What If I Give Away Something I Eventually Need Again?

my second son relaxing on my second breastfeeding pillow

Long time no blog. What can I say, I’ve been hanging with this guy, his brother and the patriarch of the family. When I have some spare moments, usually while nursing, I am reading. Recently enjoyed The Light Between Oceans and stayed up a bit too late with a baby asleep in my lap while I finished State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Hope to be back to blogging more regularly soon and with that, doing a light spring clean out of our closets.

What if I give away something that I will need again?

This is probably the BIG FEAR of parting with a lot of stuff.

I might need it some day.

I might have to rebuy it.

It’s true. You might have to purchase or borrow something you gave away. From experience, it’s not nearly as bad or stressful as you think it will be.

Before our big move overseas I sold and gave away a lot of baby items. One thing I was fairly certain I would rebuy: a nursing pillow. I was hopeful we would have another child and hopeful nursing would work out again for us. Probability of needing that nursing pillow in the future: HIGH.

Yet, I gave it away because I didn’t want to lug it overseas. We brought 14 boxes of housewares, clothing and even some baby clothing and cloth diapers. The nursing pillow would have made it 15 boxes. I decided someone else could use it instead of shipping it overseas and letting it wait in the closet for me.

Do I have any regrets after having to rebuy a nursing pillow? No.

I am sure there will be other instances of having to rebuy. Perhaps we will move back to Vancouver and I will take up snowshoeing again. And I’ll probably buy a pair of second hand snowshoes similar to the ones I sold years before.

It’s okay. It’s just stuff.

And stuff should be used and cared for – not packed away for fear that, even though you haven’t touched it in six years, you might need it again in the future.

Anyone else have to rebuy something after giving it away?

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Comments

  1. Sadie says

    We gave away all of our baby supplies after our third child. We had tried for a fourth and had several miscarriages. No sooner did we give away the last item than we had our precious 4th child. Now we have a total of 6 children.
    I look at it this way..we could have saved money by re-using the items, but we have the financial ability to purchase new items if needed. We blessed someone else by giving them items that they might not have otherwise been able to afford.

    • theminimalistmom says

      we could have saved money by re-using the items, but we have the financial ability to purchase new items if needed. We blessed someone else by giving them items that they might not have otherwise been able to afford.

      Us too. Also helps to let things go when I know we can get buy with a lot less baby gear than I once thought.

    • Nan says

      I love this comment “we could have saved money by re-using the items, but we have the financial ability to purchase new items if needed. We blessed someone else by giving them items that they might not have otherwise been able to afford.”

      My husband has gone through a couple of lay-offs and new jobs. He’s finally in his new field in a nice (non-starter) job. We make 1 & 1/2 times the money we used to when we felt we were getting by just fine. I want to help others out where I can, and HATE trying to sell stuff. I do try and sell some of the easier to sell items (baby clothes, certain wanted toys), but I’d much rather just donate what I’m not using and let other’s have it for free or discounted price (thrift shop donations).

      I think one of my bigger fears of getting rid of stuff is having to buy it again. I guess I’m just stuck in the mentality of when we had such uncertain financial income. But it’s true. I can just buy it again if I have to, or I won’t buy it again because I won’t think it is worth my money.

  2. Leah says

    This is the area I struggle with. I have goofy things from my childhood that I have kept (like paper stencils). To my credit I DO end up using most of the things I have packed away (and it really is very little). I think it is because we grew up without a lot of money. I wouldn’t want to have to go without something because I gave it away and can’t afford to buy it again.

  3. Jodi says

    I used to struggle with this with my books. I had hundreds of favorites, but with our military move-every-few-years lifestyle it just wasn’t feasible to keep them all. I let go of them, got a library card, and now a Kindle. I have so much more open shelf space and so much less dusting to do! It’s wonderful!

    P.S. Looooove your blog, and your baby is precious!

    • theminimalistmom says

      I struggled with books too. Both from the sentimental side and from having an ego about what my books said about me. We ended up selling or donating most of our books and just kept a small collection of ones that we were really attached to. Don’t regret it in the slightest. I also have a Kindle – so great!

