Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Assess Before You Add

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

I bet I’m not the only one who has had conversations like this:

  • Doing laundry, husband says: “Look at these socks. I think I need to throw them away. In fact, I think I need to get rid a lot of my socks.”
  • Me: “Looks like it.”
  • “When you go to the mall, can you get me some new socks?”
  • “What colors do you need?”
  • “Oh, I don’t know. Just get some blue, black, tan, and brown. I’ll get rid of the ones that are getting holey later.”
  • Not said: Hold it right there buddy! You’ll declutter after I buy new?
  • Said instead: “Most of the socks are in the laundry. I can help you sort the holey ones right now. Then, when we see what you need, I’ll get you some new one.”

He grunted, and nothing more occurred.

I was pleased with the outcome of this conversation. Why? Because, quite honestly, I can’t image that my husband needs new socks. While it’s true that some are holey or getting thin, he seems to have more socks that any one man needs. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he does need new socks, but buying new ones before he actually assesses his needs is foolishness. It’s purchasing randomly, and that’s how clutter occurs. In fact, once he culls, I’ll stall on that trip to the store because I want to see which colors of socks he really lacks and truly needs more of.

Another example:

I’m at the store with the girls. We like to paint our nails, and we have a couple dozen different colors of polish. Without assessing what we have, we buy several more bottles, two of which turn out to be almost exactly like colors we already had at home. (It’s amazing how many different variations on reddish-orange polish there are.) Where did we go wrong? Obviously, we purchased on impulse without assessing our needs before we bought.

The longer I declutter a thing (or more) a day, the more I understand that purchasing is the second, and equally important, part of the decluttering equation. True, you’ll never have a decluttered space unless you actually move items out of your house. But it’s just as true that you’ll never achieve or maintain a decluttered state if you continue to acquire items in excess to your needs. Shopping should be a way of acquiring needed goods not an expedition to overload your home with needless purchases that don’t satisfy you and don’t fulfill your needs, so assess before you add.

Today’s Declutter Item

I guess we have had this double adaptor for a long time. So long that the modern houses have a lot more power outlets so we don’t need it anymore. I think I might be showing my age here. Not to mention that fact that they now make power boards with four or more connections including power surge protection which makes this old thing more of a relic than a useful device

A double adaptor

Something I Am Grateful For Today

You know, doing kind deeds for others often has instant payback. That good feeling you get for doing the deed is as heartwarming to you as the deed was for them. I took a day trip to Sydney today for the sake of a friend helping another friend and what a lovely day we all had together.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

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

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  1. CIndy, it’s so funny you wrote this. My mom and I were talking about underwear yesterday and the need for new. After checking, the result is that she realized that she only needed a couple new pair and not all new. She just needs to move the new ones into the rotation and take out the old. The was the first I knew that she was holding a few pair back in case she went on a trip or something. She wouldn’t want anyone to accidentally see in her suitcase and her undies not be new. !!???!!

    • Ok, this is really making me laugh. Did she used to caution you, Deb, to put on clean underwear before you left the house too, just in case??

      • That’s so sweet – new undies for holidays!! I’d want to be sure they were comfy and worn in for a holiday, lest they cut my circulations off mid flight!

    • This reminds me of my grandmother, who kept a brand new nightie, bed-jacket and slippers, in their packets, at the top of her wardrobe in case she had to go into hospital at short notice. They were never needed, as she died very suddenly at home.

  2. This is defintely something new I am learning Cindy. Just last week our grater broke (the type where you turn a handle round and round). I immediately planned to replace it…then though, hang on, you have another grater (the tpe you rub the cheese up and down on), why not see if that meets all your grating needs. A week on, I don’t think I’ll be replacing the the first one.

    I also got rid of a pile of ‘just incase I put the weight back on’ underwear.

    I have also today, rehomed all the items from my bedroom chest of drawers, so that isn’t going back in the bedroom:O)

    • Good job, good job, and good job Katharine. Especially wise that you thought before you bought. If your box grater doesn’t work to your liking, THEN you can get another rotary grater. But in the meantime, you’re wise to experiment with what you already have.

