The end of the year approaches, and it is usually a time of reflection for us. We want to examine where we are and where we want to be. We are as moved by the coming of the new year as we are by the spring ritual of getting rid of what we no longer want or need. During these two seasons of the year we can acutely feel the burden of the clutter that weighs us down both physically and emotionally. So, how to we get ahead and stay ahead?
Cut Clutter Off at its Source
We can keep moving clutter around or we can learn to cut it off at the source. Buying new storage containers or calling Goodwill for a pickup are excellent ways to get rid of stuff. However, let us look further back in the cycle. Examine your shopping habits.
Just thinks how much more we might enjoy our weekends and paychecks if we can break the cycle of excess consumption. Take a look at these strategies for bringing less clutter into your life.
1. Buy only what you need.
- Ask yourself questions before you complete your purchase.
- How will I use the product I am considering?
- Do I already have enough similar items at home?
2. Think quality over quantity.
- In the long run, higher priced goods tend to offer greater value.
- A fine cashmere sweater or sturdy kitchen knives may hold up for decades while bargain brands may need to be replaced frequently.
3. Stick to your budget.
- Decide before you leave home much you can afford to spend.
- Learn to regard occasional indulgences as an exception rather than the beginning of a habit.
4. Find other outlets for your emotional and physical needs.
- Retail therapy, especially on a routine basis, may be masking other issues going on in life.
- Pick up a new hobby or do some volunteering work if you are feeling bored.
- Talk things over with a friend if you are feeling anxious or lonely.
- During holidays and other shopping seasons, try discarding at least one item to make room for every new purchase.
- Give your used computer to a local nonprofit agency.
- Put your old bedroom set up for sale on craigslist.
6. Buy for others.
- Studies show that spending money on others makes us happier than purchasing more things for ourselves.
- Similarly, buying experiences instead of merchandise leaves no messy trail except for the pictures on your phone.
1. Use a cooling off period.
- Online purchases can pile up before you know it because there is no downtime like physical for parking and commuting. By the time you have driven around a parking lot for the third time looking for a spot, that have-to-have-it-now feeling usually dwindles.
- Leave items in your cart for at least 24 hours before making a final decision. You may find you no longer want them once you have a chance to think more about it. My carts always have stuff in them. By the time I get around to purchasing items, many of the items I though I had to have can be deleted or moved to the save-for-later group. Often the save-for-later stuff winds up getting deleted when I make the time to look through it.
2. Pay off your credit cards monthly.
- Buying online is so easy that it does not feel like we are spending real money.
- Working to avoid credit card debt helps us monitor our spending and stabilize our finances.
3. Get some sleep.
- Online shopping has no closing time so we must set our own curfew.
- I can guarantee that you will feel fresher and richer in the morning if you turn off your computer and go to sleep.
Shopping in Stores
1. Do not buy the sales hype.
- Be very skeptical of limited time offers and long-term commitments.
- Tell the sales clerks you need time to think, and do your own comparison shopping.
- Do not let freebies make you feel obligated to buy something in return.
- Always ask for any verbal promises to be put in writing.
2. Make a list.
- Write down what you need to pick up before you leave home.
- Go straight to the stores and aisles where you can find your products.
3. Keep moving.
- The more time you spend wandering around sales displays, the more likely you are to wind up with goods that sound like a bargain but wind up as clutter.
- Be especially careful in the checkout area. These areas are designed to trigger impulse purchases.
- Avoid touching any item that is not written on your shopping list or it may wind up with it in your garage.
Stop and think about what you are doing, and why.
The next trip you make to the mall or have some downtime to shop online,the clutter of today is a product of yesterday’s shopping spree.
Save your time, money, and emotional angst by accumulating less.
You, your home, and your mental and physical well-being will all come out well ahead.