  4. Lori B. says

    We liquidated everything we owned except what fit in the back of a van. After 2 months, I realized that I really wanted this mexican cookbook that I donated to the library. I went and bought it again. :) I use that cookbook more than I ever had because now I only own 4 cookbooks instead of 100+. I also miss my 4 9×13 pans all the time, but I am getting used to the convenience and quick cooking speed of just having 2 9×9′s :)

    • theminimalistmom says

      Wow – sounds like getting rid of that much stuff showed you just what you needed.
      Pans: interesting you say this. I am getting rid of our plastic containers and realized that with my Pyrex doubling as storage and bakeware, I could get rid of some pans too.

  5. Samantha says

    I have had to repurchase some things I donated. But at the point of repurchasing I have always had a chance to tweak the item. So, yes, I had to purchase a set of stacked kitchen bowls, to replace a blue Martha Stewart melamine set I had “Goodwilled.” But the Pyrex set I bought a year later (at Goodwill for significantly less than the blue set) is one I can put in the microwave and oven. They are much more useful for a mom of two young kids. Kids that I did not have at the time I got the melamine set. So the chance to repurchase, offers the chance to fine tune the function and aesthetic of the item, to suit your life at that time. Learning that lesson made letting go of things easier for me. Though I do struggle with things of sentimental value.

    • EcoCatLady says

      Samantha, I totally agree with your comment.

      After lugging around a hot air popcorn maker for 10+ years without using it once, I finally decided to get rid of it – I’ve never been a fan of air popped popcorn anyhow, tastes like Styrofoam. But then, a few years later, CatMan and I started doing weekly movie nights, and he wanted popcorn. I tried making it in a pot on the stove, but after a few incidents of welding popcorn onto the bottom the pan I decided I needed a popcorn maker.

      I really didn’t want to go air popped again, but it seemed like everything else I could find had Teflon coating, and I wasn’t gonna go there! With great sadness, and a fair amount of self reproach for getting rid of the old one, I was about to admit defeat and go buy another air popper. But then… I happened upon the perfect device – a stove-top popper with a little twirly paddle inside that keeps the kernels from sticking. It makes PERFECT popcorn, and I love, love, LOVE it.

      So the moral is, if I’d kept the old popcorn popper that didn’t serve me well, I’d be stuck eating tasteless air popped popcorn and would never have discovered my wonderful stove-top popper (which, BTW, I got for $3 at a thrift store.) OK… with that experience fresh in my mind, I’m gonna tackle some more piles of junk today! :-)

  6. Maria says

    I am guilty – of “over-culling.” Even my mother warns me when she hears I’m on a purge again!

    I believe in quality over quantity and to only have :
    1. what I truly use
    2. what is beautiful, adds joy to my life on a daily basis
    3. and yes – even great sentimental value. (But keep this to a minimum)
    All three in one is ideal. ;)

    So why do I “over-cull”? I get into the mood to cull and despite being methodical about it, let go of things that technically do fall into one of the above three criteria. I want it gone, I want the freedom of less, and sometimes that definition of “less” for me is really over-kill. Only I realize that well after I’ve given the stuff away. I get so into the “live with less” zone that when I waver over an item – instead of putting it aside and waiting a week to see if I still want to let it go – I let it go thinking it won’t matter in a week.

    Well, it doesn’t “matter” in a week. I let it go, it’s in the past, it’s gone. (Unless I gave it to a family member and cough cough – may be able to get it back….even then I have to ponder “Do I really really really want it?”) So I ask myself the following about the item that I pine for again:
    - can I purchase it again, and maybe even get a better version of it (say a piece of kitchen electronics?)
    - why am I “missing it”… emotional security? Guilt? (was it a gift from someone?) How will I feel when I reach for it and it’s not there? Am I in a panic when I see that empty space where said item once took up residence?
    - if there were a disaster fire / flood – would I grab this item above something else?

    I weigh the value of the item I let go of, and finally accept that I can live without it, at least that exact item. Sometimes it takes me longer to come to that conclusion. But life is not in my stuff. The stuff should help me in my life, not weight me down and burden me….and that includes the emotional burden of “woulda / coulda / shoulda” and pining for something that is gone.

    Cheers!

  7. Miss Britt says

    My husband gives me a hard time about the stuff we have to buy again now that we don’t live in an RV. And there is something annoying about buying something that you already bought and gave away. But the trade off of a year traveling with my family? Worth it.

