The Borrowing Benefactor

I have been executing evil cunning plan recently, with me in the guise of a benefactor, ultimately for my own benefit. Wah ha ha ha! As you all know, my children have both moved out of home this year. When I say both moved out of home I include my daughter, that although for a short stint in the Summer, had actually been living away for five years. She has her own home now and took all her stuff that had been stored here. Moving out isn’t moving out until you take your stuff in my opinion.

My son moved into an established home so didn’t need much. However he has taken his bedroom furniture, a bookcase and a couple of other little bits and pieces along with all his personal effects. My daughter however moved into a four bedroom house and had near to nothing to take along with her. Luckily some of the stuff that was left behind were home making items, but just the basics. I had also put aside a few things for her that I would otherwise have decluttered. She has also now taken her bedroom furniture, a small dining table and an office chair.

Now back to my cunning plan. Both kids drop in on a regular basis and more often than not I have something here to offer them in the way of things I no longer need. Being that I am nearing the end of my decluttering mission, these are things that I have felt worthy enough to hold on to for this long. The cunning part of my plan is that I am palming them off to the kids with the thought that, should I need them in the future, I can always borrow them back.

I have to say this makes it easier to let go of things that I might otherwise keep. I get the joy of helping them out with something useful, that they might otherwise feel the need to purchase, while the item remains accessible to me. I’m sure they are on to me, but that is OK.

The moral of this story is~ If you have something that you would rather see gone, but just as much prefer to keep, explore the idea of offering it to someone near to you from whom you can borrow it back. Perhaps someone who has borrowed it from you before or admired it in the past. Giving doesn’t always have to be selfless. 😉

Today’s Mini Mission

Absorb ~ Read a book that has been sitting on your shelf for a while and then declutter it.

Eco Tip for the Day

Borrowing books from the library or reading them on a digital device saves on paper and print. This also is a good clutter avoidance oportunity.

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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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen, you are such a hoot. Cunning indeed. I wish my mother was more into borrowing. It drives me nuts. BUT, I have done it a few times and she seems to not be quite so against it as she was. It’s another one of those things I have to do gradually.

  2. A group of us recently started a list of what we have that we think we have that others may want to borrow.

    For example, I have a 5 gallon pot I need once a year. I’m not about to give mine up because there isn’t anything else that works so well (and I have a nice space for it), but I’m more than willing to lend it out any other time–and thus it’s silly for anyone else to buy one. We have a tabletop drill press. Someone else has a fancy cake/cupcake transporter.

    Still in trial phase, but I have hopes. They are mostly rarely used items, or items one person uses a lot for some reason but most people would use rarely. We may need the items, but we don’t all need to own them all.

  3. It would be nice to have family members living closer to us so we could borrow from each other. We share with neighbors here and there, but it is different than family.

    • This is something new for me Marianne. Being military we have not lived near family much in our married life. Now my kids have left home and for now still live nearby, I have them as my extended family. That may not last if hubby and I or the one of them whose partner is also in the military moves away. I will enjoy it while it lasts.

  4. Just this past week a friend borrowed the roll-away bed I’ve used twice when having lots of overnight guests. The attic space freed up is marvelous! I am wondering how I can convince her to keep it so that I can borrow it from her once a year!

  5. Yep, this is a fantastic idea! I’m a big fan of borrowing instead of accumulating. This is certainly true with the neighbor’s scaffolding that we have borrowed to paint our house. No need for both of us to own and to store scaffolding. The insurance adjuster was here yesterday and in addition to a new roof, he will be reimbursing us for the exterior paint that I already purchased. 🙂 I had only completed about half the house, but unfortunately, the worst was the side I painted July 27th, so I have to do a little re-sanding, re-priming and repainting there. Darn! Is this the wall that I’m banging my head against?? 😉

  6. Ha! I’ve just done exactly the same thing, but with books. A couple of months ago, I managed to empty a bookcase and last week I emptied a second one. My daughter visited on the weekend & took many of the books. My son lives just down the road & he took the two bookcases and many more of the books. There are just a few left that are in a bag ready to go to the thrift store next time I go to town. A few of the books are quite dear to me, but I can borrow them back if I ever really ‘need’ to. (I’ve found in the past that I’ve never really missed a book once it’s gone, and I could always get from the library anyway.) I now have only one bookcase containing mostly reference books for my work. The more you get rid of stuff, the easier it becomes! Great blog, Colleen! (my first time here)

    • Hi Jane and welcome to 365 Less Things. I seems you are becoming quite practiced at letting go. Good for you! And books in particular are something that many people have a difficult time letting go of. So double brownie points to you for that.

