Summary: When you clear clutter you discard stuff that weighs you down, an essential step to rediscover yourself. But what if you love to shop? 4 easy ways to balance what you toss with what you buy. May contain affiliate links.
The dressing room was filled with as many pastel summer t’s, gauzy jumpsuits, and versatile white jeans as the attendant allowed. The floor-length mirror, softly lit along both sides, made me look fantastic in every item I slipped on.
My neighborhood Target had remodeled. I was screwed.
I had just dropped in to pick up some laundry detergent. But those blank-faced mannequins in wearable, affordable and gloriously-colored summerwear tested my plan to unclutter my closet.
How to get rid of clutter when you love to shop? There has to be a compromise.
Decluttering is empowering
Developing a practice to regularly clear clutter is a game changer if you want to find your true self while growing bolder. I know this sounds a bit off track but stay with me.
It is important to your overall progress and peace of mind.
Remember those steps to rediscover yourself 50+:
- Being there.
- Opening to opportunities disguised as screw-ups.
- Learning something new.
- Discarding what weighs you down.
Get momentum as you clear clutter
How can you be there, be open, or learn something new if you are dragging around stuff that you don’t need anymore? It’s hard to gain altitude when you won’t let go.
Discard small but discard willingly.
And for that to happen, we might have to do some reframing. Like realizing that we don’t have to be deprived of activity many of us truly love – impulse shopping.
Getting rid of clutter and still getting to impulse shop probably sounds impossible but you can have it both ways.
What you need is a plan.
Why is shopping so addictive?
Every time I walk into Target or Marshalls or TJMaxx, I get a little bit high.
At that time it seems like all problems in my life can be solved or lessened with the purchase of a new purse, beach chair or a microplane grater.
And often, the high we get from buying that item is immediately followed by “buyers” remorse. Just how many black purses do I need? How am I going to shoehorn in another kitchen gadget into that crowded drawer?
That reward and remorse can launch shopping addicts into an uncontrollable tailspin.
To steer clear of that emotional buying backlash and continue to clear clutter, we need to feel in control of what we buy…and what we get rid of.
With these four hacks, you’re always in charge.
4 Steps to declutter and still shop
Clutter is a lot like unwanted weight gain. Both creep up on you a little at a time. The best way to control it is to keep from adding on anymore – one bite at a time.
I’ve used these four tips for over eight years, and except for paper clutter (which I’m still working on), haven’t increased how much stuff I own.
And that makes me happy
For most of us, outer order contributes to inner calm. Gretchen Rubin
Here is a quick listing of the tips. Also, knowing your clutter personality helps you figure out how to use them effectively.
- One in/one out
- Set up a launching pad
- Binge on consumables
- Stick to SAP
Let’s break down each one.
1.One in/One out
The most natural first attack on clutter is a zero-growth plan. Say you buy a pair of pants. Before you take the tags off the new ones, you MUST give away a pair of pants. After all, you can’t wear two pairs of pants at the same time.
Face it, there is a pair in that stuffed closet that you are going to eventually stop wearing to integrate these new, fabulous pants.
After years of one in-one out, I’d upped my declutter game.
I used to allow myself to toss any old pair of pants and check that box. Now, if I buy black pants, I get rid of some black pants.
That gives us even more control over our buying.
Recently, I was in love with a new pair of jeans in the TJ Maxx dressing room. Before I could buy them, I also had to decide which jeans I’ll be saying goodbye to. There wasn’t one I was willing to toss.
That thought stopped me in mid-purchase.
2. Set up a launching pad
As you get comfortable with “one in/one out”, you’ll start looking at everything in your house as a possible candidate for the launch pad.
I’ve got an upfront section in my closet where I hang things that I’ve recently worn and realized I was over them. Wearing them didn’t make me feel good. Still, I wasn’t ready to replace them yet.
This launching pad section lets me see what’s expendable every single time I looked in the closet.
I do the same thing in my kitchen.
The cappuccino machine rarely got used so it went into the kitchen launch pad cabinet. The rice maker, on the other hand, got almost daily use. It got moved into a much more accessible place.
Appliances and cooking utensils with only one purpose – a clay cooking pot, a fondue pot, a reduction pan – all moved to the launch pad.
A bunch of prep knives is sitting on the launch pad at this moment. I want an awesome, all-purpose chef’s knife like Anthony Bourdain would carry.
One that makes me feel like a pirate!
Now when I feel the need to impulse shop, I have something a specific goal.
3. Buy Consumables
Most clutter comes from something you bought because it was CUTE – that souvenir coffee cup or those art festival earrings.
Remember that crocheted sweater you bought specifically for one event? Years after that event, that sweater just sits there, collecting dog hair and taking up space in your closet.
Be in the market for consumables – things you can buy and use until they are all gone. Which gives you that other great high.
Throwing out a used-up container.
Some of my favorite impulse consumables are napkins – cocktail, dining or guest bath size. Those high-quality paper kind with funny sayings or soothing designs.
Put them out and encourage people to use them.
Scented candles are another consumable that should be an everyday luxury in our homes. Keep them burning and then have fun shopping for their fragrant replacements.
And buy a few for gifts.
Candles are versatile presents for housewarming, birthday, getting/losing that job or whatever. Fresh flowers also count as consumables.
And food consumables are the very best.
Splurge on a different kind of flavored coffee or tea. Buy an interesting liquor that can be used as an aperitif, over ice cream or in coffee. Exotic cheeses, cookies, or a loaf of artisan bread works too.
4. Stick to SAP – Scarves, artwork and pillow covers
These three items have a lot going for them. Not only are they easily pack-able as trip souvenirs, they have lasting value.
Scarves completely transform tired outfits and give us that rush akin to buying a new outfit. Artwork hangs on the wall instead of gathering dust and taking up room that you need for those cute cocktail napkins.
And throw pillows make your home more, well, youish. That’s not clutter, that’s comfort.
Related: Souvenirs you’ll keep forever
You don’t have to give up shopping
It’s possible to continuously clear clutter and still give into a quick stop at Marshalls or Tuesday Morning to see what goodies are in stock.
Control and balance what you buy with what you discard.
- Unless it is a consumable, get rid of something every single time you buy something new.
- Make an easily seen area for possessions that are releasable.
- Buy things you can enjoy and can use up quickly.
- Stick to SAP – scarves, artwork, and pillows that will become your signature.
Now it’s your turn. Share!
Share how you clear clutter and still get to hit the stores. Scroll down and leave a comment. And please let me know how these ideas work for you.
We’re all learning from each other.