I recently received this letter from Marissa, a brilliant reader:
“I am currently going through my possessions for the umpteenth time to have/own less. My issue I am having now, is that when I donate/throw away items I don’t “need” I feel like I am wasting money. At one point in time I used my hard earned money to buy this item and now I just want to get rid of it. Though this does help in my future shopping habits so I don’t buy anything on a whim or just because I want to have it, I feel like I am throwing away money into the trash/donation bins.”
This is such a common question that I thought I’d address it here — if you’re holding onto stuff because you feel it would be a waste of good money if you got rid of it, here is the answer you are looking for:
I hereby release you of your burden.
You are free. You bought these items with hard-earned money, and you don’t want that money to go to waste, so you’ve been holding onto them. It’s a burden that keeps you from freeing yourself of these unneeded possessions — it forces to you keep the space they occupy, to maintain these possessions, to constantly see them every day even if you don’t want them, to walk around them or trip over them or live in a cramped, cluttered space. This is a burden, paying penance for your initial wasted expenditure of cash.
But: the waste was when you bought it, not when you get rid of it. You bought something you didn’t really need — and the real waste would be to ignore this and not learn from it.
So here’s how to make sure that by decluttering possessions you don’t need, it’s not a waste: