My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

NOTE:  This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic

This blog focuses mostly on the issues of buying and having too many clothes and what to do to address these concerns.  But from time to time, I receive a comment or email from a reader asking about other types of overshopping.  So I decided to address today’s post to the topic of the various types of overbuying and excessive accumulation in which many of us engage.

I know that not everyone who reads this blog is a shopaholic.   Some of you are just looking to better manage your closets and cultivate more workable wardrobes.  While not all of us overbuy clothes or even have packed closets, I’d venture to guess that most of us have some areas in which we over-consume or over-accumulate items.  In this post, I share my personal examples, of which there are more than a few, and offer some tips that have helped me to pare down.

Cluttered Room

Do you over-accumulate too much stuff in your home?

As with all of my posts, I invite you to chime in with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions.  If you haven’t looked at the comments sections of my posts recently, I highly recommend that you do so.  I am continually impressed by the heartfelt, informative, and insightful comments made by readers, and the contributions to my last post (on ideal wardrobe size) were no exception!

Magazines, Books, and Music, Oh My!

I’ve previously mentioned that I subscribe to more magazines than I have time to read, but I have other things that I overbuy besides magazines and clothing.  In the same vein as magazines, there are books.  Oh, how I love books!  For many years, I whiled away countless hours browsing in bookstores, but sadly such establishments are now a dying breed.  If there’s a “silver lining” to this recent development, it’s that my book buying slowed down as the brick and mortar stores closed their doors.  However, as made it easier and easier to purchase books with a mere click of a mouse, it didn’t take me long to fill in the gaps – and my bookshelves!

I have a bit of a confession to make… I am an “information junkie”!  I love to read about all sorts of topics, and this love of learning only served to fuel my book buying habit.  Before long, the number of books I owned overtook the space I had for storing them.   So I ended up buying more bookcases, storing books in piles or boxes, and basically over-cluttering my home.  But much like my overshopping for clothing, my space concerns did very little to curtail my buying.  I would purge excess books once in a while out of necessity, but it was more to make space for the new than to consciously let go of what I wasn’t using.

Back in the era of cassette tapes and compact discs, I accumulated more than my fair share of music as well.  If I found a group whose sound I liked, I didn’t hesitate to buy up their entire musical anthology.  I thought, “Why not? The more the merrier…”  Of course, we can now easily stock up on music via iTunes without cluttering up our homes, but there can still be too much of a good thing (see this excellent Ted Talk on “The Paradox of Choice”).

Personal Care Product Overload

Then there were the beauty care products:  cosmetics, skin care, hair care, the lot.  I was forever searching for the magic lotions and potions which would somehow cure my perpetual dissatisfaction with the way I looked.  I often shopped for these items in tandem with my clothes shopping.  I’d shop when I was sad, overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, or any number of other unpleasant emotions.  In many cases, buying a new lipstick or shampoo would give me that temporary boost of “happy” that I so deeply craved.

Often times, I’d use my new potion once or twice, only to rapidly become disillusioned by its lack of special powers.  Alas, my skin was still blotchy, my hair was still frizzy, and I didn’t magically look ten years younger like the manufacturers had promised.  Instead of realizing the folly of my ways, however, I simply believed I hadn’t yet found the right product.  So I ventured back into the stores to try still more cosmetics, hair care products, and lotions and potions to help me feel beautiful – or even just acceptable.  Since this type of satisfaction can only come from within, no matter how many products I bought, it was never enough.

Courses, Programs, and Expert Advice

Another area in which I’ve over-consumed relates to self-help programs, online courses, and “expert” advice.  I’m always looking for new ways to learn, grow, and be the best possible person I can be, but the sheer volume of what I consume overwhelms me. There is simply no way I can ingest and incorporate the vast wealth of knowledge to which I avail myself.  It’s just too much!

Not all of these things cost money, either.  For one thing, I love reading blogs, but my blog list often grows to the point at which I can’t possibly read all of them.  When things are free or cheap, the danger of consuming too much increases.  It’s like what I described about the magazines.  It seems like a “no-brainer” to subscribe to a magazine for just $12 per year, but the monetary cost should only be one factor in the buy or no buy decision process.  We also need to consider our time, attention, and physical and mental space.  Something may be a “great deal” or even free, but that doesn’t mean it’s prudent for our lives.

Lessons from “The Minimalists”

Which brings me to the advice I wish to offer on the topics of over-consumption and clutter…  Actually, this advice does not originate from me.  Some of you may be familiar with the blog, “The Minimalists.”  Well, the writers of that blog, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, are currently on a cross-country book tour, and last week they stopped at my hometown of San Diego, California.  My husband and I joined a packed crowd in one of the few remaining local bookstores to hear words of wisdom from two pioneers of the minimalism and simplicity movement.

Joshua and Ryan shared their story and how they came to embrace minimalism and start their blog, and they also read excerpts from their latest book and answered questions from the audience.  Many of these questions related to the decision process for what to keep and what to let go of as one moves toward a simpler lifestyle.  The Minimalists offered one key question we should ask ourselves as we consider the various items we own:

Does this add value to my life?”

This question is simple yet profound.  Since the average American family has over 300,000 possessions (per The Minimalists in their talk), I can’t help but wonder how many of these things are really adding measurable value to their lives.  Are they holding on to all of this “stuff” out of habit or obligation or because it’s truly useful and/or makes their hearts sing?

The “Minimalism Game” and Project 333

One method The Minimalists offer to help readers jettison excess possessions is something they term the “minimalism game.”  In this game, you get rid of one item on the first of the month, two on the second day, three on the third day, and so on until you reach the end of the month.  Now this may sound relatively easy, but it gets tougher as the month progresses.  However, if you stick with it, by the end of a thirty day month, you’ll have released 465 unwanted and unneeded items from your home and your life.

Feeling energized and motivated after hearing The Minimalists’ inspiring talk, my husband and I decided to take on the minimalism game.  Yet, rather than waiting until April 1st to begin, we started the very next day (March 26th).   Even though we had to release 26 plus pieces each day this past week, we had little trouble making it happen.  It’s surprising how much stuff we still own even though we’ve made a concerted effort to pare down in recent years.

If you feel overwhelmed and overloaded with stuff in your home, I highly recommend doing the “minimalism game.”  It’s a simple and fun way to pare down your excess possessions and it’s already made a big difference for my husband and me.  Since tomorrow marks the beginning of a new month, what better time to start?

Coincidentally, tomorrow is also the start of the next term of Project 333, the minimalist wardrobe challenge I’ve done twice and chronicled here on the blog.  I’ve reduced the size of my wardrobe by half over the past year and Project 333 was instrumental in helping me make this change.  If you’d like to learn more about Project 333, check out the rules for getting started or purchase the “Dress with Less” microcourse for additional information and support.

