Decluttering, the cure for retail therapy

Spray Gun

This is what I decluttered on the day of the original post. Can’t say we’ve missed it.

I was wondering what I should write about today when it occurred to me that I have just past the four year anniversary of blogging about decluttering here at 365 Less Things. That got me thinking about how things have changed and in some cases how things haven’t. My living circumstances have certainly changed, having reached the goal I originally started out trying to achieve. I am a little amazed that the goal never really changed over that time.

However, my principles of decluttering haven’t changed at all. So today I thought, just for fun I would dig up a blog post from about this time four years ago. I chose one on retail therapy, something I have not reverted to since writing this post. I only go to the shops if there is something I need to buy. In fact sometimes I need to buy things, like the new bra I really ought to get, but keep putting it of for several weeks because I just can’t be bothered.

So without further adieu here it is.

I have discovered that decluttering is the cure for resorting to retail therapy.

How often do we use retail therapy to make up for times when we feel down, disappointed, bored and other conditions of the mind. What does this kind of therapy do to improve the situation? Usually it just adds more problems like credit card debt, guilt, regret and potential clutter.

It has amazed me how quickly I formed a dislike to shopping once I committed myself to my 365 day resolution to de-clutter my home.

Now when I get spare time I don’t get bored, I use that time to find the next thing I am going to get rid of, rearrange an area that has been somewhat decluttered, or try to come up with a subject for my next blog post. This leads to the satisfaction that I am using my time constructively and am less likely to feel down. I generally feel better about myself and my bank account is looking healthier too. Not to mention the satisfaction that I am helping others by donating items to charity.

Has decluttering changed your attitude to recreational shopping. If so, tell us about it.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something from the basement or attic  if you have one.

Eco Tip for the Day

If doing the right thing by the environment isn’t inspiration enough to be eco friendly, consider how much money it could save you.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Continue reading with these posts:

  • Day 90 Uncluttering, the cure for retail therapy I have discovered that uncluttering is the cure for resorting to retail therapy. How often do we use retail therapy to make up for times when we feel down, disappointed, bored and other […]
  • Day 89 Just because everyone else has one I am Australian and my give-away for today is a barbecue. If you are from another country you may wonder what is unusual about being Australian and giving away a BBQ, so I will […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Thursday 21Dec2017 Declutter your fridge of out of date items or by using up as much as possible before adding more. With the holiday season here you will likely need every inch of spare space.
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. What a great post to re-visit, it’s just what I needed. I am working hard to change my habits, to help with the clutter problems and to help my bank account, but somtimes reminders are needed. It can be hard to change things you once used to do frequently and thought you enjoyed. Of course, I know now that I didn’t really enjoy shopping, the enjoyment of the new item always passed quickly, leaving me with the urge to go get more and more stuff continually. Again, thanks for sharing and it’s great to see you success, it helps me to remember that it is possible.

    • Hi Shopaholicnomore, it is a weird quirk of fate that many of the things that five people a high in life are fleeting pleasures leaving one with the desire to repeat the performance over and over again. Similarly they are usually things that aren’t good for us in high doses. The best thing to replace them with are long lasting joyful things, like family, friends, hobbies, jobs one enjoys ~ not just endures…

  2. I agree with Shoeaholicnomore – reminders are a great source of motivation! I have my week of Mini-Missions mixed up as I removed a nightstand from the guest room to create more space. It’s kind of ugly, so I’m going to repaint it and take it to the place that buys instead of consigns. I also have a chair to redo. I’m not going to put in a ton of work, but the better they look, the more money I’ll get. 🙂 I’ve been doing really well with not buying anything new to bring in the house. I guess that is more because we are making a week-long road trip this summer and I’m trying to save up $$ for that.

    • Hi Michelle, I am glad to constantly remind people of the principles of decluttering and staying that way. I even need reminders myself sometimes. I hope you save plenty of dollars so you can have a really nice road trip. I guess this post goes along with the Eco Tip of the Day. The lest stuff we force to be manufactured due to supply and demand the better it is for the environment while at the same time no buying them is good for our savings.

