Prevention is better than cure

I know that people come to my blog to get ideas on how to reduce their clutter and there is plenty advice here about that. I also know that it might seem a little late to suggest that prevention is better than cure, but prevention is an ongoing necessity in order to both become less cluttered and to stay that way. Prevention is a life sentence if in fact you  don’t want to end up back at square one.

Life sentence may sound like some sort of harsh treatment but I can assure you it isn’t. Quite the opposite in fact. I wish I had handed myself this sentence years ago. I know I have said it before but it is worth repeating over and over again ~ Having no desire to acquire is one of the best outcomes of my decluttering mission. Second only to having an uncluttered home. In fact they aren’t separate things at all, as the uncluttered home can’t happen without stopping stuff from coming in.

It isn’t just about the fact that if I don’t buy stuff new potential clutter isn’t entering my house. It is several other freedoms and joys that are so wonderful, such as…

  • The money that it saves.
  • The reduced detrimental effect I am having on the environment.
  • The time not wasted shopping.
  • Less frustration not being able to find exactly what I  want right now.
  • No settling for second best. Instead if there is something that I have a purpose for acquiring, I generally know well in advance and am prepared to wait for just the right item to come along.
  • No disappointment when I can’t get stuff at the price I want.
  • Less time wasted on product reviews.
  • Less possibility of buyers remorse.
  • No shopping guilt.
  • No more procrastination over whether I should spend the money or not.
  • No more justifying the expense to other members of the family.
  • Being satisfied with what I have instead of forever wanting something else.

I am sure that other people could add several more feelings, anxieties and issues that go along with the desire to acquire. Equally some people may think that living without the thrill of the chase and enjoying new stuff is unthinkable. But I am sure that if they really looked inside themselves they would find their need for stuff causes them more grief than joy. You only have to turn all those positives in my lists to negatives to get a picture of that grief.

Even as I type this I feel I am not doing justice to expressing the freedom I feel at having escaped consumer madness. However I certainly hope that this post tweaks enough interest in some to give them the desire to at least attempt to achieve the same in their lives.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a recipe book or two that you only ever use one or two recipes from, while the rest you have been going to try someday.  Scan the recipes you do use and donate the book. Recipe clippings are another thing that accumulate over time while someday never seems the day to actually arrive to try them. Do yourself a favour and get your recipes from the internet in the future when you are feeling adventurous enough to give something new a try.

Eco Tip for the Day

Consider trying some homemade cleaning products. Here is a web post I found yesterday with some good recipes. Sometimes natural cleaners can require a little extra elbow grease but the extra exercise is good for you. Natural cleaners are better for you,  your family and the environment and often better on your wallet as well.

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:

  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Any reason is a good reason Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
  • Disassociation Part 4 ~ Security Clutter You are probably wondering how does security fit into the clutter equation, and of course I am going to give you my answer to that. Sometimes we keep our clutter because we want to be […]
  • Focus on the space There is a tip I have heard many times from many sources that I don't think I have ever mentioned on my blog before now. That tip is ~ Focus on the space not the clutter. That is to […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Good morning,

    I really like several of your points or your “freedoms and joys” because I have begun to think like that. I get a laugh from a friend when she sees my living room. We bought a new couch two years ago and have a wingback chair that absolutely does not match or even go with, but because it was still in good shape, I didn’t do anything to change it. Now the fabric has torn and it look shabby but not chic! Well, now I can’t find anything acceptable locally to go with the couch. I suspect I’ll end up in Big City. In the U.S. there is still a trend for large, overstuffed furniture and first, we are short people, and second, we have a small house. I want a very streamlined, clean look and until I can get that, I have Ratty Chair! No settling for second best as you said. And I do not want to suffer from buyers remorse by just buying whatever to go in the living room.

    This is not my particular attitude, but your last point, Being satisfied with what I have instead of forever wanting something else. I have another gal friend, who is forever wanting new, new, new. Wants a bigger house, wants newer vehicles, wants fancier jewelry. That would exhaust me. I want comfortable and then I want to simply be grateful for the good things in my life, my husband, my job, my cat, my good health, an occasional trip to visit family and I’m all good here. 🙂

    • Michelle, if you like the chair and it is well-made and comfortable, perhaps you could have it reupholstered. We found this a good way to harmonize (rather than ‘match’) a wing chair with our recliners.

      • Wendy B, good thought and I will consider doing that! 🙂

        • Michelle, I too have a small space and needed furniture that would fit, I’m not sure if this would work with your furnishings but many wicker chairs are made much smaller. Reupholstering is a good idea, but if that is out of your price range Ikea offers many smaller sized pieces of furniture, actually it’s hard to find the larger pieces there.

          • Thanks, Lois, we do have an Ikea close by so will check it out. 🙂

          • Michelle,
            living in a land of Ikea-lovers (and having quite some of their furniture myself) I have to say: beware of the (cheap) upholstered stuff! I sat on too many couches that were fine at first but really sagged in no time! We went for an Ikea leather couch because it really was the only thing that fit our odd space perfectly and hope that because of the firmity of the leather it will hold up better than their other stuff – because we’ve seen people replacing couches or armchairs in less than five years and that’s really not how it’s supposed to be. Poäng armchairs are an exception. Not pricey and they seem to last forever. They are just not everyones cup of tea … But if your chair is high quality upholstery please really consider having it redone. Might still be the better value.