How I’ve Changed and Changes to Come

I’m happy to report that in addition to reducing the size of my wardrobe and the number of clothes I purchase, I’ve also made excellent progress in terms of the other things I’ve been known to overbuy.  In recent months, I’ve made the following changes:

  • Cancelled or neglected to renew a number of my magazine subscriptions
  • Cut way back on the number of books I buy and shifted more toward buying Kindle books instead of hard copies
  • Donated the majority of my excess beauty supplies to a local charity that accepts partially used products
  • Cancelled many of my blog subscriptions, in particular those style blogs that often led me to feel “less than” and propelled me to shop more

That’s the good news, but the bad news is that I’m still suffering from “information overload.”  Clearly, I need to scale back a lot more if I want to experience the inner peace and calm I so desperately crave.  I need to let go of my FOMO (fear of missing out) and trust that I can always find the information I need when I actually need it.

The Bottom Line

I think that the underlying feelings which fuel our overshopping for clothes can also underlie our other types of over-consumption.  Whether it’s trying to escape negative feelings or striving to be good enough, there will always be products out there that we can buy to numb the pain or quell the anxiety.  But we have to ask ourselves what our behavior is costing us.  The Minimalists said that every one of our possessions costs us a little bit of our freedom, and I think they’re right.

I know that my overstuffed closet and cluttered bookshelves didn’t make me feel better about my life.  Many of my possessions were not adding value to my life; rather, they were costing me my peace and freedom, one bit at a time. As I take the time to evaluate what is contributing to my life and what is either taking away from it or merely taking up space, I regain more and more of my power.  I am feeling freer and more in control of my life as I buy less and release what’s not bringing me joy.

None of us can control all aspects of our lives.  As for me, I still suffer from debilitating health issues, I still feel lonely and disconnected much of the time, and I continue to struggle with deep philosophical questions about my place in this world and my path in life.  I don’t know how to turn all of these things around. In some cases, I have little clue as to what to do next.  But as I simplify my life, I feel calmer, more centered, and increasingly hopeful about the future.  I can’t guarantee that the same thing will happen for you, but I urge you to give it a try.  You may be pleasantly surprised at how it works out for you!

Your Thoughts?

This post got much deeper and more philosophical than I originally intended, but I never know where my creative muse will lead me.  I hope you received some value from my thoughts – and those of The Minimalist – on these topics.  If you have anything you’d like to share on the topics of over-consumption, minimalism, and simplification, please add your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

93 thoughts on “What Else Do You Overbuy Besides Clothes?

  1. Lisa says:

    I’m an ebook-aholic I have many thousands of books in my clouds, I read them I convert them and catalog them. To me it’s no different than having a home full of books that maybe I’ve picked up at the read and return. I like to read mostly out of date never converted books, sometimes not. My pursuit of books has caused me to burn out two laptops in 5 years and in my early days suffered from many virus’ that caused me to have to reinstall all my software. Is it really a problem if I don’t see or touch my cloud? Is it my escape that on many levels could be harmful? Yes, I suppose. And I could be cut off from my cloud at any moment and all my collecting is gone! I’ve lost portions of my cloud before but now I am so consumed with saving my books I doubt it will ever happen to the same extent. I never look too closely at it as an issue in my life. If the books were in my house, I’d have to deal with it because I would not have any room for anything. It’s scary when you think about the money, time and family time, spent on my books. I suppose one day I will stop when books no longer interest me, I’ve gone years without reading before. But until then that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I like your cloud storage idea, Lisa. I think it’s much easier to be a “book-aholic” these days with ebooks and cloud storage options. I’m moving toward buying more ebooks instead of hard copies these days myself, but still have a lot of the hard copies lying around. I’m gradually paring down to just those books I love, but I don’t feel the need to be as ruthless with the eb0oks (don’t have too many of those yet, though).

  2. Jamie says:

    I’m a serial overspender, but only on one thing at a time. It used to be picture frames (my husband finally told me I was never allowed to buy another picture frame again, EVER), then it was fabric when I sewed (I had more fabric than I would ever have used in a lifetime, at the rate I sewed), then yarn when I started knitting and crocheting, and now it’s clothing and accessories. I also have control issues with eating (former anorexic and former sugar addict). I think it’s all related to the same issues, whatever they are.
    It’s funny–the signs you’re a shopaholic are the same ones the ladies on my fabric yahoo group used to hide their fabric addiction!

    1. Debbie B says:

      I love what you posted Jamie. I felt like you were in my head. I have so much fabric, yarn, scrapbooking stuff, stamps, and on and on. I did not think about it but I have a tendency to overbuy and focus on one thing like you said. Michaels craft had picture frame colloges on sale before Christmas for $8.88 and so I bought 8 of them. I of course did not take them back and now I have so many picture frames, I do not know what to do with them. My husband is just as bad and our house is busting at the seams. I am in the process of getting rid of stuff or using it instead of buying new. Thank you for helping me feel a little “norma” today.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you two have a lot in common, Jamie and Debbie. I got a chuckle out of Jamie’s husband’s comment about the picture frames! As a fellow former anorexic, I agree with what you said about the issues being similar, Jamie. I think, however, that even when we know what the issues are, it doesn’t make them magically go away. But they CAN go away and we are all on the road to recovery. One day at a time!

  3. Chelsea says:

    For as much as I am a shopaholic when it comes to clothing, I keep a very tidy and organized home. My shopping troubles come from being a bit OCD, which translates to a clean and well-kept home. (I can be quite ruthless with purging)

    That being said, I have fallen into some of pitfalls you talked about…magazines at one point and makeup at another point. And at one point I had an awful habit of getting really expensive haircuts every 4wks (religiously). It feels freeing to get rid of possessions I no longer want or see value in. In fact, this week, we cleaned out our shed and have several car loads of stuff to donate to charity… Love that!

    It’s strange though, I feel so freed clearing out my shed and home, but utterly paralyzed and anxious when thinking about clearing out my closet… Such a paradox. :-/

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      My home is pretty tidy, too, Chelsea. I’ve always been very neat and tidy and I don’t have as much excess clutter at home now as I used to. I think a lot of people have one area of their lives/homes that are cluttered while other areas are okay. I know some people with neat homes and messy cars, for example. You’re doing so well with de-cluttering in other areas that I’m guessing it will trickle down to your closet at some point. That’s how it worked for me…

  4. Deborah (Deby) says:

    As a (recovering) cosmetic and nail polish junkie, I am happy to see you bring to the fore some other shopping addiction besides clothing. I have always been a cosmetic junkie–ever since I was a teenager, but I only became a nail polish junkie in 2011 because my dad became very ill, in and out of the hospital, and my way of coping with stress was to buy nail polish and give myself beautiful manicures and pedicures.

