The joy of acquiring less

One thing I have noticed since I began my decluttering mission is how much more pleasure I get from the items I do acquire. The reasons for that are…

  • I am more careful about my choices so therefore am much more satisfied with the items I do acquire.
  • I acquire stuff far less frequently these days so it is a bigger novelty when I do acquire.
  • The things I buy get well used because they are bought with much consideration and not just on a whim.
  • I generally get things at a good price, if not free, because I don’t feel the need to acquire urgently, so am prepared to wait until what I want/need is at a good price.
  • Much of what I acquire is secondhand which makes me feel like a good custodian of the planet I live on.
  • I only acquire items that are suited to my needs not because they are fashionable, the latest trend so to speak.

Decluttering has taught me to be more appreciative of what I do have and be aware of each items usefulness or beauty. And these behaviours have spread to other areas of my life I may have taken for granted in the past.

Have you experienced to joy of acquiring less? How has that carried over to other areas of your life?

Today’s Mini Mission

Take out your three least comfortable pairs shoes. Declutter the pair that you are least likely to wear.

Eco Tip for the Day

Pay close attention the the waste in your life and do all you can to reduce it. Wasted power, wasted fuel, wasted resources of any kind… Be aware of what that is costing the planet. You have as much to gain for being less wasteful as the environment does.

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. I also think that decluttering has helped to value more what I have. I used to want to be “on” every trend there was, now I just shrug and move on.

  2. I try to buy better quality things so that I don’t have to replace as quickly. That way I feel better about the purchase. I’d like to do some wardrobe updating, but we’ve saving for an upcoming vacation and frankly, I hate to clothes shop. 😉

  3. I still struggle with wanting to be “in style” but I have greatly scaled it down and will continue to lessen to a level I am comfortable with. When I do buy something “trendy” I buy cheaper pieces rather than more expensive pieces that last a long time because the trend will not (most likely) last too long. For my basics and classic pieces I try to buy more expensive/higher quality with a great fit. I have also started asking myself if I need something. If the answer is no and I still want it I ask myself if I LOVE it. There will be lots of things I LIKE but only a few that I LOVE! Only buy what you need or what you love, that’s my new motto!

  4. I am in the situation where I am bringing new stuff into the house as it looked too austere after re painting. Mainly decorative items which bring colour to a neutral colour scheme (we may be selling at some point) and give a more homely look. It would be so easy to fall back into old ways of impulsively adding extra ‘pretties’ to the trolley, but I don’t want to have to start decluttering all over again.

    • Hi Moni, after house shopping for about eighteen months prior to buy our apartment I have to say that the last think I looked at when viewing a property was the decor. I think it is a bit of a fallacy, probably created by the staging companies, that these things make any difference. What I look at is the layout, the condition and whether the spaces are suitable for our furniture. I looked at a newly renovated house once. I was beautifully staged and the fitting seemed like good quality but judging by the condition of the windows and frames that they didn’t even bother to clean never mind replace, the bad finish on what would be the hidden areas (behind the fridge) and other issues, it was clear to me that the reno was a rush job for quick profit. Anyone looking for a property should be looking past the polish to the condition and past the mess to the quality. Not the decor.

      • I agree that a house has to be very clean and maintenance right up to date before it is listed. Granted no matter how much I might admire a vase on the coffee table, if the layout of the house was wrong, the vase wouldn’t be able to sway me. However I do like to see a house staged or some effort to tart up it up when being shown. To me it’s like dressing up for a special occasion.

        When I say our house looked too austere, it really was too austere. As we painted each room we didn’t return anything we didn’t love or is useful. Most of our art went, the last of the nik nacks. All snatched up by friends or free cycle. Combine that with neutral walls, neutral drapes and neutral colour carpet and you get the picture. Meh! Anyway, we are enjoying the new bits and pieces.

