causes of clutter – not buying quality items

i am currently enjoying my first-ever “stay-cation.”  after intentionally spending as much as time as possible with my two young children over the christmas holiday, i am finally ready to venture into some projects around the house: some maintenance and some minimalizing.  this morning: the storage room downstairs that we never completely finished during our first sweep.

i started on the workbench area with my tools.  as i began sorting out my tools to minimalize and organize, i was surprised to see that i own four hammers.  yeah, four hammers!  and to add insult to injury, they are all the same size. 

although i didn’t know that i owned exactly four (one was found in a very old box with some tools in it that i forgotten), i do know how the collection of the four occurred.  when i was younger (and much less-handy), i simply purchased the cheapest hammer that i could find (usually in a clearance bin at a home improvement store).  however, as my expertise grew and the size of my projects grew, i would purchase a hammer one step up from my previous one.  over 15 years, i have purchased 4 different hammers – each one nicer than the last.

and now there are four hammers cluttering up my workspace… actually, there were  four hammers cluttering up my workspace.  

solution – take pride in my purchases.  if i really need to purchase an item, then i need to purchase an item that will last.  if i had begun my hammer collection with a high-quality hammer, i would have had less clutter on my workbench (and probably an extra $25 bucks in my pocket).

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    this is something i realized a long time ago. if i buy something i try to buy the best that i can afford. generally b/c i know when a better one comes out i will want to upgrade, or i know i already want the better item so i would rather wait till i can afford that than settle for something cheaper and not as good. my first Digital camera was a crappy one. i should have just saved up a little longer and gotten a better one b/c i ended up doing that later one and now i have two.

  2. says

    This is a perfect example for minimalists in the practice of buying quality. I just bought a soft briefcase from Saddleback Leather on Christmas for $550 but it is the highest quality long grain leather and has a hundred year guarantee.

    This will hopefully be the final step up in my quest to find the perfect bag while effectively replacing the others that were progressive steps up in the past.

    The lesson of course is, that i spent around a thousand dollars over the last decade upgrading my briefcases with inferior quality when I should have just done the research and bucked up to begin with.

    Thanks for the article,

    – Charley

  3. Christine says

    Thank you for this article! As I continually become more minimalist I feel like I am on a quest to replace my older, junkier items with higher quality ones. If I am going to have less, I might as well have the best I can afford!

  4. says

    Very good advice and we’ve found where it truly pays off is large items like furniture.

    Having crap furniture in your environment that you end up replacing frequently anyway because it fails is not worth it. Spending more on bulky items like that also forces you to examine the role it will play in your life because it’s now a long term commitment.

  5. TrishB says

    In 1978 I spent what seemed like a large amount of money (900-1000 or so-a month’s salary) on 3 pieces of knockdown furniture: chair, loveseat and sofa. It was knockdown because I was in the Army, and never knew where I’d be living/how much space I would have. 31 years later it is still in my living room. There are a few worn places, but nothing major-and I like the furniture so much I want to fix these, not replce. Quality lasts!!

    I also use this principal with my craft supplies. If I’m going to be knitting a long time on an article, I want it to be quality materials!

  6. says

    My husband and I have had this mindset for a while–buy the best we can afford. Even the garlic press we use everyday is the best we can buy. This afternoon we replaced our fairly new inexpensive and no longer working very well toaster with a new more expensive and better model. If the new toaster lasts twice as long as the discarded one, we’ve saved money on it. I agree about the furniture too. We finally learned and purchased the best sofa and chairs we could get about two years ago. It was worth it. I love them so much I don’t want to waste time, energy or physical space on getting something else.

    Happy MMX! Here’s to decluttering this year!

  7. sd says

    Interesting post and comments. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to buy the most rubbish anything. But there are some areas in which I purposely “aim low”:

    – Areas of rapidly-improving technology. Hammer construction has not changed greatly in the last decade or so, but PCs and mobile phones and TVs sure have. Aside from their suitability for your current purpose(s), technical standards and capabilities have a way of changing. Fast. You can buy the latest-and-greatest and hope to preserve your “investment” — or you can buy “good enough” knowing that standards and changing purposes will make you glad you didn’t put a lot of money into what is now a dinosaur.
    – Areas in which I have less-than-spectacular interest. As good as it may be, an 18V Dewalt cordless drill is overkill for the few times I have to use a drill. On the other hand, given how often I listen to music, spending a couple of grand on loudspeakers seems appropriate to me — though that amount might leave owners of little boomboxes or MP3 players gasping.

    I think the key is suitability for the intended purpose. It makes sense to spend some more on stuff you know has a long shelf life. But it makes little sense (to me, anyway) to overspend for something you barely use.

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