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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen, I have no idea why a one-dollar coin exists in America at all. We never see them! And the paper money is still very much in use. It has been years since I came across the one-dollar coin. I can’t remember the last time I saw one — maybe it was coming out of a vending machine. I think the trouble is that when we see one, we keep it like a souvenir or oddity. People rarely use them; they just hoard them! (Good decluttering item — odd coins.) The same is true with our strange two-dollar bills. I know I have one or two in a drawer. I’m not a “collector” so I should probably just go and spend it instead of keeping it, but it’s so unusual to find one that I hold onto it. This could be a new topic for a post!
    I really think the one-dollar coin was unsuccessful and so they probably discontinued it. Or at least I never, never see them.

    • At some point when I lived in the US I must have happened upon a one dollar coin by shear luck. After that I used to get them from the back at Easter and Christmas for the treasure hunt I used to put on for the kids. That was about the only time I ever saw them and I worked retail so there was plenty of opportunity to come across them.
      Like you I have a two dollar bill stashed in my drawer. As you say, it is an oddity.

    • I listened to a “Planet Money” podcast on the topic of coins vs bills. The US uses unusually strong paper for our paper money so our bills are durable enough to circulate for several years. Coins last much longer, but are more expensive to produce. Overall, it is slightly cheaper for the US to produce the dollar bills than the dollar coins, though this is not true for other countries.

      I agree there is also a cultural bias. In the US, we’re used to coins having very low value, so we treat them accordingly. A higher value coin is confusing and doesn’t fit with normal patterns of behavior.

      • Hi Rebecca,
        it is that resistance to changing behaviour that intrigues me. Then there is the question of why have both.
        I thought US bills were actually made from fabric not paper.

  2. In America, a lot of different kinds of money are issued as “collector’s items”…a great reason to hoard some clutter! My uncle was trying to get the $1 coins into circulation by giving them away to everyone in my family – but my grandma said they were so neat, she just couldn’t bear to spend them, so she put them all in a keepsake box!

    • Hi Liina,
      that is funny. I wonder why your uncle was so hell bent on encouraging people to use them. When we moved back to Australia my husband said he wished we would go back to dollar bills here because the one dollar coin is heavy in your pocket. Apparently they cost the US government $183,000,000 more a year to keep in circulation than the coin would. Sounds like a good incentive to get rid of them to me.

  3. Lack of true will to move to the $1 coin. For country that’s supposed to be a bunch of inventors and pioneers, we certainly sometimes fear change. So as everyone has said, it’s mostly a collector’s item. The coin won’t come into true circulation until they stop making bills.

    • Now here is the answer I was looking for. I actually believe that you have hit the nail right on the head here Cindy. While living in the USA I found this to be true with many things. Writing checks for one. I could not believe people still did that so much over there, it is an archaic way to pay for things. I actually saw a women paying for ice-cream at a Dairy Queen drive through once with a check and was stunned.
      At the same time the US is so advanced with other things. I suppose that is what makes living in other countries so interesting. Now if Australia would just introduce Pay at the Pump Gas I would be happy. OH and less complicated cell phone plans woud be good too.

      • I refuse to give up my Woolworths credit card because I can pay at the pump at Woolworths servos and not have to get the kids out of the car and back in again. I’d love to be able to do it everywhere.

        • Hi Susan,
          I refuse to get a Woolworth’s credit card so I am stuck with going to the store to pay. I am just grateful I don’t have kids in the car to worry about.

      • I have a former aussie who lives in the Us now with kids, and can’t work out how us Aussie’s do it – I think largely, people do leave their kids in the car, there’s a line of sight etc (at least here in uber busy, stressed out Sydney).

        • Hi Snosie,
          I always left my kids in the car (I think, it was so long ago) but I always made sure to lock the doors. The petrol stations never seemed so busy back then either.

  4. I agree with Eve & Liina. I think it is a combination of the $1 coins not taking off very well and people collecting them. I have heard that they are talking about putting out a new $1 coin that is a bit easier to tell from the other coins. they last longer than the paper dollars and for most people they spend like quarters used to. I have also heard they may get rid of the penny. That will blow the marketing people for a loop. Can you imagine the USA without the $?.99 price. The whole concept behind it was that people were more apt to buy something for $.99 rather than $1.

