To err is human, to forgive divine.

We all make mistakes and it is unpleasant to admit them to ourselves. We have to remember that we are not perfect and trying to be so is a mission in futility. So don’t expect perfection and most of all forgive yourself when mistakes are made.

Some clutter items are simply errors in judgement when acquiring the object in the first place. Who hasn’t done that? I know I have. I still make these mistakes from time to time even though I buy very few things these days and put a lot of thought into purchasing. Such items can seem like good purchases at the time and even get used to begin with, but then the faults begin to show.

I bought a pair of capris in a travel clothing store a couple of years ago. They are light weight, dry fast and don’t crease, which is great, but at times I feel a little dowdy in them. Not to mention the fact that they don’t have a decent pocket and that can be a nuisance. I am on the fence as to whether to keep them or not. I wonder why I thought they were so right when I bought them.

One can’t allow the error or guilt of a purchase, that doesn’t work out so well, to influence their choice to keep the item. If it has truly become just clutter then it needs to be set free. And more to the point, you need to be set free from it and the any guilt you might feel at wasting money on it.

Today’s Mini Mission

Concentrate on using up left over beauty products and don’t replace them if you have a similar alternative product.

Eco Tip for the Day

Investigate product reviews before making purchases in an attempt to get it right the first time and not find yourself back at the store buying a similar, but hopefully better, alternative soon after. This isn’t foolproof of course but the more armed with information you are the better choice you are likely to make.

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:

  • Beware the product demo! I am writing this post with this weeks mini missions in mind. It might help you identify some of those too hard to use items loitering in your home. However the intention behind it is […]
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • The problem is acquiring Clutter is very much about being keener to acquire than to let go. We acquire things we need, or more likely just want, but once their usefulness to, or novelty for, us has expired we […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I know people who don’t want to get rid of purchases they later regret because they spent a lot of money on them. My husband, who is in accounting says that it is a “sunk cost”. The money has been paid for the item already, so the loss has already occurred and is done. Instead of worrying about what you spent, learn from it and let it go so it isn’t constantly reminding you of what you did. I had a friend who had a lot of craft supplies. It took up a whole room, but she didn’t want to let any of it go because she had spent money on it. Her husband said that he would pay for any crafts she wanted to buy in the future if she would just let the old craft stuff go, so they could have the extra space in their home. She wouldn’t do it. She just couldn’t let go of the fact that she would lose the money she spent on them.

    • Hi Spendwisemom, I agree with your husband, learn from the experience and let it go. It is a sad story about your friend tough. The lesson there, and one I have learned well, is not to over stock of craft supplies because, like most things in life, interests are often cyclical and what one enjoys to do now doesn’t mean it will be a lifetime interest. Circumstances tend to change and we change along with them.

  2. This is really true. This effect occurs the hardest when you realize early on (but not early enough to just return the item to the store) that you bought the wrong thing. However, the relief when you let go of that mistake! I find it also helps to put the cost of that “mistake” in perspective to other costs of consumables – often I let myself be dragged down by a very minor value: I try to see these foolish buys like a splurge on cake and coffee in a fancy coffeeshop or a take-away-pizza or other things these days. It felt good at the moment and though it probably wasn’t the very best investment it’s also not worth worrying over for weeks – or even months!
    However, like you, I buy so little these days that it’s not as if I felt buyer’s remorse too often.

    Friends of us are about to move abroad this year and are now starting to shed their possessions. We went over to take a few things that are hard to come by for us (a few special pieces of clothing in odd sizes and such) and I was stunned by the sheer amount of things they will have to ship or get rid of over the next few months. I was also offered some very practical furniture pieces and containers and was pleased to realize that I couldn’t think of a use for them in my home. Obviously we have enough storage for our things as is. I will still consider swapping out a piece of furniture or so, but I’m not sure yet.

    • Hi Sanna, you are right, we might splurge on an expensive meal but feel guilty over having spent $20 on something that didn’t work out. When I encounter items like this I think about the amount of times I did use them, divide that into the price I paid and then realise that I had already got good value for money. Especially, as you say, compared to that expensive meal or simple coffee and cake.

  3. You are so right Colleen. I bought these sleeveless T-shirts last summer. I wore them the entire summer while not liking them at all. Over the weekend I donated them to Goodwill. I just decided that they were a mistake I wasn’t willing to keep. I’ve dumped several things that way.

