The benefits of owning and wanting less stuff

2014-01-03 19.00.52

Today’s Decluttered Item
This is just a small sample of the dozen or so that I have given to my children in the last week.

The beginning of the year is always a good time for a post about the benefits of owning and wanting less stuff. By wanting less stuff I mean not wanting for stuff, being free from the desire to acquire. That combined with the benefits of having less stuff to care for and accommodate is reason enough for learning to let go.

Also at the beginning of the year is when new readers arrive at a blog like mine looking for help with the process of decluttering. So a post pointing out the advantages of letting go is always a good way to encourage a person to jump in feet first and get on with the task.

Since I have written several post like this in the past I figured I would just share one with you that I have posted previously. Those who haven’t read it will benefit from it and those who read it along time ago can also benefit from a reminder of why they are making the effort of going through this process. So here is a post I wrote back in August of 2011. Enjoy!

When we talk about decluttering our goal is to end up with less stuff cluttering up our homes and lives. But after living for so long having and always wanting, more the word less sounds like something negative, not a good thing. It exudes a vibe of going without or lacking in some way. And that doesn’t sound at all pleasurable. But in reality the opposite is true. So instead of dwelling on the idea that less is a negative thing why not focus on the positive. How does less equal more?

  • Less stuff to take care of = More time to spend doing the things you enjoy. More time to spend with the people you love.
  • Less stuff cluttering up your home = More space for comfort and it makes your home seem bigger.
  • Less money spent acquiring stuff = More financial security for the things you really need like food, shelter, health care etc.
  • Less Money worries = More piece of mind.
  • Less happiness tied to material “wealth” = More focus on what really matters in life ~ Friends, family, activities that help others not just yourself etc.
  • Less desire for material items = More freedom from the strain of having to work so hard to earn the money to pay for the things to quench that desire.
  • The Less products you consume = The better it is for the environment and the supply of natural resources.
  • Less things you own that tie you down = More freedom to escape to do the things you enjoy like travel.

This list could go on and on. Think about the material things you desire then think about how much you need them verses the impact they have on your life, your family and the environment. Think also of the way your money could be better spent.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something whose purpose is to wrap around something. Perhaps a belt, a set of sheets, and old scarf, excessive rubber bands…

Eco Tip for the Day

Only run your dishwasher when it is absolutely full.

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Why bother? Why bother to declutter? What is it really going to do for me? How is it going to make my life better? I am sure these are the first questions people ask when they begin on the journey […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • 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. Colleen, what a great reminder. I’m learning how much less we can live on if we really think about whether we need something or not.

  2. An oldie but a goodie.

  3. Thank you, such a Good reminder post of the benefits of our decluttering journey. This last year my home has had a real transformation just by letting go of stuff I neither really wanted, couldn’t store and certainly didn’t need. I hated people coming around either planned or by surprise previously as it meant so much stress and work to get the house to the standard I’d feel happy to have others see. It was by no means horrendous or dirty just not how I liked to show my home iykwim.
    I can now have people over whenever I want and love the odd surprise visit. Its easy to whip through with a hoover and put the toys away in their cupboard in less than 10mins.
    I now feel proud of my home and have received a few compliments on how spacious & tidy it now is. Two friends have actually said ‘I can’t believe how tidy your house is, have to tidy up loads before you come around mine, wish mine looked like this!!’ I have informed them not to worry as my house was once stuffed full of clutter its just that i have parted with lots of things with the help of a decluttering site (yours) and its taken quite a while.
    I have invited colleagues around for lunch or a cuppa which I would never do before. My life now has new found friends in it. Letting go of ‘stuff’ definitely makes way for better things x x

    • Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I love that last part “Letting go of ‘stuff’ definitely makes way for better things x x” Enjoy!

    • Hi Kat, what a wonderful story to share with us all. I am so glad that getting control of the clutter has made such a positive difference in your life. Well done and enjoy those rewards.

    • Kat – very early in my decluttering I’d pulled everything out of the entertainment centre, cupboards, baskets, boxes etc that was in the lounge to begin a big sort out. Stuff everywhere I had to dash out to get something and ran into one of my sis-in-laws at the supermarket, she needed to pick something up and so followed me back. I knew it was a mess but imagine my surprise when she jumped to the assumption that we’d be broken into and the house had been trashed and was all ready to ring the police.

