Guilty or Not Guilty? Financial Guilt

There are so many emotions and feelings that surround “stuff”. One feeling that often gets overlooked is the feeling of guilt. There are 3 main areas of guilt associated with clutter and disorganization. The first being Financial Guilt.

All too often, we choose to keep items because we spent money on them.  We associate getting rid of an item the same as throwing money in the trash.  We have to forgive ourselves and learn from your mistakes.  Everyone can think of at least one impulse buy they regret. Some will be more extravagant than others and some will happen more often than others. Acknowledge the mistake, then give yourself permission to forgive yourself. 

You have a decision to make;

  1. Keep the item and put it into use. Give it a proper home, so it can be used as you intended when you purchased it. If it was meant to be a gift, then give the gift or make a “gifts to give” storage tote and shop from there and not the stores. 
  2. Let it go. Feel the sting of the loss. Consider it a “teachable moment”.
  3. Keep the item only because of the financial guilt associated with it and accept that it will take up space and may have the constant reminder that you “wasted money” on it. 

Hopefully, you can understand that option #3 is the option you want to avoid. It will drag out the feeling of financial guilt and will do nothing to help your clutter. 

Option #2 has a couple choices associated with it. You can donate it and feel good that you are paying it forward. You can re-sell it and try to recoup some of the money you spent. Just be sure you set a time that the item needs to be sold by and if it doesn’t sell in that time, you donate it. 

Moving forward, to avoid being put in the financial guilt situation try the following;

  1. Stay off sites on the internet that tempt you to buy ie: online auctions, Amazon etc.
  2. Unsubscribe from all the store sites you belong to.  If you want to buy something from that store you will search for it.
  3. Need some online shop therapy – make a rule you have to wait 24hrs before you can check out. Don’t fall for the “limited items left”. If it was meant to be, it will still be available when you come back.
  4. Just want to get out, but don’t need anything – go for a walk in your neighbourhood or local park. Avoid stores and malls. If you can’t avoid stores and malls, then leave your bank cards, credit card and cash at home (and phone if it is set up with payment options).
  5. Be honest with yourself. Do I need this or just want it? Will it have a home? Can it replace something I already have?  Do I have the money for it, or will it cause a financial strain? What is the worst thing that will happen if I don’t buy it? Will it cost me money to bring it home ie: does it need special storage, parts, care? 
  6. Don’t buy things for other people just because it looks like something they would like. Especially if you have a tendency not to actually get it to the person. Instead, tell them about it and let them make the decision to go buy it or not.

Life is a series of lessons. If you find your clutter is mostly due to financial guilt, do your best to learn from it, grow from it and forgive yourself. Doing that will go a long way in your decluttering and organizing journey. 

The next guilt we feel that often leads to keeping things we don’t need/want is Emotional Guilt. You can read about that next week.

About Pauline

Pauline Hoffman, CPO® founded Just In Time Solutions in November of 2001. Her clients feel comfortable and at ease as they make important, and sometimes daunting decisions about their space and belongings. Clients often comment how much easier their lives have become, which allows them to maintain a more independent lifestyle, regardless of age and/or ability.

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