  3. oh wow. four years?! congratulations colleen. that makes me think. Its been almost 2,5 years since I started… wow. time flies.

    this is a strange subject. thing is: I never ever liked shopping, I always had to force myself to go and get new clothes, because I hated it so much. it still happens that other people drag me along, like my mum or so.
    when I started decluttering, clothes were not the issue. I never had much to begin with (I counted once and remember it was not much more than 50 pieces altogether) and when I finished uni and suddenly had to look decent for work I found myself on the other side. I need to buy more clothes… every item I had was either broken or stained or just worn out. and the style didnt fit at all.
    so now I am forcing myself every three months (seasons) to change my wardrobe and get myself new clothes. and it bugs me, because I have now a lot of new clothes that I like wearing for work, but I dont want to wear them when I go out, because that will ruin them again. I am only slowly adapting a way to live with this lifestyle nowadays, like washing and hanging and rotating and so on.
    compared to my friends (also my male friends) I still own much less, but it is more than when I started decluttering. I find it annoying, I hate that I have to spend that much money on stuff that I dont actually want but need for this job. I am not willing to change the job though, because I really like it… thats just something I need to swallow.

    other than that, I didnt change my buying habits much. I dont buy as many books as I did once. I am reselling or giving them away as soon as I finished, if I for sure wont keep it. I am now at the point where I only keep what fits into a certain space. if I have more I need to pair it down so that if fits again… this strategy is very nice and works well.

    • Hi Lena, I know how you feel. There is nothing worse than having to spend money and clutter up your home with something you don’t really want but must have. I must say it was a delight to declutter my closet of work clothes when I stopping paid work. I may go back some day but chances are it will be something different with a more casual dress code. If not the thrift shop always seems to have plenty of good condition formal work attire.

      • I always said I want a job where I can wear what I want, but apparently I have to wait for that… Well its ok. I am young and this is a very small minus compared to the plus that this job gives me. I am happy there, I like my co-workers and they like me. I guess I can live with too many clothes for now. I wish, I would be more into fashion however. then it wouldnt be so hard to pick and combine and figure out a decent look.

        • Hi Lena, you might find something helpful on this website:
          Use her search box and type in “capsule wardrobe” and you may find you don’t have to buy as many pieces as you think. There is also information on best styles for different body types. I have found it quite helpful for me.

          • Oh wow. a million thanks! This is a great website and will help for sure… I will check it out later today, I really should get to work now! Thank you, Jo H.

            funny that I never considered to google styleblogs…

  4. Colleen, I really liked this repost. Congratulations on the 4 years. Wow! Doesn’t that feel good? I was never much of a shopper except for scrapbook supplies. I hate shopping for clothes and put it off. Like you I need to do the bra hunt. Ugh! I’d be happy if I didn’t have to shop at all.

    • Hi Deb, don’t you just hate the bra hunt. The last time I bought one I spent more than I usually do because the bra was so comfortable and such a great fit for me. Typical though, it became a discontinues line and by the time I realised this there were no in my size in the basic colours I wanted. Dang!

      • Colleen, yes I do hate the bra hunt. I put it off way too long just because I hate it. Ugh! I’ve really got to get out there and do it.

  5. Colleen,
    I love today’s topic; however, I must admit that I still get caught up in retail therapy. During the holidays (after convincing some family members to do a pollyanna) I was happy not to spend much time in the malls. I do however find myself shopping. Old habits die hard. Today I went out to make a purchase, picked up a sencond item and then put both back and walked out. I tried on shoes, found a pair that seemed comfortable and did not purchase. In both instances I realized that although I did not have the new and improved, I did have similar items and decided to use what I have. Before I give myself a pat on the back, I must confess that I went shopping Saturday but did not fair as well as today. Maybe the lessons are slowly sinking in. Exactly how long should I give myself? I love the fact that the retail therapy was cured immediately when you started this blog. Maybe I should start my own blog! Or at least find something more rewarding to do with my time. Wish me luck and thanks for all you do, Colleen.

    • Hi Anna, we all fall off the wagon every now and again. I still by paper crafting tools, so I am not a complete saint. I do however consider the purchase for a good while before taking the plunge. I certainly wouldn’t call it retail therapy though. It is more of a case of adding variety to my crafting capabilities as since I am selling the cards I need to mix it up a bit. If I can find a cheats way of creating an embellishment using what I already have I rejoice in not having to buy an extra tool. I only buy items I will use over and over and over and over…

      Also I must admit that I had done away with much of my retail therapy shopping prior to starting to declutter because having returned from America to Australia, two and a half years prior, I just couldn’t come at paying the prices they charge for things here. America was sooooooo much less expensive.