    • Michelle, we are short too and we WILL NOT buy until we find something that fits. I have found that like Lois said Ikea has some really good furniture for those who are short. Like you we have a small living room and we don’t want lots in it. We are thinking of getting rid of the sofa and buying two chairs to replace it so that we can arrange things to meet the need.

    • Good for you Michelle for being content with what you have and being happy to wait for the right chair to come along. And I agree, forever wanting more would be exhausting.

    • Michelle & Deb J – I know what you mean about furniture that doesn’t suit short people, its pretty crazy at my age to feel like a child with feet dangling when I sit. Alas, I live in the land of giants. My hubby and son are 6 foot and my daughters are 5 foot 7 and 5 foot 6. Whenever I mention this, they offer me a bean bag.

      • Awww Moni, lemme give you a hug as one shorty to another. {hug} My mom laughs at furniture that her legs dangle from too.

        • Michelle – LOL – then there are the couches that are extra deep ie from the seat from the back rest to the edge. My sis-in-law has this couch with extra depth, its probably like a single bed, and the first time I sat on it because my knees didn’t reach over the edge I ended up with my legs sticking out. She said the look on my face was priceless. Apparently you are supposed to sort of lounge on this couch or curl your feet up or stack dozens of pillow behind you. Not having one of those in my house!

          • You know, Moni, I prefer to sit upright when I talk with folks. and not lounge like a sleepy cat during conversation. I’m pretty sure my chiropractor is against those couches too! I cannot image my short-of-stature mother-in-law curling up her tooties on my couch, as a matter of fact.

          • I don’t like those either. Because of all the problems I have with my arthritis, fibromyalgia, knee surgeries, back and hip problems, etc. I can’t sit curled up or with my legs bent up beside me. Visiting many people is hard just for this reason–seating.

      • Moni, I used to carry around a little stool I could put my feet on but then it got to where I couldn’t sit in one position for long so that no longer worked. It actually folds up and can be put in your purse. I still have two of them because we still use them on the plane or if we go somewhere that will require sitting a long time as it give options. I hated school. My feet never touched the floor and I couldn’t put my feet back on the rungs because I didn’t have full range of motion due to some of my early knee surgeries. It would cut off the circulation in my legs and make it hard to walk at first when I finally got up. Being short does have its many drawbacks.

        • Deb J – yup clothes and furniture, but we don’t bump our heads on doorways or anything hanging from the ceiling. The small size shoes are usually plentiful at sale time.

      • I know what you mean also, as I am only 5’1”. My oldest son who is almost 6 foot, as is my husband, gets the biggest kick out of patting me on the head or using it as a place to rest his elbow :).

        • Jen – when I was about 14 or 15 I decided that if I wanted to give my future children a fighting chance at some height, I was going to have to consider DNA when dating, so tall guys only need apply. 🙂 Mind you, my husband said that the first time he saw me he thought I looked like a doll (I assume that was a good thing, and not a Bride of Chucky thing) and he hoped (when we’d gotten further along) that we’d have short daughters. Fortunately he’s very happy with the daughters we have. I’m very happy because my master plan worked out. But I notice I look really the odd person out when we have a photo altogether. I should probably stand on something.

          • Oh, that is too funny! I know what you mean as I wanted my future children also to have at least a chance at being taller than I am (especially if they were boys), so I always seemed to gravitate to taller men. Not that I am complaining, but I wouldn’t have minded a few more inches myself just to make it easier to reach things :). Since that didn’t happen, my husband and kids get the chore of helping me get things down on occasion and I have stools handy too.

          • Nothing wrong with standing out. Actually that is quite ironic ~ you stand out because you are short.

          • Ha! My Mom was 5’2″ when she married and my Dad 6′. My grandparents were 5’1″, 6’1″, 5’8″ and 6′. My brother is 6’2″. One short one in the family of grandparents and Mom and I have to take after her. Sheesh! Not fair. Colleen, Oh I stand out. I’m always in the front row of any group and I have been called Shorty or Short Stuff all my life. And then there is Little Lady. Grrrrrrrr!!!!

        • Look on the bright side Deb J at least your name doesn’t rhyme with midget like my Bridget who is 5′ 1″. All you have to be is feisty enough like Bridget that no one is game to make the connection. We don’t call her 5 foot of fury for nothing. Even Liam didn’t get picked on because of his size and I am pretty sure that is because they didn’t want to incur Bridget’s wroth.

          • Good for Bridget. I was a quiet, scared little thing when I was a kid. Now I’m feisty like Bridget. In fact, I had a Ford Festive at one time, red of course, that people called Feisty because it was like it’s owner. Grin. I’m just glad Bridget got her feisty on early.

      • I’m short (5’4″) and my hubby is tall (6’2″) so no furniture will ever fit both of us. We waited and looked for YEARS to find a sofa that fits both of us, sort of. I use a pillow behind my back and that helps. And the sofa and chairs are ‘almost’ low enough for me. 🙂

        • We’re 5’3″ and 6’3″, so I know what you’re talking about. Do you know the movie “Up”? The couple there had a chair each – completely different chairs, but somehow that is the charm of the whole thing. I think, we’ll go down that road, too. 😉

        • I like my sofa big, I don’t sit in it with my feet on the floor, they are either curled up under me or on the ottoman so the bigger the seat the better I say.

    • here here I agree with you just the simple things in life can keep us happy.

