I have decluttered some items that I later regretted getting rid of.
Now, before you start unpacking all those Goodwill boxes that you’ve tirelessly gathered up, let me tell you that I had to think really, really hard to even come up with this list of things that I regret decluttering. 99.99% of the things I have gotten rid of I never even thought about again.
Decluttering is hard work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It requires making a lot of decisions, and every time you put another item in the trash or donate bin you probably have that nagging question in the back of your mind, “What if I need this again someday?”
Let me let you in on a little secret: people who live truly decluttered lives are almost certain to declutter something they could’ve used. Yes, I am saying that your greatest fear about decluttering is likely to come true someday. You will get rid of something, and then need it again later.
So why on earth do I tell people to declutter if they’re going to just end up getting rid of things they need? Two reasons. 1) 99.99% of the things you declutter you will have zero regrets about getting rid of. 2) The value of the things that you have decluttered and end up needing to replace is FAR less than the value of being able to find what you have. Or, said another way, it is absolutely worth it to have to replace a few items that you errantly decluttered, because the alternative is to not ever get rid of anything and to live surrounded by stress and clutter.
Don’t let that fact that you might have a few regrets stop you from decluttering.
So, without further ado, click below to watch the video, or keep on reading to find out what I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of.
My Son’s Plastic Tool Set – Toys are an item that are prone to pile up quickly. Recently, I was going through and decluttering a lot of baby toys from my now 4 year old’s toybox. I came across a plastic tool set I thought my son never played with, and added it to the donate pile along with many, many other toys that hadn’t seen the light of day anytime recently.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, a few days later he was digging through his toy box asking where his plastic tool set was. I felt kinda bad, but told him we had passed it along, and I figured he would forget about it. But a few days later he asked about it again, and then again after that, and I realized that he actually DID play with that tool set.
Allow me to make an aside here: I got rid of SO many toys that day (3 boxes worth!), and the tool set is the only toy he ever noticed was gone or asked about. If I had it to do over again, I absolutely would still donate all those toys. Now he can actually see what he has and enjoy it, rather than having to dig past toys that are much too young for him.
Once I realized that my son really did miss that tool set, I went to Target and spent $9 on a new tool set for him, and he likes it even better than the old one! $9 is totally worth it to me to have less extraneous stuff in my home, and to get my son a tool set that is even more age appropriate for him.
Nice Glasses & Servingware – When my husband and I got married I got some beautiful glass goblets and some very nice serving platters, but we lived in a small house, and my kitchen just didn’t have the space for those items. I ended up storing them down in the basement, and over time I found that I would go down to the basement less and less often to dig them out. Eventually I realized it had been two years since I had used those glasses and serving platters, so I decided it was time to part with them.
Fast forward to today, and I have a much bigger kitchen with tons more storage space. Occasionally it has crossed my mind that if I still had those nice dishes, I’d probably get more use out of them now. But even so, I struggle to say that I “regret” getting rid of them. I would’ve had to carefully move those items two or three times to get to where my family is today. And you know how much of a hassle it can be to move breakable items.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the set of nice glass goblets that I had gotten rid of and found that I could replace them for just $30. As for the serving platters, they would cost a bit more to replace, but here’s the thing. Styles have changed a lot since I got married (maybe that’s an indication that I’m getting old!) and if I were purchasing serving platters today, I wouldn’t even want the same platters I got for my wedding. In order to replace the serving platters I’d be looking at spending $40 to $50, but I would be getting some more contemporary and better suited to my family’s actual needs. So in hindsight, I think I still would make the decision to get rid of those fancy dishes, even though there have been times I would’ve used them if I still had them.
Ethernet Cable – I don’t keep cords and cables on hand that I don’t regularly use. My goodness, if I kept every charging cable that has ever come into this house, I would have them running out my ears. But about a year ago, I definitely could’ve used an ethernet cable.
My entire home has wireless internet, but it was having some problems one day, and we were either going to have to go through the hassle of rearranging the desk so that the computer was closer to the router, or plug in to an ethernet cable. As it turned out, we were successful with repositioning the desk, and didn’t even need the cable, but in the worst case scenario, it would’ve taken my 10 minutes to run to Target to buy a $5 ethernet cable.
If I hadn’t been decluttering cords and cables throughout my life, I don’t know that I would’ve even been able to find an ethernet cable among the mess of cables I would’ve had. So once again, in hindsight, I still would’ve done the same.
Rubber Stamps – I used to be an avid card maker. I used all sorts of those rubber stamps with the ink pads. I also had a fancy little die cut machine (not as fancy as Cricut = this one was much simpler.) Over time I found myself making fewer and fewer cards, until eventually I decided that card making was a hobby that I had moved on from, and it was time to part with the LOADS of materials that had come into my home throughout the years.
Now that my kids are a little older, I enjoy making cards with them. I don’t regret getting rid of all those rubber stamps – not one bit! By now the ink pads would’ve dried out, and styles have changed so much I wouldn’t even want the same stamps. But I sure would use that die-cutting machine if I still had it. Most likely I’ll be buying a replacement that will cost around $40.
The thing is, I cleared out so much space and clutter when I got rid of my card making supplies, and for seven years I didn’t have to mess with all that stuff I has accumulated. If I had held on to all my card making supplies, I think it would’ve caused me far more than $40 worth of hassle.
I hope that sharing some of the things I’ve regretted decluttering has given you the confidence and inspiration to let more things go.
Thank you for the inspiration and motivation! These real life examples are truly helpful.
Fran Merovich Says
Very interesting how you ended up buying something you got rid of, but when you did you did an upgrade or change of style you prefer now. Never thought of that when fearing throwing something away that I might need again someday. Thanks for pointing that out to us!
Thanks, Laura! These are great reasons to keep decluttering–knowing that even if I give away something I might actually need someday, I might want a different style or I could just run and get a new one. This is a super helpful post! 🙂
Thanks, Laura. This definitely makes me think about decluttering in a new light – even if I get rid of something that I find I need later, it’s still better to have gotten rid of it, along with all the other stuff that I’ll never miss! I’ll definitely keep this in mind next time I’m going through stuff to get rid of. I’m pretty good about it, but there are definitely times I keep things I probably shouldn’t, so thanks for the tip!
Irene Johnson Says
I loved your “decluttering regrets” stories. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of things with only 2 regrets. One was a 2-piece skirt set MY HUSBAND didn’t like but it was an easy, go-to outfit that he could have gotten used to. The other was an oversized zippered sweatshirt that I would take on cruises and never get cold, but again,
MY HUSBASND didn’t like it and wanted me to get a little “cutesy” sweatshirt that fit me snuggly, but it wasn’t as warm. I can’t re-buy either one of them and it makes me mad every time I think about getting rid of them because HE DIDN’T LIKE THEM. There’s a lot of things he wears that I don’t like but I “let him live!” But it taught me a lesson to only get rid of stuff I want to get rid of?