    • Hi Kat! Your comment just described me before and after decluttering! It was so stressful to have people over…and never with no warning!!!! 😀 Now I love visitors, but I have much more to improve.

  4. Hi Colleen! Whenever I think of decluttering now I am aware of the amazing benefits it brought over my household. The control over the items that are actually in the house lead to a more calm environment for me, my husband and my children. I can find things more easily. I KNOW where most of the things are in my house. Back in 2011, when I first read this post, I thought I had my house decluttered. I was so wrong. Probably if I read this same post 2 years from now, I will have another view on clutter and my house.

    • I was just thinking that myself-I wonder how far I can take it and how little I can have in my home by this time next year.
      I agree, I now know where most things are and love the fact every item has a ‘home’.
      Has anybody else noticed a change in their relationship with their partner? We rarely if ever argue over mess, clutter or losing items now snd this used to be our biggest argument starter previously. He thinks I keep a fab house now and is proud of my achievements in a subject that couldn’t be brought up before without cross words 🙂

      • Hi again Kat, this comment is a wonderful addition to your last one. People often don’t realise the tension that can exist in a home because of clutter. And in some cases loved ones suffer in silence due to another persons clutter. It can make such a difference when the situation is reversed.

        My husband and I have been able to move into a small, very affordable but lovely two bedroom apartment due to the decluttering we have performed over the last three years. We are loving it here and it feels like being on vacation everyday. One of my kids said the other day ~ When you are inside it is a home but when you walk out the door it is like you are living in a motel.

    • Hi Andréia, you are a fine example of how decluttering can make a positive difference in a home. I am so glad to have been able to share that journey with you from afar. Congratulations on your new calmer, uncluttered home.

    • Andreia – what has made me smile along the way, is the number of duplicate items I was able to declutter because they’d been bought because I couldn’t find the original item.

      • Hi! Moni – I found many a item I had NO IDEA IT WAS IN MY HOUSE! (capital letters for my horror… :D) and I also have given many duplicate items as well (I had 5 open shoes, I don´t even like open shoes – sandals, peep toes, and other kind of fancy shoes) and I just gave them away. Nowadays I am amazed that stuff seems to always be where it is supposed to be (things have a home).
        Colleen – it has been a pleasure to have all of you cheering me on. All the major changes I have done relate to letting go, letting go and letting go of stuff. I am still very firm on my one year without buying clothes. I might have cheated at Christmas when I got a dress shirt, a v neck t-shirt and a sandal (which I will use to death and enabled me to donate the 05 other I had which I had been gifted). I have decided to set myself my own mini missions daily. It might make it a bit easier for me to accomplish the small tasks I have been avoiding… 😉

  5. Colleen. I have been following your website for several years and my 2014 resolution was just to finally comment and thank you. Five years ago my earthly goods, excluding books, seemed to double when I inherited my mother’s china, some furniture, some clothes, some dishes and her private papers. There was a mad initial purge to “make room” since no basement, garage, attic, or spare room for a holding zone. And then a slow but steady purge. So now I am down to less possessions than before the inheritance. I find it so helpful to read over and over the advantages of “less,less,less” and simple ways to approach eliminating “stuff”. And I am glad there is a community growing of people uninterested in”keeping up with the Jones'”

    • Hi CMP and a belated welcome to 365 Less Things to you. I am glad my blog has been a help in your quest to declutter. Thank you for dropping by to leave a comment at long last.

  6. Excellent refresher! Saturday I put away the Christmas décor and found yet one more item to declutter. It took me maybe five minutes to bring out the few knick-knack items that I enjoy on a daily basis and give them a quick dust . . . with a barely damp microfiber cloth, Colleen. 😉

    Hubby and I tend to purchase art work when we travel and once I gathered all the non-displayed art in one location, I was kind of saddened to see them sit in a pile against the wall. I already like what we have on the walls now. Darnit.

