Scared to Clean Out (Realizing You Are Stuck in the “Someday” Mentality and How to Get Out)

by Merissa on January 16, 2013

in Featured, Frugal Living Tips

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Has this ever happened to you?

You start cleaning out your closet and you bring in your bags for things to trash, things to donate, and a place for things to keep.

The first thing you come to..."Well I don't really wear this but I like it so I will keep it."

Second thing, "I didn't even know this was in here so I will keep it."

Third thing, "Wow, this has been in here forever and I've never worn it but I could...someday."

I will admit, this has happened to me more times than I care to think about. The other day as I was cleaning up a room and getting rid of some items I realized I was keeping way more than we had room for. But then I would think about all the different things like I mentioned above and back in the room it would go, even though it really needed to be cleaned out.

I think that when we clean, our frugal minds tell us these things as some kind of survival mechanism  Don't fall over here, but it's almost like a hoarder instinct. "Well I'm going to keep this because it might be useful in some way some day."

It's a bad trap to fall into. Even though we want to make use of an item, many times the fact is, we just don't need to and it's causing us more harm to be keeping it than to let it go.

What do we need to do to get out of this mentality so we are able to get rid of the clutter and move on? Here's a checklist of what to do when you stumble into this situation.

  1. Have you used it or worn it in the last 6 months?
  2. Do you have a specific use for it in the near future? (Some things like Christmas gift wrap you may not have used in the last 6 months but you still need it!)
  3. Can you put it to use right now?
  4. Is it a keepsake?
  5. It is causing stress or unnecessary clutter in your life?

If you answered no to all of the first 4 questions and yes to the last, it's time to get rid of the item.

Be firm. Don't back out. Think back to the questions you answered above, this it is causing extra stress in your life that you don't need to deal with! You will be so much better off without it.

Plus I can almost guarantee you that in just a few weeks, (maybe even days!) you will forget that the item even existed.

Does this ever happen to you? How do you overcome the fear of getting rid of something? Share your opinion in the comments!

Check out this whole page of cleaning and organizing tips!

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim B. January 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm

This is so true.. It happens all the time, I have done it. As well as many of the lafies/families I have helped do some cleaning out or decluttering/organizing. Thank you.


2 Laura Dietrick January 16, 2013 at 12:45 pm

My goal for last year was to go through every box in the basement and get rid of anything that had been stored for more then 2 years. When we moved into our rental house 6 years ago we had planned on being here for only a year. Then it was another year and so on. I had packed a lot of stuff thinking we would be moving soon and it never got unpacked, looked at, thought about, for 6 years. One day I had this doom feeling that I would moving stuff eventually that I haven’t cared about in over 6 years.What is the point of that? I went through a lot of boxes this summer and had 2 large yard sales. I gave the whatever was left to charity. For the last 6 months I have been going through every box AGAIN and really thinking about what I want. Asking myself “Why am I holding on to all this stuff?” Its only STUFF! So every other week I sell about a dozen things on Facebook. Then I go through boxes again and get rid of more stuff. What is more important? My sanity or my stuff? I realized at some point that I was hording these things and I had no reason for doing it. In the long run I feel like I will save myself stress by not having all this clutter. I wont have to move it from place to place. I wont have to worry about it getting damaged. If there was an emergency, I no longer have to worry about what I would do with the stuff. It really is a sense of freedom for me.


3 Jana Eppley January 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I have been simplifying my life and getting rid of things for the last 6 months. It has been very freeing, I have a goal in mind and a life I want to live and I decided I can’t get there attached to stuff I don’t really want or need. Same is going with shopping being very critical about purchases now.


4 JILL January 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

This is perfect timing. I was just going from room to room in my house gathering items for a mom’s group swap party (bring your old stuff, swap for other mom’s old stuff!) and I was saying exactly what you wrote! I may have a use for it some day! This happened with kitchen items mostly – lots and lots of pots and pans we don’t use regularly as well as storage containers. I always think I will use them, but haven’t touched them since we moved here 2 years ago. Sometimes it just seems wasteful to throw a perfectly good item away.


5 Sherry January 16, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I think for clothes 6 months is not enough time. We have a short summer and need to go with a yearly basis. One time I hung everything in my closet backwards and at the end of the summer if I hadn’t worn it, I got rid of it and then when I did the winter clothes the same way, at the end of that season I got rid of a pile too.


6 Ruth Dixon January 16, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I have been simplifying for about 6-8 months now. I give it away, sell it if I can ($ is never out of style), or throw it away. I try to give it way before I donate it to a thrift/non-profit, so other’s don’t have to spend money for something. However, one thing I don’t get rid of very often is clothes. If it doesn’t fit or I don’t like it, yep, but old t-shirts, stained sweatshirts, old tennis shoes in decent shape, nope. Why? I live on a small farm and if the SHTF, I am rough on clothes. I would rather have 25 older t-shirts in my closet (which is large and organized) than 6 good ones. I do feel better now that counters and cupboards are cleared off and out, and easier to keep clean. Good for you.


