“Buy yourself something nice, you deserve it.”

People often say this to me ~ “Buy yourself something nice, you deserve it.”. They seem to be under the impression that just because I live a decluttered lifestyle and rarely buy anything just for fun that I am somehow missing out. Because they are still on the “buying for fulfilment” treadmill they think I am being deprived of the joys of life. I happily inform them that I have no desire to acquire stuff I don’t need just because I “deserve” it. In fact I get a great deal of satisfaction from not feeling the need to buy buy buy.

If I do decide I might like to purchase a certain item I have a golden rule ~ Where possible I try before I buy, buy secondhand or go without.

I prefer to be very sure about a purchase before I make it so if there is a possibility to try first I take it. Better to be disappointed with an item and avoid wasting my money on it than buying and then discovering it doesn’t live up to the hype. To try an item I will either borrow a similar item from a friend or take advantage of a “try before you buy” offer from the retailer. I also like to buy secondhand, that way I am not adding to the supply and demand of new products and if neither option is possible I usually decide I can live without it.

Generally if I have a mind to try something I bide my time until I can manage to pick one up very inexpensively at the thrift store such as the bench top convection cooker I brought home recently. I consider any such purchase to be on a trial basis only. Should the item not live up to what I expect of it or be worth the space it takes up I donate it straight back to the store. Even so these purchases are rare and usually well considered beforehand and are  mostly only ever something that is environmentally friendly and will lighten my workload in some way.

I also come across people all the time who say ~ “I badly need to declutter. I don’t know where all the stuff comes from. I really don’t buy much.” There are two things wrong with what is being said here. The first is  “I badly need to declutter.” ~ Then why aren’t you. Stop thinking about it and start doing it. Five or ten minutes a day to choose something to be rid of and then half and hour once a month to drop the pile of discards off at the thrift store really doesn’t add up to much time. The second issue here is the delusion that ~ “I really don’t buy much.” ~ then where is the clutter coming from. Unless you have a kleptomaniac in your home the stuff is being acquired by you from somewhere.

The truth actually looks more like this “I want to get organised but I really don’t make enough effort to declutter. I also need to stop the tide coming in in order to stop the problem from increasing.” Unless you can be honest with yourself and make an effort to declutter and also stop shopping nothing is going to change. The choice is entirely up to the individual. Get rid of your clutter and have a tidy organised home, you deserve it.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an obligation item ~ Something you only keep because you feel you should. Often something someone else gave you.

Today’s Decluttered Item

Here is one of those crazy purchases made years ago that were never used. I was glad to redeem a little of the lost cash by selling them on ebay. Hopefully to someone who truly has a use for them.

Six Inch Slide Clamps

Eco tip of the day

Buy less stuff.


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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I completely agree with the silliness of “buy something nice” that people often do. My boyfriend’s dad gave us $20 to “spend on something nice” at the beach, and then laughed at our purchases (An $8 meal that we split and 12 bottles of juice – an excellent sale price on the all-natural 64oz bottles). We’ll drink the juice soon enough (we’re now on bottle four, but I’m anticipating the rate of drinking it going down soon), and the meal was delicious. I don’t need a seashell windchime or a fancy agate candleholder, and those would be around until they are decluttered. The bottles of juice use themselves up, and we have a few photos of the beach to remember it, so no need for a commemorative glass or bell or whatever. His parents tried to buy us something to remember it by, but we don’t need it (I’m so proud of bf, he’s a natural declutterer for everything but clothing).

    • Amanda, I love what you spent your $20.00 on. No waste and enjoyable. Good job standing firm on not getting a junk “something nice”!

      • I love it too! Apple-Rasberry and Apple-Kiwi-Strawberry juices are delicious! A glass for breakfast, a glass with dinner, and a glass for dessert.

        • Well done with your way of buying something nice. I don’t buy stuff much but I do love to go out for coffee with friends or my husband often so that is where I buy something nice. Nothing comes home with me except the joy of being with the people I love and possibly a few calories that I will declutter over the remainder of the day.

          • The $20 “something nice” could have been a non-thing e.g. entry to an attraction that you couldn’t have otherwise have gone to…

    • Amanda, you are like me. I keep telling people that if they insist on getting me something make it a gift card to a restaurant or Amazon (so I can by books for my Kindle). When friends go on vacation and ask me what they can bring back for me I tell them the best thing is to bring themselves home safe and well. I don’t need things.

