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Getting Rid Of Your Stuff Even Though You Already Spent The Money.

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
Books
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.

Post sound familiar? That’s because it is. Since I am still away, I figured I would post an oldie but goodie today for readers both new and for those with bad memories. ;-)

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Comments (6)

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  1. Miranda says:

    I like the idea of going on a “purge” of stuff. It actually makes me less likely to buy more things going forward. When I see how much stuff I get rid of because I just don’t use it, I buy less. As a result, the purges have been getting smaller, and I don’t waste as much money on new stuff.

  2. Hazzard says:

    We truly are just renting everything we think we own. The longer we get true value out of it, the less the rental charges are. But once it stops being useful you might as well get rid of it because it’s not lowering your overall rental cost and is becoming a liability for you.

    I try to average the cost down of everything we buy by using it as long as we can but once it stops giving us useful value, I like to get rid of it!

  3. Matt says:

    I can totally relate to your post, I’ve gotten rid of lots of things that I paid a lot of money for but in the end I haven’t used or I’m no longer using. There is one remaining item that I need to get rid of and the issue of how much money I spent on the item is coming up.

    There was a laptop I bought years and years ago and it still works but I paid a lot for it and now I am still hesitant to get rid of it. I need to follow your advice and get rid of it.

  4. Enrique S says:

    I’m the ruthless purger in our home. I try not to have an emotional attachment to stuff. I also don’t take into account what we’ve paid for stuff, as i consider it a sunk cost. If I have to move something for the fifth time that I haven’t used even once, then it’s on the hit list.

  5. This is that whole idea of sunk costs- its like when you are playing poker and you can’t fold a hand even though you know you probably won’t win, because you have too much money in the pot. Still better to walk away with what you have left than lose more just because you are already invested. Of course, in this context, the loss you have from keeping the stuff is more clutter, less piece of mind, and possibility the need or a bigger house and/or a storage space to store all the useless junk.

  6. Wonderfull article, I too make it a habit on purging when I think I have to much. In fact I usually kijiji or craigslist my stuff and try to get a few bucks out of it.
    But really its a mentality thing. We need to say no right before we buy it. That alone will stop the clutter. Enjoy!

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