The issue that comes up repeatedly when attempting to declutter ones belongings is what if I need this one day? This is the impulse that drives me to have plastic storage bins full of storage bins. I kid you not, I have storage for my storage. The drive to save ourselves from the negative consequences of needing something that we previously possessed but no longer possess makes us do some wacky things, like store storage. I am trying to break out of this cycle by employing some mental tricks and rewards. The truth is that the amount of extra stuff we hold on to just in case we need it someday comes at a cost. There is time spent rummaging through items trying to find the thing we need. Also, searching items out for some people ends up being so burdensome in the end they just buy another of whatever it is they need. My Daddy is a case study in this phenomenon. I believe he owned approximately twenty-four hammers when they sold our childhood home. So there is an argument to be made for simply having less stuff around.
I tell myself that if something costs less than $20 to replace and I haven’t used it over the last year it is probably not worth keeping. The time and energy wasted in keeping and storing the item is just not worth it. Over the years, with the addition of children the amount allowable to replace items has grown. The truth is, I allow the replacement cost to grow because I can count on one hand the number of things I have passed on only to have to repurchase it in some form. Most of the foreseeable uses for things just don’t materialize and if they do there are other ways to fill the need. Renting, borrowing from friends, and using another similar item are all ways I have filled the “stuff” gap in the past with pretty good success.
Of course, I am still a belt and suspenders sort of girl so I always keep a backup plan. In this case it is an account. Many of you know that I am a big fan of multiple savings accounts. It helps me compartmentalize life and deal with unique problems such as this one. Part of the proceeds from selling some of the stuff we no longer need will go into a just in case fund. If I happen to get rid of something that it turns out we need later I can tap that to pay for it. It really gives me the freedom to feel like I can err on the side of getting rid of things.
Cleaning out the clutter benefits everyone. There is less to maintain, fewer choices to make, less to clean, less to break. With so much less stuff our lives somehow seem fuller. I guess sometimes less really is more.