Non-Minimalist Excuses

What are your excuses for having too much and not letting go? What are the main barriers keeping you from a life of minimalism and simplicity?

I’ve found that it’s easier to make a lifestyle change when I acknowledge and face my excuses.

That’s right, I don’t ignore them and let it sit. I find answers to them. 

Here is a list of common excuses we have for not simplifying our lives. This list is partially inspired by the book It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh. Hopefully it will help you face your excuses with real answers and move forward with your goals.

“I might need it one day.”

Don’t worry about “one day.” Live in the present. Keeping things for “just in case” might be keeping you from living your life now.

If you’re saving lots of things for “maybe” scenarios, free yourself and see what happens. The world won’t end if you get rid of all those ugly Christmas sweaters you were saving for next year’s shindig.

Even if you do end up needing it some day, how much does it cost to replace? Is that cost worth storing it for a “maybe” scenario that may never even happen?

You can even give it a dollar amount if it makes you feel better. Tell yourself: if the item is less than $20 to replace (or whatever amount you prefer) I will get rid of it now and drop the $20 if “just in case” really does happen. I think you’ll come out ahead more often than not.

In the meantime, if you donate the item, someone else could get use out of it right now. This is my biggest reason for getting rid of things sitting in my basement. If they could be donated or loaned to someone, that’s a much better use of the item.

“It’s too important to let go.”

If something is sentimental or important to you, showcase it. Use it. Don’t let it collect dust in a dark and moldy basement or lie unaccessible in a packed storage unit.

Maybe you’re just lying to yourself because it’s easier to let it sit there than to take ownership of your space.

I say, if it’s truly special, treat it as such. Place it on your mantle and enjoy it daily. I have a chest in my house that is specifically for sentimental items that I want to showcase and remember. I found that I wasn’t enjoying these “precious items” when they were stowed away out of sight.

Treat the special things as if they are actually special. Otherwise, you might as well let them go.

Personal achievements are great. But you don’t need to keep every ribbon and trophy you ever earned. They don’t symbolize the actual work you put into it.

In some cases a photo of the event itself is much more meaningful than the trophy.

But if it’s something you’re super proud of, display it on the mantle. If it’s sitting in a box,  it can go and you’d never know the difference.

“It’s worth a lot of money.”

Clutter robs us of real value. Don’t throw good space after bad money, says Walsh.

If it really is worth a lot, do your research and put forth the effort to sell it.

If it isn’t worth enough to justify the effort of selling it (or if you’re simply too lazy to do so) stop justifying keeping it to yourself. You might never get around to selling it.

I say stop delaying. Take it to the nearest donation shop and let them do the work for you.

We all have financial mistakes we wish we hadn’t made. But at this point you’ve already bought it. The damage has already been done. Now it is time to move forward rather than beating yourself up over it.

The best thing you can do for yourself now is free yourself and your space. Then you won’t be reminded of the money you wasted every time you look at the thing.

Even if you came out at a loss, at least you aren’t reminded of it constantly anymore.

“I earned it.”

While we’re on the topic of expensive things, let’s talk a little about ourselves and our desire to “own” things.

Is it really necessary to own things that can be borrowed or shared?

How much of “earning and owning” is actually just our pride talking? If we’re completely honest with ourselves (and we don’t care about appearances) we might not need as much as we actually think we do.

Although we’re avid readers around here, I’ve downsized our book collection quite a bit because the library is nearby, and full of age-appropriate, ever-changing selection of books that I don’t need to own. Each year we read hundreds of books, and they don’t take up any space in my home long-term.

Additionally, we have a pretty small yard, but we live close to a lot of parks, fields, and outdoor spaces. I don’t dream of owning land and gazing out over vistas of cornfields or woods that are mine. I quite prefer the ease of maintaining a small yard, and utilizing the amazing green spaces in my community instead. No thank you, I don’t need the pride of “earning and owning” to appreciate things of value in my life.

Are there big things in your life that you’re hanging onto out of pride or appearance, not because they are actually practical or helpful to own?

“It belongs to someone else.”

I don’t recommend operating your home as a free storage facility for other people. You’ll feel trapped because you don’t want to toss or donate things that aren’t yours. And at the end of the day, you might actually be enabling someone else’s unhealthy attachment to stuff. Maybe they need to learn to let go just as much as you do. 

If possible, don’t say yes to begin with. Simply tell them that you’re pursuing a life of minimalism and simplicity, and you hope they’ll understand. I’ve found that even if other people don’t fully understand my lifestyle, they appreciate and respect my boundaries.

