5 Decluttering Lessons That Save Me Time and Money

Decluttering my office was such an eye opener to me! While I sorted through all of the junk, er, stuff I I had accumulated, I learned 5 decluttering lessons that save me time and money!

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When we recently installed the new storage unit in my home office, I was determined to be very strategic about what I stored in it. I didn’t want it to become a place where I just threw my clutter. My goal was for it to give me easy access to the items I love and use often around our house.

These 5 Decluttering Lessons That Save Time and Money are great reminders, whether you're going through your own house and decluttering or shopping for new items! | home organization, declutter, organize, get organized, office organization, decor organization, IKEA, IKEA PAX

So when it was time to fill up my new shelves and drawers, I knew that before I even put one thing in the cabinets, I had to go on a major decluttering spree and get rid of anything that didn’t fall into that “love or use often” category. As I was going through all of my items, I noticed a few recurring trends that, had I realized these principles before, would have saved me a lot of money and decluttering time.

Organized pantry with decanted baking items, pasta, and spices

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5 Decluttering Lessons That Save Me Time and Money

1. The Dollar Spot is not always a great deal.

I am SO guilty of walking into Target and being immediately drawn in by the Dollar Spot. The items are often cute (and sparkly!), and you definitely can’t beat the price, so it was easy to justify throwing one or two (or ten!) items in my cart before I moved on to my “regular” shopping.

But what I found as I was decluttering is that most of the pieces that I’ve collected from the Dollar Spot didn’t become the tried and true pieces that I frequently found myself reaching for when I went to decorate a space. I ended up giving away many of my Dollar Spot treasures because they sat around unused, just taking up room, and it wasn’t worth it to keep them.

I’m not saying that all little inexpensive decor purchases are bad! There were dollar items that I ended up keeping as well. I just know that in the future I will be a lot more intentional and selective about my Dollar Spot browsing so that I’m only choosing items that are a great fit for my style and my home.

(I didn’t take any pictures while I was decluttering, so here are some random pictures of my house where I’ve used the items that survived the decluttering process. 🙂 )

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2. If I don’t have an exact place in mind for a piece, I should hold off on making the purchase.

I’m almost embarrassed to say that during my decor declutter, I ended up giving away quite a few pieces that were still in their original packaging or still had the tags on them. They were items that matched my style well, but they didn’t actually fit anywhere in my house.

I purchased these items thinking, “Oh this is so cute! I will definitely be able to find a place for it somewhere!” But more often than not, if I didn’t have a specific spot in mind for the piece when I bought it, I never found anywhere that if fit exactly right in my home. Going forward, I want to be sure that I have a place planned for an item before I buy it so that I don’t end up wasting money and storage space in our house.

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3. If it’s “almost right, but not quite,” don’t buy it. (Even if it’s on sale!)

I am so guilty of buying things just because they’re on sale. It can be hard to pass up a good deal, right?! I had several items that I came across during my decluttering spree that were very close to being my style, but were maybe just a little too rustic or too modern or too frilly to really fit in in our home. Many times I had purchased the items either because they were inexpensive or because I was trying to fill a certain spot in the house and got tired of waiting for the exact right piece to come along.

I’m realizing that if I’m not absolutely in love with an item when I buy it at the store, it usually doesn’t grow on me once I get it home. (Of course there is the occasional exception to this, but it is rare.) I need to do a better job of saying “no” to items that are almost perfect for my space, but that I know aren’t quite right.

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4. The items I’m holding on to “just in case” will never actually be used.

I found this to be true with a many pieces that I was keeping from our last house. They may have fit in perfectly in the townhouse, but I really had no place for them in our current house. I held onto them for way too long, thinking that I would have a use for them “someday,” but really they just took up a bunch of space!

During my decluttering spree, I had to acknowledge that though these items served a helpful purpose at one point, they really didn’t anymore, so it was time to get rid of them. There was no reason for them to sit around taking up space!

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5. When I have less, I’m more likely to use what I have.

I learned this lesson when we decluttered the boys’ playroom a few months ago, and it has definitely been true for my office as well. When I have less stuff, I actually use it more often because I can see (and remember) exactly what I have available. It’s a freeing feeling to always be able to find what I’m looking for and easily put it back in its “home” when I’m finished with it.

Knowing what pieces I have available saves me money as well because I don’t end up buying duplicates of something that I couldn’t find in the midst of my clutter or something that I had forgotten I owned. It really is a win-win!

