Day 319 Bargains are still clutter

Way back on day 94 I wrote a post called – When a bargain isn’t a bargain – and just recently I started a post on Unclutterer Forums titled – Can you justify your last purchase?

The old post from day 94 is worth a second read if you are a sucker for a bargain and have a home cluttered with them. Some of these bargains prove useful while others whose low buying price is the main focus of attraction soon become guilt clutter taking up space in your home.

As for the topic I started on Unclutterer Forums I was a little amazed at how many people can justify a purchase simply because it was a bargain. I have fallen into this trap many times in the past myself. Now I reserve my bargain hunting for when there is something I am planning on buying and want to get the best deal unlike in the past where I would stumble upon a great deal and not be able to resist.

Very few of the of the bargain purchases written about in this thread were justified by the fact that they were a replacement item or a planed purchase. Some purchases were consumable and others were digital which don’t cause clutter so that fits in with the theme of the forum. Some contributors were realistic and claimed their purchase as unjustified. But there were a number of comments that really had my head spinning.

I know I am starting to sound like the “Shopping Police” here but my mind keeps going back to several concepts I was considering when I used the word JUSTIFY. These were …

  • Declutter the don’t reclutter
  • Sustainability
  • Supply and demand
  • Environment
  • Credit card debt
  • Recreational shopping trap – Just buying things for the fun of it.
  • Need v Want

I know everyone has their own individual level of clutter tolerance and that is for each one of us to decide. I also admit that I have been very guilty of the – purchase – loose interest – declutter – reclutter cycle in the past but I am so glad to have hopped off the merry-go-round. I just want to get the message out for people to consider the seven points above when they make future purchases as it isn’t just about clutter it is also about the environment and sensible spending.

Bargains are hard to resist but remember a bargain is only a bargain if it isn’t going to quickly become clutter itself.  Sometimes this even applies if the new item is replacing a perfectly functional item which then becomes redundant unused clutter just because the former is shiny and new. My laptop nearly ended up this way but I decided that I would rather persevere with it until it really becomes a problem to use.

Item 319 of 365 less things

Like I said yesterday we have more than enough of these that we don’t need to keep broken ones. someone picked it up off the footpath during curb-side pick up week.

Broken Plastic Storage Box

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Bicycle helmets – Liam was wearing his when he had his accident and it is probably the only reason he is alive today and recovering so well.
  2. The comment my darling daughter left today
  3. Alarm clocks – My daughter had a 6:20am flight this morning and we had to be up at 4:14am to get ready and drive the 40 minutes to the airport. Thanks to the alarm clock everything went to plan. Travel can get expensive if you miss the alarm and subsequently your flight.
  4. My laptop It has it’s little quirks but it has served me well.
  5. My husbands editing skills – He often has to pull me up on things I write that although not intended sound a little pompous. He does this without judgement or curtailing my personal style. Sometimes I have to do a bit of a rewrite like today so I hope this post didn’t end up sounding pompous anyway.
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  • The problem is acquiring Clutter is very much about being keener to acquire than to let go. We acquire things we need, or more likely just want, but once their usefulness to, or novelty for, us has expired we […]
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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Bicycle helmuts…AMEN to them!!! Glad Liam is recovering so well today and for the future!

    Your post spoke directly to me. Just yesterday I saw a ‘bargain’ and then I almost TOUCHED the item (but I held back) and thought, “WELL, BARGAIN??? Ha! BARGAIN MY BACKSIDE! THE ONLY BARGAIN HERE IS TO WALK AWAY AND SAVE MY HARD EARNED MONEY, and also, WHAT AM I DOING IN THIS STORE TO BEGIN WITH???” So I got out of there, regained my composure and enjoyed a lovely bit of sunshine on an unusually warm fall (Europe, not Australia!) day!!! Thank you SHOPPING POLICE! 😉

    • Hi Annabelle,
      great self control mate, good for you. I find I don’t fall into this trap mainly because I just don’t look any more. When I go to the shopping centre it is usually only to buy groceries and I never look at sales catalogues so I don’t know nor care what I am missing.

      Ha Ha! I just had a vision of me in a shopping police uniform on patrol in the shopping centre sidling up to people saying “Step away from the bargain, you do not need that put it back or I am going to have to take you in.” lol 😆

  2. For me, like you, bargains are only bargains when it is something you really need and you get it at a great price. I have a friend who loves to go to garage sales. She never goes without spending. She’s always getting little things for the grandkids or for herself or whoever. Well the grandkids don’t use half of what they already have and they certainly don’t need more. It just amazes me all the stuff she and her family have. I used to do the same thing to an extent. I didn’t get just anything but I was a sucker for pretty writing tablets, small note tablets for the purse or note cards, etc. I would buy little things to use for quick gifts. It was crazy but I was always buying all sorts of things. Then one day I started looking at the drawers I kept these things in. I thought of how often I actually used the things I had bought and the money I had wrapped up in it all. I decided to just stop and I have. I stay out of stores unless I absolutely have to have something and then I go in and get exactly what I need and that is it.

    • Hi Deb J,
      I have been guilty of all these transgressions in the past – garage sales, shopping for the fun of it, couldn’t resist a bargain and don’t get me started on craft supplies – but no more. Like you I just don’t look. It is so easy to justify a bargain but if it isn’t something you were planning to buy anyway it is probably just a waste of money.

    • Hi Deb J – I used to buy all the same things you did – just loved anything to write on, it seems. But, no more – I realized I wasn’t using them, just hoarding them. It’s very freeing to just stop, isn’t it?

