Step Decluttering.
The challenge with this question is that you never really know what things you’ll end up needing in the future. One reader wrote in that she decluttered over 50 different cookbooks. Then later she discovered that her child had many food allergies and some of those cookbooks would have been useful.
But here’s the thing – you can only make a best guess as to what you’ll need. My reader had no way to know that her child would have so many allergies – who could predict that?! While she may have saved a bit of money if she’d kept the cookbooks, think of all the storage space she redeemed by getting rid of so many cookbooks.
Sometimes we’re very quick to be frugal with our money but we’re much less frugal with our time and space. And keeping something “just in case” is different than keeping something you truly plan to use. People often use one reason in place of the other.
When you hold on to so much stuff “just in case,” you’re saying your personal space and time are less important than a use sometime in the future that may never come about. The $2 you spent on those pipe cleaners is more important than cleaning out that over-flowing craft box. Those clothes you don’t wear are more important than being able to close the closet door.
Who would rather spend more time cleaning (or living in a mess) than getting rid of the stuff and having a cleaner home?
You can always buy more stuff!
Or even better, you can make do with what you’ve got. But you cannot ever get back the time you spend dealing with the stuff or being frustrated and unhappy that it’s clogging up your home.
Decluttering can bring unexpected blessings
I have a friend whose family was living on a low income. She had given away all her baby items when she discovered she was expecting her 3rd child. She was distraught. But it turned out to be the greatest blessing.
Friends blessed her with so many things that they didn’t have to buy anything for the baby for the first year. She certainly wouldn’t have chosen that route but God used that hard situation to bless her family greatly.
Is decluttering wasteful? My answer: Not when you do your best.
You keep the things that there is a good chance of using, taking into account your storage space of course. You don’t sacrifice your sanity for all those “maybes.” And you trust that God will provide what you need when you need it.
Friends, this is an intense struggle!
We’ve seen some great progress by readers of Step-by-Step Decluttering!
Letting go can be scary if you’re used to scrimping and saving and worrying. But you have to decide what’s more important – peace in your home or saving things just in case? Unfortunately you can’t have it both ways.