    • Hi Deb J, the thing that gets me about clothes is, why did we think they were right for us in the first place. I usually try things on, squat, jump up and down, look at myself from every angle, sometimes go home and think about it for a while, come back buy them and then six months later wonder why I thought I felt or looked good in them. That is one of the things I like about secondhand clothes, at $4 max I don’t care it I donate them back in six months and pick up something new. No cash or eco guilt there.

      • Colleen, I know what you mean. I think my problem was that it wasn’t until I wore them awhile that I realized that I really didn’t like the way they fit over time. I would like being able to buy clothes at a thrift store but most of them do something to them that makes them smell like drier sheets. That smell puts me into an asthma attack. I have tried everything to get rid of the smell and nothing seems to work.

  4. I bet everyone has done this. My husband spent hundreds of dollars on custom made cowboy boots and he has never liked them. I think he wore them once. I say let them go. He absolutely will not. They are just taking up space in the closet and not doing anyone any good there. Maybe someone else would love them.

    I am getting like Sanna said. Not buying too much so I don’t have any buyer’s remorse very much anymore. I am happy to report that we bought a new computer last weekend, after doing research and cost comparison. Our computer tech from work came to our house to set up it and the wireless thingamagig and we are all good now! 🙂 I am still trying to keep to my resolution to save more money this year (spend more wisely, save more in retirement, budget for things such as new tires, you know), and I hope to get through February without blowing the plan.

    Although a few weeks ago I was in a shop and saw a wall picture that I loved and darn near bought it until hubby reminded me that we have no place to hang it and that we have a stack of art in the attic that also has no where to go. Darn him for becoming all logical and reasonable on me!

    • Hi Michelle, don’t you hate it when there is something, like those cowboy boots, lingering in the house, unused, but the owner won’t let them go. My husband is the opposite when it comes to shoes. He buys them, usually $100+ but if they don’t feel comfortable after given a reasonable wear in period they are out of here. As a result we have donated several good mens shoes to the thrift shop. But the fact is if they aren’t comfortable they aren’t comfortable and this can’t be determined by one short wear in the shop.
      I have a friend who hates to shop with me because she thinks I am so fussy. But I like what I like and I try to make sure to be sure before purchasing. Because I am a practical person it is sometimes hard to find what I want because many items these days, especially fashion ones, are designed for looks not practicality. Then the practical ones are often not fashionable at all. I then spend months trying to find a blend of both. I usually get what I want in the end and am very satisfied. Then I wear them to death.

      • Colleen – I am going to wade on in the feet/shoe discussion – I work at our local dance school fitting ballet shoes etc so I see a lot of feet. If you google ‘shape of feet’ there are some basic shapes, especially for toes, but also check out heel shapes and foot prints are also an indicator of general foot shape and shoe requirements. We have recently had a new store open here which has podiatrists on site for shoe fittings (mainly sports shoes) so I imagine there is something in your part of the world, or if its an ongoing problem with shoe fittings, consult with a podiatrist with what your husband needs to look for in a shoe.

        • Moni & Colleen, I too want to comment on the shoe thing. Due to the shoe industry and the majority of manufacturer’s lack of care for our feet many have been wearing shoes that are not good for their feet. It has even started with children and what are made for them now. The majority of shoes lack a number of things most feet require. So we spend years wearing shoes that ruin our feet. Like 5 inch heels. I think every person should go to a podiatrist to be told what they need in a shoe. I have very small feet and for years I wore the only thing I could find. And the shoes I wore weren’t outlandish. Now I have the beginings of problems and will need surgery in the not too distant future.

        • Good point, thanks Moni.

  5. Sometimes things serve a purpose and when we no longer need them for that purpose they become what we wrongly call a mistake. But if they were useful at the time, maybe they were a good choice and it’s just the circumstances that have changed. For instance, I can see buying capris like that if I was travelling and needed to have lightweight clothing that didn’t need ironing. At home we can have different priorities.

  6. Colleen, this helpful and reassuring. Since I began my decluttering in earnest, I have let go of all the shoes I didn’t wear. And then I replaced the worn ones with good quality comfortable shoes that went with my clothing needs.