  2. I quite enjoy WANTING things. For years I’ve wanted a bright red car. During that time I’ve had a grey one and a beige one. Last year I bought a new car, and could have had it in red but bought the nice practical blue/grey. So I continue to enjoy WANTING a bright red car, rather than having one — and probably wishing I didn’t. So often the things we WANT are tied up with fantasies of ourselves or our lives and once we’ve acquired them, they don’t suit us at all and leave us with that empty bank account, sense of dissatisfaction and desire for something else. For myself, I’m quite happy with my life and what I have, but I still WANT a bright red car…and a swimming pool…and a villa on the Riviera.

    • Wendy B, we bought the bright red car and we love it. We were hunting a new car at the time and rather than wait to order one in we took what was on the new car lot. It was red and now we are so glad we did it. It’s real easy to find amongst all that silver, black, and white.

      • We did the same thing with the car we bought when we returned to Australia. Needless to say we needed one in a hurry. Steve had done his homework and knew what sort of car we were going to get but the only one at the yard at the time was in a colour called verdigris, which is a pretty green colour. There are very few cars of that colour around here so our car, like yours, is easy to spot in the car park or coming down the street. It is quite handy.

        • Yep! And another thing I like is that everyone knows our car. They will say things like, “We saw you in your car at ___ the other day but didn’t get to you fast enough to say hi” or “we saw your car was home so called to see if ______” etc.

    • Wendy B, you would be able to ice skate on your swimming pool for half the year so what on earth do you want that for. 😉 Unless of course it is intended for the villa in the Riviera. That makes more sense. 😆

      365 had a good chat about our fantasy selves last week and your comment fits very well with that. Wanting something and fitting it into ones live can be two entirely different things.

    • Wendy B – a red car is achievable. Next car purchase, get a red car!

      • But it’s more fun WANTING a red car. If I bought one, then I have to want something else… aside from the reality of dirt roads and Mud Season (known to other folks as Spring). I once desperately WANTED a pair of red shoes (is there a theme developing here??) I eventually bought the prettiest pair of red shoes I’d ever seen. Hurt my feet and I had nothing to wear them with. I’d have been better off continuing to want them, rather than actually owning them and being sorely disappointed.

  3. I have found the same happiness you have with having less. Having one cabinet that neatly holds all my kitchenware, pantry items and even my books and extra blankets has given me the space to have more seating for guests and sure makes it easier to find what I need.

    • Exactly Lois, isn’t it amazing how the reality of what we truly want and enjoy can begin to shine through once the clutter and desire to acquire gets out of the way. I dare say you had never given this end result much thought before you started your decluttering.

      • Lois, that’s fantastic. That is really something to aspire to – – working on it!

      • Before I downsized I had baskets everywhere storing stuff. I even had a couple of baskets for things I didn’t know what to do with. Then it became a challenge of which basket held what. I also found during my huge purge to move into a small home that I had like things all over the place. Tools for instance were under the sink, in the one cabinet and even out in the back storage area. No wonder I could never find things. It was like that for many things.

        • Oh Lois!! TOOLS, TOOLS, TOOLS!! We have no garage so there are some in the attic, some in the garden shed, and some in the (I’m sorry to say this) Junk Drawer. And then I can never find the dang hammer. Where does the hammer live?

          • Do you have a closet where you keep your broom and stuff like that? If so, they have these little basket things that can be hung on the inside of the door. We used to keep tools in those. And we hung the hammer with a broom clip.

  4. You know, this really is an ongoing process.
    I’m so happy I’m mostly “over” the urge to shop (and to bring in freebies). I agree that this is even more important than to shove things out. Lately, the amount of things “decluttered” by using up or wearing out is becoming equal to the amount of things I actually give away. Maybe, I’ll be “done” by the end of the year – that is: down to a number of possessions I’m comfortable with.
    I can’t tell how happy I am about the progress I made already.
    I notice how my relationship to things has changed. There also are so many things meanwhile I find downright foolish to own. While a year ago I might have still thought “well, in my life situation I currently don’t need xy”, today I can’t think of a life situation at all where I could use – let alone need – that same item. Entire retailment branches have lost their appeal completely to me.
    It’s really a huge freedom not to be on that wagon.

  5. This is such a wonderful post, Colleen. They are all so good and it makes me glad to read them and feel good about them. Because it makes me realize how much I have changed and how much our home has changed. Two of your points really fit me: 1. No settling for second best. 2. Being satisfied… I am totally happy with things just the way they are. Yes, some things could change (like swapping out the couch for two chairs) but if it doesn’t happen I’m okay with that. Yes, we still have things to declutter but they are things hidden away so that what my eyes see each day make me happy and satisfied. I know that eventually all that hidden stuff will be gone but in the meantime I have a very restful home. That’s very gratifying.

  6. The peace of not wanting makes my heart sing!

  7. I saw a half price sale for lovely tops at my favourite shop yesterday. I paused, then thought “I have enough tops” and “there will be another sale if I do need more in the future” and walked on. So liberating, I felt great!

  8. Colleen as usual you have hit the nail on the head! Realising the difference between wants and needs, realising we don’t actually need all the stuff advertisers are trying to sell us (and that their product is not magically going to make our life better :)) and preventing unnecessary items from entering our homes are the way forward to maintaining our serene spaces. I wholeheartedly agree with all you said about prevention is better than cure and all the comments, especially Jo H and Janetta!