  8. Rita@thissortoldlife says

    Had a time in my life when I was changing clothing sizes. Hung onto things for someday when I might fit into them again. By the time I did I realized there were other ways in which they didn’t fit. We are constantly changing and evolving. If something no longer fits my life today it’s likely it never will in quite the same way again later. So it’s OK to let it go. Makes way for whatever will fit perfectly in the future.

    • EcoCatLady says

      I’ve totally been there… and I did eventually lose the weight again, but by that point all the old stuff was completely out of style and looked ridiculous. I don’t do that anymore. If my weight fluctuates, I just get rid of the stuff that doesn’t fit, and if/when I need something in that size again, I’ll take it as an opportunity to go find clothes that suit me in the here and now!

  9. Emily says

    I gave away all of our baby stuff in our last move even though we know we’ll have another one in a year or so. We just don’t have the space in the new place, and while I was selling all of the old stuff I realized that I could pick most of it up again on Craigslist for a fraction of the cost. I did keep one tote of things I didn’t want to part with – the handmade and designer brand baby clothes gifted to us, my breast pump, and a few blankets that I loved to use.

    I don’t mind having to buy stuff again. It’s worth the extra expense to me to not have to deal with it when I don’t need it. Plus, if you’ve already purchased it once you’ve done your research and know exactly what you need, making subsequent purchases much easier.

  10. Shannon says

    This is definitely the most difficult thing I encounter when trying to get rid of stuff. As an avid seamstress, it seems there’s a never-ending stash of fabric, scraps, and notions I *might* need one day. As a Christian, I want to be a good steward of the money/resources we’ve been blessed with, and getting rid of a perfectly good item seems wasteful — until I realize that by holding on so tightly to “stuff,” I’m essentially saying that God would not provide it again if it were needed! There’s a balance to be found, certainly, but I’m finding that trust and generosity are far more rewarding than fear and selfishness.

    Also, having to re-buy things can sometimes be financially advantageous! We bought all of our “baby gear” used on Craigslist. Our second baby came along about two years later, so I sold the stroller-for-one and too-big swing for more than I paid for them, and found replacements (double stroller and space-saver swing) for even less than what I paid for my original purchases.

    Your blog has helped me change/analyze the way I think about “stuff,” and it’s been exactly what I’ve needed to cull down our possessions in a balanced and effective way — thank you so much! And your little guy is so handsome; what a blessing to spend time with your family!

    Sincerely,
    Shannon

    • HokieKate says

      Oh dear, I do worry about my fabric stash. I have so many small pieces, well under an eighth of a yard, that I have trouble parting with but there isn’t enough to actually make something!

      • EcoCatLady says

        Ha! A few years ago I was experimenting with making rag rugs and needed lots of fabric scraps. I put a “wanted” post on Freecycle, and within a week I had (not kidding) about 20 garbage sacks full of fabric scraps! And the most hilarious part is that people seemed to hold onto my post, because for the next year, I’d periodically get emails from random Freecyclers asking if I could please come take away a few more bags of fabric scraps! I guess the point is, they’re probably more easily replaced than you can imagine!

  11. HokieKate says

    I gave away my daughter’s bouncy seat as soon as she outgrew it. It was ugly, it didn’t collapse for storage, and it was free. Now our second is on the way and I’m thinking back about how much I liked being able to carry that seat around the house and it was convenient, so I’m thinking about buying a replacement. Still, I am so glad I haven’t had to store it! And did I mention it was ugly?

  12. meghann says

    We gave our daughter’s infant car seat to a friend who was expecting and had a very limited budget for baby things. We didn’t expect to adopt again for another year or so (our daughter was just a year old when my friend’s baby was born) and the seat had plenty of time before it expired, so we all assumed she would pass it back to me when her daughter outgrew it.
    We were pretty surprised a month and a half later when the opportunity to adopt our daughter’s full biological sibling presented itself. My friend immediately offered to give the seat back, but we were in a better position to buy one (financially) if we needed to; as it turned out, another friend was happy to lend us her seat, and by the time our son was 6 months old I was tired of lugging him around in the seat & just bought a convertible seat for him.
    The punchline, I suppose, is that the friend to whom I’d given our original seat found herself expecting again almost immediately after her daughter was born, so she really got a lot of use out of that seat we passed down to her! xo

  13. josi says

    I would have panicked at the thought of giving my baby stuff away after I had my first child.
    But after having my second I came to realise that I was hoarding baby stuff. If someone offered me something I took it, even if I already had 2-3 of the same thing already.
    While I was pregnant with my 3rd baby I started seeing a psychiatrist. It was during those sessions that I came to realise that my need for stuff was my anxiety. My stuff made me feel more prepared, more ready, more in control of my ability to parent.

