Clutter Clearing Myth-Buster



When we try to make decisions about the things in our clutter, we can often tell ourselves that we’re going to keep things because we do actually use x,y,z, so we believe we’re saving money by keeping it.

There are 4 reasons why this myth is a myth.

1. Need / Use

If you’re not using x,y,z in the near future – for food and household items this would be the next month, hobby items would be the next 3 months, clothes would be by the end of the appropriate season – then how is it saving you money? If you’re not using x,y,z then you’re just storing things you don’t need. The only way you save money is by letting the shop store the things you don’t yet need.

2. Dependant Thinking

If you keep your clutter because you believe it’s saving you money, you need to make sure that decision isn’t based on dependent thinking.

For example, lots of people will keep clothes because they tell themselves it’s saving them money when they lose weight / gain weight because they won’t need to buy clothes in the new size. This is flawed thinking because it’s dependent thinking. It’s dependent on multiple things:

  • you need to lose / gain the weight to be able to wear them
  • you liking the clothes when you start wearing them IF you lose / lose / gain the weight to be able to wear them
  • the clothes being in fashion when you lose / gain the weight to be able to wear them
  • you having the spare space to store all of them while you lose / gain the weight.

NEWSFLASH: You can’t predict the future, so dependent thinking will sabotage your decision making

3. Opportunity Cost

This is the value of what you lose when you make a choice between 2 options, in the case of clutter the choice between keeping the clutter and letting go of the clutter. Many people focus on the cost of letting go of the clutter – what they paid for the item or what they believe it’s financially worth.

When people talk about their clutter saving them money, they’re usually talking about the money they save in not having to replace it if they need it in the future.

However, there’s another, more immediate cost – the cost of keeping the clutter. That might be the financial cost of storage, the cost of replacing it when you can’t find it when you actually need it, the increasing cost of repairs and maintenance which can’t be done, the cost of the time you spend looking for things in your clutter.

For example, people often tell themselves that they’ll put their excess or inherited furniture that they don’t immediately need in their new home into storage. That way, they tell themselves if they need it they will save money by not having to buy new furniture. However they haven’t acknowledged the opportunity cost of that storage unit.

They have chosen to put their excess or inherited furniture in storage believing they save money IF they need that type of furniture in the future, or believing the inherrited items are going up in value.

However, they haven’t acknoweldged that it’s going to cost them a monthly amount to keep that furniture in storage to save that money in the future IF they need the furniture – which isn’t guaranteed.

They usually tell themselves it’s only temporary, it will only be for 6 months or a year – but of course it never is temporary because once their things are in a storage unit, they’re out of sight, out of mind and unless you’re checking your bank statements regularly, many forget that it’s costing them money.

Then it gets to a point where they’ve had their storage unit for so long that even when they do remember, or get something on e-mail or in the post / mail about their storage unit, and they suddenly remember they’ve got it, they mentally calculate roughly how much it’s cost them to store the things they haven’t needed for so long. That usually triggers an emotional response.

They feel guilty – or stupid – for having paid that amount of money to store things that were only supposed to be stored  tempoarily. They were planning to work out if they NEEDED any of those things in 6 months or a year, or declutterer to be able to bring that furniture home and use it.

But they didn’t, and although the sensible thing to do would be to bring home the things they put in storage to save the cost of the storage unit, they can’t because somehow their home has got filled up with NEW clutter so there’s no space.

Then, due to the Irrational Escalation of Commitment (see the ‘Clutter Clearing Concept’ article), they decide to keep the things in storage, and the cycle continues.

4. The Bargains Aren’t One-Time Bargains

Lots of people want to keep their clutter because it saved them money when they bought 3,000 in one go, rather than the 3 they actually NEEDED that week. The shops, both in-person and online – are excellent in tapping into the way our brain works and getting us to believe we both NEED 3,000 widgets at a time, will USE 3,000 widgets at a time, and that we’re going to save a fortune buying 3,000 widgets in one go, regardless of how many we actually NEED.

But you need to know 3 things to realise you’re not saving money by keeping 3,000 widgets.

  • How many widgets you actually USE in a month (the usage exercise in Step 1) therefore how many wigits you actually NEED
  • If 3,000 wigits cost £/$10 and 3 widgets cost £/$10, you’re not saving any money buying 3,000 widgets (or 2,997 more than you NEED)
  • IF – and only if – you genuinely NEED 3,000 widgets, is that in your budget this week.

You also need to know that the promotional offers are usually on a 3 month cycle, and it’s possible that when you actually NEED some more widgets, there’s a better promotional offer than the current offer.

If you’re ready to accept that clearing your clutter is NOT just about getting rid of everything, then find out how Clare can help you get started here now:

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