  9. Off topic, but I went through my postcard collection today. I had saved several that were associated with negativity but I’d kept them because they were part of the postcard collection. Now they’re in the recycling bin, along with all the ones that aren’t important. The blanks went in my letter writing box. I know you’ve said before, Colleen, that collections are dangerous for clutter. I’m glad it was just postcards rather than something 3D, but it feels good to terminate the collection.

    I did pick a book to declutter and have bumped it to the top of my reading list. 🙂 And I have been thinking more about Cindy’s post from yesterday. If we put a little hook in the entrance closet, my husband’s belt and work badge could stay there rather on the countertop. I’ll ask to see if he’d be ok with that. He’s not yet verbalizing concern about being decluttered himself, but he is a little twitchy when I get close to his desk.

    • Hi Rebecca, another example of how a simple solution can solve an annoying clutter problem. A little irritation can be quite grating over time while a simple solution not only solves the problem but give a tickle of self satisfaction every time you partake in it from the moment it is implemented.

      • Rebecca, what an interesting thing you said about the postcards associated with negativity. Maybe some of us are keeping collections or memorabilia even though it doesn’t make us feel good or special, and then we don’t enjoy the collection because there is something in there that brings up an unhappy thought. Having something just for the sake of having it? Hmmmmm. You are on to something here and you have turned on a light bulb in my head. I’m thinking a bonfire in my back yard of old cards and letters from an ex.

        • Michelle – I have heard that one culture (and for some reason I think a boat is involved) and everyone places in that boat an item that they have some personal negative attachment or something from the past that they have to let go of – and then the boat get set fire to. If anyone else knows more about this, I’d love to know.

          Could you all imagine a 365 Bonfire for emotional attachment clutter? That would be one seriously big bonfire!

          • Some of my friends made a bonfire to burn their notebooks at the end of a stressful college semester. I kept the notebooks, in a box in a closet for years until I realized I would never go back to them. Maybe shoulda gone the fire route. 🙂

            Husband is iffy on the hook idea; I might put it in the closet anyway and see if he warms up to it.

  10. I am so glad you have found freedom.

    I too am so happy about losing my desire to acquire. I love that expression.

    You’re an inspiration.

  11. Great post! I am aiming to spread my ‘ prevention plan’ to my children. Yesterday whilst browsing the thrift shop ( after making a donation:) ) I realized that everything you ‘need’ to start a home is there. Rather than storing stuff for my kids to use when they move out, I should show them where they can access affordable , useful items. If they purchased as they needed it, then they would have less clutter to start with. Rather than me loading them up with useless items , just in case.
    Definately something I will have to work on.
    My eldest son went to a party last night, themed on the Thrift Store song, by Mackelmore .(Seattle based American rapper) He confessed he had never been in a thrift store, I will have to enlighten him!

    • Hi Wendy F, Bridget is a Macklemore fan and introduced me to the Thrift Store song. I love it just because of the Seattle connection.

      Perhaps not on introducing your eldest son to thrift shops he may have some dormant genes there that you don’t really want him to discover. 😉

      • Interesting point Colleen. I do like the smart clothes he purchases for himself from a shop in Westfield’s, so we might just leave it at that…

        • Wendy F – I wasn’t going to mention, but………my son came home from the thrift store with a green and yellow paisley shirt with an orange pocket. And he refuses to give it up.

  12. I was visiting Melbourne for 2 days on my own this week and as I was driving down the crowded shopping strips my brain was frantically thinking: “Ooohhh, I remember that great shop, I want to go there”, “what can I buy, buy buy?”. When I stopped myself to really think about it, I realised I NEEDED nothing, so I didn’t even get out of the car.! In the end I was too busy seeing friends and having lovely lunches and dinners out to have time to shop. However, on my way out of the city coming home, I did end up going to a high-end shopping area because it had what used to be my favourite bookshop, and had 30 minutes of happily sniffing around the preposterously expensive but beautiful stores. It satisfied my urges and i didn’t buy a thing. In fact, I made a mental note that I never needed to go back there again! Next time I will spend that 30 minutes having a walk along the nearby beach instead.

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking! How instead of shopping or looking in David Jones, I socialize , take my dogs for a walk on the beach. There is so much more to do than shop !!! It is also nice to look sometimes, just to remind myself of what I don’t need! Cheers Loretta

      • Wendy F – I have a friend who we just don’t seem to be able to cross paths at the moment, so she said to me “lets do a grocery shopping date” – a what? you agree on time and supermarket and then grocery shop together, catch up on all the gossip and then part ways at the checkout. Its got to be better than meeting up at the food court of the shopping centre.

        • Sounds like a great idea, but grocery shopping is not something I would consider ‘sharing’. It is hard enough to concentrate and navigate the supermarket on my own! Do you have a proliferation of coffee shops , new ones opening up ? There is always a new one to try in Newcastle , so it is easy to organize a catch up with someone who is busy by suggesting a new coffee shop, then heading off to do the groceries……

          • Wendy F – well, as 8.30pm-9.30pm was the only time we both had available, I suppose we could have go to McDonalds but it is a kill two birds with one stone situation. Its also interesting to see what other people buy. My friend is extremely thrifty so could who knows what ideas I could pick up.

        • Oh Moni! If she is extremely thrifty, just push the trolley for her and see what she buys!
          Oh Loretta, I am extremely wary of shopping in groups , especially with my sister! Having that second opinion on a dress can be deadly !! Of course, we are now the minimalist sisters, who browse thrift shops and frequent coffee shops when we get together. So much more fun!

