Is it possible to declutter on a low income? Maybe you can’t afford to go out and buy something you got rid of today but may need next month.
With the whole KonMari craze, people are throwing out stuff left and right. Our donation centers are overrun. Yet, some people are scared to implement what she and other advocates for minimalism (or living with less) are teaching, and I get it.
When we couldn’t afford to declutter…
There was a point in my adult life when we didn’t have very much financially. We were living paycheck to paycheck, had debt, and a 100-year-old house that was quite literally crumbling at the foundations.
Our house was not pretty. We had red carpet in our bedroom, green carpet in the living spaces and dark blue carpet in our office. Don’t even get me started on the wallpaper. It was a designer’s nightmare and we had no money to fix it.
Our foundation walls were failing and we had to take out a loan to rebuild them.
Although our home was old and falling apart, it did have one thing….STORAGE!
Too much storage allows you to keep a lot of stuff!
Our old home had a lot of storage. We had an attic, an unfinished basement, and a one-car garage (in a very declining but affordable neighborhood). We were very lucky.
All this storage meant we had room to store a lot of
“Just in case” syndrome will stop you from decluttering on a low income
Getting rid of stuff was scary. We needed to be prepared for “just in case”. We couldn’t possibly afford to declutter, as we had way too low of an income. What did we do?
We saved it….ALL OF IT!
Our attic was so full that you couldn’t walk around in it.
The garage was so full you had to squeeze through a small path to get to the workbench.
Our basement thankfully wasn’t packed to the brims, but that’s only because we were scared of mold from the failing walls.
We kept everything!
I couldn’t fathom being able to afford to declutter. We were so scared of spending money that we actually took free junk from our friends, in hopes of using it or selling it.
How many of those items do you think we sold or used?
You guessed it. ZERO.
All the items sat in a pile collecting dust in our basement.
When it was finally time for us to move, we didn’t have much time to go through it all. We basically had three weeks to get packed up and move across the country with two little ones under the age of two.
Our junk got expensive
We brought a lot of our “just in case” stuff with us on the move.
You know what we did with it while we looked for a home in our new area?
Paid for storage.
Oh my gosh. It makes me hurt to think of the money we wasted storing items we didn’t need.
Is “just in case” costing you money?
My point is, sometimes we are paying to store junk we don’t want, don’t need and will never use.
When you are watching your pennies, you do have to be more prepared for “just in case”. I admit it.
It’s a fine balance. However, PLEASE don’t pay for storage simply so you can hold on to things for “just in case”.
The space in your home is costing you money and time too! Don’t be fooled!
You may have more room in your house than you think if you get rid of what is truly unnecessary. You also may have more wiggle room in your budget if you aren’t buying unnecessary things.
- For the stuff you are keeping, organize it.
- Keep all like items together.
- Know what you own.
This will keep you from going out and buying something you think you need but you really have stored in your home. If you are saving things for “just in case” then know what you have for when “just in case” comes around!
How to declutter on a low income:
1 – Determine the cost of your storage
Yes, your mortgage or rent is tied to the size of your home, which dictates essentially what you are paying to store “just in case” items!
Whatever you do, don’t pay for outsourced storage! The cost isn’t worth the value of the items you are saving (unless it is a VERY temporary situation).
2 – Decide if you really need duplicates
It is unlikely you need six Pyrex dishes or 20 pairs of jeans. Pick a number that makes the most sense for your space but still prepares you well for future needs.
3 – Borrow items when you can
Friends and family are usually more than willing to lend you weird, one-time-use items.
I love putting out a message on social media asking if I can borrow an item or asking a group of mamas from our local church group.
4 – Let go of the fear attached to your things
If a plate breaks, you can most likely still make dinner happen. If you rip a pair of jeans, you can probably make do with the other pairs that made the cut.
Sometimes we hold on to things because of the fear attached to losing them, when in reality, we will be OK.
5 – Buy second-hand if you must replace an item
If you do declutter an item, and you end up needing to replace it, go buy it second-hand.
I rarely buy new kitchen cooking utensils, as they are super cheap at the local thrift store. Buying clothes used is way more sustainable and super affordable.
6 – Create an awesome storage system for items you will likely need “one day”
I have kids. I get it. They grow super fast, and their clothes are expensive.
If you have been lucky enough to acquire a bounty of clothes from another mama that will fit your babies one day soon, create a storage system for kid’s clothes that works with the space you have already.
I usually store one size in a single box or container. I then label the outside and stack them in deep storage for when that day arrives.
If you have a system for storing “one-day” items, you will remember you have them and will ultimately save money when it is time to use them.
7 – Practice
If you are new to decluttering and on a low income, go slow and practice.
Only you know your income, your family’s needs, and what you will likely need one day. The more you practice, the more you realize the rhythms of your home and needs.
8 – Organize
Organize your stuff and know what you own. This will prevent you from buying things unnecessarily and help open up some of your budget for other needs.
Organization doesn’t have to be expensive. I love using plastic food storage bags to organize small items, repurposed baskets, and repurposed storage containers (especially after I declutter).
9 – Remember your WHY for decluttering
Remember your WHY for decluttering, even if you must declutter on a low income.
Most of us start decluttering because we want the space, space in our homes and space for our mental load. Clutter creates chaos, and when you find a way to get rid of it, it can have so many benefits.
Related posts: 11 Decluttering Tips for Messy People
Decluttering will make your home happier, even if you have to declutter on a low income!
Practice decluttering and create a system that works for you, even if you are decluttering on a low income! It is worth the challenge (and the fear).