  3. I love this post. The best way I’ve found is to just stop going shopping. Finding other fun activities to do with my daughter helped a lot. It was not a problem with my son, he hates shopping. If you don’t go to the store, you are not tempted to buy something you don’t actually need but feel you deserve. Then, if there is something you truly need (like socks), after a few weeks, you’ll know exactly what it is, color and all. 🙂

    • Shopping equals looking. Looking increases desire.
      Shopping equals opportunity. Opportunity increases likelihood of purchase.
      Purchases equal clutter.

      I stay out of the stores, too. I find that even if I don’t purchase any physical goods, someone (maybe me) always wants a drink or a snack or something that gets purchased. I don’t think I ever get out of the mall without opening my wallet at least once. I’m with you: it’s best to stay away as much as possible.

      • Rebecca B. A. R.

        And Clutter equals the Dark Side!

      • Many years ago I was in retail and one of the key things we were taught is that if someone touches the item they are more likely to buy it than if they don’t. So maybe there’s a line in their about Looking leads to Touching and Touching leads to Buying.

        I’ve also found that checking out the junk mail helps me to not shop as I look through it and discover that no one has anything I actually want to buy, so I don’t go shopping. On the odd occassion that I see something I want, I mark it and wait a few days before actually going to check it out so that I’m not impulse wanting/shopping.

        • That is interesting Gail because we have opposing views on junk mail. Aside from it being a waste of paper I also find that if I just don’t look at it I don’t know what I am missing out on thus not leaving myself open to temptation.

  4. Very true, there is no benefit to be gained by throwing things away if you import more items into your home to replace the clutter, or buy more things you don’t really need than you have thrown away.

    However, we do still use one or two multi-socket plugs. We have two sockets for a radio, a lamp and a phone charger, all kept close together. The phone charger has a socket of its own so I can switch it off when not in use.

    • I’m with you. I just added one to my daughter’s room. We live in a 48 year old house, and it has a reasonable amount of plugs, but once she plugged her clock and lamp into the bedside table, there was no room for anything else.

  5. Great post. It is easy just to go buy what you think you need without checking first. We would all save money by following this step. My biggest problem with buying too much is when I go to garage sales. The stuff is so cheap. Instead of just buying one shape toy for our grandson, it is easy to buy a couple instead since I can get them for about 1/10 of less than the price of one new. I try to be really careful to buy less, even though it may be a good price. If things cost more than they do, we would all probably be much more careful in what we buy.

    • I do understand the temptation of buying more just because it’s so darn cheap, but remember, the child can only play with one or maybe two shape sorters. After that, you’re buying cluttering. No matter how cheap it is money-wise, it costs the recipient in loss of organization and clutter.

  6. My husband has only two types of socks, short and ankle length. All of them are black and we buy 5 to 10 pairs at a time. When one wears out, he tears the hole bigger, tosses it in the laundry and it becomes a rag. Lost socks are never a problem because there’s always another to match. When he starts to get really short of socks we’ll toss the last ones and buy another set. It’s an efficient system, saves money, hassle and NO PARTNERLESS SOCKS!

    • My son wears mostly short black socks too. But he swears blind he knows the difference between which sock he wear on his left and which on his right foot. I doesn’t stop me from matching up the holeless ones when others wear out. Being a skateboarder he wears holes in the sides of both his socks and shoes on a far too regular basis. Only on the one side though which works OK for the socks but when one shoe gets holey the other is useless too.

      • I tried this with my husband’s white athletic socks, and it’s been preety successful. I just want to make a whole stack of them, one on top of the other, and let him peel off the top two, but he wants me to mate them. Darn him.

        • This is particularly as we are now traveling. I have green socks, beige socks and two different weight pairs of white socks. He has black. Therefore, he just has to reach into his backpack and any two socks he comes up with are automatically a pair. When my current stock of socks wears out I’m going to have two colors – white and navy, and that should carry me anywhere.

