Always have a back up plan for stuff you buy!

Here’s something that’s really helped me over the years:

I always have a back up plan for stuff I buy!

Not stuff like groceries or other necessities you need to survive on this planet, but extras like “wants” or even some needs like clothing and Amazon purchases (hah).

For example(s):


#1. Shoes. As you now know I’m a super fan boy of VANS, so usually if I find a pair that fits and is cheap – like from the thrift store or somewhere – I’ll buy it even if it’s not my favorite so long as it has a high chance of me still wearing ’em and enjoying. If I do end up liking them and wanting to keep ’em, I do, but if I don’t I have a list of 3-4 places around town I can easily go to and hock for a few dollars of profit, or at least break even. Which isn’t hard to do when you’re only snagging them for a few bucks ;)

Here’s a pair that in theory I should have loved cuz they’re a bit different and I don’t have any green pairs yet to match my green outfits!

green checkered vans - us open of surfing

[2019 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing ed.]

As I wore them around town, however, I felt like a complete CLOWN and quickly knew we were not made for each other.

So the next week I walked them into one of my favorite vintage stores and sold them for $15.00 – netting a $7.00 profit. Win-Win! The shop got cool new shoes in their inventory, and I not only got a few bucks back, but more importantly GOT THEM OUT OF THE HOUSE so they’re not constant reminders of how clowny they make me feel.

And that last part’s the important part.

It’s one thing to regret a purchase, but it’s another to be reminded of that regret over and over and OVER again!! Don’t let them drag you down!

If you *know* buying something was a mistake, get rid of at once – from your home and your mind. Even if you completely lose out on the money as it will eat you up every time you set eyes on it!!


#2. I also have back up plans for my books. If I see a book that looks remotely interesting I buy it regardless of the price tag. I learned this from Ramit at I Will Teach You To Be Rich who declared that the knowledge you get from it will always be worth more than the cost of it, even if it’s just a single nugget. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. Plus, it takes away one more decision you have to make in life! “Does this book look interesting? Buy it!” Boom – easy.

books dancing gif
Then once you’re finished with the book, benefit #2 comes in: getting rid of it or including it in your personal library!

Now I’m pretty picky so most books never make it to my bookshelf even if they are great (I rarely re-read them), but after sucking out their essentials and then blogging about it for future posterity, the backup plan then gets initiated. Which looks like this:

  • Was this a great book? Find someone to give it to!
  • Was it an OK book? Donate it. Either to a thrift store or tiny free library.

Done and done 👍

In fact, most of my back up plans include “just donating it” when I’m done with an item or made a wrong decision. Not so easy to stomach if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and every dollar counts, but what a benefit for all those who’ve gotten things under control. It’s a beautiful thing not having to stress about every last decision you make – even if you lose out on a little money in the process!

Which is really what it comes down to at the end of the day – being *at peace* with your purchases and not letting them get in the way of life. And knowing that not all decisions are final either. You can always do something about it if you’ve goofed!

Plan Bs also come with another interesting side affect  – it allows you to experiment more with things you normally wouldn’t. This is exactly how I got into skinny jeans… (so maybe don’t follow this advice?! Haha…)

I was 50/50 on whether I’d like them or even DARE wear them around in public as a 40-something, but knowing I could just return them or donate them right back the next day got me to pull the trigger and *test out in real life*. And, well, 4 skinny jean pairs later I actually don’t wear much of anything else these days! I love ’em!

Though I can’t say the same with the decision to buy this weird contraption 😂 I still like the idea of it but have only worn it twice in 4 months:

sleeveless hoodie

Other areas these back up plans come in handy:

#3. Coin collecting – I know that at any given point in time I can re-sell the coins or trade them away, even if I don’t get top dollar for it. I go in spurts where I get disenchanted with collecting and wonder if it’s just wasted money sitting there in cute coin form collecting dust, but then others where I find them incredibly fascinating and get immense joy researching and learning all about their history and beauty.

But in both cases it’s helpful knowing there’s a back up plan for when I’m eventually done collecting. Which includes one day donating or lending my local collection to our local museum where others in the community can view and appreciate them too!! A much better use of them, and a challenge that keeps me going since it’s a hard feat to pull off :)

#4. Rare books/other antiquities – Similar to the above, most places will buy back their goods even if its at a discount or store credit. A couple years ago I bought a rare book for $150 that I could never find, and then literally the next week I found the same one – in slightly better condition too – for $75 (!!). I couldn’t believe it. I snatched it up right away knowing I could always re-sell a copy, but ended up just returning the $150 one for store credit to save the hassle. Plus, it’s always more fun to shop with credit :)

#5. Amazon purchases – Just like all families in the country, Amazon is at our door daily. But unlike other families in the country, whenever we buy something we don’t end up liking or needing, we return it RIGHT AWAY!! Which of course they make *super easy* these days not giving anyone an excuse not to…

You literally don’t even have to box up your returns or slap a label on them anymore – you just drop to your nearest UPS store or other spot in your area and the Refund Fairies take ’em away and drop the coins back in your wallet! It’s not hard!