    At the height of my delirium, before I started paring down my collection, I had 84 bottles of nail polish in every shade of the spectrum except for chartreuse or yellow (and only because these shades are not flattering to my skin tone). Every nail polish display in a store beckoned seductively to me to lose myself in their fantasy of color. I would buy colors I knew were wrong for me before I ever left the store, but there I played that “what if” card. All in all, I see it now as a relatively inexpensive thrill that got me through a tough time. And I still love nail polish, I just buy it more mindfully now!

    But back to the makeup. I’ve always been a sucker for cosmetics advertising. Obsessed with color, as an 8 year old girl I hid under the bedcovers with a flashlight reading my mother’s Vogue magazines, devouring the ads, wanting to be there.

    I began wearing makeup at 13 to make myself look older. I think back on my young self, and I must have looked rather ridiculous. I collected eyeshadow colors, buying the palettes, carefully prying out the pans and reglueing them into metal water color boxes to create custom palettes. By the time I was a senior in high school I had over 100 colors of eyeshadow in my collection.

    While I no longer keep such high numbers, I’m still a sucker for eyeshadow palettes. Show me a good eyeshadow palette and I’m in love. I like to walk up and down the aisles at Target and look at all the multicolored palettes just for fun, even though I don’t buy any of them.

    I have been systematically going through all my makeup and getting rid of products and colors that I had purchased on impulse (and were not likely to ever wear). I have been pretty ruthless about it, just the way I was with my clothing last year.

    Its been great to really analyze my hair/skin/eye tones to narrow down my makeup colors
    Again, as in clothing, my excess was mostly a color thing, as in too many of them. Let’s face it (no pun intended!), the best makeup is that which flatters your natural coloring, and your personal palette does not change much over time. There are certain makeup colors that always look good on you and simply require tweaking in formula or tone. For example, I’ve always looked better in peach blush than pink because I have a golden ivory undertone–yet that didn’t stop me from trying to make every other color in the blush spectrum work! Once I “made peace with peach blush”, I realized I simply needed different seasonal formulations because my skin is oily in summer, but not in winter. But even then, one doesn’t need 20 versions of the same product. So now I have winter makeup and summer makeup. The formulas and colors are slightly different to accommodate tan vs pale, dry vs oily.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I loved reading about your nail polish and make-up stories, Deby. You seem to have made a lot of progress in these areas as well as your closet. Your love of color seemed to be the common thread in your over-accumulation in all of these areas. I know that you still love color, but you are expressing that love much differently these days. Congrats on the great progress you’ve made in all areas over the past year. You’re really doing great!

  5. Tonya says:

    This is where I think I’m a little weird. In the past I bought way too much for home decor,books, make up, and hair products. About three years ago when I decided that I didn’t want to be in debt anymore I stopped overbuying in every area except clothing. I don’t read magazines. I still love books, but I rarely buy them. I turn in the ones I’ve read to a used bookstore and pick out new ones with credits. I only buy a handful of makeup, hair, and skincare products and only as needed. I only buy something for my house if I have a specific need and it’s maybe once a year. I don’t buy candles,fancy soaps, or much in the way of holiday decor. I can grocery shop like no one’s business. I actually have checkout people comment how much food I got for how little and we throw away almost nothing. I get my hair cut every two to three months, but I don’t get manicures, facials, etc. I have a smartphone, but other than that I’m not into electronics. It drives me nuts that I’m practical, rational, and kind of frugal in all other areas of my life, but I still way overspend on clothing. It’s very frustrating to me that I had no problem with not buying these other items and that I was able to see very clearly that it was dumb to buy things that I wasn’t going to use and that it was wasteful, but show me a pair of boots….

    1. Deborah (Deby) says:

      I wanted to add a comment about how I ultimately solved my addiction to eyeshadow palettes. I realized that most of the eyeshadows I owned were in colors that I thought were lovely in clothing, and not so lovely on one’s skin tone. I actually got rid of all my eyeshadow palettes and started over from scratch. After a lot of research and testing, I settled on Naked 1 (warm tones) and Naked 2 (cool tones) of the Urban Decay palettes. The colors are interesting, there are enough of them to create a wide variety of looks, they last a long time, are very natural looking and current. The other great thing is that they are season-less. I’m as happy as a kid with a (smaller) paintbox!

      1. Deborah (Deby) says:

        Somehow I ended up adding my comment above here instead of at the end of my makeup addiction post, but I did want to say to Tonya that I totally share your addiction to boots!

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Sometimes WordPress can be a bit temperamental… I’ll have to check out those Urban Decay palettes. I know that you are a color connoisseur, so I would definitely heed your recommendations!

        2. Deborah (Deby) says:

          I used to say, “I am never going to use anything on my face with the word ‘decay’ in it! But I kept reading such great reviews of these palettes, and they are always sold out at Sephora–you have to hit at the right time when they’re in stock.

          The Urban Decay Naked palettes are deceptive and interesting! When you first look at colors in the pans (each palette contains 12 colors, arranged light to dark), they seem just on the borderline of ho-hum. But their beauty is in their subtle tones, and you don’t figure this out until you actually try them on your eyes.

        3. Melissa W. says:

          I second the Naked palettes! I have the Basics one, which is just 6 colors, but I’m definitely thinking of investing in Naked 2!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve become pretty practical in other areas, too, Tonya. The way I look at it is that the clothing is the last “hold out” in my overspending/over-accumulation journey. Perhaps it’s that way for you as well. It seems to me that you’re making great progress with the clothing in recent months – buying far less overall and paring your wardrobe down. I think you’re definitely moving in the right direction!

      1. Tonya says:

        Well I was….I may have bought the internet in the last couple of days and am now in the process of returning a lot of it. Ugh.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          We all have our ups and downs. You’ve certainly read about mine! But if we keep working on our recovery, we keep moving forward, even if there are a few steps back every now and then. I believe in you!

        2. Tonya says:

          Thank you

  6. Leah says:

    At various times I have over-purchased or collected music (CDs), books, magazines, makeup, hair products, exercise DVDs, nail polish, and shoes and clothes of course. Does tailoring count? All of these things are little pick-me-ups. They boost my mood and give me something to look forward to. I think deep down I think that this one last item will be the thing that makes everything all better. Maybe the perfect dress will give me an extra special day – or something like that. There is definitely a FOMO. I will purchase a dress because I feel like nothing that special will ever come along again.

    1. Leah says:

      I want to add that it is really easy for me to give things away and throw things out. I have very little connection to things. I am a minimalist at heart. Most of the stuff around the house belongs to my husband and kids. Yet I keep buying. That’s why your blog is so important. It forces us all to think about what we are doing and why.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      If tailoring counts, Leah, I have to add that one to my list, too! Like you, I don’t have a hard time letting go of most things. Even with my clothes, I turn things over a lot. But looking at WHY we accumulate so much stuff is where the “juice” really is, as then we can find other ways of meeting our needs. Easier said than done, though… I’m glad you’re finding my blog helpful!