    I started letting go of all that saved up baby stuff. I am happy to say by the time I got to my 4th baby, I had purged more than 75% of my baby stuff and I feel so much better for it. I know that being a good mom is not a measure of how many baby carriers I own or the number of sleepers for a newborn. Its about feeling realxed and calm and loving that little bundle.

    Love your blog. It is very liberating to simplify and feel free.
    Thank you for the inspiration,
    Josi

  14. Karly says

    We also just got rid of a lot of baby things, our son is 12 months old and we do plan another (in 2 years time) however the spare car seat, bugaboo, walker etc are all gone. My house feels empty and it’s a wonderful feeling. We put the money from the sales into out account and have it to spend on baby number 2 if needed but I think this time around we won,t need all the fancy crap. More then anything buying it all was for me, so that i can have the full ‘experience’, so that i dont look down the track and think ‘I never had those fance things’. I am happy I had a chance to have all the fancy baby gear and now i’m happy that it’s all gone.

  15. Nicola B says

    I don’t think that I have ever needed to rebuy something that I have decluttered (perhaps I need to be more ruthless?!)
    I’m sometimes tempted to make a list of the bare essentials and ditch everything else. But then my ‘but that could be wasteful’ iner voice kicks in…

  16. Jasi says

    things saved still require some effort to keep. my husband is obsessed with the concept you describe- the fear that he will have to repurchase something he parted with. i explain that everything we store takes from us both space and time. space that could have been for something we love and use more frequently and time maintaining, dusting, conditioning items that we no longer have a purpose for. he stowes away beloved old skates in a cardboard box in the garage only to open it years later, rusted solid, mildewy and tattered. they could have been used by 2 cousins, loved and maybe STILL be in better condition today than they are now. i tell him “if you love them, but do not ever use them, let them go!” lol poor guy. the road to less is hard for some.

  17. Beth says

    This opens a can of worms in my brain!! Our basement is PACKED FULL of items….baby items, wedding gifts, nostalgic things like my grandpa’s Navy overalls, teaching materials (12 years worth), etc. etc.!! I need a friend or two to come over, and help me. It’s such a problem. I never want to give things away—say it with me “In case I’ll need them someday.” An intervention is in my future.

  18. Alicia G says

    Ha!! I just did this today. I bought a big cooler for vacation b/c my daughter is doing food eliminations and we need to pack a lot of our own meals/snacks. I had given away our giant cooler about a year ago b/c we never used it and it was just taking up space in the garage. That’s okay. We didn’t use it for a year. And I only decided to buy this one vs. borrow from a friend b/c there is now a Costco two towns over and the cooler will be useful for summer grocery shopping there!

  19. Linda Sand says

    In 2008 we sold nearly all of our household goods to move into an RV to hit the road full-time. The only thing I needed to repurchase was lids for some Tupperware bowls. And I found used ones on a sale table at a restaurant we stopped at for lunch.

    Now that we have both an apartment and an RV we had to buy some duplicate things but we like what we bought so we are fine with that. I do miss my Stressless Recliner, though.

  20. Heather Novak says

    I always remember the story of the boy with one green truck he loved. His Gramma bought him a ten pack of trucks since he loved the one so much…but then he didn’t play with any of them. When asked about it he said “How can I love all the trucks as much as my green one? “ So he didn’t play with any of them. I try to remind myself it is better to love and use up one thing than have four I rotate but do not fully value and use. THANKS for the simple reminder AWESOME.

  21. Jessica says

    We had to rebuy all of the baby gear, etc. Our kids are 9 years apart. We had always lived in apartments and very small homes, so 9 years of baby/kid stuff would have been WAY too much to hold onto. And, the great thing is that I had to “space save” with our youngest, which meant that there was a lot of baby gear I didn’t bother rebuying.

