10 Helpful Rules to Own Less Stuff


Owning less stuff is freeing, refreshing, and liberating.

It allows us to spend more time, money, and energy on the things in life that matter most and bring us real lasting joy and meaning.

But even when we want to own less, and can see through the empty promises of consumerism, actually applying that desire to our stuff can be tricky.

This is a website full of motivation and practical ideas to help you own less. If you’re new, I suggest starting with my Most Popular Posts.

But for today, I want to lay out ten rules to help you own less.

Will these ten rules solve all of your decluttering questions? I probably wouldn’t go that far.

But I do think you will find all ten helpful in your desire to own less. And the more you apply them to your home, the less you will own (both now and into the future).

10 Helpful Rules to Own Less Stuff

1. The “Overflowing Space” Rule

Whenever a space begins to overflow, it’s a sign to declutter. Regularly assess areas like closets, drawers, shelves, and storage units.

If they’re filled beyond capacity, it’s time to thin out. And if every space in your home is overflowing, start with the easiest, most-lived space and get started there.

2. The “Past Its Life” Rule

Items that represent a past version of yourself or are from past seasons of life—whether it’s clothes that no longer fit your style, hobbies you no longer pursue, or items needed when your kids were younger—can be let go.

Additionally, this makes room for items that resonate with who you are now.

3. The “If I Own More Than One” Rule

Anytime you notice duplicates in your home, consider it a great opportunity to minimize. Choose the best and let go of the rest.

This rule applies to everything from kitchen gadgets to clothing, towels to coffee mugs, and Tupperware to scissors. Reduce redundancy and free up space.

4. The “Cost Doesn’t Count” Rule

Don’t hold onto items just because they were expensive.

The money is already spent and keeping something you don’t use doesn’t bring that value back. Even worse, they tend to make us feel guilty every time we see them.

Plus, they could bring someone else joy once you decide to remove them.

5. The “Yearly Review” Rule

This is a super-practical rule to help you determine necessity: if you haven’t used something in the past year, chances are you won’t need it in the future.

This is especially true for clothing and gadgets.

6. The “Borrow Rather Than Own” Rule

Instead of purchasing items you’ll use only once or twice, consider borrowing or renting them.

This reduces clutter and also saves money.

I know this is crazy thinking nowadays, but if a neighbor or family member owns the thing you need to use, you don’t need to buy your own.

7. The “Single Item, Multiple Use” Rule

Opt for items that can serve multiple purposes, particularly in the kitchen. There used to be a decluttering website when I first started blogging that created a satirical list of “unitaskers” (things like banana slicers). It was always hilarious the items they would find to feature. Avoid unitaskers.

This not only saves space but also simplifies your setup, making cooking more enjoyable.

8. The “Shopping Holiday” Rule

One month, every year, decide to buy nothing but groceries and consumables.

This one month, done annually, will do wonders to help you get ahead in your budget (just imagine getting a credit card statement once/year with $0 due).

But more than than, it will help reset your spending for the rest of the year. Plus, when you call it a “Holiday,” that just sounds fun doesn’t it?

9. The “Fad Filter” Rule

Be critical of trendy items that often promise more than they deliver. Fads come and go quickly (think: Beanie Babies, Stanley Cups, Fidget Spinners, Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts. Cold Plunge Tubs) and rarely offer any lasting benefit to our lives—other than proving that we can buy whatever everyone else is buying.

This rule helps you avoid accumulating items that quickly become obsolete or lose their appeal.

10. The “Clear Counters” Rule

Maintaining clear countertops not only enhances the look of your kitchen but also makes it more functional and enjoyable to use.

This rule encourages maintaining cleanliness and order daily.

These ten rules, I believe, if you apply them in your home, will bring about a brand new way of thinking about possessions. In fact, by following just a few of them, you’ll find it easier to make decisions about what stays and what goes.

And trust me: You’ll love owning less.

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