  7. Kayla says:

    I too have over-purchased various things at times, including books, magazines, music, and especially cosmetics. Eventually I hit what I call “saturation point” with cosmetics, and I couldn’t find anything different enough to what I already owned to justify buying it (and that’s saying something- I had a lot of eyeshadows that were basically the same colour, just different brands). This, coupled with the fact that my favourite cosmetics brand at the time pulled out of the country I live in, naturally cured my obsession with cosmetics. I held on to my collection for some time but purged a large portion last year, which was difficult but I’m so glad I did it. I wish something would cure my obsession with clothing in the same way, but unfortunately I can’t see that happening.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      If you can overcome your cosmetics obsession, Kayla, you can do the same with your clothing obsession. I never used to believe I could recover from my compulsive shopping, but now I believe it’s possible. I’m not THERE yet, but I feel far more hopeful. If I can do it, so can you!

  8. Nothing these days, but in the past oh my. Furniture, food, cheap costume jewellery, books, nights out, lunches out, shoes, kitchen and homewares..the list goes on. But now, only food and hygiene products, petrol and that is it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You are definitely a testament to the fact that recovery is possible! You have come a long way and I love reading the perspectives you offer on your blog. Keep up the great work!

  9. I will add that at one point I had 100 nail polishes and I was a nail biter and 200 pairs of jeans.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      That’s a lot of jeans! I never had close to that many, but pants are hard for me to fit. Tops, on the other hand… I know I had at least 200 at one time. Good for both of us that we continue to improve!

  10. Avi says:

    Last year when I started to purge and inventory my closet and “stop the bleeding” of overbuying clothes all of my shopping and browsing time that had been for clothes shifted to make-up – and now I’m trying to figure out how to store and organize that! As well most of it is in colors that are too bright and/or glittery to wear for my conservative office job. The distraction was helpful to my original goals but I’m trying to figure out how to control my need to obesses over something through spending.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It’s common to move from one obsession to another until we get at the root causes for our behavior. I’ve overshopped for many things and sometimes moved back and forth between things, too. Finding the root causes isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s worthwhile. For the most part, we’re trying to meet real emotional needs through our behavior and will have to find alternate – and more constructive ways – of meeting them. Easier said than done, for sure, but doable!

  11. Erin says:

    I had the chance to hear The Minimalists speak when I was visiting my sister in Boston, and I have to say they are incredibly inspiring. I always try to lead by example (no one wants to have a philosophy crammed down their throat!) but I’m so excited that other people are becoming interested in minimalism and everything that it has to offer.

    Also I love this more philosophical post, you always have such an interesting point of view!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Glad you liked this post, Erin! I found The Minimalists very inspiring, too. You’re so right about people not wanting a philosophy crammed down their throats. The Minimalists offer simple suggestions for getting started and are clear that there is no one right way to do minimalism and simplicity. We all have to find our own paths, if and when we’re ready…

  12. Pat says:

    Grocery stores are another source of excess. We can get tricked into buying too much. Why do we need huge pantries and freezers? Many times coupons are for items with too much packaging. In my younger days, I wanted things. Now I want time to enjoy the simple things in life. Enjoy your blog.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Oh, yes, Pat. I didn’t mention grocery stores, but I buy too much there, too! But as I’ve moved more toward fresh food, I’ve been buying less. I am with you now on wanting to enjoy more of the simple things in life!

  13. liesbeth says:

    Thank you for the interesting links!
    I don’t think I really have a problem with overshopping, at least not by ‘western world capitalist society standards’. Unfortenately, these standards are in themselves far from okay from an ecological point of view (and, as more and more people seem to say, maybe from a ‘peace of mind’ point of view?) But as I am pairing down my wardrobe I am realizing two things.
    1) Even though I never got into financial, social or psychological trouble due to excessive shopping, I tend to buy more than I can handle (and definitely more than I need). This is different stuff during different times of my life – at one point I got into makeup and though I can’t name exciting numbers, I had at least ten times as much of some products than I actually used. I have always been drawn to books, which I don’t see as a problem, but I have more books than I have time to read and though I am very selective now, I still add to the collection. I also have to be careful when ingredients shopping: I like cooking and exotic cuisines, but for a household of two it’s just not interesting to buy (large containers of) herbs and condiments that you only use in one dish (I’m looking at you, tahini!). So it’s more the slight excess of uhm, everything in my small apartment that bugs me, eats up my energy and draws me towards minimalism, than an enormous excess in one particular category.
    2) I have a hard time letting go of stuff. At the same time, I hate cleaning. Everything that is not used on a regular basis, needs some kind of maintenance in order not to gather dust and become a horrible nightmare of living in the past :). It has been really helpful to be able to define myself as a sentimentalist – I think now I will be better equipped to deal with decluttering.
    I hope that if I manage to simplify my life and buy less, step two will also become easier as I wouldn’t have so much left to clean up.
    One last remark: I am so with you on the ‘information addiction’. I always have some books lying around on different kinds of topics, and since I bought a tablet computer last year I continually have some browser tabs open as well, and have installed Evernote for collecting tidbits of everything (mainly recipes) … I find I have to take care not to replace my material hunger with intellectual hunger (in itself a good thing, but when out of proportion it really disrupts your peace of mind as well as your sleep!).

    1. liesbeth says:

      I also seem to have a problem overposting, sorry 🙂

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      No problem about “overposting,” Liesbeth. Lots of people add long comments and it’s a good thing, as others benefit from the insights of fellow readers. I could identify with a lot of what you wrote. My husband always teases me about my browser tabs… As I type this, I would guess I have 30-40 tabs open! I always worry about “missing out” on great information! I think the key with all of this is balance. It’s great that we love information, clothes, cooking, etc, but all such things can get out of hand. Learning to do things moderately is not easy, but it’s one of the keys of happiness, I feel. It sounds like you have a lot of self-awareness, which will serve you well as you work to make internal and external changes.

    3. Joanna says:

      I had to laugh at your comment about tahini liesbeth – I had the exact same issue. Since I am cooking for two, I often wish I could just get a small jar of something new so I could try it a few times. I don’t need the family size, but often that’s all there is. A while back I had to purge my cupboards because I had supplies for so many different cuisines that I don’t make often enough (and I’m just not that into cooking anyway!) I just don’t have the space. Eventually I decided that some cuisines were better off as restaurant treats.