7 Fay Clegg January 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I have been working on this. It is a problem for me. I have a small house without much storage. I also have the issue that , “I might need this someday.” With tough economic times, it can make this problem worse for me!!! Help! 🙂


8 Patricia January 17, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I have gotten into the habit of walking into a room. Looking at the PILED HIGH MESS…(you, don’t fall over!) and then…I turn around ,walk back out of the room, and CLOSE THE DOOR! IT IS SAD.
In the last 6 years…(now, this is my big excuse and dangerous pit fall)
3 kids moved out, my dad sold his house (and I took some of Mom’s things) then my MIL died and in 2010…My husband did it, (he brought SOME of his Mom’s things!
This Spring, I’m having for my grown kids a ‘COME GET YOUR STUFF’ DAY… Then, whatever doesn’t get picked up…is going in a yard sale, and then donated.
my Motto for the year…
…or else.


9 Stefanie January 18, 2013 at 5:33 am

I share the exact same challenge. I can’t even find the clothes I want because my closet rods are so tightly packed. Mosly with clothes I don’t even like anymore. This IS the year! I have taken action and am working with a Plan and a Goal! No more storage under the bed. Period. I’m systematically clearing out drawers so useful things can go in or be unburied. My husband and i travel a lot and have amazing momentos. But its just too much. One of the best tips I’ve come across is to TAKE PICTURES of the things I want to remember and then pass the physical things on (give, sell, recycle). Ive been doing it and it is Good. This single habit has changed how I look at everything else in every part of the house. I’m accomplishing small successes every single day (don’t want to lose the momentum!). And my wonderful husband is happier, too. So much more to do, though. It’s encouraging and revitalizing to know you all are going through similar challenges. It helps keep me going. So Good Work! Keep to the Plan and sincere Best Wishes to us all!


10 marg January 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Hi! I love your website and newsletters!
I have the most trouble with clothing. I feel like I need a concrete item to remember events, people, different times of my life, etc. I feel such anxiety when parting with items! In small ways, I try to incorporate small sections of family clothes in mixed media crafts. I always give to goodwill because I never get around to consignment shops at the correct season!


11 Angela G. January 21, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Hello! I was wondering if you knew of any place like Azure Standard in Illinois near the Chicago suburbs? I want to buy bulk like you do, but can’t find a place. Has anyone asked you this before or do you have friends out here who buy in bulk, too? Thanks for any info!


12 Merissa January 22, 2013 at 6:22 am

You could check this National Bulk Coop list that I have together and see if there is something close to you there! I know Azure delivers to IL but you’d have to call them to find out where exactly:


13 Darween November 20, 2013 at 4:14 am

That’s the kicker in all this – EVERYTHING you own will come in handy ‘someday’ … usually the week after you get rid of it!
A long time ago, i was buried in shampoo bottles because i’d buy a new brand, try it and then set it aside to be replaced by another. When i finally found one i liked i wondered what am i going to do with all this stuff thats just taking up space?? Thats when i created a box i call my USE IT OR LOSE IT BOX. Anything i don’t use, but am conflicted about getting rid of, i toss into the box. At the beginning of each new season (spring/summer/fall/winter) i take the box and give it to my cousins or to charity, and then start a new box. Sometimes i do go back into the box and retrieve an item to use or keep, but majority of it stays in the box, then when the donate day comes i feel good about letting go of the stuff. This has worked very well for me with all categories of items, not just toiletries. I refuse to throw away perfectly good stuff and i hate having yard sales (but LOVE going to them!) because i get to feeling conflicted and what i gladly put in the sale suddenly starts giving me feelings of guilt and remorse and i pull it back into my house – so i have learned it is so much more efficient for me to just go ahead and donate it all to charity or individuals who can get some use out of it. Good karma is more precious than money anyway. 🙂


14 Bess August 13, 2016 at 9:18 am

Such great suggestions . I really like the one about turning the clothes hangers around. Great way to know if you need it taking up space. I also have another thing that I do. If I buy a new piece of clothing then I must put one that I now have in the recycle box .
I love to cook and I can much of my food ,so my kitchen is full but I am starting to try to release some of my pots and pans , but it is hard.
Wish me luck


15 Grammyprepper May 24, 2017 at 1:11 am

I love Darween’s comment about needing something you’ve given away about a week after. I was gifted a brand new set of pots and pans, so we donated our old stuff to Goodwill. A week or so later, our daughter’s half brother got his own apartment, and needed kitchen stuff! Boy, I wish we’d held off on getting rid of those old pots and pans! At least I was able to help him out with some utensils and food!


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