  6. Great post Colleen, it is an excellent explanation of retail therapy. I find that when Im looking at something in a shop there is a voice in my head asking how much effort will it take to get rid of it down the track. I buy a lot less clothes but an still amazed that by the end of a season there is still one or two items still with the tag attached. Go figure. No rhyme or reason for why, but the local Goodwill appreciates such donations when the time comes.

    • Hi Moni, I must say I have never bought an item of clothing that I couldn’t get home fast enough to wash and wear. I don’t buy clothes often so when I do I take great pleasure in wearing them. For some really great purchases I lament the day that I have to come to terms with the fact that the item has gotten too shabby to wear. I appreciate an article of clothing that I have chosen well and love from beginning to end.

  7. I just stumbled across your blog. I recently started getting rid of one thing a day for the next 365 days. I didn’t realize someone has tried this. I’m looking forward to reading through your blog! Maybe it will give me a glimpse of what’s ahead for me.

  8. Colleen – congratulations on four years!! And thanks for your continued blogging diligence for those of us who need the cheering on. This makes one year since I began my concerted effort to declutter – and have let go of 821 things in 12 months.

    The biggest retail improvement I have made is not shopping for items for my home. I have loved to sew and decorate – and was always finding fun items or organizing solutions. But you don’t need organizing solutions if you declutter! I have been surprised by the number of bins and baskets I have given away simply because I don’t need them to store things anymore.

    • Thank you Vicki K and well done you. 821 things would make a huge difference to your home.

      Oh, I always loved a good storage solution too Vicki. Now I just work out what I can get rid of instead or utilising something at hand.

  9. Congratulations on four years! Having less come into our homes certainly
    makes life a lot easier. You have taught me that;
    Shops have endless supplies, so we don’t need to store a lot at home.
    When we store stuff we forget we have it and purchase duplicates.
    The price of an item is irrelevant if you get constant use out of it.
    You have taught me about aspirational clutter .
    Life gets better with less 🙂

  10. Decluttering has had the same effect on me, not that I ever liked shopping in stores that much, but I loved garage sales which started with buying baby and kids clothes, toys, books, etc. That did save tons of money and help finance college expenses. Now we have one thrift shop that we especially like and usually make a trip there about once a month (which is also the trip for dropping off donations). Usually I have something I am looking for, and I usually check out the blouses/shirts. With our awful winter I did find three long sleeved soft tee shirts which I have worn a lot. Once spring gets here for sure I will need to declutter all long sleeved tees since I think some of mine are teenagers by now LOL. For slacks and shoes I have better luck buying on the internet usually waiting for a sale or a discount and free shipping.. But it doesn’t take very many of those since I stick to basic colors and styles. Stores would not have my size in shoes anyway. I have a lot of relatives who used to do the retail shopping–I don’t know if they still do, or not. I would go with them, and be the only one who came back with no purchases. I would just say I didn’t find anything I wanted, which was the truth.

    • Good for you Nana. I used to love a good garage sale too. And as you say, they are good for buying stuff for children. Their phases are so short it is madness to buy everything new. I always say that my husband may have made most of the money that came into our home but it was I who was thrifty enough to make that money go so far so.
      Also, like you, I look at the clothes rack every time I go to my thrift shop, which is once a week. It isn’t often that there is something I want but when there is I snatch it up either because I am getting low on that item or because I feel like swapping it out for another items I am a little tired of. The next week I bring the other item in to donate.

  11. Congratulations Colleen! Four years of blogging and helping others to gain the benefits of a life without clutter is a wonderful achievement. Totally agree that retail therapy loses its charm when you start to simplify 🙂
    Although I read all your posts I haven’t commented for a while and the reason is that since January we have sold our house and bought an apartment which I’m thrilled to say involved a considerable downsize. I’ve continued to de-clutter both before and after the move as we found we possessed items that were not needed in our new place.

    • Hi Megan S, I did notice you weren’t around so much these days. How exciting a new apartment, I know that feeling well. And I hope you love yours as much as my husband and I love ours.