      • Hi Deb J, why is that people seem to think they need to bring back gifts for others every time they go away on vacation. Is it some sort of compensation for leaving them behind? My hubby even asked me while he was in Hawaii on a business trip recently what I wanted him to bring back for me. He got an abrupt nothing, don’t you dare. He knows me better than that. I have a feeling he was just trying to stir me up, cheeky devil.

        • Your hubby was “pulling your chain” as they used to say. I”m not sure why people think they have to bring something back. I think it’s an excuse to shop and spend without guilt because they aren’t taking it home to their house.

        • you should have pulled his leg and dictated a whole list 😉
          I actually like when people bring me something (or ask whether they should) – but only for consumables. But I don’t think anyone should feel an obligation to bring anything home from a holiday for others.

          • Yes Ideealistin, I should have asked of a 1 carat diamond ring.

          • I just got a load of danish food from my mother who was there for holiday and visited me on her way back home.
            I have a bottle of ouzo from my trip to athens, a bottle of pastis from france and the liquorice drink from denmark. once in a while I remember my trips, have a small glass and treat myself with that. typical food/drink or even specialities are the best souvenir items you can actually bring home.

        • Should have gone for macadamia nuts in chocolate Colleen – a classic Hawaiian gift to take home and oh so yummy. (Then you’d just have to declutter from your already slim hips.)

          • Hi Cindy, here is the funny side to that suggestion. Macadamia nuts aren’t native to Hawaii, however, they are to my home state of Queensland, Australia, so bringing them back from Hawaii would be somewhat pointless. Part of my childhood consisted of cracking Bauple nuts (Our local name for Macadamia nuts) in the vice on my father’s work bench.

    • I like what you spent the money on 🙂
      My husband’s great aunt sent us money once with a note that said to buy food with it, we all need money for food 🙂 We loved that! Usually everyone who gives money as a gift wants you to buy something “to remember them by” “something special” and so on. A gift of food is very essential 🙂

      • That’s so awesome! Growing up I never wanted to buy much, so my family all knew that if they gave me cash, it would go into a bank account for college (and that money has been treating me well during, I should graduate in the black, even if just barely).

        My uncle one time insisted that I buy something with the $30 that he gave me, and that I couldn’t put it away. I ended up thinking long and hard about it, and ended up buying 3 yards of Scooby-Doo printed fleece to have a HUGE blanket (Most blankets are too short for my nearly 6 foot frame). I still have that blanket today, and I’m really glad he made me buy it. It now makes a good snuggle blanket on the couch, big enough for two easily.

        I guess once in a while it is good to be “forced” to buy something. (But not too often)

  2. Colleen, this is a good post. I have a friend who keeps giving me that “I need to declutter speech.” I told her I would come over and help her anytime. Suddenly she can never find the time. I really, reallly don’t think people realize how freeing it is once all that stuff is gone. They just can’t comprehend it. I wish those of us who understand could just wave a magic wand and it all go away for them. I doubt they would ever let it happen again. At least I hope not.

    • I can relate to this Deb J as I encounter people who really need my help too but they just can’t bring themselves to begin. They need to change their lifelong accumulated mindset before they can even begin on the physical side of the task. I just plant the seed and nurture it with every encounter and hope for their sake they finally see the light.

      • I agree. It’s sort of interesting how my constantly having things I am getting rid of has egged on some of the ladies in our Friday craft group to start doing the same thing. GRIN!!!!

  3. Hi everyone! Usually I read these while munching my breakfast (it is Thursday morning here) and comment when I get to work. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed this, especially the kleptomaniac in the house part. Yes I think I had an evil twin running loose around here for a year or three.

    • Hi Moni, realising that we an be our own worst enemy is the first step to getting past the desire to have stuff. That desire has to out weight the desire to acquire before any headway can be made.