  3. I feel a little sick for buying myself a new digital camera (with a birthday voucher so I only paid for the memory card) last week. The salesman said outright that “digital cameras are only made to last 2-3 years, 5 if you’re lucky”. My last 2 digital cameras only worked properly for around 2 yrs and I’m FURIOUS. At least I can pass down my old camera (which takes lousy photos and the zoom lens sticks) to my 8 yo son – he asked for it for his Christmas present, bless him! (He is getting a new bike for his birthday, a week before Christmas, for which he is contributing 1/3 of the cost). This time of year we need to be even more vigilant about going into shops, but I’m trying to stick to my ever-present list and not deviating from it. Though I did buy a new dress for summer; as never have enough clothes for those really hot Melbourne days, I seem to declutter stuff too readily then end up with too few clothes:-)

    • Hi Loretta,
      you don’t have to feel guilty every time you buy something for yourself that isn’t a necessity. I idea of decluttering and not recluttering isn’t about having nothing and never upgrading items. When something isn’t working properly it will need replacing if it is something you use and that is just life. Just don’t fall into the trap of decluttring useful items just because you want something new.
      We just bought two new lenses for our digital SLR camera because everyone in the family enjoys photography. They were an extravagance yes, but they will get well used and I am not about to feel guilty about it. On the other hand my laptop is getting old and does some rather odd things at times and is a slow as a wet week. Yes it would be lovely to have a fancy new one but this one still does everything I need it to. I understand it’s quirks so will stick with it until it gets to a point where it is just the difficult to work with.
      So give yourself a break this isn’t about going without it is about shopping sensibly.

      • Thanks Colleen, I know that I’m straying into obsession territory with my thinking about shopping! I need to give myself a break. Even my husband recently told me “to go and spend some money, for goodness sake!”

  4. Helmets for everyone!! I bought a new one for my new bike and while I look ridiculous I think being in a coma looks worse. Here’s to head gear and Liam’s recovery!! Thanks for this important reminder for everyone Colleen…


    • Hi Bobbi,
      just a week before his accident I was lamenting about how children don’t ride to school these days. When I was a child we had about 250 kids in my primary school and about 200 of them rode bikes to school everyday. Now I am not even sure it they provide a bike racks at schools there are so few children that ride. I thought instigating helmet laws may been one of the reasons for this decline. That they may have scared parent of letting their children ride because of the danger. This may well have something to do with it but boy am I glad now that these laws are in place.

  5. So Liam was on a bicycle? All this time, I thought it was a motorcycle accident.

    Clara and I went to two garage sales the other day. I used to love a good garage sale, now I find them rather boring. Clara got a 25 cent coffee cup. Not a needed item by any means, but nothing crazy, and we don’t have a huge overstock of mugs, like some folks.

    • Hi Cindy,
      I have the same coffee mugs someone gave me for an engagement gift 24 years ago. There were 8 but only 7 survive which isn’t bad over that period of time. My mother-in-law hates them because they are ugly and boring but I like them. There have been other ring-ins over the years but they always seem to be the ones that get broken. Surprisingly enough most of the ring-in were given to me by my mother-in-law. I think I only have about 12 all together and there are days when we actually run out if the dishwasher is filling up slowly.

  6. My husband says”It’s not a bargain, if you don’t NEED it.” I guess he needed a 5 gallon bucket of old screwdrivers which was auctioned off one night when we visited our local weekly auction.Go figure.

  7. I wrote about my brush with bargain buying last week when I almost suckered for buying something I didn’t need just because I had a coupon! I had gone in to the store for an item I knew I’d be using but it was on sale so the coupon was worthless.

    Just what kind of uniform does a shopping cop wear??

    Amen and ditto on wearing bike helmets!

    • Hi Willow,
      in the USA it is particularly difficult to resist a bargain with all those enticements like coupons and the like. The population isn’t be enough in Australia to warrant such fierce competition so we don’t have much in the way of coupons and such. It sure made it easier for me to resist shopping when I first returned to Australia.

      As for that shopping cop uniform maybe it is kind of like and English Bobby but with a flashing light on top of the helmet which goes off when I stop a manic shopper. That way they get totally embarrassed when I approach them with my truncheon which I rap them over the knuckles with to make them drop those bargains they can’t resist. 😆

      • Colleen, reading your blog is such a pleasure and stress reliever. I have so many laughs over your input and the comments. Keep ’em coming. Haha! Hey, your description of a shopping cop with the flashing light o top of the helmet reminded me of the “blue light specials” in Kmart. Remember those?

        • Hi Di,
          I am glad to be of service. For your decluttering needs and your amusement. Laughter is often the best medicine and if I can provide that as an added bonus then that increases my job satisfaction.
          Oh yes! I remember blue light specials, retail seemed so harmless back then. Now they use so many enticements that it’s no wonder why people can’t resist the temptation.

  8. I am proud to report that yesterday I was at the NHL hockey game with my husband and I was able to resist the overpriced (and not very cute) hockey christmas ornament on sale. I love christmas and collect ornaments as my “souvener” for traveling (they’re light, inexpensive, and usually easy to find) and for certain yearly events (ex my yearly cat ornament, Florida Santa Alligator ornament etc). I already have one cute hockey ornament to commemorate the sport so I don’t need one every year. i usually end up with 4 new ornaments a year and they are such great memories! They are one thing I don’t declutter!

    • Hi Jessiejack,
      that just goes to prove that the Borg are not correct – Resistance is not futile and we will not be assimilated – I am channelling Star Trek here just in case you don’t understand the reference. You have your love of collecting ornaments but you know how to set limits and resist temptation to get carried away and that is good.