    But, the biggest rebuy will be a car. Before a relocation, we decided to gift our older, paid-off car to my sister-in-law, who just began a military career and needed a car to get to base. We thought I would have a certain job, with a certain salary, which would have supported a new (but small) monthly car payment. That fell through and we have been without a second car for 10 months now. The job I wound up taking doesn’t pay much, so I get a lot of walking in and my kids walk to school, too. It’s not always easy, but we are lucky to live in an area where a second car is more a convenience than a necessity. Sometimes it feels like a regret, but a lot of the time I am happy we are able to make it work without the expense and environmental impact of a second car.

  22. Amy says

    I have no problem rebuying things that I have once given away, no guilt or anything. The way I see it is I’d rather another get use and enjoy it. I used to sell things when we were done, but most of the time now I just give it to others much less work for me that way and it’s not like we really need the money. I’d probably just end up spending it on buying fancy beverages while running errands with the kids anyway. This way I save myself the clutter and the calories.

  23. tereza says

    After our 3rd baby, I went through a phase where I wanted to get rid of everything. So I gave away our crib (we bought it with our first baby) and everything that accompanied it. Well, a few months later I found myself pregnant with 4th baby. Instead of buying a crib, we just bought a bassinet… and by the time she was 4 months old, she was co-sleeping with us the full night. We really didn’t use the crib that much with the girl babies. My son was the only one who really used it.

    I am right now doing it again: getting rid of stuff… selling stuff on Ebay and if I should need it in the future, we will just purchase another one. thank you for this reminder. It will be helpful when I go through the kids clothings.

  24. Kathy says

    Your son is adorable! Thanks for a great post! My youngest is 8 yrs younger than my middle child & I had given away everything but a small memory box of baby stuff when she came along. There was nothing I really missed from my older two daughters and the likelihood of things still being in good usable condition was slim as often as we move. So I bought all new stuff for her, but much less of it because I knew that time around I didn’t need it all, just the very basics! If only I could’ve remembered that as she got a bit older, before the toys & toy hand-me-downs all accumulated…

  25. Tania says

    I am a hard-core purger of things! I do sometimes have to repurchase, and it is irritating. But I like your mindset-it’s just stuff. It is designed to enhance our lives, to make it better, easier. If it doesn’t at the time, then it’s ok to get rid of it. You can pick it up again if it becomes life enhancing in the future.

    The peace from having a simple house is more valuable to me than a closet full of “what ifs”. The security that is supposed to come from having everything “just in case” quickly escalates to anxiety when it takes over your life.

    BTW, your baby is precious! I want one!!! And I love your blog even though I never comment, you always give me something to think about!

  26. christina f says

    We’ve actually had to repurchase something we didn’t give away–a computer cable. We had so much stuff in the basement that we couldn’t find it, so we had to buy another one. Some time later, I was clearing out the basement and found it. Helped me prove to my husband that we should get rid of all this stuff, even if we might need some of it later.

  27. Sissie says

    Anyone have advice for me? I have 10 kids and tend to be sentimental. So getting rid of things, especially things the older kids had, is hard. With the youngest I find I keep very little, so as not to have the problem of a sentimental parting. Also, I like to be the person who produces “just the thing” that someone wants from my store of saved items. Also, in many cases, I see that older items are better made, and rebuying gets me a poorer quality item. So I believe my thinking is messed up somewhere, but I’m not sure what is the key to unlock my “saving” mindset. Would love any help.

  28. Social Lady says

    Normally, I hold on to a lot of stuff that would probably best be donated or thrown away. When we moved 2 years ago, we purged a lot of things and it felt wonderful. Until we adopted a new puppy after our older dog passed away. Then we realized with horror that we had given away our very tall gate to keep the dogs in the laundry room. When searching everywhere for a new one, we realized our horrible mistake. They simply don’t make any that good anymore (or they are over $100 new!). We eventually made do without a new, expensive gate, but it sure would have been nicer with the old one. But in all the stuff we donated or threw out, that is the only thing I missed. It’s still better to live simply, even if once in awhile you do end up replacing an item you donated. Great post!

  29. Sara says

    My in-laws moved 3000 miles with only what they could fit in their car. After a year or 2, they had managed to completely refurnish their home with thrift store finds. I’m amazed at how much it still feels like “their home” because the decor is so similar. I guess my point is that, even if you have to leave most of your things behind or get rid of them, new things can still feel like your own when you stick to a common style.

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