  4. Yay Colleen is back! (with a post… I have seen you commenting!). Love the ‘unless you’re a kleptomaniac!’ line – I went to boarding school with two. One had 3 sisters in the school too – and I wondered how they didn’t cotton on to all her ‘new’ stuff. It’s not like we could shop much, and none of us had unlimited funds…

    Ah re: can I bring anything back for you. I don’t mind that so much, so long as I have something ‘functional’ rather than ‘stuff’. ie When someone asks when they are in the US, I’ve got more AE singlet tops (can’t find a comparable shelf bra style in Aust since Cotton On stopped selling them), and Reese’s candy! France it’s toothbrushes or salted caramels. Equally, I’d much rather a ‘mission’ for a friend overseas (such as a certain cognac – was looking for YEARS but I found it) than a throwaway souvenir. Speaking of, I should get my orders, I’m off in Oct!!

    • Hi Snosie and thank you for the warm welcome. Whenever relatives came to visit us in the US from Australia we always asked them to bring all the things we missed from home. After several years we gave up caring. Then when we first returned to Australia from the US we missed all sorts of things. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that we were home for good and just needed to find alternatives here for the things we preferred from over there. Yes I enjoyed some of those things when we went back in April but I have let me desire for them go. It is much easier than yearning for them or complaining about the alternatives I have settled for. One soon forgets over time.

  5. I was just saying to my hubby last night as we were looking through some catalogues that there was a time when I would be quite happily picking out some new things to buy (particularly homewares) but I am quite happy now with what I have, I don’t need anything else and shopping (and filling my house with clutter) just does not appeal. Yay!

  6. Hello Colleen,
    I’m popping in really quick to say hi and tell you I laughed at your eco tip today. SO simple! SO true! OK, I’m off to dunk my head back in to school prep. [See you in a couple of weeks 🙂 ]

    • Hi Willow, I thought that tip was fitting given the post. Tomorrows mini mission fits well with the post too but that was pure fluke. Good luck with the school prep and the year ahead.

  7. Enjoyed the post today, it was great! De-cluttering a little everyday, does add up to a lot over a month’s time, as long as we don’t fall back into the habit of feeling the need to shop for useless items. Definitely defeats the overall goal of being satisfied with those things that we have that we use and need. It is so much more fulfilling spending our money on coffee or lunch with those we love and cherishing our times with them. I would rather do that than bring home another useless item to clean. Most times those purchases can be impulse buys out of boredom or other reasons and over time, they lose their initial appeal to us. I occasionally will buy a seasonal candle. I will buy the smallest candle that is offered ($2 – $3 at most) and I will use it up in a couple of days. I find it funny though, when I take my purchase to the counter, I always get strange looks and questions like “Is that all you are getting?” or “If you buy one more you will get “x” number of free items.” They are just doing their job, but one small indulgence suits me just fine.

    • Hi Jen,
      I agree with you, those buy one get one free specials and the like are just too much of a temptation for most people. I would rather receive a percentage discount on the one item I need. If only these companies would get there stocks right so they don’t have to feel the need to give away products rather than give discounts. I in fact think our Australian government would do better to control this sort of waste than putting a carbon tax on it’s citizens. They could also ban poor quality throw away products that are designed so people are back a couple of months later buying replacements. I was in a shoe shop with my daughter the other day and I swear all they sold with throw away shoes. It is false economy because if one spends three times as much they would get a product that would last ten times as long.

      • I wholeheartedly agree. I too wish more quality products were sold, but then they wouldn’t have us coming back and needing more. A vicious cycle.

  8. Hey Colleen,
    great to have you back. I hope you had yourself a wonderful time. You deserved it! 😉

    • Hi Ideealistin and thank you for the warm welcome back. I feel like I have spend more time away for the keyboard this year than I have spend at it. Three weeks in April, my recuperation time and now three weeks in Qld. I think in fact that I am setting a good example of keeping a work/rest balance. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

  9. I love your analogy:

    I want to get organized but I really don’t make enough effort to declutter. I also need to stop the tide coming in in order to stop the problem from increasing.”

    The first thing when I started to retrain myself was to build a dam in order to stop the tide. I had to learn to make conscious spending decisions as to what to bring into my domain. Value added vs space filler.

    After the dam was up it was time to start bailing out the water. Removing clutter and space fillers from my life! I am not “there” yet, but I don’t believe we ever should be. It is a life style not a weekend project!

    Great article! 🙂