If you’re already housing other people’s things, get in contact with those friends and relatives. It’s possible that they’ve completely forgotten about that couch they asked you to keep years ago. It never hurts to touch base and check.

And if they haven’t forgotten, maybe it’s time to give them a deadline to pickup their things. If they don’t want it badly enough to pick it up within a month or two, then they probably don’t want it that badly.

You don’t need to sit in this place forever. Take those first steps back to reclaiming your space.

“So-and-so has more clutter than me.”

Someone else will always be worse off than you, no matter what it is we’re talking about. That doesn’t justify anything. You need to own your own behavior.

Focus on your journey and no one else’s.

Are you happy with where you are now? That’s what you should really be asking, not comparing yourself to others.

If you take those first steps, maybe you’ll inspire so-and-so to start simplifying as well.

There are so many little steps we can take each day to create and maintain a practical, clutter-free space.

“There isn’t enough to go around.”

Some of us aren’t just hanging onto things because we like them. Some of us are actually afraid of letting go because we fear not having enough.

This is a “poverty mentality” and it comes from a variety of places. Maybe we grew up in a home that lived paycheck to paycheck and now we’re afraid of waking up one day and losing it all. Unfortunately, this is reality for a lot of people.

But I beg the question – does more stuff really mean more security?

Or maybe we cling to our stuff because we subconsciously believe that it is worth more than it is and that it will help us get by some day.

Some of us are afraid of minimalism because we honestly think there aren’t enough resources in the world and giving our stuff away is risking emptiness.

I say, acknowledge those fears and face them head on. Realize how unrealistic it is that your stuff will ever save you.

If you do fall on hard times, I’m convinced that a strong community is far more valuable than stuff to help pull you through. Invest in community, not stuff if you want to truly be supported in difficult circumstances.

Speak abundance to yourself by adopting an “abundance mentality. “ Jesus teaches a way of life that isn’t one of fear and poverty but one of abundance and a different kind of treasure.

The way to slowly die is to believe you live in a space of scarcity and not abundance of generosity. The abundant way of life is the paradox of the broken way, to believe we live with enough time, enough resources, enough God.

Ann Voskamp

Enough is enough! You are enough. Are you even owning your stuff anymore or is it owning you? Reclaim that space. Don’t believe the lies that your stuff will ever save you.

Face Your Excuses Head-On

I hope you find this inspiring and motivating if you’re sitting on the fence, considering starting the journey toward minimalism.

Now is the time to face any excuses that might be blocking your way to a life of less.

To acknowledge your fears if you have them – and move past them.

To embrace a mentality of abundance – not in things but in what truly matters.

To learn what it looks like for you to say no to clutter, to stress, to guilt, to wasted resources and yes to a life with more time, more space, and more flexibility.

Can you relate to any of the above? Is there anything you would add to this list? What kind of excuses and beliefs can hinder us from living a life of simplicity?


Add yours →

  1. All great tips! I think the only area I struggle with is stuff that was given to me as gifts–specifically from my parents or in-laws. We’ve had to deal with hurt feelings from both parties after we’ve gotten rid of past gifts. I think the positive side to this is now they do give us less stuff—they know if we truly say we don’t want/need it that it will likely get donated or given to someone who can use it. But I do feel horribly guilty! Both of our family’s love language is gifting, and it can be tough to be a gracious recipient and still stick to our values.

    • Oh man, that’s a tough one! I agree it’s hard because gift-giving is not my love language but it is for some people in my family. I love consumable gifts the best right now because they get used up at least! Otherwise, useful things I would buy anyway like new sneakers etc. I agree, it can be hard to know when to part with that kind of stuff.

  2. Thank you for another timely post! I am traveling in Europe right now, and after reading this – I decided that the museum tickets, brochures, and maps I was going to keep as souvenirs would just add to my paper clutter at home. Therefore, I’m not going to keep them. I used to buy the guide books to the attractions I visited, but I rarely looked at them after I returned home. So far this trip – I have refrained from buying any. I had already decided that my Rick Steves travel guides would be left behind in their respective countries to (hopefully) help other travelers, rather than sit on my bookshelf at home until they are too outdated to be helpful to anyone!

    • That’s great!! So glad you’re thinking ahead already while still on your travels. I used to buy a lot more souvenirs than I do now. It’s money saved and clutter saved. Win / win 😊

  3. Great post, today is my birthday and I have begged and pleaded for NO gifts, I don’t want to have to hold on to stuff I do not want or need to avoid hurt feelings. I asked for donations to be made to the local food bank or a worthy charity in lieu of gifts. I value experiences now so much more than stuff, minimalism for the win.

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