          • My sister and sister-in-law both have mixed socks draws. My sister buys all the same style but in different colours and just wears whichever two come out together e.g. one blue and one orange. My sister-in-law simply mixes any two socks so some days she’ll wear knee-lenth and ankle socks at the same time. She’s querky fun like that but never has to worry about matching socks 🙂

        • I must admit I am a sock mater too. I never put them away without being neatly folded into their pair. Even the pairs that are the same can be slightly different in colour so I pair up the ones that are the closest match. I can be strange like that. 😕

          • I had a teacher who always said: “you have to nurse your little neuroses from time to time” – everyone has their little ticks. 😉

            I dont mind the colour of socks, that can vary, but it needs to have the same fabric and tightness. so if black and white/pink go together feeling-wise, I do not hesitate to put on different colours. 😉

            • Mixing it up a little Lena, how outrageous. I like the idea especially with long pants. No one realises until you sit down and then there is a little colourful surprise to be amused by. I think I will do that on purpose in future. Mind you at the moment what we need here are webbed feet or gumboots because after two days of scattered rain I don’t that today there has been five minutes where it hasn’t been coming down. Wet Wet Wet.

              • well we come down to minus 20 degrees for the weekend. little socks wont do the job anymore. its thights and leggins and scarfs and all sorts of clothes you can find. I dont mind what colour, as long as it keeps me warm.

                I never gave a **** about my appereance that much. and socks are just the little thing that you can really forget.

              • Years ago, I was talking to an engineer, and I said, “Hey, you’re socks don’t match.” He reached down, felt them, and said, “Sure they do. Same thickness.” That story has always amused me. I didn’t know other people used this same system.

                • haha, I know for sure I am not alone on this, I know a couple of people who are choosing their socks by fabric, not by colour 😉

                  sensation of things was always an issue I needed to consider. I couldnt eat certain things (mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.) because of their strange consistency. Had to learn not to think of slugs while biting a little mushroom. just a couple of months ago, I met a guy who was only eating pasta, rice, and meat. no vegetables, no fruits. I asked, if its because of consistency, he hugged me and said, I was the first person ever to understand that issue.

                  • I have a friend who often laughs at me because I am so tactile when it comes to shopping for clothes. But the way thing feel is just as if not more important than how they look. Ultimately I want to be comfortable not fashionable. I am not so much this way with food though. So long as it tastes good I’m there. Oysters, now I don’t understand why anyone eats those in their natural form. They neither taste good or feel good in my opinion. I must ask my kids about this though because my son is very tactile too and he is a fussy eater so maybe that might have something to do with it.

        • If he’s big enough to be married he’s big enough to pair his own socks!

          • Hi Margaret and welcome to 365 Less Things. I can’t speak for Cindy but I have no problem folding my husbands socks. He works full time and earns a good wage while I stay home and keep house. Old fashioned I know but each to their own.

          • True he’s old enough to pair his own socks, but we each have different responsibilities in the household, and laundry is one of mine. I try to do it the way he likes so that when takes care of his responsibilities, he’ll do them in a way that I like.

            While I do pair everyone’s socks, one thing I do not do is turn them inside out. I spend enough time mating people’s socks without also turning them around too. I announced to everyone that I would no longer do this and if they wanted their socks to be in their drawer with the outsides on the outside, they needed to put them in the laundry hamper that way. The kids often have socks the wrong way, but hubby turns his right before he adds them to the laundry basket.

  7. Actually, I have NEVER had this conversation with my husband about throwing anything away!

    Still chuckling. Sort of. Because that’s one of the reasons we are snowed under. (The other one used to be me, but that was before I found 365lessthings.)

    Anyway, it’s an excellent point, Cindy!

  8. Great post. And, he may be mulling over what you said. Seems like a lot of spouses in the comments are being slowly influenced.
    I am having a related situation with my wardrobe.

    Now that I have begun seriously decluttering, I find I am getting fussier about what I keep. Used to be, if there was a small stain or rip, I would just shove the item back in my bulging closet. And even wear it, sometimes.