  14. dottie says:

    I’ve often thought about this topic when reading this blog in the past, wondering if the over-shopping for clothes meant over-shopping for other stuff. I’ve been pretty frugal all my life but decades of stuff does tend to accumulate — and I’ve had periodic purges (generally before or after a move). I have really trimmed extraneous “stuff” from my life. I have no magazine subscriptions (I get one mag second-hand from a friend), borrow books from the library, and rely on Netflix and Red Box for movies. I don’t have cable and I only subscribe to a few carefully chosen on-line blogs and newsletters. I thought long and hard about where I was frittering away my money and decided that I could still have an enjoyable life without all of this other stuff. I used to collect a specific pattern of glassware and that too has been culled and the excess sold. Books and records have been sold to a bookstore that handles this kind of “recycling.” I have gotten rid of a lot of my formerly wonderful stuff through my retail antique business, on-line retailers, second-hand stores, garage sales, or charity. It wasn’t a lot of stuff but it was a psychic burden. I probably could purge further but I am at a comfortable level now. However, I have already decided what I could live without if I had to downsize further for some reason. Knowing that you could live with less without feeling any deprivation is spiritually very freeing.

    1. Deborah (Deby) says:

      I agree with you Dottie, that less is freeing. I felt so wonderful after getting rid of 65% of my wardrobe (with more to cull this upcoming season!). 10 years ago when I moved from another city, I got rid of 75% of my household goods and never looked back. I still have a lot of stuff (I live in a 3 story Victorian house with my disabled mother and an assortment of pets), but the difference now is that everything is visible–no hidden stashes of anything. Now, what you see is what there is at my house. I don’t even have any storage boxes of forgotten possessions packed away. I have empty drawers and cabinets in my bathrooms, whereas in the past they were crammed to the gills. Its a relative breeze to clean my house.

      I think one of the reasons we overbuy certain things like household furnishings–is because we think our kids are going to want to have them handed down to them. At least that was the philosophy of my grandparents and parents. And to be fair, I do appreciate the early 19th century pieces that my grandparents handed down to me–they are perfectly proportioned to the vintage of my home and easy to decorate with. My parents’ style is totally different midcentury modern. The truth is at this point in time, our generation of kids doesn’t want our stuff. Among my friends, we all have 20-early 30something age kids–and to a head, they are totally disinterested in what we have to hand down unless they have a nostalgia from using it as children. They have their own style and most of them do not have any appreciation of our stuff from the past. So why burden yourself with it? I only keep the stuff I REALLY like and want to look at all the time, and the rest goes.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Dottie and Deby, you both made some really excellent points. I like what you wrote about the “psychic burden” of our stuff, Dottie. I know I feel more free and unburdened as I let go of stuff. We are better able to be creative, try new things, and relate to other people when we don’t have so much “stuff” weighing us down. It sounds like you both have pared down your excess stuff considerably and are benefitting from those efforts. I don’t think my parents are keeping much around for my brother and me and we’re glad about that. I like to have a few heirlooms, but you’re right in that we all have our own tastes and don’t usually want to be burdened with so many possessions from our parents and families.

  15. meli22 says:

    I can be excessive with shopping for my daughter’s clothing. Baby and toddler clothing is so adorable! I am trying to work on it, because even she has too large of a wardrobe for her to wear especially considering how quickly she outgrows it. For instance, she has 3 hot pink leggings and two blue jeggings. It’s like I don’t remember what she has or needs and only bought things I LIKED. Opposite of all the lessons I have learned with my own closet. I don’t shop a lot for her luckily, and am now pulling the reins back before I have another shopaholic on my hands- and my fault too! I’m now trying to apply the same sensibility I use for my wardrobe in shopping for her.

    Another issue is groceries. I overspend all the time, as if I didn’t have a budget at all. I don’t always use up everything before it spoils, which is AWFUL. I’m used to buying whatever piques my fancy. It’s another area I am actively working on.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You’re right that baby clothing is adorable, Meli, but it’s good that you’re trying to buy less for your daughter. I don’t think she will become a shopaholic because she’s still very young and you’re working hard to turn your shopping habits around. In regards to the grocery shopping, I can relate. There are just too many choices out there in terms of food! I’m working on cutting back there, too…

  16. Sarah says:

    meli22, I have had a similar experience with managing my daughter’s wardrobe so I can definitely identify. I think I have recently come to some good insights though and I’ve been meaning to put together a post about it.

    I am definitely in the “information overload” camp with you, Debbie. Your post just inspired me to delete a bunch of blogs from my feed reader, thank you for the push!

    I agree with a lot of what’s being said here, both in your post and in the comments, but I wanted to provide a little bit of a counterpoint. I am a creative person (writing, sewing, drawing, etc., etc.) and I have really come to believe that some degree of “excess” is necessary to these kinds of pursuits. I mean, has there ever been a great artist with a minimalist studio? 🙂 I think that’s pretty rare, because the creative process is fundamentally a bit messy and unpredictable. But I have definitely had the experience where some piece of fabric, book, etc. sat unusued for a couple of years and then suddenly inspired or turned into something I was pretty proud of. Of course, it is possible to go overboard, accumulating so many supplies that the sheer volume becomes a barrier to using them. But I think there’s also a risk of going too far in the other direction, stripping our lives of everything that’s not immediately useful so that there’s no opportunity for happy accidents and creative juxtapositions. For me, when I have unused creative materials and start to feel bad about it, I have come to suspect that the physical “stuff” is really a symptom, not the problem itself. It means that I’m not using my time wisely in a way that enables me to make things from these supplies. So instead of just purging the stuff, it might be useful for me to think also about reorganizing my time. (And again, of course, purging can also be a useful part of this process — I’m just trying to make the case that it’s not always the whole solution.)

    1. Anne says:

      I agree with needing materials to be creative. I have lots of beads and cross stitch materials but when the creative bug bites, I can turn to my stash and make lovely things. I think the problem comes when we just buy things and never use them. Or clothes and never wear them.

      I have too much stuff to decorate for holidays – not just Christmas but all holidays and seasons, too. I got the Easter stuff out the other day and felt overwhelmed by it all. This post gives me pause to think whether all this stuff adds value to my life. When I think about it, I do get a lot of joy seeing the things I have made. But I get very little joy out of all the stuff I have bought for all the holidays. Maybe it is time to purge the things that do not make me happy when I see them. Thanks for the reminder.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I like your counterpoint, Sarah. I agree that it’s possible to go too far about getting rid of stuff. I think that if we keep the question about whether or not something adds value in our lives in mind, we will be able to make better decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. It’s a very individual thing. For example, I have a friend who loves to decorate her home for various holidays and entertain. For her, the decorations are definitely adding value to her life and there’s no reason to let them go. I used to love the decorating, too, but not so much anymore, so I’ve gradually let go of many of my decorations. If I still loved to decorate, I’d have no problem keeping them around, as long as I had a place to store them!

  17. Lisa says:

    It is true, overshopping is not often limited to just one category. I have found blogs on minimalism very interesting because in the US, you are not taught to have less, you are taught to work hard so that you can have MORE. And more is not always better. I have found garage sales very helpful to get rid of excess ‘stuff.’ And also moving, even if you are not moving anytime soon, thinking about whether or not you would keep an item if you had to pack it up and move it, sometimes helps with purging items.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good points, Lisa. There is definitely a “more is more” culture in the US and in many other countries, too. I’ve moved a fair amount and that has been helpful in letting go of things. I agree that asking ourselves if we would take our various possessions to a new home (even if we’re not moving) can be a useful exercise to do!