      • I know Wendy! I used to adore Myer, DJs and that wonderful Japanese-owned department store Daimaru, sigh. I used to spend a small fortune on higher-end clothing and a HUGE chunk of my time too, loved it at the time, but I really didn’t even think of all the other great things i could have been doing:-)

        Moni, I used to love going grocery shopping with my sister when we lived close together: a boring chore was made so much more pleasant by the company!!

    • Good choices Loretta, look and don’t by or walk by the beach instead.

  13. Ah I know feeling so well now 🙂 For me not spending is quite important as I’ve really slowed down recently on the decluttering, and I’m okay with that, as long as I’m not bringing in new items everyday and adding to the pile. I’ve done quite a lot of de-cluttering these last 10 months so now I’m taking a little time off to step back and enjoy the effects its had on our living space.
    Instead, for the moment I’m focusing on using the things I’ve kept, so I’ve completed a few small cross stitch kits, a puzzle, read several books and made good headway on two large sewing projects. I’m planning on completely using up all my crafting items over the summer when university is over again until September but until then I’m just chipping away as and when I get time. There are currently 6 boxes worth of stuff but I’m content to know that when term is over at the start of June, that’s all there will be and not a 7th/8th etc. box waiting as well. Looks like I’ll be in for a busy summer finishing all those half-done projects! I think it will be nice to finish them rather than just collecting bits of this and that and never really finishing anything. 🙂

    • Hi Jane, you and I seem to be in about the same place at the moment. I am not doing daily decluttering either tight now as I feel quite happy with the level I am at. If I encounter something during my daily activities I do whip it straight out to the donate box. My son has just moved out so that removed more stuff than I could do in a year at one a day. Love the boy but not sorry to see the back of his stuff. His room is so tidy now. Just a bed and an almost empty closet. Yet I am still looking forward to him taking those last things from the closet as well.

  14. Freedom from consumer madness: I could not have put it better. I have tried to be mindful of all the “triggers” that have me spending money in the past. It is so much better now! We do not need much. And purging what we do have is so liberating, it is amazing! Thanks for these posts!

  15. Awesome post Colleen, and so, so true! Loved this line. . . the uncluttered home can’t happen without stopping stuff from coming in. Just this morning I was doing research on eBay in order to set proper prices for some vintage pieces my friend and I will be selling. As I looked through the Bavarian China and English Bone China, which I so love, but have enough of, I kept saying, “Oh, that’s such a pretty piece, and so very inexpensive!” Suddenly I realized what I saying, had a little reality check and changed the conversation, “Are you nuts? Do you want to go right back to where you began five years ago?” “Silly girl!! Do your homework, then close eBay immediately!!” Old habits die hard!

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Betty Jo!!! I am so glad to know that someone else goes through the same internal exchange that I do. It is difficult to break those old habits. It’s also hard to walk by my favorite shops. But then I remember all the decluttering I am doing to live with less….does anyone else feel depressed by not buying like you used to? I should be elated but I am missing the high I got from buying something new. Help!!! Any advice?

      • Kim – yes and no. Yes because I enjoy shopping and yes I know what you mean by the high. And no, because I know how much work it is to get rid of something at the other end, especially if it has been an impulse buy that I don’t really end up using.

        I discovered along the way that I was using the ‘high’ because I had some other areas of my life that were ‘low’. I’m not saying that’s your situation, I’m just telling you my story. Ironically, one of the low areas was how stressed and overwhelmed I felt in my house when it was overfull. So I’d escape and as crazy as it sounds would go shopping to make myself happy again. There were other areas of my life that needed tweaking too, but when you start fixing one problem, other things seem to start falling into place too.

        Sadly, the ‘high’ doesn’t last long, Colleen had a link a few Fridays ago which went into it quite a bit, there is a psychological term for it – the article started about a young couple who gave up their huge house, two cars and careers to live a simple life pursuing what they really wanted to do – if anyone still has the link? – and it went over several pages and had all sorts of other information and I was able to identify with a lot of what was written (or at least the old me).

        So what am I like when I am shopping now? Well, I don’t rush into transactions and I put parameters and boundaries on what I actually want. Right now I am looking around at Winter boots as shops are starting to put them out. The old me would have bought whatever took my fancy, including boots that deep down I knew weren’t practical or didn’t suit me. Now I figure out in advance exactly what I required and its a very particular list. And I found them this morning. So there wasn’t the rush of instant gratification, it was more of a ‘thank goodness I found them, I thought I was going to have to lower my standards or increase my budget’. So, no, I don’t get a shopping high that quickly fades but I remind myself to focus on the long term purchase satisfaction instead or finding the item that ticks all the boxes.

        • Moni….your advice on delaying purchases is something my husband has always done, and I never saw the wisdom of it until recently. He will express his need for a certain pair of shoes, and they will show up at the thrift store soon afterward! I am trying it, and it works with some patience! Thank you for all the kind advice! 🙂

      • Hi Kim this is quite understandable and I am sure these feeling will subside over time. My entry into this era of my life was kind of gradual like my decluttering. I lived in the USA for seven years where we were better off financially than ever in our lives and the prices were so low that shopping was so easy and affordable. We made the most of it I can tell you. However when we moved back to Australia my hubby took a huge pay cut plus the cost of living was higher so I had to cut back. Also I just couldn’t accept paying the prices retailers were asking for things over here so shopping lost its appeal anyway. So when I began decluttering in earnest the inward flow of stuff had already slowed considerable reducing it to a trickle was therefore not a huge step for me. I guess you could say I didn’t go cold turkey so the transition was gentle on me. I was also just so ready for the change.

