I love this post with some great questions to ask yourself. Buy less, choose well, make it last.

There is a lot of hype surrounding the one-in-one-out decluttering system. Whenever you buy something new (or used), you give something away (or throw it out).

But really, does it work?

It doesn’t work for me.

One-in-one-out sounds like a good idea. Every time you go shopping or hop online, you keep in mind that something you currently own has to get the boot. But for me that does one of two things: it takes the excitement out of shopping, or it causes me to hold on to old useless things so I can fulfill the promise (old hole-filled socks? A picture frame I hate? I’m not getting rid of those until I buy something.). Plus one-in-one-out is tough when you’re starting a new home or blending homes.

And when I find myself unattached to items in our house, I want to get rid of them right away. (Check out the Clutter Countdown for more practical decluttering tips.)


1. Do I love it and need it?

I try not to buy what I don’t love. I try not to buy what I don’t need. Don’t feel like you have to deprive yourself, though. If you love the sticky notes with cute cartoons on them, buy them IF you will use them. It’s easy to want to have them forever. So try to find joy in using the things you have. You know – it’s more fun to eat chocolate than have it sitting on your desk!

2. Where will I keep it?

We have to have a place for it right now. Not in a month. Not next year. Remembering this idea keeps me from scoping out after-holiday sales. It also makes me question how much I really need an item, like Jen wrote about here.

3. How often do I have to clean it?

Serious! Knickknacks can be fun. But remember: every item on the shelf or floor adds a few more moments of cleaning and dusting than if that space were empty. So pick what you’re okay with cleaning.

4. Where will I keep it when I’m not using it?

Holiday decor, off-season clothes, craft supplies, stationery – you name it. It’s good to have a use for something now. It’s just as important to have a plan for what you’ll do with that item later. I love sentimental items, but I don’t have room for all of them, so I can up with a wonderful solution for parting with sentimental objects. It was life changing.

5. Ask yourself if the stuff represents you, not family who doesn’t live with you or what society deems a perfect addition.

Love it or leave it. That’s all I’m saying. Just be sure you’re loving for you.

It’s been so interesting to get the feedback on our post “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Have you read it yet? Have you bought the book?

Anyone else have some tips on preventing yourself from buying more than you need? How about successes with one-in-one-out?

Katie Clemons is a mother and entrepreneur has appeared on HGTV, given a TEDxTalk, and washed sticky finger prints off every appliance. She also blogs at Making This Home about simple, handmade living from a vintage airplane hangar in Montana, USA.