    I’m so excited. I took two big paper bags with handles of scrapbook supplies to the Women’s shelter. They are so excited to get it. It was lots of good stuff too. It felt soooo good to declutter it all. I still have plenty to work with. Grin.

    • Oh Deb J you are in for a surprise!
      We used to have both a one cent and two cent coin in Australia and then got rid of both at the same time. Things are still priced at 99c $1.99 etc but the cash register rounds up or down the total price at the end of the transaction. I found that really hard to get used to when I first starting working retail again when I came back to Australia. I would keep telling the customer the actual total when I should have been telling them the rounded up cost. To complicate things even more when you pay with eftpos you pay the actual price 99c $1.99 etc because there are no coins to deal with.

      • Hey Colleen – don’t worry, no one faults you, cause everyone knows we round up here. But as far as marketing goes, I think you see some 9.95 etc, cause it’s the same idea, not quite $10 but close…

        • Hi Snosie,
          I can never figure out why this works as a marketing ploy because I look at $9.95 and instantly think $10. Perhaps I am not as gullible as some.

    • My sister is doing a marketing subject as part of her business degree and she was telling me just this morning that studies have shown that people buy more if the price ends in an odd number. Work that one out!

  5. Hi Colleen,

    When you were talking about changing the summer doona for the winter one, I thought – what a nice change to have a blogger who is on the same Southern seasons as me instead of having to translate!


  6. Hi Colleen, you know I love your gratitude lists, your funny noise with your duvet cover was hilarious, were you alone so nobody could here you? A couple of years ago we were replacing a fence, so to knock the old one down I made that same sound but added a kick to it and my leg got stuck in the fence so I landed on my back, as I’m looking at my husband who is trying to hold back the laughter, I said it’s o.k to laugh. So now every time we here that sound he says how’s your back. Did I mention I was almost 50 years old and a little overweight so not a pretty sight. Also the thing with the coins I do think we are afraid of something different, but when I get the dollar coins I give them to my grandson, they are his to declutter now.

  7. If you use public transport in the US and pay at the kiosk with cash and need change, it will all come back from the machine as coins-$1, 25c, dimes, nickels. Maybe that’s why $1 coins exist.

  8. Hi Colleen!
    I think this phrase sums it up: “Everything was tidy including the clutter that was tucked away in its neat hiding places.” That is the thing. The more you declutter, the more deep you go into you home and discover stuff that you had stored away. So it is not clutter, because it is put away, but it is because you never use it. I have a question: what do I do with old (20 to 15 years old) VHS from Disney, since I don’t have a VHS player anymore? There are six of them and they are there, staring at me. I was going to put them away (store them neatly so they don’t look like clutter 😀 ), or have them converted to DVD, but the price is almost the same as buying new ones. So what to do?

    • Hi Andréia,
      I imagine if you had them in DVD form your children would watch them over and over again but in reality there are so many viewing possibilities for children out there that you probably really don’t need your own copies of these. I would try giving them away on freecycle first and if that doesn’t work you may be forced to just find the best recycling possibilities for them. Right now they are just clutter to you.

      • I forgot to tell: all the movies are in English, so the kids don’t understand them and converting them would be a waste of money, because they would never watch it.

  9. What makes me hesitate is the fact that I don’t think I am ever going to buy those films again…

    • Hi Andréia,
      sometime we just have to let the past be the past.

      • Andréia, I know that here in Phoenix the Goodwill and other thrift stores sell the VHS movies still. Maybe where you are you can find a similar store that you can donate them too.

  10. wowsa, bang, direct hit…”Purging quickly without thinking about the cause just creates temporary space not wisdom.”

    Perfekt example of WHY this blog STILL helps me!!! For years I was creating temporary space, but soon that SPACE FILLED BACK UP AGAIN! NOW, I am truly beginning to see the WISDOM, and really understaning HOW NOT TO FILL the space BACK UP AGAIN with ‘stuff’. Rather, I’m filling my ’emptiness/need/whatever ya want to call it’, with an overall healthier, decluttered, simpler LIFE STYLE!!! Yup, this blog still rocks my socks!