        It sounds like your change may have come a bit more suddenly when perhaps you weren’t quite so ready. As a result those yearning may just take that little bit longer to subside. I would suggest you find a way to focus on the benefits of your new way of living, perhaps keep a close eye on the increase in your savings account due to your lack of spending. That ought to make you feel better. Also when you do get one of the pangs of deprivation analyse the item of your desires and see if you can talk yourself around to the futility of what that object can really achieve for you. As Moni said in her comment, the high last for such a short length of time that it really just isn’t worth it.

        • Colleen, You’re right, the pangs of not shopping are becoming less with time. And as Moni said, the memory of getting rid of stuff is still fresh, and I think that is why I am depressed. Because I know I shouldn’t buy what I don’t need when it may be decluttered down the road. The “high” isn’t a “high” anymore. Have you heard the saying ” When you know better, you do better”? I know better now….

      • I certainly can’t add any better advice than anyone else who has replied, but I can tell you my story. I shopped many times because I could. There were times when I was young that I could not even have my basic needs met, and when I could afford to buy what I wanted, I did. That reasoning eventually changed to other reasons to shop. I started to shop because it made me feel good. I would buy pretty things, not always clothing, mostly things that I could look at and admire. I was also unhappy and stressed because of other areas that needed attention in my life, and shopping seemed to brighten my day, but only for a little while. Eventually I realized that acquiring items was not making me any happier and enough was enough. My income level changed also. I still live comfortably, but I think so much harder before I get something. I still go in and look at things in the store on occasion, but I usually don’t come home with anything. Colleen has mentioned before something her mother had said, (I don’t remember the exact words), but basically if you go home and think on it and still want the item, then it will probably still be there when you go back. If you are lucky though, your desire to get the item may dwindle. Mostly my focus changed and I sought out blogs like this one because I desired a true change in my lifestyle. I wanted to spend my time and money on important things, not on buying things or doing things that only give a short return on my happiness. Perhaps you may have other things that you are interested in that can replace the feeling that buying once gave you. It takes some time, but I find that I feel more accomplished by not purchasing these days than when I do. If I do get something, I don’t beat myself up, I just make sure that something goes out the door if something comes through the door.

        • Thanks Jen, for the advice for one in, one out….I have been doing that. I have become more patient in my buying and walking away from things I want but don’t need. I think my depression is coming from mourning the way life was. But the bigger picture is that I feel better when I see a cleaner and leaner home! 🙂

      • I find I get a similar high if I renew something in my home:
        If I paint something, make new pillow cases for the throw pillows on the sofa or just rearrange things – or finally sew on that button and make my jacket wearable again.
        Or bring those favourite shoes to the cobbler.
        Also, in the beginning, I often splurged on a few fresh flowers on the market – buying flowers makes me happy, it’s a lovely home decoration – and it adds no clutter as they don’t last.
        A similar effect can be achieved by indulging in special food (for me the ultimate indulgence is to get a baguette from the bakery, an assortment of cheeses and a bottle of red wine – feels right like a vacation) – though that probably shouldn’t be the everyday go-to-solution. Or just fresh fruit which you arrange neatly in a bowl on the table – a similar effect to the flowers and healthy as well.
        Or just buying “fancy” for things you need anyway: get that tea in a little tea shop, that coffee at the coffee roasters’ etc. Take your time there, browse the aisles, get into conversation with the shop owners and buy that little extra-luxury without adding clutter to your home. Those small shops aren’t necessarily that expensive (and with things like tea I found it lasts so long, even the expensive stuff doesn’t cost more than a few cents per cup)

        I think everyone else gave ideas already on what might be the underlying reasons for that “urge to splurge”, I just wanted to give a few examples how to “give in” and still don’t feel buyer’s remorse afterwards.

        • Sanna, this is good. This was something I tried to convince my mother of back when she would always go to a fast food restaurant. I told her that I would rather go to a nicer place once a month that waste money on junk food. She would rather go several times to the fast food places because that meant she didn’t have to cook. Now she sees the difference because of the new eating plan we have.

        • Sanna, your advice is superb. A life of savoring elegant treats instead of drowning in too much of nothing.

          Kim, maybe you could set yourself a goal so you have something focus on. When I was younger, every extra cent went into my travel account. The other girls in the office would eat out and shop at lunch, then show off their purchases. I could have been jealous but instead I was thinking, “yeah, but a year from now you’ll still be here at work and I’ll be in Thailand…” A friend quit smoking by putting the exact cost of each week’s pack of cigarettes into her trip fund. The anticipation of a holiday helped her overcome a habit she wanted to break. Set a goal that’s important to you and by the time you are climbing Kilimanjaro, sponsoring a foster child or taking a year off to study acupuncture in China, you won’t even remember all the things you didn’t buy along the way.