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So these were the five biggest lessons that jumped out at me while I was decluttering! It’s amazing what spending hours sifting through a bunch of your stuff can teach you! 🙂 Now that I’m aware of some of the ways that I was wasting time and money, I hope I’ll be able to be more intentional and mindful about my purchases and the items I keep in our house in the future.

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I know this isn’t an exhaustive list! If you have any lessons you’ve learned or ideas to add, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Have a wonderful day!

41 Comments

  1. Sarah | A Simple and Contented Life says:

    Your pictures (and home) are always so beautiful Abby! It’s so easy to be tempted by items when we see them isn’t it?! Resisting the urge can be hard but you’re right, unless we have somewhere to put it, it just becomes clutter and money wasted. Waiting until we find the right piece for a specific place is good too, it’s so satisfying when you come across exactly what you’re looking for – and it’s usually when you least expect it and have given up looking! I find that the 30-day rule works really well for me. If I’m tempted by something or I’m not sure if it’s right, I’ll wait a few days. If it’s still on my mind or I still have the urge to get it, then I know it’s right. 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I like that rule! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Sarah! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Sarah | A Simple and Contented Life says:

        You too Abby! 🙂

  2. ellen from ask away says:

    I always say that one thing “DO I have a place for this” and if not, do I really need to buy it. It really has helped and now I ask myself that about EVERYTHING I go to purchase even food!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      This is a great system to have in place! Thanks for sharing, Ellen!

      ~Abby =)

  3. I’ve definitely been guilty of some of the exact same mindsets you described, especially buying things that I mostly like, but not completely, and then never using them. This is often the case with clothing. If it’s not an A+ when I try it on in the store, then I shouldn’t buy it!
    My daughter and I are doing a no shopping pledge for six weeks (Six Weeks of Frugality, or SWoF, is what we call it) and we are two weeks down. We buy groceries and household necessities, but no clothing, decor, etc. Reading your post about your resolve to be more selective was a good reminder of my intentions when I resume spending money on those kinds of things.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Love the SWoF idea… so awesome! How is it going for you? Easier or harder than you thought it would be?

      ~Abby =)

      1. Overall I would say easier than I thought because I’m super motivated to be as frugal as possible before we go on a vacation in late February. It’s also been frustrating, though, because things come up, like a clogged sink or a prescription to fill that are necessary, but were unexpected.

        I think the best part will be just having a snapshot of what I’m spending for six weeks because I’m tracking it all. When we get back from vacation, I’ll probably do another SWoF. My goal is to not buy any personal or home fashion until the summer!

  4. Tom Field says:

    You’re so right Abby, and the “just in case” point above was particularly relevant for me! I have to remind myself that “someday never comes” and will use this post as motivation to finally get underway with a New Year de-clutter of my home.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, good! So glad it was helpful for you! Happy decluttering! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  5. KittyLuvr says:

    I loved these 5 lessons. They were very unique and personal to you definitely applicable to many including me. Dollar Spot has been a money sucker for me too! And biting an almost” item instead of THE item!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! Such an easy trap to fall into!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Abby,
    I never comment, I love how you decorate and you tips to help us out. ?
    I also moved, but from a bigger home to a smaller one. I’m saving the kids “things” until
    They have places big enough to keep them. Another problem I have is, my parents are giving me
    some of their stuff now, plus my grandparents things. I’ve tried to keep only special pieces, but being an only
    child I have a hard time letting go.
    At the moment I’m storing my kids stuff in my moms basement. So many books that I’ve tried to go through.
    Any advice?
    Thanks,
    Yvonne

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Mementos are definitely the hardest thing to part with, and particularly if they’re not your items, that makes it tough! My mom held on to our stuff for a while too, and at one point when we were at her house, she had us come down to the basement with her and we were able to quickly go through and decide what we were willing to part with and what we actually wanted to keep. We ended up donating a ton of items, which made it go fast. So maybe even if your kids don’t have space for their things yet, they could look through what’s there and sell or donate what they won’t use in the future. As far as parents’ and grandparents’ items go, only you can really judge the value they hold to you. I do hold on to some things that are truly special to me, but for some other things, I remind myself that they’ve served their purpose well in the past, but they don’t really have a purpose for me anymore, so it’s okay to let go of them. I try to find a good cause to donate them to or someone who can really get good use out of them. That helps too. Best of luck! Have a great weekend!

