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How to Declutter When You Regret Spending Money

Decluttering your home is never an easy task, especially when you regret spending money.

An expensive dress with the tags still attached, a fancy blender that never gets used, or an exercise bike that’s collecting dust—we all know how it feels to spend too much on a regrettable purchase. 

Even when it’s clear that these items add no value to our lives, we still can’t let go. We feel too guilty about money that we’ve wasted so instead of decluttering, we close our closet doors and try to pretend that our stuff doesn’t exist. 

Or at least, this was how I handled my clutter for years! I didn’t want to face my mistakes … until I realised that the cost of hanging on was worse than the pain of letting go.

"How To Declutter When You Regret Spending Money" in a white box with a white, blue, and green bowl in the background.

Keeping Expensive Clutter Has A Price

Let’s take a look at this familiar scenario:

You’re decluttering and you come across something expensive. You consider letting go … but then a voice in your head says, “But you paid so much for that!” A flood of emotion washes over you and you put the item back in its place. 

It’s almost as if holding on validates the purchase. If I still own it, then it’s not a waste, right? 

Not really. 

Here’s the hard truth—if you own something you never use then your money was wasted the minute you left the shop. 

And to make things worse, it’s not just the original purchase price. The things in your home have ongoing costs to consider. You continue to invest time, energy and money on things like cleaning, maintenance and storage. 

On top of that, there’s also a mental cost. How much is your peace of mind worth?

It turns out keeping expensive clutter has a price. The longer you hang on, the more you have to pay. 

Don’t keep clutter as punishment for past mistakes. Give yourself permission to let go. - Simply + Fiercely

“How Do I Recover My Money?”

When faced with the ongoing cost of clutter, most people warm to the idea of letting go … but they want to recover some of their money. 

They decide to sell their stuff and this is where they get stuck. 

Selling secondhand goods requires considerable time and energy. It often involves taking photos, creating online listings, answering enquiries and then arranging delivery. 

It’s a lot of work and the returns can be disappointing. Obviously, it depends on what you’re selling but most of the time, you’ll be lucky to get back a fraction of the original price. 

All this means that people either don’t have time to sell their goods or if they do, they still have to deal with the pain of letting go. They realise that they aren’t going to come anywhere close to recovering their money and that stings. 

If this has happened to you, then here is my advice: give yourself the gift of letting go. 

Think of it this way—how would you feel if all your clutter suddenly disappeared? 

My guess is pretty good, like a weight lifting off your shoulders.  

Yes, you’d technically still be losing money but think about all the other ways you spend a little extra in order to feel better. 

  • Do you ever get your hair or nails done? 
  • Eat takeaway meals so you don’t have to cook? 
  • Go on vacation or travel for pleasure?

These things are arguably a “waste” of money but most of us indulge occasionally because it feels good. We’re willing to spend on certain luxuries in order to take better care of ourselves. 

The same can be said for decluttering. If it improves your quality of life, isn’t it worth doing?

On a side note, I know that not everyone is in a financial position where they can feel good about letting go—but remember that in most cases, keeping things you don’t use isn’t going to save you money.

It’s Not Wasted Money If You Learn From Your Mistakes

Finally, if regret about money is still holding you back from decluttering, I encourage you to think of it all as an educational expense. 

Take a few minutes to think about what went wrong and what you can learn from the experience. Yes—it’s a painful mistake, but don’t live in the past. Instead, learn from what happened and make better decisions moving forward.

If you need help with this, one of these posts might help you:

More Decluttering Tips and Resources

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More decluttering articles and ideas:

What decluttering tips do you have for someone who regrets spending money? Did you find these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments! x

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9 thoughts on “How to Declutter When You Regret Spending Money”

  1. Selling your items at a local consignment shop is much easier than posting them on online sites. The split is usually 50/50. Might be less than you thought you’d get but it’s out of your house, someone else is enjoying it and you have a few $ in your pocket. Plus. It’s good for th environment. It’s not in a landfill and someone bought. Recycled item.

  2. I loved this post so much! But you made me cry! In a good way!! So my husband has these really small, unique lamps, they were his grandfathers and he has never used them. Although they are neat, I don’t like them, he doesn’t either. He has said for years we should sell them. I found one similar on eBay years ago for $500 (who knows if it actually sold for that, but I don’t care because I HATE selling stuff!) I have moved them from space to space as I have cleared closets and rooms. You’re statement “give yourself the gift of letting go” actually made me cry! It lifted the biggest burden off of my shoulders! I am going to quietly donate them to a very worthy cause and get this enormous weight off of my shoulders! There are other items that will get this same treatment! I can’t tell you thank you enough!!

    • I had similar issues of feeling guilt to throw away the last things my father has bought and the clothes he wore before he died but it is important to remember that the items don’t represent the person or the memories you have with them. Sometimes, a picture of a sentimental item is more than enough to reawake certain memories of the person than the item itself.

  3. Here’s a story to illustrate the “just in case” fallacy: Back in February, I started doing a big clear-out of stuff I didn’t use anymore, and I decided that it was finally time to let go of the 150 lbs of free weights, since I hadn’t used them in years. I’d been attending weightlifting classes, instead, and liked them much better. Then, of course, COVID-19 happened, and the classes were cancelled, so I thought, how lucky that I hadn’t dragged the weights out to the thrift store yet!

    You all know what happened, of course. I still haven’t used the weights. They’re going out in the next trip to the Goodwill.

  4. it’s not just about the money it is really about that i might need it… i have no hand mixer after it broke and i may need the expensive ninja blender instead… how you can live without a blender is the question… you mean to tell me you won’t? of course you will kick yourself when you know you gave it away and you’ve got a block of cheese that needs to be shredded for a recipe… i can see why i gave away my crock pot, i just never used it and it was enormous… also have the big black roasting pan for turkey which i make every year… i have put these items in a box in a storage area because i know i can’t get rid of them… that’s just how it is… you can’t get rid of them if you know you can use them… and about the expensive dress… what happens if there is a special occasion and you can’t go shopping? should you not store things, is that what the point of the decluttering movement is, because if it is, then i am going to have to say that this is too extreme… we should keep our decorations for xmas and other holidays because we know those holidays are coming… same goes with the other “stuff’ like the blender and the turkey pan… or should we just buy it new again the following year to save ourselves from filling up empty spaces? it’s tough to imagine…

    • Hi Sybil, thanks for your comment! To answer your questions, minimalism doesn’t mean you have to declutter everything you own and, of course, it’s OK to store things that you know you’ll use later. (There might be some extreme minimalists who subscribe to this definition but I don’t personally.) Instead, I think minimalism is about being intentional. If you know will definitely use something, then keep it! But if you’re keeping it “just in case” … well, then you should weigh up the cost of storing it (keeping in mind that keeping clutter often incurs a mental cost in addition to a physical cost) with the cost/inconvenience of replacing it. It’s a personal decision and there is no one size fits all answer. Take care!


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