  18. FrugalFashionista says:

    I have had hording tendencies and I think it runs in our family because my mother, aunts and maternal grandparents have similar issues. Books, yarn, magazines, shoes, clothes, makeup, perfumes, food. But I’m trying to change. No magazine subscriptions any more (except National Geographic for the kids, and we read every issue). Trying not to buy clothes and shoes. I have occasional relapses (most often when I’m stressed out or travelling) but buying less. With makeup and skincare, I’m forcing myself to use up stuff before buying anything new and have been fairly successful. With food, I used to stockpile staples and buy exotic food that was never eaten as souvenirs but am constantly trying to empty the freezer and staples cupboard. With books, Kindle has been a fantastic solution, as opening chapters are free and I’m only allowed to purchase the full text if I finish the first chapter. With perfumes, I’m limiting myself to samples mostly so it all fits in a couple of drawers.

    There is still too much clutter in my bedroom and I’m unable to throw many things away but I’ve been able to do pretty ruthless clearouts. But we live in a really consumerist society. Fighting excess is a constant battle…

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good point about reading the free first chapters of books in Kindle. I’m going to start doing that instead of just buying the books I THINK I will like to read. You’re right that fighting excess is a constant battle, but it sounds like you’re doing well with it. Like you, I’m a recovering hoarder as well as a recovering shopaholic. It feels good to get rid of things, but I always have to watch out for bringing too much in again!

  19. rufonious says:

    What a lovely post Debbie. I have mental health issues which I feel contribute to my habit of overspending on clothing & shoes. Wanting to look good then people will like my appearance, rather than seeing someone with learning difficulties. Having completed my task of downsizing in the clothes, shoes, jewellery, books departments; I can confirm a feeling of satisfaction. Seeing a neat bookcase, less stuffed wardrobe & jewel box; also knowing other people will enjoy these items, makes me feel good inside too.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I overbuy to try to compensate for my perceived lacks, too, Rufonious. Even if our perceived shortcomings are real, other probably don’t notice and/or fixate on them as much as we do. Congrats on your recent downsizing! I agree that it can be very satisfying to pare things down.

  20. Sarah S. says:

    Oh, yes, books, skin care products, hair care products and costume jewelry were my weaknesses in addition to clothes. I’ve actually been working on paring down the books and skin/hair care products for longer than I’ve been working on paring down my wardrobe. My new book purchases are generally on the Kindle and there’s so much less thrill with that that I cut down on purchases quite naturally.

    Dottie’s reply just turned on a lightbulb for me – she mentioned periodic purges before or after a move. I always used to move fairly frequently, and would have major purges while packing. But then I’d move into a larger place, and feel the need to fill the space up. My current home is the first time I’d ever downsized, AND due to the housing crash forcing me to stay put, the first place I’ve stayed for 10 years. I think finally the lack of purging, and looking around trying to figure out where I’d squeeze one more bookcase and maybe another closet, caught up with me! I’d like to downsize further, and aspire to a more minimalist lifestyle, but I am a sentimentalist so it is easier for me to purge slowly but surely rather than in one fell swoop.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve been working on paring down in other areas for longer than I’ve been paring down my wardrobe, too, Sarah. It’s good that you are aware that it’s best for you to proceed slowly when letting things go. Often, slow and steady is the best way to go. It’s amazing how much we can get done a little bit at a time.

  21. RoseAG says:

    Clothes are my main over-buy. In looking for balance I need to focus more on improving my household. Husband and I never quite agree about furniture, and thus our home is furnished with odds and ends that made their way into our lives.

    We recently acquired a furnished vacation home, and I was so impressed with the bedding that came with the house! It’s really soft and nice. I found it hard to believe someone would buy such nice sheets for a home they were going to sell. I came back to our regular house and ordered myself some top-of-the-line sheets to replace the sets that I’ve been using for more than 14 years.

    I need to quit shopping for my closet and work on my household.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Perhaps focusing on your household will improve your overbuying of clothes, Rose. Sometimes it works that way. We are looking for a type of feeling when we shop and there are other ways that feeling can be achieved. I love those top of the line sheets, too!

  22. Jan says:

    Baskets, containers, bowls, wooden boxes ,rolling carts, trays,make-up pouches & totes! If it would hold something I bought it! I thought having all these containers would help with the clutter. It made my house even more cluttered. Instead of getting rid of the excess I just organized it in lovely containers! Such a waste of money. I started following a few of the minimalist blogs and have gotten rid of lots of excess along with the containers! It is still a work in progress. I find the older I get the less stuff I need or want.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I had to chuckle about your comment, Jan, as I used to buy too many containers, too. Turn me loose at The Container Store and watch out! Now that I’ve pared down my possessions quite a bit, I’m not as obsessed with fun ways to store things. There just isn’t as much to store!

  23. Cornelia says:

    You struck a nerve here… 😉
    As a passionate cook, I overindulged in all things kitchen, be it books, ingredients or tools. I also used to buy way too many things to decorate my house. One day I realized that buying stuff simply adds to more of the same. In my case five sets of china! Though I always stayed within some sort of spending perimeter according to income, I clearly bought too much stuff. And I came to this wonderful point when I realized that enough is enough. I will never be like my mother in law who could make a Sunday paper a week’s worth of reading, but I see some wisdom now at long last.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      How great that you came to that realization, Cornelia. That’s often a powerful first step toward change. It seems you’ve had the same realization about clothes, as I remember that you’re not shopping this year. I still find myself wanting more clothes and some other things, too, but my “wanting machine” has started to quiet. May it continue to do so…

  24. Barb says:

    Wow, this post is so similar to my thoughts and wondering of late! Debbie I feel like you are talking to me. So at the end of December, I decided to start organizing. I started on books, then moved to sewing, then clothes (in multiple closets at once) and so one without finishing anything completely. My upstairs is still a mess. Then I discover blogs and the internet. I am not sure where I have been for the last 20 years, but it was like a new book series for me. I have curbed my clothes shopping and book buying for a the past couple of months but each month it is some other type of excessive shopping. In March it is skin care and make-up. So now I feel kind of frozen and not sure where to turn next. I know I should finish something, but I think I am afraid of what I will focus on to buy next. This blog is the one I have stayed with and I am eager to see each new post. And the comments are so helpful and I do run upstairs and try new things. I am persistent, so I will get there eventually. I am working on it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you are finding this blog helpful, Barb. I know it can be frustrating when we’re trying to change and have set-backs, but it sounds like you ARE making progress. Just take it one step at a time and set small, doable goals for yourself. You will get there eventually. Think about what emotional needs you’re trying to fill through the various types of shopping and ponder other possible ways you might meet those needs. Take baby steps and you WILL make progress!