      ~Abby =)

    2. @Yvonne and family inheritances, having cleaned out from multiple sets of grandparents and parents and inherited things I will never use… it’s an eye-opening experience. In my grandparents generation people owned less and they also had huge families to share out the possessions. A spreading growing tree. But our family keeps getting smaller and all that stuff comes down to fewer people each generation. It gets crazy. Try not to let this trap you and your kids. Most of the stuff we had to go thru was of little interest to us in our generation. They’re just BURDENS – HUGE BURDENS. Styles change! And needs change. Spend your resources on saving family photos or small mementos in a way that can be passed down and actually enjoyed without burdening them, and a few mementos they will actually appreciate — ASK THEM. Get rid of the rest. Too much stuff is not a kind legacy to leave.

  7. Abby you have such a beautiful home! The target dollar spot gets me every time. This year one of my goals is to only purchase pieces for my home that I love. I have been purging and decluttering and I have notice how much precious real estate has been taking up by so many things we don’t even need or use. Thank You for your great blog and inspiration?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Sigrid! That’s a great goal! Thanks so much for sharing! <3

      ~Abby =)

  8. Do you decide unilaterally what stays and goes in your home, or do you involve your family? If everyone is involved, how do you compromise? I’m having a very difficult time decluttering our home because I asked my husband to help, and he has an excuse to keep everything. I’m tempted to wait until he’s at work and go through the house like a tornado but half of that stuff is his and it’s not my place to decide what to do with it.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      No one else really cares about the decor items– that’s sort of my domain– so I mostly do what I want there unless there’s something I think they’re particularly attached to. It can be hard to please everyone in the house. My kids always want to hold onto way more than I would choose to keep. It’s always a compromise for sure! I usually use logic and remind them how long it has been since they’ve used the item and remind them how much easier it is to enjoy their space when it is uncluttered and only holding the things they really use and love. I always let them make the final decision on their stuff, of course, and they do usually end up getting rid of a good number of items, while still holding onto some things they are really attached to.

      ~Abby =)

    2. I do try to involve my husband or son when I’m in their territory, their possessions. (And it’s easier for me to let go of their stuff than my own, actually. I suffer from “I might need it.”)

      But I have come to really value the principle of a functional home, and way too much stuff will make a home dysfunctional, big time. Just watch the hoarding programs on tv!

      ( Years and decades have their impact. Little stuff piles up! All the unnecessary stuff eats family resources.
      And know that over the decades you too can end up close to those hoarding homes! I know several friends and family members who have gone in that direction — not from intentional hoarding but just from inattention and thriftiness of that “I might need it,” or from others gifting us with stuff, or from inheritances. Decluttering is very hard for some of us and it’s so much more fun to go out and do other things, or to acquire than to let go. )

      So, valuing functionality, someone in a family has to set limits.

    3. I like two things I’ve read in Peter Walsh’s approach. (Clean Sweep) Develop a Vision for each space and ask if something fits in that vision; if not it needs to go. And “Respect the Limits of the Space.” If there’s not room for it — while still keeping a functional home that works (to me that means a home that you can move around in easily and work in and have guests over for your kids or yourself, if it’s too hard to clean around all the stuff) — then something has to change.

      Sometimes, watching my own family and myself (too possessive, too thrifty) and friends (for instance a husband who can not let go of ANYthing and another a wife who keeps everything that has a HISTORY or family connection, to the point that you can’t walk thru the house, and another friend who keeps buying great deals at a thrift store to the point they can’t have anyone in their house because it’s so crammed to the ceiling with good deals of furniture — seriously, that’s dysfunctional!)…

      Sometimes one member of the family has to step up and say, kindly, like Peter Walsh does, “Enough is Enough.” If it’s not bad enough yet, wait until 20 or 40 years of marriage have compounded the problem of never letting go of anything. You have to balance respecting another family member’s wishes with keeping the house functional.

  9. These are totally spot on and I’ve realized them all myself, just not all at the same time! LOL. Especially the one about if it’s not quite right then don’t buy it. Why do I have to keep learning that one over and over?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      But it’s on SALE! Ugh. Yes, a lesson I keep learning, too!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Rachel @ The Improved Me Project says:

    I am SO guilty of #3! Sometimes I buy things that are not exactly what I have in mind but I settle for”close enough” out of fear that I will not find something better. Unfortunately, the result is that I end up with several pieces that I don’t like but have to stare at every day because I feel I need to keep it.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes. This has happened to me WAY too many times! Such an easy trap to fall into!

