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The Rule Book Of My Stuff

The Rule Book Of My Stuff

We all have rules that we live by. Our own personal rules are dictated by our culture and values and guide what is acceptable or unacceptable. As we journey into autumn and look ahead to all the changes a new season brings, I challenge you to think about your own rules as they relate to clutter and stuff. To help with this, I share with you some of my own personal rules as they relate to my belongings.



1.   One in / One out

I’m a big proponent of the one in, one out rule. This means if I bring something into my house, something has to leave.  When I’m shopping in a store for a new top, I’m already thinking about an old shirt that I’m going to part with. This is how I keep things in balance in my own life.


 2.  Avoid Trends

Fringe, denim overalls and leopard print are all trends I managed to avoid. Why? Because they’re in one season and out the next and I can’t be bothered with keeping up with the Joneses. I prefer to buy things that suit my personal taste and style. I like to dress my body in a fashion that feels comfortable and authentic to me because these will be the pieces that I will reach for again and again. This goes for home décor and tech gadgets too! 


3.  Buy Non-Specific Items

What do I mean by non-specific? Well, when I’m shopping for winter holiday decorations for my home I’m apt to stick with silver, snowmen, and snowflakes – items that can be displayed all season as opposed to Santas and reindeer which are typically Christmas-themed. When I’m shopping for wrapping paper and gift bags I much prefer solid colors or fun prints as opposed to birthday themed or kiddie colored so they can be used for any recipient at any time of year. Keep to generic and neutral items and you'll get more use out of them.


 4.  Have a Home Identified

When I’m shopping and I find an item I like, I’m one of those people who have to think if I have a place to put said item before I will consider purchasing it. Recently a pretty basket caught my eye at a home store. Now a basket is a pretty useful object, is it not? It stores things, it can carry things, there are multiple items that can fit inside a basket, etc. But because I couldn’t think of a place where the basket could live, I passed on it. Some people are of the mindset that if they love an item that they’ll make or find room for it in their homes. My personal rule book just isn’t written that way.  


5.  Rarely, If Ever, Buy Duplicates

I’m not one of those folks who finds a style sweater they like and buys one in every color. I don’t need 5 different cutting boards for cheese. I don’t use more than one planner. I’m not one to indulge in excess unless of course, it’s cookies and then I’m all for that. At least those are consumable!    


6.  Don’t Purchase Uni-Taskers

What is a unitasker you ask? It’s an item that only serves one purpose or can only perform one function. I find many unitaskers lurk in the kitchen. There’s the fancy pan that can cook 5 pancakes at once with easy flipping, but you can’t use it to cook anything else. Duh, wouldn't a large frying pan do the same?! Another example is a strawberry huller device that you thought you needed, when in fact your knife does the job just fine. I find a lot of these items appear in the “Seen on TV” sections of pharmacies and big box stores and I tend to avoid them at all costs! 


7.  Use it Up Before Buying New

I’m a waste not, want not kind of gal. Maybe it comes from my Catholic School upbringing. I’m the type of person who will not buy a new lipstick until I’ve finished up my old one, even though I may not like the shade of pink. I’m of the mindset, to make it work by mixing another color with it or layering it over a gloss. I have a hard time justifying purchases if I still have something at home that fits the bill.  


8.  Buy Quality Pieces

There’s an old saying; Buy Less, Choose Well. I try to buy high-quality items when I can. I may spend more for higher end, name brand pieces because the quality of materials and customer service can’t be beaten.  


9.  Keep a Gift Drawer

I allow myself one drawer in the dresser of our guest room to store gifts for people. Often times inspiration for a gift idea for someone will strike at random times. When that happens, I will purchase the item but keep it in the drawer until the special occasion arises  It beats running around at the last minute to find a gift or not being able to find something suitable when you need it. Truth be told, I’m a re-gifter too. This means if someone gives me something that isn’t quite right for me or my family, it’ll end up in the drawer for a future recipient. 


10.  Tell People What You Want

This can be hard for a lot of folks, but I find if I actually tell people what I want for gifts it makes it easier in the long run. There are no hurt feelings, no returns to the store, no feeling guilty for having to hold onto something you didn’t want.  


What are some of your personal rules as they relate to stuff and what new rules will you create or change this season?  


Categories: Home Organizing, Odds and Ends


  • Have to admire your list, Sarah. Have to admit that I am a duplicator. When I like something, I often want that same thing in a few colors. And lipstick? Wow! Good for you for just having one or two. I like a variety of colors and usually have a few spares on hand. But the key here is finding those boundaries that make life work for you. Clearly, you've done that and I'm sure you've inspired others to think about their "stuff" list too.
    9/5/2017 5:22:44 PM Reply
    • @Linda Samuels: Thanks for commenting, Linda! You said it best that it's all about what setting personal boundaries that reflect YOU as a person. And I don't blame you for having so many lipsticks - you have a gorgeous smile!! :)
      9/16/2017 8:25:04 AM Reply
  • Nice list. Love #6! I agree totally. In fact, I don't even own a food processor, because I can almost always use a knife, which is easier to store.
    9/4/2017 6:38:11 PM Reply
    • @Maureen DeGarmo: Glad you're anti-unitasker with me, Maureen! Thanks for chiming in!
      9/5/2017 7:35:18 AM Reply
  • I was just telling one of my nieces to spread the word that I would love if family members would start an Amazon wish list. This would make it easier for me to get what she really wants, instead of guessing and maybe getting it wrong!
    9/1/2017 8:22:37 AM Reply

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