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  • Writer's pictureHeatherAnne Norbury

How to Declutter Things You Spent Money On

Updated: Jan 30

Decluttering can be a daunting task, especially when you have spent money on the items you need to get rid of. You may feel that it’s a waste of money to get rid of something you’ve spent hard-earned money on. You might feel guilty about getting rid of it, even if it’s something you no longer want or use. You might hold onto it in the false belief that it might be worth something someday! (Spoiler alert: that’s highly unlikely!)

It's important to remember that the value of something is not determined by how much money we paid for it. If you're struggling to let go of something because you've spent money on it, try to focus on the fact that you're not really losing anything by getting rid of it (the money is already gone). You're freeing up space in your life for things that you actually use and enjoy. Holding onto things because you spent money on them can lead to a cluttered space and life. Here are some tips on how to declutter things you spent money on.

Change your mindset

The first step to decluttering anything is to change your mindset. Instead of focusing on the money you spent on an item, focus on the joy and purpose it brings to your life. If an item no longer serves a purpose or brings you joy, it’s time to let it go. Holding onto things because you spent money on them will only lead to more clutter and stress. Focus on the peace and calm that will come from a clutter-free and manageable space and on how that item will bring someone else joy or be useful to them.

Start small

Decluttering can be overwhelming, so it’s important to start small. Begin by decluttering one area of your home, such as a drawer or a closet. Once you have successfully decluttered one area, move on to the next. Decluttering is a process and it takes time. Small, consistent actions will go farther toward building a sustainable habit of getting and remaining clutter-free than a major purge. Massive declutters can lead to overwhelm and regret - and do nothing to build a solid habit or change your mindset.

Use the four-box method

When decluttering, it’s helpful to sort as you go into four boxes or piles: “keep”, “donate”, “sell” and “trash”. As you go through your items, place them in the appropriate pile. Items that are still in good condition can be donated or sold, while items that are damaged or broken should be thrown away. Once you are done sorting an area, put the “keep” items back, toss the trash, and process the sale and donate items right away.

Sell your items

If you have items that are still in good condition but no longer serve a purpose in your life, consider selling them. There are many online platforms, such as Facebook Marketplace and eBay, that make it easy to sell your items. It’s helpful to set a price point for selling items. It may not be worth your time to photograph, list, and sell something for $5, but $50 may be worth it. Decide ahead of time where your breakpoint is and donate anything below that.

Two ways to donate:

Participate in a Gift Economy

If you aren’t already in a local buy-nothing group, I recommend finding one. There are official “Buy Nothing” groups on Facebook (they also have an app). Even if you don’t have a group from that specific organization, look on Facebook to see if there is another local group nearby. A gift economy is pretty much what it sounds like - a system of exchange where valuables are not sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. Some benefits of a gift economy include reducing waste, saving money, building relationships and a sense of community (most gift economy groups are hyper-local), feeling good about giving back, and mindfulness about what we choose to keep and give away.

It’s really special to give that item to someone with whom you have a connection and can share the item’s story before letting it go. This is especially true for items that aren’t valuable monetarily but have some sentimental value. I’m an admin for my local Buy Nothing group and it is truly a unique and special place.

Donate your items

Even with my Buy Nothing group, I still donate a lot to local charities. These items are often more generic items in good condition or if I have a lot of things I want out of my house sooner rather than later. I will box them up and take them to the local thrift store for a transitional housing nonprofit. You will be helping those in need and reducing waste by giving your items a second life.

Recycle responsibly

When disposing of items that cannot be donated or sold, it’s important to recycle responsibly. Check with your local recycling center to see what items they accept. In addition to paper, certain plastics, and metal, many centers will accept items such as electronics, batteries, and even textiles. By recycling responsibly, you are doing your part to reduce waste and protect the environment.

Final notes

We tend to hold onto clutter because we feel guilty about wasting money on something that we never used or that didn't meet our expectations. This is especially true for items that we bought on impulse or that we thought would make us happy but didn't.

When we buy something, we're not just buying the item itself. We're also buying the promise of happiness, convenience, or some other benefit. If the item doesn't live up to our expectations, we can feel disappointed and even resentful. This can lead us to hold onto the item, even though we know we don't really need it.

It's important to remember that it's okay to let go of things, even if we spent money on them. If an item is no longer serving us, it's better to get rid of it and free up space in our lives. We can always buy something new if we decide we need it later.

If you're still struggling to let go of clutter, consider scheduling a coaching call with me. I can help you understand why you're holding onto things and develop strategies for letting go.

Remember, small, consistent actions add up to big changes. Declutter your life today!

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