    My empty ‘space’ (shelf, closet, within my heart and stubborn brain…) is truly beginning to be filled with WISDOM!

    • Good for you Annabelle, that is what this process is all about and why I spend so much of my time nurturing my blog and my readers. I am so glad your wisdom is growing and replacing whatever unhealthy habits you used to turn to to fill the void. You seem like a beautiful person to me and you deserve and fulfilled life.

  11. Ok, I’m not sure how to put ‘wisdom’ on my empty shelf or in my empty closet…but hopefully ya all know the basic point/concept I was trying to make here…

    …and actually, our current living situation (in Europe) is LARGER (believe it or not!!!) than our house in America. Larger in square footage AND storage space. So when we return to America, I won’t have to worry about putting ‘wisdom’ on the shelf or in the closet, because there really aren’t too many of either of those! 😉

    • Hi Annabelle,
      I know exactly what you meant and I bet you will find moving back into your home in America won’t be the challenge it was for me when I moved from America to Australia. Resisting temptation to shop once you return to the land of plenty may be a bit more of a challenge. Hopefully we will have you so well trained by them that there will be no turning back. I wish you all the lick in the world.

  12. Ok, the subject of coins, I’ve no idea of an anwer to Colleen’s question; I do, however, realize how heavy my wallet/pocketbook is because of the euro in coin format: .01, .02, .05, .10, .20., .50, 1.00, 2.00…

    so on that level, I look forward to a return (someday) to America and a lighter pocketbook (cause I RARELY see or use the $1.00 US coin).

    • Hi Annabelle,
      it seems you agree with my hubby he doesn’t like the weight of dollar and two dollar coins either.

  13. I usually save up the coins who have a value less than 50 cents. When I have enough off them, I go to the bank and put it all on my account. Usually I have about 10 euros, so, nothing big. But it is a nice thing to save those up. A little bit of frugality, or sentiment I guess.

    • Hi Nurchamiel,
      both my husband and my son do this. Liam was excited yesterday because he counted his for the first time in a long time and he had just over $100. Add that to the fact that he is starting to get more work shifts and he is a happy lad.

  14. I hope you don’t mind but I borrowed your ” grateful list ” for my own blog. I re-wrote it a little for my own angle but when I post it, if you wouldn’t mind looking and telling me. I don’t want to steal it from you, but it is such a mighty fine idea. I will happily take it down if you are not happy with my borrowingness 🙂 Will post it in the morning for you to check. Thank you.

    • Hi Francesca,
      thank you for being polite enough to ask and I certainly have no problem with you copying the gratitude list idea. I am not even sure if I got it from somewhere else in the first place. The more people that can look back on their day and find the good in it the better I say. I look forward to seeing your layout and reading about what you are grateful for.

  15. I know this is a year after all the other posts but did want to weigh in on the $1 coin question. The reason the coin is not used much is because the previous one was so similar in size to the quarter that people got it mixed up and jammed the vending machines. The newest dollar coin has a gold color and people love it so they save it and it never gets in the the marketplace. The subway system does give the $1 coin as change back when you get your fare card but that is really the only time I see it anymore.
    Now, I have a question. What is a duvet? I have heard it called a duvet cover to cover a bed covering. If I buy a comforter or bedspread why would I want to cover it with something else. I purchased it because I wanted to see it on the bed. Can you help me understand the duvet’s value?

  16. Your blog helps me stop & think why I have something, rather than just where it should be put. Went thru cookbooks again and kept only one out of the ones I had kept the first time around. It has just about everything I actually am interested in–the others were just guilt producing since I don’t have time to do time consuming recipes. Also chucked organizing/cleaning books except for Aslett’s. Don’t have much time or energy for the type of complicated cleaning they talk about–more guilt producers, ha. Sewing supplies have also been reduced a lot. So thanks–doing a little each day really helps, and thinking about why it’s necessary is the biggest help.