      ~Abby =)

  11. Lauren@thechocolatesunflower says:

    I am so guilty of keeping things just in case. I have found when I do de-clutter that its best not to think too much about what you are getting rid of. The longer you think about it the easier it is to justify keeping it. Go with your gut when you first see it, its usually right!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Totally agree, Lauren! <3

      ~Abby =)

  12. Crystal @ MommyisaWino.com says:

    My husband and I recently got rid of about 90% of our stuff and downsized massively. We did a lot of the hold on to things because one day we might need it. It was and is such a freeing experience to sell or donate almost everything you own. Additionally, this means I can actually decorate our home according to our style with everything having a purpose.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I love that, Crystal! I am so impressed– 90% is a ton! Enjoy your new decluttered space!

      ~Abby =)

  13. Abby, I love this so much! Especially the tip to have a specific place in mind when you buy something. In my “Secret To No Regrets Decorating” class (https://schoolofdecorating.teachable.com/a/aff_npdf8rd2/external?affcode=33401_-iw40tf9), I teach the something similar. It’s called the “Three Places Rule” – for each purchase, think of three places where you could display the item. This ensures you have en immediate spot for it, but the piece will also have longevity in your home because you already know it could work in several different places.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I love that! I should have known you would have a smart system for that, friend! I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  14. A few years ago, we sold our 2300 square foot house and moved into a 1400 square foot rental. As you can imagine, we had to downsize our stuff considerably. We got rid of a ton of stuff! It was a bit painful, but also quite freeing. Making it all the worse, the new house had no linen closets, no coat closets, not even drawers in the bathrooms (who does that?). I had to get very creative with storage and the thing I was keeping.

    This also made me very careful when I went shopping. I would think, oh, this is beautiful. But where’s it going to live? How am I going to store this? No answers? I guess it stays in the store.

    Now we have a bigger house by a few hundred feet, but I’ve managed to keep the same mindset. The house looks clean, spare, and lovely.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      That sounds like a great mindset to have, Beth! Thanks for sharing your insight! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  15. Hi Abby,
    I loved reading the comments to this post, and was happy to see I’m not alone in the struggle to declutter. It’s very hard to get rid of items that you’re holding onto because of sentiment or guilt. Your comment about how things have served there purpose really hit home with me. That comment has freed me to start selling or donating items I’ve been holding onto for a decade or more! Thanks so much for your insights!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet words, Esther! I’m glad I’m not the only one who experiences these things, lol! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  16. I can completely agree with buying too much “dollar items” from stores like Target, Walmart discount aisle, and of course Dollar Tree! They all have so many glittery knickknacks and decorations for a dollar that I end up having totes full of stuff that doesn’t really fit the house at all. Its just so thrilling to add a new piece of decor every-time I go into these stores and realize its a short term investment to the trash can in most cases. I have to cut that out completely as it really adds up quickly!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! It really can be thrilling and such an easy trap to fall into!

      ~Abby =)

  17. Susan Pearson says:

    I have been slowly decluttering and organising our place since September, it is amazing the things I have found. I have been slowed down by thinking too much about the worth of items and the money I spent on them and wanting to sell them. In turn, they end up creating more clutter until I have the chance to organise selling them. I think I would be better off thinking about the value of having some space and just let them go to a new home where they will be appreciated.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! You’re so right. Totally understand the struggle, though! You can do it! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  18. Great list Abby! I am with you on all 5 of them! The Dollar Spot at Target is like my Kryptonite…gets me every time! It’s right there at the front, so yeah, ya gotta go check it out! But I so agree with you that very little items purchased there ever really get used (thank goodness they weren’t expensive). My last trip to Target, I went right by the area and didn’t even give it a second look and then rewarded myself later after I checked out with a salted pretzel at their little snack area they have in the stores.

    I also have been VERY guilty about buying items (that I do really love) but don’t have a plan or an exact place for. I too, had many an item still with tags on them and some even still in the bag (I actually forgot I bought it…oh the shame!) My sweet hubby finally made a rule and told me that if I bring any decor type item in this house from now on, that I better have a place for it or a plan in mind! Now when I am shopping and I see something that I so love and know it is my style, I have to ask myself, “where am I going to put that or use that?”

    I always enjoy your blog and your advice and love your organizing ideas and tips! I need to be so much better at that and every time I think of what I need to do in that area, you are the person I think of and then I go check out what Abby is doing to conquer the clutter and organizing her spaces and I am always inspired!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, you are too sweet! I’m so glad you enjoy it… love to hear that! Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Kim! <3

      ~Abby =)

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