    Less stuff in the house = less stuff to take care of = more quality time doing enjoyable activities with people I care about. 🙂

    • Nice use of the microfibre cloth Michelle, well done. Work like a treat don’t they. Mine will get a workout today as is is housecleaning day ( a day late but who’d know 😉 ).

      I feel your pain about the art works but there are only so many walls in this place so some just have to go.

      I like your equation. Less stuff certainly equals all those good things.

      • Colleen, I wish I had a single housecleaning day! It’s ongoing. Like Susie, I often still feel that I haven’t made that much progress despite my having gotten rid of hundreds of items in the past year. I see pictures of rooms that other readers post (Deb’s beautiful, streamlined craft room, for example), and know how far away I am from being where I want to be. I have days where I know deep-down that I have made headway, but as I look around the house, today is NOT one of those days.

  7. I’m glad I came here to read the comments. I started a giant decluttering project over the holidays and it seems I’ve made no headway! I was feeling discouraged, but reading your words has renewed my desire to keep going! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Susie Kline – I do know that ‘no headway’ feeling, but I can assure you that suddenly you’ll see progress and you’ll give yourself a pat on the back. I have been at this 3-4 years and still have plenty to do – don’t let that put you off, the goals have changed a lot along the way and it took a while to bring some of my family onside.

      Take ‘before’ photos and later in the year take some more progress photos. Keep a counting register and set a goal of a certain number of items. And definately check the daily posts here at 365, its kept me spurred along.

    • Hi Susie, because I was only decluttering a thing a day the difference wasn’t obvious. I was satisfied that the donation/sell pile was getting bigger and that there was one less thing in my house. Sometimes you just have to be satisfied with knowing in your own mind that you are making a difference and not worry whether it is obvious. It will become obvious in the long run.

  8. I have loved reading this post and all the comments – so much to inspire and renew me on my slow and somewhat haphazard decluttering.

    Here’s some more benefits:
    Less stuff = less to insure = lower insurance premiums,
    Less stuff = less stuff worry about things being stolen, or being damaged in storms, fires etc when you are away from home,
    Less stuff = easier to dust a table without clutter with one quick wipe; no having to dust individual items and no lifting each individual item to dust around it.
    Less stuff = less thinking and feeling guilty/stupid, “Why on earth did I buy / keep that?”
    Less clothes = easier to get dressed in the morning.

    I’m loving my bedroom since I have started decluttering. And like Kat, I can have people over. Very little mad cleaning before they come. A knock on the door? No worries. People can come in.

    • I agree with everyone’s comments, but the clothes one hits home with me most. Less clothes means only the ones you like wearing are in your cupboard . Less ‘one day they might fit me’ clothes. Less ‘i paid good money for this ‘ cant declutter it clothes.
      It Saves time looking for clothes and deciding what to wear when your wardrobe is decluttered. Also less clothes waiting to be ironed , washed, folded and stored .
      Transfer that concept to pantry, fridge, bathroom, linen cupboard and desk , life just got a lot less stressed .

      • Well said Wendy. I feel the same way about my selection of clothing. I feel I have just enough and I like it all. Some pieces more than others but all in all a good selection. And I am pleased to say, as you well know, that it all fitted into my new wardrobe. Yay!

        • Yes I know how well your new place is working out for you !! I think you need to post photos of your wardrobe and kitchen cupboards.

      • I have gone from 3 clothes rails and four underbed drawers full of clothes to just one rail (wardrobe) a small vacuum bag of summer bits and maternity clothes (just in case we do decide on another child-number 2 is just 6mnths) in this last 12mnths.
        My biggest downfall is a well known selling/auction site. Its great for a certain brand of jeans I like 2nd hand as they can be picked up for 1/10 of the price, fit/last well but most other bits usually end up in donate pile either straight away or after a few weeks so are false economy despite being so cheap. I therefore aim to only buy what I truely ‘need’ this year.

    • Hi Lucinda, the post a used wasn’t the one I was really looking for. The one I was looking for had all those ideas you mentioned. When my husband last updated my blog the new search engine turned out to be a bit of a dud. I must talk to him about that and see if he can reinstate the old one. I liked it much better for finding old posts I want to refer back to. I am glad you have managed to discover all those benefits through your own decluttering. Well done you!