    Even in my very deliberate thought process, I have made two-pair mistakes. What seemed comfortable and versatile in the beginning has turned out to be too squished in the toes etc. Too late to return. Despite knowing all the arguments to let them go, I haven’t because I only bought them 8 months ago.

    • Hi Vicki K, read my response to Michelle’s comment. I will add to that, that some peoples feet are harder to fit than others so the likelihood of dissatisfaction is higher for them than others. I am lucky that my feet are easy to fit my daughter on the others hand, and perhaps even my husband, aren’t so lucky. The trial and error factor for them is bound to be higher and they just have to take their chances. It isn’t therefore a mistake so a fact they just have to live with.

  7. Similar story to all commenters, I have bought clothes that I think why am I hanging onto them??? Now I have decided to donate before they are too sad – yellow, old-dated, musty. If they are still good then they are more likely to serve some use for someone else.

  8. I agree with everyone! Though I’ve found that it is often the op shop clothing – which I bought for only a few dollars – to fill a clothing need is the stuff that doesn’t last in my wardrobe, because it is very rarely exactly what I needed. The more expensive clothing (like dresses, shoes) which I bought new is the stuff that tends to last, and that feel the best in. I am sooo fussy about shoes that I only buy a pair a year (to replace old ones) and they DO have to fit perfectly and look good, so I tend to wear them for years. This year is going to be a pain shopping-wise as my fabulous Camper boots have finally bitten the dust after several zip replacements and I need new ones, and my Uggs are full of holes, and my comfortable walking shoes have had it…

    • Hi Loretta, I must admit I can be a sucker for a bargain that doesn’t pan out. But I have about and equal success rate with cheap and not-so-cheap purchases. When it comes to shoes I am just like you. I am very fussy but wear them for years.

  9. Just about a month ago I bought a shoulder bag that I have to accept is just not suitable for me. I’ve been looking for one for a while and I felt frustrated that I made another mistake. It’s too big for me, doesn’t have suitable pockets, is heavy etc. I think it may have been designed for a man! But I didn’t realise these things at the time. I will donate it to a charity shop as soon as possible. I have a problem with shoes too. A lot of mine seem to be ‘mistakes.’ And my feet are just average, there’s nothing unusual about them! It’s true that you can’t tell from trying on shoes once in a shop whether shoes or boots will be comfortable for lots of wearing. Colleen, you did get a lot of wear out of your capris even if you get rid of them now.

    • Hi Lena C, sorry to hear you aren’t happy with that bag. A bag is the last thing I would ever want anyone else buying me because my needs/wants are specific. I bought one once that seemed just right, not too big, leather, simple black, well made and looked stylish. The problem was that the stylish feature, it’s buckle, weighed a tonne. Like yours it was just too heavy once it had other stuff in it as well. It left some time ago.

      • I received a bag as a present last year and after a few uses I gave up on it – far too floppy, pockets didn’t stay shut – it’s hard to find the right one. They either are floppy, don’t have suitable pockets, are bad quality, are too heavy like yours etc. When I’ve found a good one in the past I’ve used it for years, almost daily, I’m not one for using a different bag for every occasion or to match my outfit, unless you count black because it matches everything. Perhaps we should design and make our own.

        • Hi Lena C, I took ages choosing my latest bag and it has turned out very well. It is small, black with a number of handy pockets and compartments. It drove my husband nuts waiting for me to finally find the right one but that did not deter me from taking my time to find just the right one. I dare say I will have it for quite some time.

  10. An easy trick to eliminate 25% of the un-necessary, whether clothes and accessories, household items or chatchke’s, is to ask yourself this question: Would I buy this again, right this second? If not, out it goes. It works like magic, whether you have been decluttering for awhile or new to the process. Like you Colleen, I am a big fan of donating my “stuff” to charity. Out of sight, out of mind. Done. Blessing others is worth its weight in gold.

    • Hi Kimberley, good rule. And you are right, getting rid of stuff to the thrift store is quick and easy. The faster it goes out the door the less likely it will end up back in a closet.

  11. Funny this should be today’s post as I have just put a LOT of scrapbooking supplies up for sale a few hours ago which I bought several months ago and have started to realise I won’t use.

    At first Project Life seemed like a great idea, but I’ve realised a number of problems with it.