  12. Congratulations on the 4 years! It seems like just the other day I heard about your blog but it was way back then.
    My thought at the time was, getting rid of only 365 things isn’t nearly enough for most people. I’m so glad that the
    original intention evolved into simple living and to see how much your message has meant to people. Good job, I’m looking forward to the next 4.

    • Hi Miriam, thank you for your kind words. It will be interesting to see if I am still blogging in four years time. I have no intention to stop at this point but as we all know life changes and we move on. At the moment I am happy helping people by encouraging them to live a simpler life with less.

  13. Four years of blogging – and still going strong – that is pretty impressive! Congratulations!

    I’ve never been a recreational shopper, but there was a time when we had just gotten married and had a decent income, and I felt I was supposed to be keeping up-to-date by buying clothes and household items every time the styles changed. I was never really comfortable with that mindset, so it wasn’t hard to stop buying when I realized how cluttered things were becoming. The most difficult thing to stop buying was probably used clothing – it was cheap, plentiful, and the hunt for “good stuff” was fun. But I even stopped that, except when I need a specific item – I always think about where I will put it and how I will dispose of it when the time comes.

    Kudos to those who actually have the recreational shopping bug and are trying to overcome – it must be a difficult thing to conquer. Hopefully the thought of the end result will encourage them in their efforts.

    • Hah! When I re-read my comment it certainly sounds like I was a recreational shopper, doesn’t it? What I meant was that I never was one “at heart” – I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do. And that was just as bad as if I enjoyed it 🙂

      • No it didn’t sound like you were a recreational shopper to me. Maybe you enjoyed the secondhand clothes shopping but that is a lot more guilt free than shopping for new. I look at the clothes racks at the thrift shop I work at every Wednesday when I go in. I am usually looking for something specific though when something needs replacing at home or I am just over something I own and want to swap it out for something different.

  14. Hi Colleen,
    I have been reading your blog since February 2014. While searching for tips on living with less, I found your website and I’m so glad for it. It has given me much encouragement and direction in my endeavour to live with less.

    I live in India. I have been married for 7 years and have since accumulated quite a lot. It all started with acquiring stuff after getting married so we can live a ‘settled’ life. Most of the things our parents and relatives hoarded us with thinking that would make our life happier. They meant well, but all of that was what they thought we would need and not what my husband and I required at all. We have moved house quite a bit since then and each time we had to haul everything in tow. My husband often tells me that we don’t really have to keep everything everyone gives us to lead a happy life, but would I ever listen then?

    Then, in September of last year when our next move was up, I had an epiphany. Looking at all the stuff around the house had me completely exasperated. Now that’s when I realised material possessions just weigh you down and I decided enough is enough and things have got to go. My hubby always wanted to be a minimalist, and I realised that I was the one holding us back.

    We have so far done a good job. Selling off most of our furniture and are now focused on reducing the number of our clothes, books, kitchen stuff etc. I completely agree that to declutter successfully one has to stop the inflow. So shopping for recreation is off the list. Now I buy only things I absolutely need and when I need it.

    Reading your blog helps me enjoy de-cluttering every day. I love the mini missions, eco tips and enjoy reading all the comments as well.

    Thanks and regards.

    • Hi Saigeetha and welcome to 365 Less Things. I think you are only the second reader to comment from India. It is nice to know I am reaching people all over the world. Actually it is nice to know that so many people are keen to begin living life with less stuff. I am sure you husband is glad that he finally has you on board with his wish to reduce your belongings. I understand your initial reluctance to part with items that family and friends had given you but ultimately if something isn’t meaningful or useful to you then there is no need to keep it. Family and friends will always be there for you, you don’t need to keep the stuff they gave you to ensure that. I look forward to hearing about your progress and hope that 365 Less Things will be good encouragement for you on your journey to living with less.

      • Thank you, Colleen. Paring down our belongings has given me a renewed sense of energy and focus. And yes of course, my husband is quite relieved that I’m on board. In fact, he is more relaxed and cheerful now than ever before. My only regret is at not having realised this soon enough. All those wasted years (and money!) buying and accumulating things we didn’t need could have been put to better use.
        Anyway, I must make my peace with that and move forward. We still have got a long way to go. So I guess it’s better late than never!

        • Don’t waste time on regrets Saigeetha, as you say, it is better late than never. And most people never get it. So really you are ahead of the game. So keep at it and enjoy the process.