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How To Declutter Without Feeling Wasteful

How To Declutter Without Feeling Wasteful


Decluttering can be difficult or daunting and we often find excuses or reasons to avoid or put it off. A common argument that I often hear is that decluttering is a waste of money. In this article I’d like to share my thoughts on how to declutter without feeling wasteful.


First and foremost, decluttering is meant to be a liberating and exciting opportunity to create time, space and freedom in an otherwise cluttered home, schedule and life.

Decluttering doesn’t have to be stressful.

Of course there are times when we have to get rid of stuff that we might not normally want to. Maybe you’re dealing with grief in sifting through the personal possessions of a loved one who’s recently passed away. Perhaps you’re downsizing and decluttering in later life and have to let go of stuff to fit into your smaller, new home.

However, decluttering because you want a change, a fresh start and/or because you’ve got too much stuff and want to reclaim control over your life by having less instead of more – decluttering for these purposes should and CAN be realistic, empowering and positive!

There are so many tips and resources to help you declutter your home and life. For example, you’ll find many of them here as you browse the decluttering articles in my blog.


However, decluttering does also throw up some challenges. Common decluttering problems include lack of time, lack of motivation, lack of support from others in your home, lack of strategy, feeling overwhelmed and not making decluttering fun!

Sometimes we don’t prepare for decluttering, we make a few decluttering mistakes and we get stuck not knowing how to overcome them. We may even declutter and then STILL find that our home looks cluttered, but we don’t know why.

However, a very common decluttering problem is how to declutter without feeling wasteful? We feel guilty for getting rid of something that we spent money buying. We regret the purchase but don’t want to declutter because it feels like a waste of money.

In this article I’m sharing some simple tips on how to declutter without feeling wasteful.

10 ways to declutter without feeling guilty or wasteful


Here are some simple tips on how to declutter without feeling wasteful.

1. The waste comes when you purchase an item unwisely

Shopping without being mindful of what and why you’re buying it is, I believe, where the true waste comes in. That’s the moment when the money leaves your purse, hand or bank account. Getting rid of something that’s been sitting in your wardrobe unworn for 3 years won’t waste money any less than the moment you bought it in the store.

Shop mindfully and wisely. Here are some tips on how to shop like a minimalist and with intention.

2. Donate or give away

If getting rid of an item feels wasteful, try to donate or give away things. There are many people who can’t afford to buy the item new and who would dearly love what you no longer want. Donate to charity or give away to those who could really benefit.

3. Change your language

I’m using the term ‘get rid of’ items because it’s a useful catch-all term. However, I equally mean donate, recycle or sell. If you struggle with feeling wasteful in decluttering, then I encourage you to notice the language you choose. ‘Getting rid of’ sounds negative so replace that with ‘pass on’, ‘give new life to’, ‘make better use of’ in your thoughts and feelings towards decluttering.

Changing our choice of words help us shift our mindset and think differently about the process of letting go. Doesn’t donating or gifting to others SOUND more positive and rewarding than GETTING RID of stuff?!

4. Sell if you need

Whilst selling comes with its own pitfalls, it’s certainly a way to generate a bit of money if you need to build your finances. Perhaps the money you make could be put to a better use, such as towards creating experiences and memories with your family and friends. Put another way, I’d rather enjoy a day out with my kids than have extra stuff sitting in my cupboards.

5. Getting rid of perfectly good stuff

Much of the clutter in your home might be of perfectly good, or really good, quality and condition. Although it can be difficult, you’re not obliged to keep something because of its quality OR condition. There are many people who would enjoy, benefit from, make use of and be delighted to receive these items. In many cases, the items would be used more often, be given a fresh breath of life and bring joy to others. Read more about what to do with unwanted stuff after you’ve decluttered.

10 ways to declutter without feeling guilty or wasteful

6. Acknowledge past decisions

The decision to buy or acquire an item is something that we need to take ownership for. I’ve made plenty of unwise purchases but I made them nonetheless. I don’t like to regret them but I prefer to learn and avoid making the same decision again. We are all a product of our past decisions but how we deal with those decisions shapes our future.

7. Swap regret for hope

How we THINK about things has a big impact on how we FEEL about them. Shift your thoughts from a negative mindset that’s going to hold you back and replace it with positive hope for the future and what a clutter-free home will give you instead. There are so many benefits to a decluttered home space, for our body and mind.

