Day 338 The trouble with stocking up and hanging on

Stocking up is the brother to I might need it some day and both are a problem when it comes to trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle. One can create clutter while the other can undermine the decluttering process. Either one has the potential to cause mischief on its own but put the two together and you may even create the basis of hoarding.

Lets look at stocking up first…

The problem with stocking up is that it rightly or wrongly appears to make economic sense. This is especially so when it comes special deals where you can get two for the price of one. In this instance it would seem ridiculous not to take advantage of such a bargain so long as it is a product that…

  • you use all the time and isn’t going to take  months or years to use up.
  • it isn’t going to perish before you will use it up.
  • you have used before and you aren’t going to discover that you have an allergy to it.
  • it isn’t related to a pastime that you may grow board with before you are likely to make use of it.
  • (if it does pass the previous criteria) you have the space to store it in your home.

Think long and hard about the situations I have mentioned above and any others that may pop into your head. Lifestyles, interest and tastes change all the time whether it be hobbies, sports, food, fashion etcetera. Even our bodies change, our skin, our hair, sensitivities can develop and we all know how age affects what products we require.

What I am saying here is that reasonably thought-out stocking up makes great economical sense but don’t be lured in to what appears to be a “great deal” simply by price alone, stop and consider any purchase no matter how tempting it may seem on the surface.

Bargains aren’t the only reason people stock up. Other reasons can be, don’t like to shop, live out of town, fear that an item you love now may become obsolete etcetera. Whatever the reason the same guidelines apply.

Helpful Tip :- To take advantage of great two for one deals without stocking up share-buy with a friend then you will both end up with one each at 50% off. This can apply to bulk items as well if it is something you can physically split  evenly between people. I used to shop this way at Costco sometimes with a friend of mine in America. We ended up with a great deal between us without the bulk.

Now lets look at I might need it some day…

Once again there is economic sense in hanging on to an object because it might come in useful in the future. The problem is that in the meantime this item, that may or may not ever be used again, is taking up valuable real estate in your home. If it is bothering you because it is more aesthetically unpleasant than it is useful to you then you really need to give it serious consideration when decluttering. Here are some points to consider…

  • could I borrow a similar item if I needed one again in the future?
  • could I hire a similar item at a reasonable cost.
  • could I replace this item cheaply if circumstances changed and I now had a constant use for one of these items.
  • is this item likely to perish and become useless from sitting unused for a long period. In this case you are better to give it away now. From personal experience I know that there are many things that you might expect will last for ever but in actual fact will never be useful again if left unused.
  • is this item taking up valuable space that I need to work/ live efficiently.

Yes there will come the odd moment when we think – “Heck I wish I hadn’t got rid of this or that.” or “I wish I had got more of that when it was cheap.” – but those times will be few and far between and most likely fleeting. I will bet the times when you think – “I should get rid of that stupid thing it is always getting in my way.” or “I wish I hadn’t bought so much of this because I don’t really like it any more but it would be a waste to throw it away.” – will come around far more frequently if you make poor decluttering or purchasing decisions.

Day 338 of 365 less things

This set of plastic drawers is one more item we do not need to store things in that we no longer have.

Plactic Drawers
5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Laptop computers – I have found that I write my blog better in bed which would be a little difficult with a desk top computer.
  2. Spaghetti Bolognese – It is so yummy yet so easy to make.
  3. Steve came home – Everything went well after my husband’s operation yesterday and they let him come home today as planned.
  4. The voice of reason – I am finding myself to be a bit overprotective of Liam since his accident so it is good that I have Steve to be my voice of reason when I try to hold the apron strings too short and tight.
  5. Quickly finding a good parking spot in a busy car park.

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • On the subject of craft again As anyone who has been reading here for a while knows, I have decluttered a lot of craft stuff over the last four years. My goodness, it actually has been more than four years now that I […]
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I have a large bin of gifts for the children to give for birthday presents. That way we’re always prepared, I can buy stuff that’s on sale, and the girls can’t try to persuade me to buy something that’s a lot more expensive than I would normally choose. It’s worked well for me for years. But now, both girls are old enough that their classmates have stopped throwing parties where everyone’s invited. Audra’s classmates have almost all started asking for gifts for charity instead of gifts for themselves, and Clara’s old enough that when she’s invted to a party, she really wants to give that girl something she knows for sure the girl will want. I even found myself in the position of giving cash once because Clara and I knew her friend was saving to buy a new comforter set. My birthday box – what was once useful and the envy of my less perpared friends – is now mostly a box of stuff I need to figure out how to get rid of. Timing, I guess, being a key issue here.

    I think I’ll try to Craigslist some of the items. I bought them all at greatly reduced prices, and now is when people are really buying gift. Some of the other items I can store for Blue Santa, the Angel Tree at church, and other charitable giving opportunities, which reliably come around every year.

