An Easy Way to Live Clutter-Free (And Save Money)
An Easy Way to Live Clutter-Free (And Save Money)
Does the idea of living clutter-free intrigue you? Chances are it does since decluttering is and has been a hot topic for some time now.
There are many approaches to ridding your home and life of clutter. From being mindful of new purchases to embracing minimalism full-on, several paths lead to living with less stuff.
For most people, though, it’s the maintenance of a clutter-free lifestyle that’s the challenge. After the initial dumping of unnecessary belongings, how do you prevent the “stuff” and clutter from creeping back in?
A Clutter-Free Mindset
Almost two years ago, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and started implementing some of the strategies taught in the book. Methodically working through our home, my family and I gathered our belongings, category by category, and got rid of the items that don’t “spark joy,” according to the author, Marie Kondo.
We made our way through all the major categories but still have the tedious ones to get to — which we will, someday. But even though we haven’t finished, the results of purging so far, have been amazing and surprising. We have experienced an unexpected joy in having less.
The process of purging and living with less stuff has made one thing clear: maintaining a clutter-free life and home requires a change in mindset. It’s not just a one-time event. It’s a shift in lifestyle, much like the process of paying off debt.
After taking steps to pay off one’s debt, there’s a whooooole other side to the journey — the commitment to living and staying debt-free — which requires a permanent shift in your habits and thinking. Otherwise, you could easily find yourself back in debt.
Similarly, after going through a purge, you have to adjust your habits. If you don’t, the clutter will creep back in.
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An Easy Strategy
So I have employed a simple strategy to help me stay clutter-free — and it has helped tremendously.
If you are looking to declutter, you can use this approach to determine what to keep and what to get rid. Or if you’re like me and have already shed some of your belongings, this is a great way to resist going back to your old habits.
Here’s what I do. Before making a purchase, accepting something from someone, or bringing items into my home, I ask myself three questions.
- Do I want it?
- Do I need it?
- Do I like it?
Pausing to ask these questions makes me think twice about what I bring into my home. It helps keep the clutter at bay, and it helps me to spend less money. It makes me more mindful of what I bring in.
Why those three questions? Well, we live with a lot that we don’t want, need, or even like.
Needs, Wants, and Likes
Have you ever accepted something from someone that you didn’t want but said yes to without thinking? Do you buy or keep things that you don’t need but feel you “ could use” one day? How about buying something you need but aren’t particularly fond of?
If you are at home while reading this, take a quick look around the room you’re in. I bet you can quickly identify a few things that you don’t want, don’t need, or don’t like.
Sometimes we buy things just because we want them. And having some “wants” is okay — within reason. But often, they don’t meet a need, and later we may realize we don’t even like them. Mainly, it was the thrill of the purchase that caused us to add them to our collection of “things.”
Other times we purchase or bring items into our homes because they fulfill a need, but we don’t necessarily want them or like them.
And then there are the things we buy just because we like them. We don’t need them or want them, but we pile them on anyway.
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Aim for Three Yeses
So, the goal is to answer yes to all three questions when buying, acquiring, or keeping something. When that happens, you can be confident that you are not impulsively purchasing or gaining an item that will go unused or you will eventually toss.
Three yeses is the goal. But that won’t always be the case. Many times, you will only get two. When that’s the situation, proceed with caution. It doesn’t mean it’s an automatic no-go, it just means you need to stop and think.
Depending on what you answered “no” to, carefully decide if the item you are considering purchasing or acquiring is worth your money, the space in your home, and your energy to own and maintain.
And if you only answer yes to one question, well that’s a no-brainer. Just say “no!” If it’s a need that you have to fulfill, move on until you can find something you at least like — even if that means delaying the purchase. In the long run, you’ll be glad that you held out for something you enjoy owning.
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Simple but Effective
So, that’s the strategy I use. It’s simple but effective. And it works on everything and in every situation — from purchasing clothing or household items to accepting things from other people, even to deciding whether or not to take the receipt when shopping.
Pausing to ask these three questions forces me to think. As a result, I acquire less paper, less random things, and less clutter. And I spend less money.
Do I want it? Do I need it? Do I like it?
I’m still very much a work-in-progress when it comes to living clutter-free. I wish I could say my home was impeccable and orderly all the time — but it isn’t. But adopting this little process for myself has done wonders for reducing the clutter, and it will work for you too.
Are you attempting to be clutter-free? What strategies work for you?