  25. Jen says:

    This is one blog I stick with too! In this information age, it is nice to find a quality and often heartwarming place. (Thank you Debbie!) I go through fits and starts with purging things and it really does feel better to live with less. Turns out I am not that sentimental, but I do have a hard time getting rid of things. I rarely regret giving away to charity or throwing things out once it is done. So many of the examples of things we overbuy (besides wardrobe items) are applicable to me. Personal care products, make-up, and the containers in which to put them! I even borrow too many library books (including e-books) than I would ever have time to read.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your kind words about my blog, Jen! You are not alone in having trouble getting rid of things. It’s a problem that many of us have. Just take it a little bit at a time and try to “stop the bleeding” by not bringing so much in. Slowly and steadily, things will get pared down. I had to laugh about your library book comment… My mother-in-law goes to the library all the time and always has stacks of books lying around. I know she doesn’t read them all, but it seems to make her happy to thumb through them.

      1. Jen says:

        Thank you, Debbie. I appreciate how honest and real you are in your blog, that is so brave! I have been doing better about not buying as much stuff in general, and it really does help in paring things down as time progresses. I like the practice of limiting items that come into the home and the wardrobe.

  26. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for the wonderful post. I do have issues with buying too many clothes and at times I even hear myself saying as I am leaving the store “I have issues….this is the LAST time I am going shopping, I have enough.” And the cycle goes on. I beat myself up about it. This year became my year of de-cluttering and no-clothes-shopping. I made it midway through February and now am back on the same track as I was before, although am getting rid of more and more and am still on that mission. I don’t just have clothes issues, but makeup, magazines ( I justify that one because my kids have to sell them for the school fundraiser), food, whatever. I can justify with the best of them and am sad. Sad that I have wasted all this money, sad that I can seem to enjoy what I have and sad that it takes me so long to clean because we have too much stuff. Through my purging I haven’t felt bad about getting rid of things, I have been working hard on my attitude towards things. In the past I have regretted throwing out something and later lamented over it for days, weeks or sometimes even years. I am trying slowing but surely and each day I try to get rid of a bit more. Thanks for letting me ramble, I just found your blog and I feel like the flood gates to my emotions on this have just been opened.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I can really identify with what you wrote, Charlotte. Trying to quite shopping “cold turkey” like you did isn’t always the best approach. When I’ve had shopping fasts or bans, I always “binged” afterwards. I’ve had better luck with using limits instead of bans. Try not to beat yourself up so much for accumulating a lot of stuff. Being kind to ourselves is always a better approach. Your awareness and desire to change will help to get you there. Just keep taking things day by day and one step at a time…

  27. Melissa W. says:

    Nail polish is probably the area I overspend in more than clothes. I have over 300 bottles (all but 35 acquired since July 2011), in an ikea helmer. Now that I am back home with access to my collection, I am making it my mission to go through all of my untried colors, and start getting rid of the ones I don’t like, or duplicate colors I own because OMGNAILPOLISHNAMESARESOADORABLE. Luckily, I know exactly what emotional event sent me on the over buying journey, and with that situation being finished, I’m more focused on purging, and the ladies in my apartment building snatch up the colors I leave in the lobby.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you are doing well in conquering your nail polish addiction, Melissa. It’s great that the ladies in your apartment building are benefiting from your paring things down. I know that buying nail polish is a “biggie” for a lot of women. Good for you for turning things around!

  28. Melissa W. says:

    I must also add, that a broken ankle will lead to needing to replace about 75% of my shoe collection (I’ve also just tossed about 50% of it, and am waiting on a few more pairs until I can properly try them on before purging), and I am hoping I will take the opportunity to not go crazy and instead only purchase shoes that fit certain areas of my life (a pair of black flats and a pair of nude flats for work, and comfortable pair of formal shoes, etc.). I think being aware of the possibility of overshopping is half the battle.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad your ankle is healing, Melissa, but I’m sorry to hear about your shoes. I agree with you that being aware of the possibility of overshopping is half the battle. Because you’re aware, you’re able to plan for shopping more wisely. Best of luck with your continued healing and your shoe collection!

      1. Melissa W. says:

        thanks! the shoes thing forced a paring down that I wanted to do anyway, but just made it easier because certain shoes I love but knew they weren’t going to be good for my feet were more easily purged.

    2. KimM. says:

      Melissa, I also had foot and ankle reconstruction back in 2008. Wow, really not a fun surgery, is it? Since then I’ve had to buy really supportive footwear. I can definitely recommend Naot shoes for their comfort and support. They aren’t cheap but have made a world of difference for my poor feet! Try Zappos for their great return policy. To find my size I would buy 2 pairs and send back whatever didn’t fit. That’s no problem with Zappos! A blog you may want to check out is She has lots of good recommendations too. Good luck with your recovery!

      1. Melissa W. says:

        Thanks for the suggestions, Kim. Since I know shoe shopping will have more requirements, I’m definitely fine with buying more expensive, but well-made, supportive shoes. I’m hoping Dr. Scholls will do, as they have fairly inexpensive shoes. I found some teva sandals that were quite comfortable, so I bought a nude pair and a black pair. My main focus now is work flats. I have some times before I am out of the ankle brace from hell and tennis shoes 100% of the time.

      2. Debbie Roes says:

        I second the recommendation for the Barking Dog Shoes blog! I have very fussy feet and had foot surgery in 2008. I always struggle to find “cute” shoes that aren’t terribly uncomfortable. Sometimes I have to compromise on the “cute factor” a bit, but it’s worth it in order to have foot comfort. There’s nothing worse than having aching feet – it can really spoil our fun! Barking Dog Shoes has a lot of reviews of all types of shoes from the various comfort lines, so you’re bound to find a few pairs that will work for you.

    3. dottie says:

      Nothing like ankle/foot problems to force you to rethink footwear! I’ve had several broken ankles (with no story of derring-do to go along with any of them) so now all my shoes keep my feet firmly planted on earth with grippy soles and lots of support. Good luck with your healing — and finding attractive and supportive shoes.

