Cost v Value

Have you ever considered the cost of the things you buy and own in comparison to the value they actually realise for you. Which example below represents good value for money to you?

  1. You bought a new dress to go to an event and it cost you $100. Yes, you had plenty of other dresses you could wear but you wanted a new one. The dress has now been sitting in your closet for six months and you have only worn it on that one occasion.
  2. You bought a secondhand bicycle in order to cut down on using the car for short trips. You only paid $50 for it but use it all the time and the added bonus is your fitness levels have improved incredibly.

It is plain to see that the value, to you, of the $50 bicycle far out weighs to more expensive dress that is rarely used.

The above examples raise yet more cost v value issues as there is more to cost and value than meets the eye. The monetary cost of the dress was $100 but the value so far in return has been very little. The dress is actually costing you more than just the money you spent on it. Knowing you should not have wasted your money on it in the first place is costing you emotionally. Guilt is causing you to keep the item in the hope that you will get more value out of it and that is costing you wasted space in your closet.

Do you see where I am going with this.

Now how about the bicycle. It cost you $50 and over time it will pay itself off in fuel savings which means it is of more value in dollars than it actually cost. But not only that, you are getting fit riding it so it has an added health value. Plus all of these things make you feel good about yourself which raises your self-esteem adding more value to the bike. Yes, it also takes up space in your garage but it is worth every inch it occupies.

Here is one more example for you. Say you own two beautiful dinner sets. You display one set because you love it visually and you use it whenever you have company over for dinner. The other one you aren’t so enamoured with and it is taking up valuable space in the back of a cupboard where you never look at it or use it for that matter. Even though they both cost much the same to buy one is obviously of more value to you than the other. Perhaps if you are keen to declutter you should keep your favourite and sell or give away the other.

As you can see the cost of an object means nothing if it is of no value to you. While at the same time something of relatively little cost may be of infinite value if it is useful to you in some way. The more useful and/or the more enjoyed the item is the more value it is to you.

This is a good way to evaluate your clutter. It is also a good way to look at items before you decide to purchase them. If you can be honest with yourself about how much value you are likely get out of an item before buying it you could save yourself a whole lot of money. You can also avoid a whole lot of grief, effort and waste of space in the long term.

Today’s Declutter Item

These rubber stamps are of no value to me. They probably cost me very little but I never use them so now they are just wasting valuable space in my already cluttered craft area. 

Rubber Stamps

Something I Am Grateful For Today

In keeping with today’s theme I must say I am grateful for my laptop. I bought a new one earlier this year because my old one really wasn’t keeping up with technology. Although it was an expensive outlay it realises it’s worth everyday when I write my posts and answer all my readers comments. My old one also served me well and was worth every cent I spent on it some six or more years ago. 

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I wish I could say my bike was giving me that much! I bought it 15 years ago and used it quite a bit for almost a year… in fact I rode it in the trails with my friends until I was about 6 months pregnant with my first (probably a really dumb idea). After the baby was born the bike got stuffed in behind baby strollers and his toys in the garage. But now that the “baby” is 14 he has been encouraging me to ride with him… but he rides so much more agressively than me in the woods that I don’t enjoy it. No flat, easy paths around here!

    • Hi Creative Me,
      I had the same experience with my bike and I decluttered it quite early in my declutter mission. There have been times just lately that I have been thinking maybe it is time to revisit the idea of riding. The beauty for me is that there is the Bike Ecology Centre where I live that recycles bikes through collection and donation of unused bikes. Here you can buy a pre-loved bike inexpensively or even borrow one from them by just leaving a deposit. Luckily I kept my helmet when I donated my old bike to this centre. I will borrow one and test myself as to whether I really will use it.

  2. Here’s mine 🙂 Dress bought for £50 two years ago my sisters 21st, wore it to the party, didn’t like it, hated the photos, never worn again. Cost per wear £50 (donated in disgust last year)

    Ugg boots (i know, love em or hate em) bought for £140 back in 2008 worn every day in first winter (approx 120 days) cost per wear £1.16. Worn all of winter 2009, 2010, and probably winter 2011, too mathmatical for me to work out but you get the picture!! I value these boots as they are comfortable, warm and almost slip resistent. Well worth the £140 spent, although it did make my eyes water paying for them at the time. This is now my benchmark for purchasing something, i always ask myself how much USE will i get out of this? I like the things that are brought into my house to earn their keep 🙂

    Great thought provoking post Collen, wish i’d have read this 3 years ago, but then my former self probably wouldn’t have paid attention!!

    Sharron x

    • Hi Sharron,
      you have grasped the concept of Cost v Value very well indeed. And don’t you just love those items that more than appreciate their cost. Even those sort of items can become redundant for one reason or another but by the time that happens we have already got our money’s worth out of them. My iRobot vacuum cleaner was one of those items and I was sad to see it go but it just kept on giving by making good money on eBay to top of its years of good service.

      You have clearly learned your lessons from the past and those lessons will serve you well. I like that you admit you wouldn’t have paid attention 3 years ago. I think that is the key to decluttering well is being ready to make changes in your life, not just keep on the same old cycle of out with the old in with the new. Declutter ~ Reclutter that is how it works until you realise that old drug, consumerism, is the root of the problem.

  3. What an interesting observation. I definitely hadn’t looked at things this way when decluttering. You’re definitely convincing me that I did a good thing by not shelling out money for a wedding! 🙂 Even more than decluttering, I think this would be a good way to make decisions about potential purchases. I know one of my flaws is to buy too many little, unnecessary things because I’m too much of a cheapskate to dish out for the big things that I would actually get my money’s worth out of eventually.

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Shelling out a lot of money for a fancy wedding sure is a good way to start out a marriage with unnecessary credit card debt. Sometimes I think people are more in love with the idea of a fancy wedding than they are with getting married. Hence the debt lasts longer than the marriage itself in some cases. I am glad you went for the more sensible option.

      You are right about using the cost v value equation to help make future purchases. Weighing up your options before shelling out the cold hard cash is just smart spending.

  4. I love this post. This is so true. The difficult part is to know in advance how much use you are going to get from something you buy.
    The thing I learned is : if you don’t need it, don’t buy it – even if it is cheap or even free.
    The price actually does not matter much. As you so well said, it is the value that matters most, not the price.

    • Hi NatalieinCA,
      you are right cost doesn’t matter and it getting value out of an item that really makes it worth the space it takes up in your home.