Decluttering by Spending Out

Spending Out

Back in March, Jessica at Settle Your Finances did a post on Spending Out.  I read the post back then and immediately related to the concept of saving things for a “special occasion”…

Jessica’s post talks about her tendency to save things for special occasions, but then sometimes not even getting to use them.  Her example was saving special pens, but then finding them all dried up when she went to use them.  She came across the concept of “spending out” while reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  (I have not read the book, but have put it on the list to read in the future.)  Basically, the idea is to enjoy the nice things that you have right now, rather than saving something for some “special occasion” and basically saying that right now isn’t anything special.

In my effort to live a more mindful life, this concept really hit home.  I want to enjoy the “now.”  Right now is very special.  Add in my efforts to declutter and organize all of the “stuff” in my house, and this concept just gets more relevant to my goals… Why am I holding on to all these “special” things for later?  It adds clutter to my life and, not only am I not enjoying these things now, the clutter takes away from my enjoyment of now.

After reading Jessica’s post, I wanted to start keeping track of the things that I was “spending out”…  I really hate waste, and when I’m decluttering, I can donate a bunch of things if they are not used, or still in a package, but so many things are partially used or not really donate-able… I am not going to throw all of that out (I admit I have tossed quite a bit in to the trash, but I hate doing it), so I’m trying to just use those things.  The idea would be that I’d keep track of everything and make an awesome blog post with this list…

That was the plan… The reality was quite different.  I just started doing it.  Whenever I came across something that I had been saving, or I was putting away for a “special occasion”, I’d try and think of a way to use it right now.  I have been trying to make an effort to pay attention to something that I am holding on for a “special occasion” and make an effort to either use it and enjoy it myself, or let it go and allow someone else to enjoy it.  But I just did it, and I didn’t keep track.  That’s great for the reality of my life, not so great for this blog post…

Thinking back, I do have a couple examples that come to mind though…

A while back I wanted a day-planner.  I’m old fashioned and really like to use paper calendars and to do lists… but my scraps of paper that I use for to-do lists seem to get lost all over the place…  I wanted something to help organize my schedule and contain my to-do lists.  I went so far as to shop around online.  I found a super cute one at Chapters/Indigo that was only $10 or so.  I almost drove to the store to actually buy it, but the “spending out” concept came to mind and I decided to check what I had around the house… I knew I had a box where I had been collecting all the little notepads and notebooks that I had found around my house, so I went in there and found a little notebook that I have been using for the past little while as my calendar and to do list holder.  This is great for a few reasons, first I am using up something that probably wouldn’t really be easy to donate… who wants a small notebook with only half the pages left… and I am saving myself some money by not buying something new!

At the end of my soccer season, I was in charge of getting a few group gifts from the team… but rather than going out to buy gift bags and cards specific for this purpose, I went in to my messy closet of gift wrap and found a couple bags and tissue paper that would work.  And then I had a few left over blank notecards that I used some of my scrapbooking supplies and stickers to make into personalized thank you cards.  It doesn’t sound like much, but I didn’t have matching gift bags, they weren’t the “perfect” size and shape… but they worked and I saved money and decluttered some objects.  It took a bit more effort to make the cards, but the effort was worth it.  I wish I had taken a photo of the gifts and cards for the purpose of this blog post…

Then just recently, and what prompted this blog post… Last weekend was my bridal shower.  My friends and family were all extremely generous and gave me a bunch of gifts for my garden (it was a garden themed shower).  The next day, I was going to go buy a bunch of thank you notes to send to everyone, but remembered that I had a bunch of blank cards from various other occasions.  I decided to go through my box of cards and use as many of them as I could.  It was great!  I didn’t have to buy a single card!  Sure, they didn’t all match, and they don’t match any of my wedding stationary, but they don’t have to.  I still have a bunch of cards left in the box, but now most are Christmas cards or mini gift cards, success!  Saved money and used up some of my “stash”.

As I work through the decluttering of my house, I’ll have to work at keeping this “spending out” concept in my mind, but so far it has been a big success!

Do you save things for special occasions?  Have you ever saved something so long that it’s no longer useful?  Or, are you good and “spending out”?


11 thoughts on “Decluttering by Spending Out

  1. That is wonderful! I’m a big fan of using/enjoying what you have, whereas my mom is more of a saver/hoarder. I’ve been trying to get her to use everything in a certain category (tea or whatever) before buying more. Sounds like it’s been very satisfying for you.


    • Oh, yes, food. The whole using up the pantry thing is totally like spending out, eh? I totally didn’t make that connection until right now. Haha! I have also been making sure to use my nice teas instead of “saving” them. There ya go, another way I’m decluttering by spending out. 🙂


  2. This is SUCH a good idea. I’m going to be conscious of this and start looking for opportunities to do the same thing!


  3. Being mindful and enjoying the things I have has really brought me a lot of joy. I never thought about the decluttering aspect, but that’s a fantastic point. I have some nice lotions I bought in Hawaii that I was “saving,” but I’ve been using them and loving it. Also, I can totally relate to having notebooks and journals in storage. For a long time I would buy whatever cute journal I saw and I was holding on to notebooks from law school. I still like to use a paper planner as well, on top of keeping a fitness/nutrition journal and a regular journal, so I’ve been really happy to clear out my stash.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a really great thing to be aware of, so I thank you for your original post about it.

      And I LOVE pretty paper products… it’s a strange obsession since I don’t really journal or anything…


  4. Very good. I’m also a person who needs to remind myself of the fact that “now” is my life I should be enjoying, and not “later”. A shame when I see all those things I’ve been saving up for…^^ I think I wrote about a similar thought the other day.
    I love what you did with your cards – funny enough I was going through my postcards just today because I was thinking of doing a gift with them for some persons. It made me happy to use some of them up, and now I know which ones are missing and will go out to buy the missing ones, and not just random ones to be stacked back into my postcard box again because I already had some of those^^

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A few decades ago, one of my aunts brought a set of sheets she was “saving for a special occasion.” Long story short, her house burned down. My family now refers to the concept as “saving it for the fire.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, that’s a bit of a sad story… but it is totally something I still struggle with… I save things for a special occasion that never comes…


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