  7. Well, actually, I did do this in the past. I “lend” a book of mine to her, but unfortunatly for me, she remembered to give it back. 🙁

  8. I’m not sure I’m entirely with you on this one Colleen, while I’m very much in favour of borrowing / loaning items if they are things you don’t need very often or are a one off , I don’t think I entirely agree with giving something away to someone with the expectation you can borrow it back. To my mind when you give something away a transaction takes place and the item belongs to that person who can then do as they please with it including giving it to someone else, selling it or using it as they see fit. I would be concerned that the person you are giving it to might feel like they have to hold onto the item after they no longer have the need for it in case you wanted to borrow it back and this would really be contributing to cluttering someone else’s life , or that they might be using it when you needed it.I guess if Im getting rid of something then I try to be sure I won’t need it again or can obtain it easily if the need arises. I’m also wary of offering too much stuff to my family and friends because I don’t want them to feel like they have to take my unwanted stuff ( I’m married to a man who still has trouble saying no to this kind of thing and I hate it when people offer us their unwanted belongings ) so I only offer things I think someone will really love and use (with no strings attached) and the rest goes to the thrift shop.

    • Hi Saskia, make no mistake I never give anything without expressing to the receiver that they are free to do what they will with it from that moment forward. If my kids decided they no longer want any of the things I give them they are free to send them on their way. I also ask them if they want something I am giving away and tell them to only say yes if they truly want it.

      • Hi Colleen, hi Saskia,
        I think it is totally okay to give something to someone with “strings attached” as long as it is either a very good friend or a family member and everyone is fine with the arrangement. I’ve given a few things to my sister because she would use them more than me but asked her to ask me before decluttering whether I wanted them back. And I’ve given a piece of furniture that belonged to my grandparents to a friend because she needed it and she liked it at that time and I would have just stored it. It’s a mixture of lending and gifting and certainly to be used sparingly – but sometimes I think it is the best solution because someone gets something for free he/she would need to buy otherwise.

  9. This reminds me of my in-laws. For the first five or so years of our marriage, when my wife and I would visit her parents, they would send home boxes of her stuff. Sometimes stuff from her grandparents, too. Many of those boxes are still in the attic, only opened once or twice to see what was in them. We’ve been married almost 30 years. Ha!

    You’d think that they were doing that to get rid of things to clear out clutter and simplify. Oh, no! Now they are 89 and 92, and their house is filled, FILLED with STUFF, from the garage with an extensive train layout that I’ve only seen work once in 30 years, to the basement with TWO organs and a piano (and an outdoor fountain and fake palm tree because they are afraid someone might steal them if they were on the patio), to the kitchen which is filled with dishes, most of which are never used. There are only two of them, yet my mother-in-law has a rubber-banded bunch of straws the size of my fist in a drawer. Once, I opened a drawer and out sprung plastic sacks that newspapers come in when it’s raining. At least we have learned from all this to THROW THINGS AWAY!

    (I’m working on the attic)
    Jeff in OK

    • Hi Jeff, I was pleased to see at the end of that comment that you are working in the attic. For a moment there I was thinking I might have to make the old glasshouse/stone response. 😉 I dare say your in-laws would be appalled if you through out anything form your attic that they had sent to your wife, but don’t let that deter you. Get rid of whatever you want.

      I have just had my parents visiting. They came to look at a motorhome they were thinking of buying. They decided it wasn’t in good enough condition. So I took them to an RV sale yard to take a close look at what is available. This got my mum thinking that if the downsized the house they could use the extra money to buy a really good motorhome. When she was leaving I said now is the time to start decluttering so that should the right small home comes available that suits your needs you would be ready for the move. I think she realises that this would be a smart idea. Better to be prepared. I am not sure my dad is on board with all of this but then he isn’t the one who takes care of their five bedroom house.