Insane Clutter Excuses —
I Can’t Let It Go, It Was Expensive

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I Can’t Let It Go, It Was Expensive
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I Can't Let It Go, It Was Expensive

Insane Clutter Excuses —
I Can’t Let It Go, It Was Expensive

I Can’t Let It Go, It Was Expensive -- learn to overcome the "it cost a lot of money" excuse when it comes to cleaning out purposeless clutter (#blogpost #clutter #excuse #simplify #expensive #organize #getorganized #storage #lettinggo #cleaningout) at So tell me now why you’re keeping this set of encyclopedias from 1983? And designer sheets for a size bed you no longer own? And a dozen different half-empty-decade-old containers of makeup?

Client: Well you see, it was all really expensive.

Me: You don’t actually use any of it, though. Right?

Client: Not for a while. But I spent a lot on this stuff — and I can’t stand watching money go to waste.

Me: If you’re not using it, isn’t it still going to waste?

Client: *lone cricket chirping in the distance*

Lesson? The hardest clutter-nut to crack is usually the one with a big-ass dollar sign stamped on its shell!

Intellectually, I’m sure we can all agree that a keep-toss decision should be based on whether or not you get any utility from that item/activity/data/relationship — unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way.

Trying to discern between “serves-a-valid-purpose-in-my-life” and “complete-waste-of-everything” when it comes to complimentary-condiment-packets or free-newspapers or low-end-thrift-store bargains? Piece ‘o cake! But jack the price tag up a bit and you risk triggering a fit of defensive-denial-driven-irrational-rationalization-and decision-making-paralysis that will take down even the most logical declutterers.

Why would that be?

It’s ‘cuz Adam Smith’s invisible hand is giving you the invisible finger.

Let’s talk behavioral economics for a sec — specifically, a psychologically-messed-up little phenomenon known as the “sunk-cost fallacy.” So the basic premise is that once you complete an expenditure-fueled financial transaction (whether while acquiring a physical possession or participating in a less-tangible experience), your brain recognizes that money you just shelled out as gone. You ain’t gettin’ it back. Right?

Seems pretty straightforward — now here’s where shit gets cray-cray!

Later on, you discover an up-side to letting a sunk-cost-item go (perhaps cleaning out a spendy piece of clutter that you’ve outgrown, or skipping a paid-admission event you’ve decided will be a snoozefest).

The HIGHER the original bill, the more likely you are to keep that unwanted thing or engage in an activity you’re gonna hate — REGARDLESS of how much non-monetary awesomeness (reduced stress, freed-up-storage-space, increased time for some other priority) you’d get from doing the opposite. Whaaaat?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — the human psyche is dumb as a bag of cognitively-delayed hammers!

And those big-time-guilt-soaked-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking spending mistakes that cause you to wake in a flop-sweat at 3AM every couple of months for the rest of your life? They’re the worst:

  • techie tush-reamings (a glitchy-from-the-start-never-really-worked-right first-gen gadget that lives in your desk drawer since you got a less-expensive-and-with-all-the-bugs-worked-out-to-boot model — alongside the first version of that your-kid-had-to-have-it gizmo whose screen he cracked on day one)
  • self-improvement hell-pavings (the miraculously-life-transforming-lose-weight-boost-esteem-learn-twelve-languages-in-your-sleep-while-having-the-best-sex-of-your-life-and-closing-more-sales-at-work program which failed so miserably in the hype department — and now gathers dust on a shelf)
  • cultural consumerism (the classical music, nobel-winning novels, gourmet cookbooks, foreign films, and museum/theater/phil memberships you hoped would bring about life-refinement — but which routinely lose out to basic-bitch-enjoyments like Sex And The City, pub trivia, and Nicholas Sparks)
  • fashion fuck-ups (those holy-crap-I-want-even-if-it-costs-half-my-paycheck wearables that ended up being an I-can’t-stand-this-for-more-than-an-hour-level-of-uncomfortable — also the latest-greatest-sharper-image-yuppie-toy everyone thought was cool for thirty seconds, and is now oh-so-passé)
  • lifestyle losses (china/crystal/silver/appliances for which you were talked into wedding-registering — deserted hobbies — lesson-paraphernalia tied to a skill you don’t care about learning — most pianos, pool tables, and formal-dining-or-living-room-when-you-have-a-casual-version furniture)

Right about now, this list might be making you feel seriously ashamed of yourself — well screw that!

So you own something expensive that you only used for a little bit then abandoned. (Or you engaged in an exceptionally-frivolous-on-a-whim acquisition and NEVER used the damn thing.) Does that mean you have spend the rest of your life weighed down by those high-priced-past-purchasing-mistake-reminders?

Hells no!

Wallow in money-guilt for a moment or two, if it makes you feel better. Then move the fuck on.

Sunk costs stressing you out? I know an amazingly-effective way to unsink at least a portion of that dough (and make clutter-releasage easier) — sell the cause of your buyer’s remorse and recoup some lost cash.

And no, you’re not getting back what you spent, so toss that bar in the trash right now — this will all go a lot smoother if you can be happy with somewhere between one-quarter-and-half of your original price. Just keep telling yourself that something’s better than nothing. (Except when we’re talking about spending-grief — then having nothing that causes you that is better than something that does.)

Did that make any sense at all? No? My work here is done!

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    8 Responses

    1. Ashley Rossell Godwin says:

      So darn true!! Use it or ditch it!!

    2. David Quesada says:

      If I may…I can understand keeping the encyclopedias, especially if the almanacs have been maintained. Being a luddite, I don’t trust that I will always “have the world of information literally at my fingertips”. I understand there are libraries and “hard copies” galore, but I want my own so I can know I will always have access to it. However, the rest of the stuff? Yeah, that’s a go.

      • Ramona says:

        I’m totally like that with my DVDs, music, and favorite books — I refuse to rely on the cloud to give me access to something I’m going to have a sudden urge to watch/hear/read at 2AM on any random morning of my life. However, on the encyclopedia front, I’ll still argue that a 1983 set is pretty fucking out-of-date — at least keep a newer version!

    3. David Quesada says:

      That’s what the almanacs are for. Encyclopedia sets are freaking expensive. The cost of the almanacs (yearly updates) is infinitely cheaper.

      • Ramona says:

        So then my other pain-in-the-ass question would be how often do you refer back to them vs. the space they take up and the cost of keeping your almanacs up-to-date? Is there not a better/easier/more effective option?

    4. David Quesada says:

      I have the space to store things like that. If space was limited, yeah, they’d have to go.

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