  5. Totally agree with this, and being purposeful also breaks the “it costs more so it must be better” nexus. So often second hand items are better designed and made than modern ones, and I love the idea that my purchase doesn’t just help me and the planet, but also whatever charity is running the shop. I only buy what I really need though, and only after thinking about what I already have that might do the job.

    • Hi Laura, I agree, sometimes the your extra money a person is only paying for the label. Trend can be very deceptive. And trend is also only in existence to sell more. There is a reason that “classic pieces” exist because they are always in fashion. Stick to them and you can save yourself a fortune.

  6. I tend to not like to spend money anymore. I have so little that I really need. My health keeps me from being on my feet much so that also helps me not to want to have to go shopping.

  7. Any acquisition I make has a ‘disposal clause’ attached, meaning , if I don’t use it I have plans for how to get rid of it. An example was I purchased a book with road maps of the UK , now I want to make some origami cranes out of road maps and other aspirational craft type things. If I don’t get around to doing this I know a crafty lady (Colleen) who would use it up in a flash.
    As for today’s mission, my shoe collection is minimal , a result of previous decluttering and careful acquisition. I do have some complimentary magazines that I have not made time to read , so I will pass them on today and some frozen prawns , suitable for bait only , will be given to a fishing friend.

    • That is a good plan Wendy. As you know I do the same. That freestanding towel rail I picked up on the footpath last week didn’t work for my house but Bridget was happy to take it for he man to hang his pants on. It would have been great for that purpose for me too but there isn’t enough room for it in our wardrobe. That book I got is already being used for craft purposes and the syphon had a part missing and didn’t work so went down the garbage shout. To bad because it would have replaced the larger watering can that would have gone back to the thrift shop. The set of drawer went straight to the art space as intended.

  8. Yah! Mini mission accomplished. Thanks.

    As I’ve got some shirts finally getting a bit worn through I will need to replace them but I will do the 1 in 1 out thing. I’ve not got much left in my closet which is so much better than it used to be.

    • Good for you Ron B. Choosing what to wear is much easier when there is less to choose from.

      • Very true. Now if only I could figure out how to decorate without throwing everything all over. Searched the archives on this one but guess it’s all up to me…

        I’d rather not live in a sterile cell but actually it’s kind of nice being so plain compared to family and friends’ abodes.

        • Hi Ron, even after all my decluttering I certainly don’t live in a sterile cell. Well just have some very nice well chosen pieces of art, a cabinet with my husbands treasured mementoes (where they don’t get dusty) and some warm eclectic furniture pieces. All requiring very little dusting. It helps that our rooms are very big too so they are easy to fill without to much stuff.

  9. This last weekend I had an experience that made me realize how my thinking has shifted. One year ago I received a gift card which 1) was an unknown amount, 2) was for a store I’d never visited, 3) and the store is about 30 minutes from home.

    Since I put the card in my wallet, I’d see it frequently and think over and over, “oh, I’ve got to remember to use that.” Last weekend I was in the town where the shop was and stopped on my way home. It was a very nice shop full of the kind of home decor I USED to like to buy. This time I thought that maybe I would try to find something consumable – a candle or soap or lotion instead of some Thing.

    Since I didn’t know how much the card was for, I asked the shopkeeper to scan it. But they could not get it to scan properly even after many attempts. Finally, I decided that it was OK to simply toss the card. No “thing” to clutter my home and no more having to stumble over the card and think “gotta use that” – I felt free!

  10. Today’s post rang so true for me. I’m so, so happy with acquiring less, I’m very critical about what I bring in knowing I’d rather not have to declutter it any time soon. I also agree that if you purchase things infrequently, they tend to mean more, they’re not just another whim that gets stored away in a cabinet or on a shelf.
    I’m still trying to decide on a pair of shoes to declutter, most get used, I may have to dig a little deeper in my closet. 🙂

    • Hi Barbara, you have got this acquiring all worked out. As for those shoes if you don’t have a pair that aren’t being used then skip this mission. There isn’t any point decluttering useful stuff. Perhaps find something else to declutter.