    • Hi Cindy,
      thank you for sharing that story. It proved that even being organised can go pear shaped sometimes if we get too ahead of ourselves with stocking up. I think donating the toys at this time is year is the quickest and most effective and rewarding way to remove the clutter from your home. You are a very caring and sharing person.

  2. Good analysis of these two ways of thinking, Colleen. They lead to many people’s problems (not mentioning any names, la la la… Actually, “stocking up” is one I’ve already come to full grips with. It’s the “I might need it someday” that I find harder, but I’m working on it.

    Glad your hubby is getting on well.

    I identify with your comment, too, about your husband balancing out your tendency to protect. It can sometimes be frustrating to have a spouse who thinks differently but most of the time it saves me from myself.

    • Hi Jo,
      I think “I might need it someday” is the most common trap for most people decluttering. The are certain things I won’t get rid of myself for this very reason but the selection of items is much smaller than it used to be and may diminish further before the 365 days are up.

      Hubby is doing well.

      Liam got home safe and sound at about 12:30 and was glad to be allowed to act like a grown up. As for my husband and I balancing one and other out it really does work that way. My weaknesses are his strengths and vice versa so we are a great team which is probably why we have been married for 23 years.

  3. Fab post Colleen! I have been thinking about this “stocking up” a lot because I downsized last year and I felt I didn’t have the pantry space I thought I “ought” to have, and initially it made me very uncomfortable that I didn’t have enough tinned food etc squirreled away. So I started to plot ways to store more stuff in strange places… Then I had a long HARD think about how much is really enough. I don’t live far from well stocked shops, I don’t run out of money, I am not expecting prolonged natural disasters or civil emergencies and lots of my tinned food stuffs never seemed to get used (thinking here of some tinned soups that may date back to last century). In short I have ditched the “pioneer woman” mentality and am trusting to providence and my own intelligence to provide! (and anyway I still have at least two weeks worth of food in the house). All very liberating – how much time is wasted in this world preparing for things that NEVER happen, when really what we need is the time and space to become the flexible and adaptable people we might really need to be.

    • Hi Calico ginger,
      thank you for sharing your “stocking up” story. I am glad you came to your senses an ditched your pioneer woman” mentality. If someone hasn’t come to rescue you within two weeks of a natural disaster then the world is probably coming to an end anyway so take your chances I’d say. Embrace your flexibility and adaptability!

  4. I find that if I start stocking too much food, I just don’t use it up. My husband is good at reminding me to allow the market to store the food for me. I know too that having a small house has saved me from myself in keeping too much on hand!

    • Hi Willow,
      I like your husbands way of thinking.
      Once upon a time I though having a big fancy house was a dream to strive towards luckily wisdom has made me realise otherwise. Big houses are just for storing lots of clutter and for causing extra housework and I don’t want either of those things. I will not likely ever be rich enough to afford a maid so I am happy now to have a small home.

    • I love that Willow. Waht a great thing for Calico Ginger to remember. She has plenty of food; the grocery store is just holding it for her.

  5. Great analysis Colleen!

    I live in an area where for hundreds of years the residents had to make do with what was on hand or could be made from things found in nature. Nothing was thrown out, everything was reused somehow. Once “civilization” arrived, they continued with that cultural habit. Now it is quite common to find old school busses out back of homes and used as storage sheds that are just packed full of old junk; things that wore out or broke. Instead of disposing of this stuff, they stick it in the bus, “in case they need it later”. Old habits die hard.

    Oh, and, no: I have no bus behind my house! 🙂

    • Hi Alan,
      I think I want to move to where you live it sounds wonderful. I still won’t be adding any clutter but I would be happy to barter for the use of it if I needed to. Have you ever seen the documentary on PBS I think it was called Alone in the Wilderness – the story of Dick Proenneke who went to live alone in Alaska. There are times when I would have been happy to join him. We must have watched the documentary 5 times when we lived in the US.

      I am glad you don’t have a bus behind your house. 😆

  6. Colleen, I see the wisdom of not stocking up if none of the five criteria apply, however, I must admit that I do stock up on food items and paper products (TP, paper towels, & facial tissues). I live in a small town and I don’t drive, so when I have the opportunity to go to the city to a larger grocery or box store, I take advantage of the lower prices and sales to stock up on items I know I will use. My friend teases me that I never pay full price for anything, which is just about right. Also, I have been able to invite people in need to my home, given them a brown bag or two and sent them shopping in my pantry. Sometimes there are various food drives in town, and having extra things on hand means that I can be more generous. My son also benefits from my storage items when he is low on money. So for me stocking up means I can provide for my family as well as others in need at a moment’s notice.

    • Hi Di,
      since you or someone around you is always using up your stockpile of supplies then it fits into the “not a problem” criteria so I wouldn’t call that clutter. You obviously have the pantry space to store it all in so once again on problem. You also live in a small town and it makes sense to stock up when you can get it cheap, also falling within the guidelines. I would just call that smart economical sense in your case and I would do the same myself.