    Now that I am down to fewer items, I am less willing to put up with anything damaged. I want all my clothes to look great. If my sock has a hole I decide if it is worth being darned (and do it!) or I toss it. No wiggling that hole to the outside of my foot.

    In some categories I have even got to the point of thinking, I need a new one of these, and amazingly, it is true, and not just because all the ones I have are dirty or don’t fit right. The pleasure of going shopping when you truly need something is so different from mindless acquisition.

    • Good job Sabine. Shopping is also easier if you know what you’re after and you can stay focused.

    • me too! I used to think it was wasteful to toss it… or even to donate something that was faded or with flaws. I’d just think I SHOULD repair them and put them back into circulation… then I’d forget about the flaw and try wearing it. But now that I’m pickier about what I buy in the first place, I am also pickier about what to keep. There are always exceptions though…. comfy cotton T’s that get bleach spots become night-tops automatically, and the washed-to-death night-tops become rags. And I try valiantly to remove stains before giving up. But at least now I do have the sense to give up!

      • I just made rags of two washed/worn-to-death night tops and one pair of night shorts. Not before time either. I think seven plus years is a good enough run. If the pants hadn’t had a draw string they would have been falling down around me ankles. I am also like you with the diligence to getting those stains out of things.

        • I poured coffee (not too hot, thankfully) on my shirt this morning, and I’m thanking my lucky stars that I’m wearing a brown shirt!

  9. So many great points in these comments alone. I just wanted to add how one man’s trash is another’s treasure of any kind-case in point your declutter item. We still utilise many double adaptors & power boards. We have one of those exact “relics” where our dishwasher & coffee machine plug in next to our refrigerator plug in the kitchen. We have another orange coloured one for a tv/dvd. And we’ve added sockets already to our house….maybe we should consider decluttering devices!

    • Hi Angela and may I extend to you a very hearty welcome to 365 Less Things. The comments on my site are often full of very useful points so don’t miss reading them and thank you for adding your voice to the mix.

      I think double adaptor was so old and yellowed looking I don’t think my husband trusted it. I was wondering if you live in an older house being as you need a double adaptor in your kitchen. My kitchen has 3 double outlets plus single ones exclusively for the fridge and the microwave oven. Naturally there is a power board behind the TV cabinet and under both computer desks. I remember when I was a kid and even the first house we lived in when we got married there was no power point in the bathroom. Electric razors and hair grooming gadgets are common place these days so that situation had to change. Now if only they had put the TV connection on the right wall in this house. Oh well you can’t have everything I suppose.

  10. Fnally I have reached the point where I will admit an item doesn’t fit right or won’t be worn again (because maybe I have more choices that I prefer). I try to donate them to my favourite charity sooner rather than later now, in the past I would have hung onto it for the whole season (or 2) just to make sure. Knowing myself better helps the decluttering process quite a bit! Worn out, pilled, holey, faded or stained items may find their way as “camping clothes” kept with the camping equipment or more often “shop rags” which my husband always needs in the garage. Socks are harder because they are too small to be useful. My husband has 12 pairs of the same style sock, so when one wears out, he always has a match. We have transfered that handy sock idea to the boys’ socks too. Son #1 has grey socks, Son #2 has white with grey soles.

    • I keep a container for spare or holey socks in the laundry room. My youngest makes all sorts of junk out of them. I do kind of mean junk (she’s more of a process artist than an outcome artist), but at least she’s using something that was already trash bound. In addition, a sock can make a good dusting rag and a good rag for polishing shoes. You just put your hand inside and clean away.

  11. I love socks and have all different colors and styles. Argyles are my favorite and I have them in everything from black to purple. My socks do have to match and I roll them together so when I grab a pair out of the drawer they match.
    My husband has heavy socks – grey for winter and lighter weight ones for summer – white with grey bottoms. Easy for him and easy to add new ones. We usually buy them at the outlet mall when we go to the beach every other summer. This will be the summer for new white socks. We buy a dozen and pitch the old ones when we get home.