I always donate what I end up with in my ‘get rid of’ pile after a decluttering session. Why? I’d like to say it’s because I’m entirely kind-hearted and thinking of only those who are less fortunate than myself, and while that is part of it, it is also how I keep my resolve and motivation up when I go out shopping. After donating well over hundreds of dollars of items over the past two years of minimizing and decluttering, I definitely think twice, if not three or four times before I make a purchase.
Some of the items I’ve parted with that were in brand new condition, sometimes completely unused, and caused me a lot of angst over the time spent working to purchase and the amount of money lost by not using them include-
-Convection Bread Machine
-Martial Arts Kicking Pads
-Three pairs of leather sandals
-Unopened post it notes, paperclips and file folders
I could go on, as unfortunately this is just a tiny part of the list of things I have donated over the past couple of years that I was not using in my life. However, donating and not receiving any monetary value in return for them has been a great tool for my growth and desire to minimize. When I am out in a store debating over whether I should make a purchase, I ask myself these three questions-
- How much time will this item cost me? I think the majority of us when shopping usually just consider the price in monetary terms, but, in reality, the things we bring home cost us our time, our very lives. A pair of shorts for example may cost $50, but how many hours did you spend working at your job for that $50? How much time will you spend caring for the shorts, washing them, ironing them, sewing them up if needed? How much time will you spend on emotions associated with the shorts? Will you be terribly upset if something happens to them? What if you stain them? You don’t have to consider every one of these things before every purchase, but it is a good idea to consider items in terms of ‘cost of time’.
- Will this item enhance my life, bringing added joy, peace and contentment? Or will it detract from my focus on what I truly value? In the past, I would make purchases based on who I ‘wanted’ to be. I would purchase equipment for sports, new cosmetics, even different kinds of clothes, based on the idea that if I bought them, I would use them and become that person who played sports, who dressed more fashionably, the woman who always had her makeup done. The truth was, it didn’t matter if I purchased them or not, I was still the same person, and 9 times out of 10, those items would just be put in a closet or drawer so I didn’t have to look at them and a) feel bad about spending the money on them since I wasn’t using them and b) feel guilty that I still hadn’t become that person I thought I wanted to be.
- Am I okay with donating this item when I am done using it? This question helps tremendously after all the belongings I have already given away. Asking myself whether or not I can easily part with an item when I am done getting my use out of it is another way of me asking myself if the price I am paying for it is worth the amount of use I will get from it.
Asking these questions has become an ingrained habit before I make most purchases. When shopping for groceries, I ask these questions before I purchase a ‘fun’ food, for me is something new that I want to try cooking with, or a treat for myself or the family. When shopping for clothing, I ask myself these questions and usually include, do I have any items already like this piece, or that I like better than this item? These questions have definitely helped me curb the purchase of unneeded items that have to do with home décor and general household products.
The process of asking these questions has curbed my shopping dramatically, and the knowledge that when I am done using them I will be donating the product has definitely helped me to stop and think about whether it is worth the initial cost. This isn’t to say that I never buy things and get home and wish I hadn’t, however, I do shop with much more intention than I ever used to, and at this point I feel great about donating the items that I’m not longer using, because I know I’ve gotten the use out of them that made them worth the cost of time and money.