Over the last 15 years of my life, I have purged A LOT of stuff. 

Some of it was sold or given to friends or relatives.

Some of it was trashed.

Most of it was donated to thrift stores.

ALL of it was out of my house! 

I’m sure if I saw an itemized list of everything I’ve purged over the years, there would certainly be a handful of items I would pull back out and use now again… but truly, there are very few (if any) items I’d honestly say I “regret” getting rid of. 

That said, I know quite a few people who hang onto too much stuff because they’re worried they might need it again soon after they purge it…
I call this “What If I Need It Clutter”.
What-if-I-need-it-clutter accumulates quickly and can be very difficult to get rid of — especially if you are frugal, emotional, or someone who tends to worry.

I am not emotional or prone to worry about much besides my children… but as a frugal person, even I catch myself wanting to hold onto various items “just in case I might need them someday”!

Thankfully, I’m almost always able to convince myself to purge the items in question, and today, I hope this post will give you the little extra nudge you need to purge some of your what-if-I-need-it-clutter!

If not, you’ll at least get a peek into my brain and my rationale as to why I do NOT keep what-if-I-need-it-clutter.

1. I know I can almost always make do with something else.
There’s always a chance I MIGHT need or want one of the items I purged again in the future… but there’s also a chance I will NOT need it again! Clearly, if I’m thinking about purging it, I’m not using it all that much right now anyway, and if for some reason I DO need or want it again, I can almost always make do with something else I already have.

It’s always interesting for me to see just how resourceful I become when I don’t have the exact item I want — in fact, there have been several times when I realized I actually liked using something I already had in the house more than the item I purged! 
2. I can almost always find a great deal IF I do need it.
I realize not everyone is lucky enough to have several amazing thrift stores in close proximity, but it’s amazing how many times I find exactly what I was looking for at a local thrift store for $1 or $2.

We also have a thriving Craigslist market in our area — so I can usually find a good deal fairly quickly and fairly close by.
3. I LOVE the extra space in my house.
I would SO much rather go without a few items I might (or might not) need someday in exchange for an empty shelf in my closet, an empty cabinet in the kitchen, and less-full toy bins in the playroom. Room to breathe, room to expand, room to put more things when they inevitably come into our house.

So often, I hear the excuse “but I have space for it”. Well yes, technically you can cram a little bit more into your closet or the shelves in your garage or your attic crawl space… but why?

If I don’t use it, need it, want it, or love it, there is no reason to hold onto it even if I do have loads of empty storage space for it.

In fact, we truly do have empty storage space in our house — empty shelves in the kitchen, empty dresser drawers in our bedrooms, a basement that has almost nothing in it, and a garage that can easily transform into an entertaining space in about 15 minutes because we don’t stuff it full of things we “might need someday”.

The extra space and breathing room does my soul good… and it’s much more beneficial to me than a bunch of things I might (or might not) need in the future.
4. I’d rather let someone else enjoy it.
When we lived in our first house, we got SO much furniture and decorative items given to us from family and friends.

Initially, it was really fun for me to practice painting and distressing the furniture to give it a new look, and I even made a few slipcovers for our living room chairs.

By the time we had our house the way we wanted it (about 2 years later) I realized some of the freebie furniture we were given had just been sitting in our basement collecting dust for over a year — and other people could have been enjoying it for over a year.

I ended up selling everything on Craigslist for very reasonable prices and enjoyed the extra space (and the extra cash).

After that, I vowed to never hang on to ridiculous amounts of stuff if we didn’t have an immediate need for it.

Fast-forward 5 years and Nora was a baby — quickly outgrowing her adorable baby clothes. Initially, I had a hard time deciding what to purge so I only purged about half of her things (keeping all the super cute outfits I loved at the time). Then, 2 years later when we realized we were having a boy, I decided it was time to purge the rest of her clothing. However, by then, several of the items had yellowish spots on them (I think from spit-up that didn’t wash out all the way) and many of the items already looked somewhat dated.

I couldn’t help but think of how many other people could have enjoyed her baby clothes if I hadn’t stored that tub for 2 years… and I doubt those yellowish spots would have shown up if the items had been regularly washed.

Needless-to-say, I am now pretty adamant that unless I have an obvious need for the items (like passing several of Simon’s items directly down to James) I will not hoard them in my house — but instead, I’ll let others use and enjoy them.
5. I have come to realize I most likely WON’T need it!
How’s that for a good way to rationalize. 🙂

As I mentioned above, I have purged thousands and thousands of items over the years and I feel the odds are pretty likely that I will NOT need it (whatever “it” is) again.


I could probably come up with a few more reasons, but I think these 5 cover the bulk of it.

Yet, at the same time, I’m fully aware there are probably more than 5 reasons someone WILL hold onto their what-if-I-need-it-clutter. I’m not saying YOU personally shouldn’t hang onto any what-if-I-need-it-clutter… I’m just sharing why I DON’T hang onto mine. 

I do hope that if nothing else, this post will help bring clarity to your next purging decision. I also hope it gets you thinking about why you’re hanging onto the things you have in storage — do you actually have a use for them (ex: camping gear you use once every summer, holiday decorations you use each year, etc.) or are you simply worried you might need them again someday (clothing that’s too small, old baby clothes, an extra toaster, etc.)?

I know from my own personal experience how freeing it is to purge items I don’t need, use, want, or love — even if there is a slight chance I might need them again someday.

After all… I might NOT need them! 🙂
Do you struggle with what-if-I-need-it-clutter?

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The post 5 Reasons I Don’t Keep “What if I Need It Clutter” appeared first on Andrea Dekker.
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