          • Wendy B….WOW! Your example of a trip fund and being in Thailand, is unbelieveable! We have a son who lives in Thailand now and has been for 8 years! And ironically, we are going there this fall to see him get married! This is the perfect way to put my savings to use! Thank you so much for the push I needed! 🙂

        • These are all great ideas. If you want a treat or a splurge, why not get something consumable.. like a really nice soap for the bathroom, something you really like to eat, or something you have wanted to try. When you need something, try to do without until you feel like shopping – then you will have a legitimate reason to do so! For me, the memory of all the tedious de-cluttering I have done throughout the years, AND having to deal with the mold toxic belongings, is enough to make me abhor the idea of buying anything. The crazy thing is we need a small kitchen table and chairs, as we have none (and only a very small one will fit in our new kitchen) and we are eating sitting on the floor or at restaurants… and I just really wish we didn’t have to buy those!! Sigh.

          • Cat’s Meow – that is a good idea for a splurge!

          • Great advice again, Cat’s meow! Love that idea to delay a purchase of a need and wait for the craving to buy. I did the consumable shopping when I went to the C’mas craft fairs. I bought food and soap gifts for family and soap for myself so I could have a treat! Sometimes one item is all I need to feel better. Good luck finding a table, eating in restaurants and on the floor must be getting old!

        • Sanna…Love your advice!!! I am a “change” junkie! I need change and I love to move things around. Even though items have been here for years, they look different when moved to a new location! My Mom always thinks I’ve bought something new! I have started buying flowers, too! That pop of color really helps coming out of a cold, dreary winter. I am doing that with food, also. We became vegetarian/vegan within the last year, and I am finding food tastes better and I enjoy eating more. Little treats, here and there, helps the craving to buy. Hearing your advice makes me think I am more on track than I thought! 🙂

          • Kim – “change” junkie – finally I know how to describe it. I too have been a change junkie thru the years, I’ll love a certain style and then suddenly get bored with it and completely change direction. Alas in my younger years I didn’t have the funds to do it properly so I’d end up with an evolution-in-progress decor that really wasn’t the vision at all. Its not just decor, it will be a philosophy or some bright idea that I wake up with. So inevitably things would go into storage. So thank you, now I understand why I get restless when things get too “vanilla” in my world. Fortunately I am learning more patience and tolerance as I get older, and putting a lassoo on my impulse spending certainly stops me going off on a tangent, but thanks, I love the term!

        • Wendy B, it sounds like buying experiences as opposed to just things. It is so true that there is “high” that comes with indulging in something really interesting and special – a lovely meal at your favorite restuarant where the waitress and owner know your name (this is a personal experience of mine), buying beloved camp foods for a bonfire with good friends, etc. At the end of the day, those experiences will be more satisfying and last longer and warmer in your memory than buying a few random bits and bobs because they are fashionable, pretty, or whatever. At least, I think so. :]

      • I have transferred the high of the buy to the high of the clear house.

        I too struggle, but more so from an online perspective, as I was addicted to buying online. For me I stopped subscribing to their newsletters and visiting their sites. Probably a little harder when it is a physical shop.

        Keep moving through, and accept the emotional journey you will go through.

        All the best.

    • Those old habits can die hard Betty Jo, especially when it comes to beautiful or useful things. But even useful things, which were always my weakness, are still clutter if they aren’t really needed. I can still admire the cleverness and usefulness of these things without feeling the need to acquire them and that is enough for me. Someone needs to create of museum of useful inventions where people can go and just appreciate the cleverness of design. In this museum there should also be a gallery for stupid single use gadgets where one can marvel at the absurdness of the fact that people actually buy these things. We could all, no doubt, go there and marvel at our own stupidity of once owning one of more of such ridiculous things.

      • I saw an exhibit like that at the Andy Warhol museum in 2008. It covered the late 1950s style of advertising in the USA and had a giant display of “O-matic” devices that explored the history of these unitaskers and the beginning of our current “stuff” crisis.

        Information at this link:

        • Hi Katherine, my son would be very envious of you. He is a big Andy Warhol fan. One of his final assignments for his arts degree at university last year was based around the concept of the Andy Warhol diary. I would love to go there myself. Perhaps on our next trip to the US. I am sure my husband would be only to happy to go to Pittsburg during the Summer as he is a Pirates fan. I look forward to reading that link you sent through. Thanks

          Oh and welcome to 365 Less Things if you haven’t commented before.

    • I know that feeling of being sad not to enjoy shopping and stuff in general as much anymore as I used to, too. But I think part of the “depression” is the deep realization that you just can’t have it all. You can’t have the uncluttered peace and the buyers’ high. Just as you can’t have the crazy love affair and the stable relationship at the same time. Knowing the right thing doesn’t necessarily make the longing for the wrong thing go away. What hurts is not so much that we don’t get what we foolishly long(ed) for but that we lost our innocence of (not) thinking. We know we are better off for it – and still sometimes mourn for the convenient blindness we have given up and that we know we can never get back.

      • Ideealistin, You hit the nail on the head!!!!! That’s it! Wow, you expressed what I feel to a “T”. “Ignorance is bliss” and I know too much to go back! Thank you, thank you! 🙂

  16. Had to report on Mom’s idea to start decluttering. Today we emptied 1-3/4 drawers in her dresser plus got rid of 7 pair of slacks being held for someday. We did this in 20 minutes. In most cases she just handed it to me and said, “Let’s get rid of this.” Happy Dance!! We didn’t have much time this week as things sort of blew up into a bunch of appointments but was excited that SHE suggested we do this today.

    • I can just see you doing the Harlem Shake Deb J 😉

    • Well done Deb J – sometimes a short sharp burst with a time deadline is the best time to get things hatched, batched and dispatched.

