Poverty thinking

I received a comment from Jill which inspired this post. It will probably sound like a confession as well but so be it. Here is Jills comment and I will write my thoughts after it.

“I have been a collector of “stuff” my whole life. Had a major life changing operation last October and since then have been getting rid of lots of stuff. For the past 10+ years, I had been stock piling items for use after retirement (this November). Using “poverty thinking” (after retirement not having enough money to buy craft items, books to read, clothing, i.e…), my small home was piled high! After many trips to Goodwill with bags and bags of items, one or two bags of books donated to our local library for their book sales, I am starting to see the light! Major clean out of old financial papers, sentimental papers, etc… (on the 11th clothes basket for the burner). I feel so different. God has continued to provide anything that I truly need.”

So here is what I thought when I read this, inspired by Jill’s mention of craft supplies but mostly by the last sentence. As you know I wrote a post just recently about the universe providing. Also, as you well know, I have been decluttering craft supplies for the whole five plus years of my declutter mission, and particularly over the last year since having a selling outlet for my craft. However, on a regular basis over the last twelve months I have also stumbled across many opportunities of acquiring craft supplies for free or next to no cost. A temptation, that at times, I didn’t try to resist given how quickly the supplies can end up going back out the door. Yet still I sometimes wonder if I really have less craft stuff now than I did a year ago.

That does sound like a confession, but in fact I am using it as an example of how what you need does usually materialise for you when you need it. Granted I do find myself socialising in circles of people with similar interests, and I do volunteer at a thrift shop and then there is my friend Wendy (my partner in crime) who, like me and with me, loves to check out the piles of stuff left on the sidewalk on bulk waste pickup days. But nevertheless it is proof that one doesn’t need to stockpile stuff for when times are hard.

Books especially don’t need to be stockpiled because one can always borrow them from the library for free. And it is amazing what great craft projects one can do by upcycling “trash”. Clothing might be a little trickier, but then again by just wearing them out, rather than replacing them just because the novelty has worn off, will help get better value out of them. And secondhand clothing is a cheaper option and there is no shame in accepting friends’ cast offs. I have items in my closet that used to belong to Wendy’s daughter.

And lets face it, for most of us, we will never find ourselves in a position where we won’t have at least some luxuries and/or non-necessities in our lives. Another friend Carole, when we find ourselves complaining about the trivial, laughs and says “First world problems”. This is so true, we have had it so good for so long that we don’t realise how spoiled we are and what we could manage to live without.

So long as we have a roof over out heads, food and our bellies and people who love us, then we will be just fine.

Today Mini Mission

Declutter something rough or gritty.


“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Continue reading with these posts:

  • Someday You know how the saying goes ~ "Tomorrow never comes." Well someday is usually even further away than tomorrow. So keeping stuff simply because you might need it someday is a fools game if […]
  • Declutter item of the day ~ Fear I received the following comment from creativeme on Wednesday and thought it would be a shame if anyone missed it so had to make a post of it. Also I wanted to add my 10c worth, of course! […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Oh Colleen, so true! May I share a story about “provision”? I am (gently) trying to move my husband in the declutter direction and asked him the other day, “can we get rid of that old ceiling fan if you’ve decided not to try to fix it?” He said he’d think about it. I shared that with a friend at work and she said, “my husband strips metals and sells them to a recycler, so if it’s broken maybe he can do something with it.” Eureka! A spot for the fan that keeps most of it out of the landfill! BUT, it gets better! When the husband picked her up and removed the fan from the back of my car, he said “heh, I have a fan with a light kit that I won’t use, do you want it?”
    Well, the fan we were getting rid was in the living room, we replaced it by taking a fan out of a little used bedroom. BUT, with a hole in the ceiling we knew we’d to put a fan or cover back up. And now we have a perfectly terrific fan in that room and it’s all because I wanted to declutter some more!!! I love it when a plan comes together!! This may be too wordy to add to your comments Colleen, but it fit today’s blog so well I just couldn’t resist sharing the story! In my life, God does indeed provide above and beyond my needs!