  29. Andrea says:

    Debbie, I really enjoyed this post. I don’t over buy in too many specific areas, but one weakness I had was with dishes when I first got married. I got service for 12, then I added every accessory and matching piece possible. It is addicting because each monthly catalog had new and different items. Too bad most of it was unnecessary and just cluttered up my kitchen. I have since gotten rid of a lot of it, most of which was never used. Also, I used to buy way too many pairs of Eddie Bauer jeans. I thought I needed every style and color, just because I like them so much. Unfortunately, they sell so many different ones that each season I was buying stacks of denim! The curvy fit, trouser fit, boot cut, slim fit, modern fit, Vaschon fit, Mercer fit, cropped, capri, light wash, dark wash, medium wash, embroidered pockets, flap pockets…you get the picture. Luckily, I finally learned that I can’t possibly wear each pair more than a few times before new styles come out. I having been taking them to Goodwill every six months or so, in stacks of 10-12 pairs (most in like-new condition, ouch – the money I wasted). Now I just buy 2 or 3 pairs every six months or so and get more wears out of each pair. Thanks for your help with this.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Glad you liked the post, Andrea. Sounds like you’re making great strides in your shopping journey. I think a lot of women overbuy kitchen items and jeans, but you’re right that we can only use so much. Good for you for turning things around! I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you along the way.

  30. Hello! I really liked this thoughtful post. Maybe you’ve written about it before, but I like to look at my reasons for shopping (versus what is bought). I spend a lot of time at home by myself, and do solitary things like going for walks, cooking, or blogging. Sometimes I just want to go to the mall so I can be around people, and get a little boost from the retail staff who always admire your choices. I might only sit at a Starbucks for 20 minutes, but I can spend 3 hours at the mall! So it can be a way of getting out of the house and feeling less isolated. Now I have regular volunteer commitments and a book club which help meet some of those needs. I also like engrossing hobbies that make me forget about time (any kind of art project).

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve written a few posts about reasons for shopping, including these:

      I agree that it’s very important to understand why we’re shopping. Like you, I’ve often shopped as a way to be around people and feel less alone. But you’re right, there are lots of other ways to get our need for connection met. Congrats on finding more constructive ways of meeting your needs!

    2. Joanna says:

      I have been in a similar situation, moving to a new town, not knowing anyone. Shopkeepers were generally friendly and some didn’t mind chatting for a while, so I would look around and end up buying some things (craft supplies in my case) that looked like fun. Crafts and creative things are great for problem solving brains and finding creative solutions, but that usually meant going on shopping missions! The hunting and gathering part of me would kick in and I would be on a quest to find something very specific and necessary for the next project. But it turned out I was as hooked on the shopping for supplies part as I was on actually doing the craft.
      Luckily I ended up getting a job and made friends – and the job was at a library, which is a great place to go for casual social contact and free hunting and gathering 🙂 And my new friends were happy to take all the excess crafty stuff off my hands.

  31. KimM. says:

    Along with buying too many clothes, I buy way too much makeup (and then return it because I actually don’t wear much makeup!), small kitchen appliances and doo-dads, and Kindle books. I gave up magazine subscriptions years ago but do still enjoy going to an actual bookstore even though there’s not many around anymore. I read – a LOT – and just the other day received an email from Amazon advertising new $0.99 Kindle books. I bought 12. Not a bad deal and I will read them. I love my small kitchen appliances and use most of them daily. I’ve also found myself unnecessarily spending too much at the grocery store.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like you’re using a lot of the things you buy, Kim. I think the problem relates to those things we DON’T use, like the make-up and groceries you mentioned. I love going to bookstores, too, but am sad at how few of them exist these days. I used to spend HOURS browsing around bookstores. I think I filled in some of the gaps with clothes shopping – NOT a good thing!

  32. Leah says:

    Books! Oh yes, I admit it: I’m a book-junkie. I love books and whenever I enter a bookshop, I’m lost. My solution to that problem is simple: I stay away from bookshops as much as possible. Also, since I cannot keep every single book I buy, I frequently go through my bookshelves and look critically at what I have. If I find any books that I haven’t read even though I’ve owned them for a year or longer, I donate them. No use holding on to books I’m never going to read anyway.
    Having said that, I just ordered five (yes, five!) copies of a newly released poetry anthology. But there’s a reason I ordered so many: Some of my poems have been published in it, and I want to be able to give the anthology to some of my friends.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Congrats on getting your poems published, Leah! I would buy multiple books, too, if my poems were in them. I like your method of going through your books regularly. I’ve started doing the same thing but need to get even more ruthless. I like your one year rule and am going to start using it!

  33. Carolyn says:

    I overbuy makeup. Like you, always buying more, falling for the promises of miracles in a jar, searching for THE perfect lip color.

    The other area I overbuy is food. I am making a real effort to cut down on this.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I think overbuying both food and make-up is common, Carolyn. A lot of marketing dollars go into trying to sell us these types of products. I’m making a real effort to cut back, too, especially on those processed foods that aren’t good for me anyway!

  34. Jeri B says:

    I looked at your links related to this subject and saw I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE.
    I had an Aha moment. I have too much of my elderly mother’s stuff in my dining room. It’s been there for about 5 years. Just from this title, I realized that if I get rid of the stuff = I don’t love her anymore! I have thought getting rid of the stuff is getting rid of her, but it’s much deeper than that.
    I hope this moves me to action because I know stuff does not equal love.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      What an insightful comment, Jeri. I think a lot of people keep items from elderly or deceased relatives for the same reason. We worry that letting go of the items means that we love the person who used to own them – or who gave them to us – less. You are SO right that stuff doesn’t equal love!

  35. Kirsten Giving says:

    Another wonderful post and replies. Regarding the keeping of relatives’ things, I once read that it can be easier to let the item go if you take a picture of it, letting you view it at any time and keep those loving thoughts.

    On another matter, although I don’t buy food in excess (there are only the two us, except for entertaining,) I really believe that the grocery stores can just as well store it for me (so many nearby!). The same is true for bookstores, etc. I might have the space, but I don’t like the clutter and dislike the cleaning process even more so.

    I have overbought clothes and regret the money I wasted. Over the last few months (thanks Debbie!) I have brought 12 large bags of clothes, shoes and accessories to my local Assistance League thrift store. I often say I’m sure you’ve seen some of these things before LOL. My closets and life have been lightened–a wonderful feeling.

    Finding more ways to wear what I have are one of my fun activities. I try to look nicely dressed all the time. With fewer items, it is SO much easier!

    Wishing everyone well in their endeavors to lighten up their lives!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      The idea to take photos of items and keep those instead of the items themselves is a good one, Kirsten. The memories and the loving thoughts are far more important than the items! Congrats on letting go of 12 large bags of clothing and the like in recent months – good for you! I agree that it feels wonderful to lighten the load and that it’s FAR easier to get dressed with fewer items. I wish I would have known that years ago!

  36. Lisa says:

    Shoes (specifically Fluevogs), CDS (I love supporting up and coming musicians), and tote bags.

    I can wear the same pair of black pants every day for work but the shoes have got to change. I really need to work on this one.

    Thanks for letting me share.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Lisa! I have seen Fluevogs on lots of bloggers (and love them!) but have never seen them in stores near where I live. I hope to see them in person one of these days, but maybe I can do without the temptation at present 🙂 Lots of women overbuy shoes and that has been a problem for me at times, too. Awareness is the first step toward change, so you are on the right track!

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