      • It sure worked this time. Now for tomorrow.

        • Deb J – well there is always the Mouse Decluttering method. Under Courtney’s bed remains clutter free.

          • Nah! Mom would just find it, grab it and toss it out. We had that happen one time in the kitchen. She had that mouse so fast it didn’t know what happened. SHe had it before I even knew it was there.

    • That is awesome, Deb J! Sometimes I luck out and find other family members in the mood too but if I don’t, I will enlist their help and we will tackle a small amount together, so it is not overwhelming.

    • Your mother never ceases to amaze Deb J. I will do a little happy dance for you too.

      • She’s something else that is for sure. Today she was talking to someone and put them on the floor laughing when she stated she didn’t have wrinkles any more just pleats.

  17. Do you remember last week – kitchen week – and I was umming and aahhhing over a couple of items which live in the far corner of corner cupboards in my kitchen. I was still mentally digesting the idea of white space from the Friday’s Favourites the week before when I contemplated these last week. One was the George Foreman Grill. Need I say any more? And the other was 3 platters and 3 serving bowls that Adrian and I are sure we only used once, if ever (we weren’t sure if it was because they weren’t easily accessible or if it was because they were too big for the dishwasher or even the sink easily or because we’re happy to use the lasagne dish for everything). Well, they have just left with my favourite Freecyclers!

  18. This post today was great, Colleen! I agree with your thoughts completely. Just like Mark said, you are so inspiring. It goes so far beyond decluttering, my attitude has changed completely towards consumerism and acquiring things. I really take a lot of time now before buying things because there is no rush. I have a few items that I have had my eye on for six months to a year now, and they are not expensive, but I am taking my time because they are not a need, they are a want. In the case of each of these items, if I do purchase them, an item will go out the door because they are replacement items. Rarely do I buy anything on impulse anymore either. I have found that I try to think outside of the box more now when I am needing something. I really try to use what I have on hand instead of running to the store which would be the easy fix. I am also in the use it up mode. Having to purchase something because I have run out of something is so different than buying something because it is the newest thing available for sell. I have mentioned before that I am not there yet completely, but I have come so much further than I ever thought possible in this process and it just keeps getting better everyday.

  19. Good advice! I find for me that refusing to bring it in the house is easier then dealing with it. I hate to wash Ziploc bags, for example. If I have them in the house, it is easy to reach for them and use them. But, if they aren’t there, I use containers and they wash up easily in the dishwasher. So, by refusing, I don’t have to deal with washing the bags that I hate washing. Once something is in your home, it is much more difficult to get rid of it than not bringing it in at all. I tried shopping with coupons a few years ago, and it took so much time and there was always the clutter of the coupons and it was easy to get things you didn’t need for pennies on the dollar or for free. Since we didn’t use a lot of it, it was wasted time. I now spend the same amount I did before, but buy my fruits and veggies and things I need on my menu plan each week. It is more organized and healthier and takes less time. I am happier and have what I need each week for our meals and can spend the time doing what I want instead of going from store to store. I do realize that you can save a lot of money using coupons. I just prefer to eat less, skip the junk food and processed things and cook from scratch to save money instead.

    • Oh how I wish I could get mum away from Ziploc bags. I hate them. Even though she uses them for ages they are still not good for the environment and they have to be washed and dried. I’m with you Spendwisemom.

    • Spendwisemom – you would fit in here in New Zealand – we don’t have coupons. Each of the supermarket chains put out their specials of the week, loyalty members prices and reductions (probably 100 or so for each store) and that is the price it scans at the checkout. No coupon clipping.

    • Great comment Spendwisemom, I agree with everything you say here. I must admit I feel the same about ziplock bags. Although I always have some in my house for travel purposes I am not the least bit tempted to use them for anything else. I rarely buy any because of this and I only have to wash one out occasionally.

      I found the whole coupon clipping thing for the supermarket more trouble than it was worth too. In the end I decided that my time was worth more than the savings I made. I just stocked up a little when things were on special. I do however use coupons for dining out but only if they guarantee a significant saving. Any thing outside of those two things can wait until it goes on sale to buy and since I buy very little aside from food then this doesn’t occupy much of my time.

  20. I also loved this post, Colleen! We just moved again, and it brought back ALL of the reasons I love minimalism and reminded me to just not buy whatever I’m thinking of buying… I most likely won’t need it. Our move was easy and light as we really are down to basics, and all our stuff fit in one small van. Now, the 10 boxes of random junk mixed with a few important papers, that my husband had stored in the storage room since our last move…just waiting for a better time to sort through.. those were so much harder to deal with. But he did it, and he kept one small box of it, and I hope he will stop the clutter bug habits. Yeah, even a minimalist like he is, can be a natural clutterer. He just keeps receipts and such and everything is in a jumble, like a junk drawer that turned to two.. to ten…

    • Hi Cat’sMeow, I am glad you are settled into your new place and once again I hope it works out for you health wise. I really enjoyed your vacation photos from Thailand. I felt so good for you all enjoying some warm climate and a very different culture. What a wonderful time you must have had.

      Moving is so much easier with less stuff. I look forward to the day that we move again just the experience the difference. Although we still have a lot more stuff than you I am excited to see how fewer boxes it takes to move us out than what it took to move us in.


  1. […] Kim tells us how she is finding it hard to walk past her favourite shops and asks her fellow 365ers for their advice in this comment. […]