Getting Rid Of Clutter – Stopping The “But I Paid For This Already!” Syndrome.


Since it seems as though I am the “guru” of organization in my family (not just my immediate family, but the whole thing!), a lot of times when I offer advice to people about clearing out their junk I hear “But I paid so much for it, how could I get rid of it!”. Unfortunately, I am sure many people say this as well, because it is a legitimate concern when trying to get rid of all the things that are cluttering up your life. If you own it, you probably paid for it somewhere along the line. However, you can’t think like that if you really want to get yourself organized and clutter-free…you have to re-train your brain to accept the fact that even though you paid for it, it’s OK to get rid of it.

Just because you paid for something does not mean it is bringing any value to your life; on the contrary, it could be causing you great distress. As an example, I will use a certain family member who is in to doing art projects. This person has been an artist for years and years and has collected quite an assortment of materials for all different kinds of art. The problem is that they don’t do some of art anymore…but they still have tons of supplies taking up space in their studio and making it impossible to organize the stuff that they do use. Every time I try to help them get organized, they say “But I paid $X.XX for that, I can’t get rid of it!”. But really, they can…they just don’t want to because they feel like it is a waste of money.

Keeping something you don’t use and probably never will use again is not saving you any money; you already bought whatever it is, so you already spent the money. It’s gone, you cannot get it back. Forget about it…it’s history. Sayonara! It does not matter how much you spent or how long ago you spent it, the money is irreplaceable. So you must move on.

In the past 8 months, I have gotten rid of the following:

2 Bicycles
1 Computer
1 Old Computer Monitor
Assorted bags of clothing
DVD’s and CD’s
Old furniture
My XBox
And more…

How much did I pay for all this stuff in the first place? Who knows and who cares…I didn’t need it anymore and I was not using any of it, so I either sold it for a big loss or gave it away to someone more needy than myself. It was not the money I was concerned about losing, but rather it was my personal space and sense of organization that was having an affect on my life. Things were just stuffed in closets, buried out of sight…but I knew it was there somewhere and it weighed on my mind. So I got rid of it and felt a whole lot lighter.

Ideally, and what I try to do now, is to really spend some time thinking about my “need” for something before I buy it. In my past life I bought whatever I wanted when I wanted it…and it got me into a heap of debt. Now I put some effort into the thought process before committing my hard earned dollars for something. Not only does it reduce the amount of money I spend, but it also keeps my house clutter-free and organized.

So if you are one of those people that have trouble letting go of your “stuff” because you paid for it at one time, try to push those thoughts aside. You cannot get your money back, you don’t use the item anymore, so what sense does it make to keep it? Sell it for a few bucks, give it to a friend, donate it to charity. Your house and mind will thank you in the end.

Like this article? Please consider subscribing to my full feed RSS. Or, if you would prefer, you can subscribe by Email and have new posts sent directly to your inbox by entering your email address in the box below. Your email will only be used to deliver a daily email and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. DJ says:

    “Just because you paid for something does not mean it is bringing any value to your life; on the contrary, it could be causing you great distress.”

    This mindset is called the ‘sunk cost fallacy’, see more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_cost#Loss_aversion_and_the_sunk_cost_fallacy

  2. Matt says:

    Getting rid of clutter can be hard sometimes – first is the sunk cost fallacy that the previous commenter mentioned but there’s also the pack rat syndrome where you want to keep something just because you might maybe need it someday. Cleaning up all of this clutter is a learning process at least it has been for me.

  3. Fraktfritt says:

    I have a real hard time parting with junk – I hoard plan an simple – I havwe howver gotten a little better and get rid of at least 3 things before I buy anything new – I should be clutter free by 2009!


  4. […] Two Dollars: Getting Rid Of Clutter – Stopping The “But I Paid For This Already!” Syndrome. Ahhh… This is something my life could use a little more of – less clutter! This is a great […]

  5. […] Getting Rid of Clutter – Stopping the “I Paid for this already” syndrome at My Two Dollars […]

  6. […] at My Two Dollars writes that he’s getting rid of clutter. I have the “I paid for this” syndrome, but it’s much stronger than I ever […]

  7. Pinyo says:

    I think I am the best de-clutterer in the house, but I find it hard as well. One thing I found that help is just to put everything that does not belong in that room into a box, and put everything back into its place. If the item cannot find a home, then it get thrown out, given away, or donated.

  8. david says:

    That is a great way of doing it Pinyo!

  9. Antishay says:

    […] personality is more likely to stock up on items, just in case one day they may need it. But as My Two Dollars wrote: Just because you paid for something does not mean it is bringing any value to your life; on the […]