    • Not too wordy at all Karen, thanks for sharing. That is a great example of how to encourage others to declutter. Sometimes it isn’t about not wanting to get rid of stuff but about knowing it going to a good place that holds people up. Also sometimes people just want to recoup a little of what was spent on the item in the first place. It is just a case of hitting on the reason that then becomes the solution to encouraging people to let things go. That is why I keep writing this blog, to help those people.

  2. “God has continued to provide anything that I truly need.” Amen. I’ve been on a decluttering binge for the past 3 or 4 years and what I love the most about it is how it clears my mind. When I look around and there are piles of things, I get overwhelmed and my mind can’t focus. I’ve gotten it down now to just my office and my closet. Still need major work in these areas. Less is definitely best for me. I am so blessed and have everything I NEED and that is enough for me 🙂 Thank you for this article today. Right on point for this 60 yr old lady 🙂

  3. Colleen, Karen’s statement here is so good: “God has continued to provide anything that I truly need.” Your post is good. I am finding that even though my income is low, God is providing what I need. I am also finding that what I need is a lot less than I thought. I have many things I really not only do not need nor do I really want.

    • Hi Deb J, that was actually a quote our of Jill’s comment. So long as we all have faith that what we need will be there for us we need not worry about letting go of stuff we likely never really needed in the first place.

  4. Deb J,
    To give credit where credit is due, that was Debbie’s quote. My words were in the same vein, just phrased it differently.
    Loved the part in Colleen’s blog about “first world problems”. The phrase was introduced to me a few months ago. We are indeed surrounded by so much that we have difficulty differentiating between NEED and WANT. It is good to be reminded of the difference!

  5. God truly does provide anything we need. A few weeks ago we helped my boss clean out a condo that he had used as an office space for 23 years. He said we could have anything we wanted. Most of the items went to Goodwill, 20+ old, old computers/eqp. to electronics recycle, 14 boxes of old files to shredding. Previously, I had wanted to purchase a new office chair and two drawer filing cabinet, but held off seeing if indeed they would be provided. YES! Not only one office chair, but two (one still brand new in the box), and a very nice two drawer filing cabinet, lamps w/shades; plastic filing trays, 9 brand new padded folding chairs, etc… It reminds me of the saying, “When we are ready to learn, the teacher is provided.” Why did I doubt?

    • Isn’t it wonderful how God works things out?!

    • This is what I mean about placing yourself in situation where what you need/want is more likely to arise. Not only that your willingness to help your boss with this was why he was then willing to let you take what you wanted. “What goes around comes around.”

  6. Something I’ve heard mention of here is accumulating food and household goods in case something happens or if we were to get into a tight financial spot. Colleen has issued challenges before about using up our food stuffs and/or getting rid of expired foods. I did it when she put out the challenge, but I went through the cupboards yesterday a.m. and the refrigerator this a.m. I threw out 12 packets of spice mixes, 8 expired open condiments, and 3 unopened expired condiments. That’s kind of a lot of money going to waste. I still need to go through a free-standing cupboard that I use for my pantry. And I don’t know how it made it through previous cuts, but I still had a melon baller. I have never even used it and have no idea where it came from. It’s a mystery, but it is now in the donate box.

    Always great posts here, Colleen. Thanks for all your encouragement. 🙂

    • Hi Michelle, what I have learned from decluttering my kitchen is to stick to the food that you know you like and the ingredients to make them. That doesn’t mean you can’t experiment and try new things. It just means that when you do, and it doesn’t work out, force yourself to use up the ingredients before trying something else that requires ingredients that you don’t already have.

      And I still can’t come at the idea of planning for a disaster. We had a storm hit on Monday night. It went on and on, all night and all day with driving rain and cyclonic winds. There was wind damage and flooding all over the hunter area and power out all over the place. We were lucky, but even if we weren’t we weren’t going to stave within three days just with the meagre supplies we usually keep on hand.

  7. Thats where most of my clutter comes from, the “poverty thinking” when I am afraid I won’t be able to get it later. To be truthful, there have been many stages of my life that were uncomfortable, when money was so tight it hurt and not just once, but several times at several life stages. I guess I didn’t want to take any good times for granted (I have always been the ant not the grasshopper). Finally I have reached a point where I can trust that even if things go wrong, we will be okay. I know enough about how life works now to not put too much value on STUFF. For food and household goods, I don’t need a 6 months supply to feel safe anymore, that’s progress!