Yet as insanely easy as they make it, people still don’t take the time to return stuff and allow the financial and mental losses to stack up making life progressively more miserable with each day…

So please, for the love of all things money, RETURN THE STUFF YOU DON’T WANT ANYMORE!! And do it right away so you don’t forget or miss the deadline!

A trick I use is just keeping the returns in the back of my trunk, that way when I’m riding around town it’s always with me even if I forget. Or you could pick a day of the week where all returns or donations go out of your house, like Friday afternoons so you start out the weekend with a nice cash or productivity boost ;)

slam trunk gif

Either way, getting unwanted stuff out of your house and mind is what matters most. So many houses are getting cluttered that don’t need to be and it really isn’t that complicated!

Make your purchases, have those back up plans in place, and continue making your life a little easier by simplifying your decisions.

Lighter in the mind, fuller in the wallet – BOOM.

j. money signature

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  1. Paul June 27, 2022 at 8:13 AM

    TBH, I know its horrible but I would rather throw the shoes away then take time out of my day to make $7. My wife is the opposite, she will sell or return anything. I just don’t see value in that little bit of money just compared to the time it takes to get rid of them.

    With one caveat, if I were already going by the place to sell them for some other necessary purpose, at that point it might be worth my time but definitely not as a solo trip.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2022 at 9:11 AM

      I think as long as you’re *getting them out of the house* that’s the most important (no clutter in your house or mind!).

      But at least donate them or give them to someone than throw in the trash! :)

      1. Paul June 27, 2022 at 12:39 PM

        I mean, you’re right about donating. I painted a grim picture but in reality with 4 kids ripping through stuff at a blinding pace, we schedule at least 4-6 large donations to purple heart annually. Really was just trying to make a point about valuing your own time.

  2. Adam June 27, 2022 at 8:51 AM

    Oh man, this resonates. Reminds me of one of my favorite Stoic quotes:

    “The more pleasures a man captures, the more masters he will have to serve.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    Get those pleasures OUT of your house unless they are legit worth it! …Because otherwise congratulations, they now own a small chunk of your soul forever. Oof.

    Now I’m inspired to clean out my office this week, so thank you for that!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2022 at 9:12 AM



  3. Nancy June 27, 2022 at 4:42 PM

    I have a real problem with this attitude: “Just like all families in the country, Amazon is at our door daily. But unlike other families in the country, whenever we buy something we don’t end up liking or needing, we return it RIGHT AWAY!!” Having Amazon at the door daily is certainly NOT the case for my family or most people that I know, and hopefully not the case for the target readership of your blog.

    I think your general approach is a great idea for thrift store purchases or collections, but I strongly encourage you to spend more time UPFRONT determining if the Amazon purchase are something you need or like in the first place, rather than ordering just in case it works out simply because it’s so easy to return. I’ve read a number of articles about how so many of the returns are just trashed as it’s too costly to deal with them. And I’m sure this is especially true for all the cases where the customer has no incentive to take care with the item to make sure it goes back in pristine condition carefully packaged.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2022 at 9:34 AM

      Oh, I 100% agree with you. I never buy anything off Amazon or any store that I don’t think I could love or need. It just happens that often times it doesn’t fit or work as marketed, etc since you can’t see and test it in real life. So of course you need really good return policies for online ordering since it has a higher percentage of it not working out than real life orders ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  4. Liz June 28, 2022 at 7:54 AM

    I try to be mindful of my purchase first. I make a list of things I want and see if I’m still thinking about it later in the week, or even a few weeks later. Often in that time I find I’ve got one, or a work around. (Safety first, I’m not cobbling together extension cords.) Front end mindfulness to complement your end of use (to you) plans.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2022 at 9:34 AM

      1-2 Punch – love it.

  5. Gaurav Kumar June 29, 2022 at 3:43 AM

    Hi J,

    Backup plan is important. it is like building a bunker to save yourself from storms.

    Thanks for making the point.

  6. Lori Conner July 22, 2022 at 8:21 PM

    I love this, and I love your blog, and I’m so happy knowing you’re the boss again! #obsessed

    1. J. Money July 25, 2022 at 9:14 AM

      Aren’t you the sweetest! Thank you! So glad you’re enjoying it! :)

  7. Emio February 7, 2024 at 6:08 AM

    Just got to ask.. The top pic with the ship. Where is it from? One just like it without the outer frame a friend of mine purchased at a fleamarket.

    1. J. Money February 12, 2024 at 8:04 AM

      hah – awesome!

      i want to say I saw it in an art gallery somewhere? either that or Goodwill (which is much more likely since I go there way more than i do art galleries 😂)


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