8. Ask the right decluttering questions

Knowing what questions to ask of yourself, and every bit of stuff you hold up to assess, will help you declutter with confidence and clarity. You might still regret spending the money in the first place, but when you consider what value your stuff is adding to your life right now (or holding you back from) then it might help you come to terms with your feelings of wastefulness. Here are some decluttering questions you might like to consider.

9. Focus on the benefits

Some of the benefits of decluttering are going to be priceless and far more precious than the price tag on stuff you might be struggling to declutter now. Although there is inevitably a trade-off in every decision you make, keep vs let go, just remember why you’re doing this and what you’re going to gain as a result.

10. Start slowly

You don’t need to declutter your entire home all in one go. Start with one item, one drawer, one room. Get familiar with how you feel about your stuff and what it means to you to let go or get rid of it. Practice sitting with those emotions and build your confidence, one item and one decision at a time.

It’s usually easier to come to terms with decluttering one item than a whole room or garage full. Be kind and gentle to yourself and your confidence will build as your clutter goes away! Try these tiny decluttering projects and read about the benefits of slow decluttering.

10 ways to declutter without feeling guilty or wasteful


The guilt or shame around wastefulness that we sometimes feel when decluttering is a burden that we need to let go of. It doesn’t serve us to regret past decisions but instead I, myself, try to look to the future. That future is brighter, calmer, with more space for joy and opportunity when I’m not struggling to manage my home and the stuff in it.

Be kind to yourself, be positive, take power over your stuff instead of letting your stuff hold power over you. Learn from past mistakes, gift your unwanted clutter to others for whom it won’t be clutter. Decluttering takes confidence, practice and trial and error. It’s not always easy but, in my opinion, it’s always worth it!

Do you ever feel guilty or wasteful when it comes to decluttering? If so, have you found ways to overcome it or do these feelings get in the way and stop you decluttering? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below!



I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!


Monday 6th of May 2024

Hi Antonia, my solution to this is often extremely pragmatic: I ask myself, will I get the money back out if I keep this? Sometimes Yes (I'll still use up the refill jug of liquid hand soap whose scent I'm not fond of, just to stretch my grocery dollars), but most often No. It doesn't matter how long I keep that piece of clothing that's not flattering or doesn't fit; I won't get back the money I paid for it. At that point, even though I may wince at the waste, I understand that the waste has (as you mention in your first point) already occurred, so I may as well pass the item on in some appropriate way.

I know I'm not saying anything particularly new! I just find that question to be a helpful reminder when I'm dithering. And sometimes I still keep the item, because I think maybe I will get the money back out by using it at some imagined future time. But if I come across it again and it's still not used, or even thought of, out it goes.

Thanks for this excellent article.

Balance Through Simplicity

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

Hi Laura, thank you so much for reading and for your sharing your thoughts. Your suggestions are definitely a helpful reminder. It's very easy to read all the tips but when we're confronted by the problem in real life, we sometimes feel stuck, become indecisive or even second guess our decisions. Best wishes, Antonia

Janney Talbot

Sunday 21st of August 2022

Hi Antonia, So pleased you have enjoyed a lovely holiday with your family. Have been reading off and on your very interesting and inspiring messages;

But my life has been busy with family members with Covid, home cooking drop offs and phone calls. All my family members have resumed their lives again, so grateful.

During this time,I have realised that I have numerous cooking bowls, dinner sets in cupboards, and crystal dishes etc.My life was food, owned food businesses and Restaurant, dinner parties and family celebrations always at my table.

My life now is just me living here and there was a moment! Antonia, I no longer wish to continue with these Traditions. It was almost a relief to finally surrender to this new journey in my life.

Having embraced your beautiful guidance with releasing my husband’s life time collections after his death, it is now time to to gently begin the same process with myself with your wisdom.

People lovingly tell me to sell my home and downsize, a term that does not resonate with me;

Being open to living more simply, less stuff to navigate each day and finding new adventures is the road I am undertaking in the coming months.

So once again, Antonia, Soul Gratitude and Blessings to you and Your Family.

Janney Talbot Ps, I love the idea, my treasures will bring happiness to another?

Balance Through Simplicity

Monday 22nd of August 2022

Hi Janney, thank you so much for sharing your story and thoughts. Where one chapter ends, another begins. I hope that living simply and with less stuff to hold onto as you navigate your new path in life helps you find peace, joy and contentment once again. With best wishes, Antonia