  8. I used to be guilty of poverty thinking around ten years ago. Now I let tomorrow take care of itself. I guess it is easier when kids are full grown and not involved in so many activities.

    I love ‘first world problems’ – one that went around here was ‘white girl problems’ ie a crisis relating to hair, make up, phones, clothing etc to remind them albeit humorously that such problems can be a bit shallow.

    It seems like the planets have aligned or something and suddenly a steady trickle of stuff has started leaving the house again. Not sure what the hold up was but a lot of things were waiting for something else or someone else and everything has started moving forward again.

  9. I’ve noticed poverty mentality in my cousins. I then noticed a ” rich” aunt that had only what she needed, not a surplus of “just in case” items. I have tried over the years to avoid poverty thinking in both financial & physical possessions. I have had varied success, but in the last 10 years I’ve been more successful, but it’s still something I have to remind myself from time to time.

    • Hi Calla, I am not sure why I have always been so careful with money. It seems to be in inbuilt trait in me. Or maybe it is because I worked in my families business and witnessed mum’s anxiety around tax time every year. It was unwarranted of course because you only pay tax as a percentage of what you earn and they earned plenty so the bill was never more than they could afford. And she is who I learned how to be frugal from. Anyway now I realise I can live with even less than I though so we don’t need to bring in as much money as we used to so can take it easy. That isn’t the experience of most people I suppose but I do wonder if the desire for stuff one can’t afford makes being less affluent seem worse than it is. It is always interesting to me to wonder how minds work and what influences behaviour.

  10. It really all boils down to one word, Faith!

    I can’t speak for other countries, but in the USA, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who went through the Great Depression have been brainwashed into living our lives in fear that there will never be enough. Most of us, thank goodness, were able to break the cycle. Waste not-Want not, Living below your means, Saving for a rainy day are all excellent ways to live. Fortunately, I never allowed myself to go the “poverty thinking” route, nor have I gone the “fake it till you make it” route. Faith and Balance 🙂

    • Hi Kimberley, I don’t know if it is so much brainwashing or just passed down habits. They do eventually die out when people realise that they don’t apply to modern day life. Lets hope the bad habit of excess consumerism dies out within a generation or two as well. As for living below ones means, that is something I am a bit of an expert at. Couple that with a husband who has a well paid job with perks and that is why we have managed to pretty much retire at such an early age.

  11. When my sons were home I had food flowing out of cupboards, on top of the fridge, in the basement flat…just in case. Reading 365 with all the helpful comments, especially ” using up”, my food stash is down to two shelves. That allows me the ability to not shop for a day or two, especially good for when I have an “off day” now that I am in my 60’s. No more breaking my back searching at the back of cupboards for that tin of beans. Just open the cupboard and there it all is at eye-level. I have an almost empty fridge before I do my next shop. It’s a challenge now to create a meal for the two of us out of what I can see at a glance. Wish the same could be said for the rest of my stuff. One step at a time.

    • Hi Jan, I am still amazed at how little we store in the way of food now that our kids are out of the house. Even when it was just our son, who isn’t a big eater, there were all sorts of things I bought the my husband and I avoided eating because we aren’t in our twenties anymore like out kids. Now that there are no kids here we only by what our ageing bodies will allow us to eat and not lay down fat. And we are both still relatively fit and exercise on a regular basis. That isn’t to say we don’t have treats on a regular basis, we just don’t usually have them in the house so as not to gorge on them all the time.

  12. God truly does provide when we have a need, and even a want sometimes. He sparks our creativity when we either need an item or an outlet and brings other people into our lives at just the right time (Partners in Crime…yeah!) I’m a quilter…and my stash of fabric is substantial, but I finally got it all pulled out this past weekend to make fabric selections for 2 quilt tops I’ve finished and I’ll be paring that down before I get creative and refinish a piece of furniture to put it away in…