The Relationship Between Clutter and Debt

August 30, 2006

I have long believed that there is a relationship between clutter and debt. And if not debt, certainly money and overspending. This week, with the kids back in school, I’ve been doing a lot of decluttering and it has only reinforced my belief.

First there’s the obvious: clutter represents items purchased. While a few things come into our lives for free, most are things that we wanted or thought we needed and so we bought them.

There’s a less obvious relationship, however. A major means of saving money is to use things up, make do, and take care of what you have. That’s harder to do when you have lots of stuff.

  • Have you ever bought something at the store only to run across an identical item you forgot you had a few days later?
  • Or had to go out and buy something that you knew you already had but you couldn’t find?
  • How about having a closet full of clothes but not being able to find anything to wear?
  • Or throwing out produce or other food that’s gone bad before you could eat it?

I’ve done all of that and in every case it cost me money because stuff got in the way.

That’s because clutter represents things that aren’t valued. When I choose to have less, I value it more. Letting go of things creates a feeling of contentment and satisfaction rather than a desire to have more. To see that in action, help your child clean up his or her room or playroom and watch as they re-discover toys, books, and games they had forgotten they had.

  1. I completely agree. I am actually working on an article about how much you will save if you just declutter your home.

    For me, being organized just doesn’t come naturally. I don’t have that gene because it is a difficult process for me.

    I also grew up in a home that was chaotic and see how little my family got done because of misplaced items. It is amazing how much time we waste just trying to find thing.

    Congrats your efforts to reclaim your home- I hope it is successful! I am trying to tackle clutter here too!

  2. “My goal is to have less but to really care for and value what I have.”

    I am there with you, 100%. I spent the last 2 weeks decluttering the house for a yard sale. I was amazed (and a little embarassed) over the amount of stuff I forgot I had and hadn’t touched in years.

  3. I am a total clutterbug, and everything you describe I have done: I’ve bought something that I already because I forgot I had it, I’ve bought items I knew I had but couldn’t find.

    For those of you decluttering, you may find helpful. It’s run by a woman who had lots of clutter in her life and she was able to create a program for herslef and others that helps get rid of the clutter. I’ve been working on my clutter for a year and a half now, and it does help!

  4. Weighing in late, but I just had to say: super post! I agree with you 100%…as I’ve been trying to de-clutter all summer, I’ve found things I thought I didn’t have anymore. Now, I sort things into the keepers, the donations, and the tossers…and you find that you really value your things much more.


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