    Firstly the albums were huge, and I mean, seriously huge, I have no idea where I would put them all if I made an album each year (which was my plan), I didn’t see how I was ever going to be able to shelve them in any realistic way. So I was put off straight away by this.
    Secondly I realised too late that I don’t have the motivation to go back and forth to get photos printed, for example in the four months since I bought all those items I have printed exactly, zero photos. This is because its a two hour round trip at least just to get a few prints done, and prior to buying this I wasn’t honest enough with myself to admit that I cannot be bothered with such a long trip every time I feel like doing a little scrapbooking.
    And thirdly, I dug out all the memorabilia I ‘wanted’ to scrapbook and eventually when week after week I STILL hadn’t done anything I realised the problem. I had simply too much memorabilia (two very full boxes), and a lot of it if I was truthful, I didn’t want to scrapbook because it was either unimportant or was going to make the scrapbooking laborious and more of a chore (via organising, trying to come up with solutions for awkward sized items etc.)

    So now I am selling all my scrapbooking supplies and am going digital and instead will have a photo book printed once a year. This will give me beautiful glossy pages in a bound book, but which will only be only a quarter of an inch thick (at most) rather than this great big bulky album I can’t shelve anywhere. This will also solve my problem of going back and forth to get only a few prints done at a time. At the same time I am also minimising my memorabilia. I’m not very good at getting rid of lots of memorabilia at once, so I am pulling out the boxes every two weeks or so and pulling out a few pieces I don’t like. Today’s search yieled 53 items gone. I hope one day to be down to one box, but that’s for another time.

    No regrets, we all make mistakes but we don’t need to carry them around with us forever. I hope everyone else here is having fun making space for something new 🙂

    • Jane – that is a huge step forward. I personally stayed away from scrapbooking as I knew I had enough hobbies that had bordered on obsessive already at the time, though it looked really really tempting. My observation with my friends who embraced the hobby is several years down the track it has morphed into more of a obligation or duty and they feel they have to soldier on. I do like the sound of the digital book.

    • Jane, you are very smart to get rid of all of your scrapbook supplies and go digital. I have a number of scrapbooks and I wish I didn’t. If I could digitize them I would. I’m trying to decide if I could scan them and turn them into digitized books. You are right about them being hard to put away.

    • Hi Jane, I would say that that was a great experience for you even though it might have cost you a little in the learning. Look where you have ended up, clearing those memorabilia boxed of stuff that doesn’t matter all that much. I dare say this lesson will permeate you attitude about other areas of clutter within your home. It will be so worth it in the long run. Well done.

  12. We unpacked a little more and found a few more things to go into the Goodwill pile. Some of them were errors in judgement, others are just no longer useful though they once were in another stage of life. My husband found 5 pairs of shoes to send along, I found 3 pillows from when we had a guest bedroom (which we no longer do), a gift bag that we just received that had contained a housewarming gift, some disposable aluminum pans that we received leftovers from the holidays in (and I don’t know why I was keeping them in the first place), along with some other items that aren’t even coming to mind at the moment.

    • Hi Melissa, taking your time to unpack is reaping rewards for your decluttering effort. Double handling can be a good thing. Well done.

      • I guess there is an upside to taking our time to unpack. I’m just sick of having to walk around boxes! lol. Cardboard isn’t the prettiest home decorating material. Our new home isn’t large so there isn’t really an out of the way place for boxes that aren’t unpacked yet. We still can’t get into the shower in our second bathroom because of the wardrobe boxes that are in the way.

        • Yep, been there before. Our previous move was like that only the boxes were in the living room right near the front door. Anyone coming and going could see the wall of shame. Actually I wasn’t ashamed but having them right out in the open was inspiration enough to get moving on emptying them as soon as possible. That didn’t stop me from running off interstate for a couple of weeks to catch up with relatives after living overseas for seven years. I call that ~ Having my priorities right. Of keeping good with mum. 😉

  13. I have to report how well my mom is doing with decluttering all of a sudden. Oh, she still kept more than I would but I am giving her grace because she is doing so well for her. We went through the kitchen yesterday. We found things she didn’t remember having and wondered why they were there. We went through the SPICES. I was amazed at how much she decluttered. You can actually find things easily now. She wants to do the upper part of the pantry today. This is where she keeps a lot of “we might need it some day” things like empty jars, etc. After that she wants to start on her closets. Happy Dancing here!!!!