  9. Hello Colleen! Thank you for all of the inspiring ideas on your blog which I have recently discovered after making a resolution to throw out or give away one thing each day this year. I love to declutter however usually do it in spurts and hope that by being more consistent I will make a more lasting change both physically and mentally. This last week I have moved clothes, books, shoes and also old picture frames, so it’s been a good start so far.
    I plan to do a weekly post on my blog to keep myself accountable and see just how much stuff I have decluttered over the year.
    Cheers, Vanna

    • Hi Vanna, thanks for joining us here at 365 Less Things, you are most welcome. I think, like me, you will find the decluttering slowly and consistently that you will most definitely make a more lasting change. I know it had that effect on me. And for me the mental changes happened sooner than the obvious physical changes. I hope the same happens for you.

      Good luck with the blog. Mine sure helped me stay on track. Feel free to link to it here so we can all take a look.

  10. Its a bit off-topic but I’d like to share a new form of decluttering with you. Son borrowed our family sized tent to go to a music festival over New Years and realised he forgot to bring it home with him. Its not looking positive to get it back at this stage. I’m not sure whether we will replace it given that the youngest is coming up 16 and camping trips have become fewer and fewer over the last few years but it was kind of nice knowing it was there. Apparently the local camping store hires camping gear, so if the urge to stay in the wild outdoors takes me (probably not) then I can take that option. A shame really because the festival organisers said that hundreds of tents were left behind and so they dumped them. What a waste.

    • Hi Moni, teenage boys, what can I say. A lost tent is better than a cycling accident so count your blessings. My son was usually quite good at bringing home what he took out but I did have a pair of brown towels once and now I only have one. 🙁

      • Colleen – my son is notorious for leaving stuff everywhere, my bro-in-law is the same, so I work on the basis that one day he’ll find some pretty-young-thing and it will be her problem. Yes, I did point out to Adrian that he got home safe. I have a brother who didn’t make it home from a trip to the corner store, so its always been my perspective. During the festival it came over the news that a couple of people had died at the event and it was just long enough for cellphones to have gone flat down there, so there were a lot of anxious parents waiting to hear a name announced over the news. Sad for those families.
        Back to the tent……my son was travelling back in the first carload from his group of friends and they left at 5am and others were still asleep and said they’d bring it back. Sounds like they haven’t.
        We’ve been teasing him about the replacement tent he’ll have to buy us, it gets bigger and more features with each conversation.
        On the upside he really enjoyed himself and when I asked if he’ll go back again next New Years, he’s thinking he might wait until he can get into the over 20’s camping area. There was even an area for seniors – the original Woodstock/Sweet Waters crowd I imagine, as it was located at a massive vineyard he said they looked a very happy bunch.

        • Sorry to hear about your brother. Liam had also gone to the store and didn’t make it home for a month. Better that than never though. It sounds like the trip was a lot of fun. It is nice to see the kids spread their wings. Here’s hoping that pretty young thing will arrive sooner rather than later to take up the banner. Or perhaps he will be like Liam and find a pretty older love.

    • Is it bad that I encourage family/friends to borrow some things they need and secretly hope they don’t or forget to give it back? Haha

      • I had a pretty glass container I wasn’t using, so I filled it with chocolates and brought it to family Christmas. Then I carefully sent it and the last few chocolates home with my sister, since Mom had been complaining that my sister never returns dishes. Sister promptly brought it back, cleaned! I’ll toss it into my donate pile.

  11. Great reminders today. Less stuff = less hassle & less overall stress and it equals more life in my book :). I filled yet another bag full of items for the donation center over the weekend. Luckily as soon as I had it full, the hubby was going to town to run an errand and out the door the bag went with him to be dropped at the donation center. I am so amazed that I am still finding things to get rid of. Decluttering has slowed down some here, but I am still finding things that I do not need. The more I get rid of the better I feel overall.

    • Good for you Jen and nice timing by your husband. My thrift shop doesn’t open again from the Christmas break until Friday so it will most likely be next Wednesday before I can take my bag full of stuff. Hopefully by then it will have a few more things in it.