  11. That’s so true, Colleen! Over the last year, shopping has become a bigger part of my life again – not that big really, but up until then I have been mainly on a shopping diet, using up what I had. Meanwhile some things did indeed need replacement and some new hobbies and needs have come up for which I needed to buy stuff, too. However, I spent a lot of time window shopping during my shopping diet, I went to bookstores and just looked through cookbooks instead of buying them, I admired household items but didn’t buy them, because there were still some of a similar kind at home. So, I only bought things that I really have been dreaming about for months or years already since I took up shopping again. Many of them cheap at thrift stores, outlets or on sale, because I knew what I needed and wanted and could take advantage of such opportunities when they presented themselves. Some have been picked up for free as well. 😉 I enjoy them all very much and there have been no regrets at all. They’re all useful for me, practical and on top of that very pretty to look at, too!
    I’m getting closer and closer to living only surrounded with “favourites”, as non-favourites are decluttered and only things with the potential to become a favourite are bought! You know, I actually feel very rich for that reason, when I’m at home: I have almost no things I wish I had a better quality or prettier style of. And no, I didn’t spend hundreds and thousands of euros for that feeling.

  12. After doing a major whole house declutter and downsizing to a smaller apartment, I find I am also much more selective about what I bring into my home. I’ve also been working with my 8 year old daughter on being more selective on what she bring into the home. She has been actively involved with decluttering and has actually grown to enjoy getting rid of stuff. Whenever she wants a new toy that I know will likely end up in the donate pile in a month, I remind her of this and she usually decides to pass on it unless it’s something she really wants and plans to keep.

    I’m going to take on your mini mission. I only have 5 pairs of shoes (a running/everyday pair, a work pair, flip flops, and old pair, and some water shoes) but now that I think about it, I can toss the old pair and the water shoes as I haven’t used them in at least the last six months.

    • Hi Eric and welcome to 365 Less Things. You are doing an amazing job with your daughter and she needs to be applauded for how she has warmed to your wonderful example. You must be so proud of her. Now is certainly the time to teach her not to place so much importance on stuff.

      And well done you with your decluttering and downsizing. My husband and I have done the same and we love out new smaller dwelling. Apartment living is working out wonderfully for us. I hope you find the same.

  13. Hi Sanna, forgive me for saying this but it sounds a little like you are replacing what you decluttering with updated versions of what you had before. I am probably just reading between the lines ore maybe missing what is between the lines. But I am glad that you are happy with your home as it is now. Being comfortable and content in ones home is what this exercise is all about. So good for you. And know how to get a bargain when you do decide to shop is always a good thing in my book. Just don’t get carried away or you will be back to square one.

    • You are right, Colleen, that I am updating what I was decluttering, but in cases like matresses, winter coats and the like, I think, my need is justified. 😉 I really didn’t buy much at all for years, due to using up and wearing out what I had, so even buying a pair of new shoes when the old ones are literally falling apart takes consideration now!
      I’m only adding in one particular area (baking utensils), but even there, I am contemplating each purchase and am still going by on very little, seeing how often I bake these days – on the other hand, I declutter stuff related to hobbies I am no longer that fond of in by far greater amounts. The overall tally is still going down, but the things that remain as well as the ones that I do buy these days are just the crème de la crème, and I feel that this spurred a new incentive to declutter for me: to not only have little stuff to make cleaning and taking care of it easy, but also to have only things I really like, to make taking care of it maybe even fun.

      • Hi Sanna, I am glad to hear that. And I like that what you have left are just things you really like. I was thinking about that just this afternoon as I was folding my washing. There were several items in there that I have worn for several years now and I still really like them. I find this same situation in many areas of my house. It is nice to really appreciate the things one owns.

  14. I’m still enjoying the joy of having less. I had some sewing items stored in a plastic container and the lid broke. The old me tried to hang on to and find a use for the container without a lid but then I was able to send it off to the op shop. Thankful and proud