“Would You Go Out and Buy It Again?”

Hidey-ho neighbors! Welcome to Monday – the best day to hustle and get your mind right :)

I thought we’d continue sharing some tricks we have up our sleeves, and add it to the awesome list we’ve been accumulating over the past few months… One day I’ll put these all on a single page for y’all to peruse and save as a resource, but for now here’s the short list of tricks we’ve covered thus far:

While most of those are saving and goals oriented for the most part, this trick I’m about to share is more about helping you to declutter more and possibly make some money in the process. I call it the J$ Decluttering Test, and I literally use it at least once a week.

The J$ Decluttering Test

Here it is:

“Whenever you’re deciding if you want to keep something or not, ask yourself a simple question: Would you go out right NOW and buy it all over again? If the answer’s yes, hold on to it! If it’s a no, throw it in the sell/donate pile.”

Let’s take a look at a cool oil painting* I once procured as an example. 10 years ago as a bachelor on the prowl, I came across this pretty little thing of fruit at a TJ Maxx type store and fell in love with it. It was a bit pricey (to me) at $60, on sale from $100, but I really really liked it and was looking to spruce up my kitchen. Plus, I thought the ladies would appreciate how “cultured” I was that I’d have a nice piece of art in my room vs some lame old college poster ;)

So I decided to pick it up and for years it remained over my kitchen table… Perhaps it even helped woo my wife? (my wife just walked in and told me to delete that – hah!)

Fast forward a couple of years, where it eventually found a new home in my closet just waiting to be proudly displayed again. I had since gotten married, moved to a couple new places, and eventually had to decide what to do with the thing as it was starting to take up too much space (among 10 other paintings which apparently didn’t make my wife’s cut).

I was having a dickens of a time deciding on whether or not to keep it, especially since I still really liked it, but then that question randomly popped into my mind and totally made it easy:

Would I go right back to that store today and buy it again?

Anope. Sure I still liked it, but I wouldn’t dish out money again for the thing – it had run its course and we were both in different times now. So I made the call to get rid of it and the rest is history! Or, rather – a blog post! ;) And I haven’t thought of it once in the year it’s been.

So that’s my trick to marinate on today… Just like that Stranger Test or my Urgency Test it’s nothing too Earth shattering, but you’d be amazed at how much easier it makes your decisions over time. As I mentioned I literally ask myself this question at least once a week now when tidying up the place, and my donation box is about to explode. We can get rid of so much more than we ever think!

Look around your house/desk/office right now and give it a shot. How many things can you see right now that you’d never to out and buy again? Why not start a box to sell/donate and then make some cash/deductions off it?!

If that’s too much work for you to do on a Monday, there’s always this route ;)

* That painting up top was unfortunately NOT the one I had bought years ago, but I sure wish it was! ;) It looked more like this one here… (Top photo credit: Aaron_M)

// Video hat tip to Eric from RethinkingTheDream.com – great find!

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  1. K Wong June 2, 2014 at 6:40 AM

    I really like this method. It sometimes takes me months to decide whether or not to get rid of something. Coincidentally, I wavered over an oil painting, too! My boss gave it to me in like, 2002, when I was a broke college student. It made me feel fancy and cultured so I dragged it with me through multiple moves. It was a painting of a bunch of gray houses. One of the houses had a big dark spot on the side of it, like a bomb had hit it or something. I think the artist made a mistake and tried to cover it up in the most depressing way possible.

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:06 PM


      Maybe we need a place online where we can trade each others’ crap, and the more fun the back story the better? :)

  2. Martin June 2, 2014 at 6:57 AM

    That’s a scary test, but a mandatory test. I too often find myself saying “what was I thinking?” So many foolish purchases have been made over the years.

  3. Dee @ Color Me Frugal June 2, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    That’s a great question to help decide to keep or ditch something. I just took a load of crap to Goodwill this weekend, and some of those items were things that didn’t make that cut!

  4. Catina Mount June 2, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    Great tips – especially since I am in declutter mode now! Although I may take it a bit easier than this guy…lol!

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      Awww, that’s no fun! ;)

  5. Brad @ RichmondSavers.com June 2, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    This is a good way to mentally look at decluttering! I’ve always heard the “have you used it in the last year” test, but I definitely like this way of looking at it as well.

    I am on a mission to rid our house of clutter, but it is incredibly difficult with two young children! I try to make sure we have a net outflow of possessions each month; I know there will be new things bought for the girls, but as long as I’m donating/getting rid of more things than are coming in, I’m doing okay.

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      I really like that mentality and try to do the same. “one in, one out” at the very least! Over time it should dwindle down until you can’t dwindle any more, at least in theory (or you keep having more kids ;))

  6. Mike Collins June 2, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    That’s a pretty good rule of thumb. Another is this…if you moved into your home two years ago and still have unpacked boxes in your garage and you haven’t needed any of that stuff yet, you don’t need it.

    Yea…I gotta clean out my garage one of these days haha.

  7. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life June 2, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    What I struggle with is the sentimental stuff. Like the tshirts from the plays I was in in high school. I probably wouldn’t want to buy those things now, but they’re a memory (but they DO take up an awful lot of space).

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      Memories/sentimental stuff are the hardest :( I haven’t figured out how to crack that one either, except to pile the *most important* ones into a plastic container. That way it’s all in one smallish spot and not taking up too much room, even though deep down I kinda want to just trash it and see what happens, haha… I read once that if you take pictures of everything that’ll help when going back down memory lane, and then of course it’s only taking up digital space :) Harder to put in practice though… (why don’t you try it and let us know?? :))

  8. Brian@ Debt Discipline June 2, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    I like it. A good way to emotional detach from stuff. Who’s cleaning up the mess from the video? :)

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      Whoever will accept $10 bucks! :)

  9. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer June 2, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Great tip, J$ – one I’ve never thought of before. We are in serious need of decluttering, so hopefully this will help. :-)

  10. John @ Wise Dollar June 2, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    I think I’m stealing this from you J! ;) We’re in some SERIOUS need of decrapifying our house and I’m quite certain the overwhelming majority of the crap we need to get rid of is stuff we wouldn’t buy again.

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      I hope you do steal it, and, more importantly, IMPLEMENT it!

      At the very least you could get rid of everything and take the money earned to buy something you really really like but don’t want to pony up the cash for :) So you get rid of junk but get something awesome in return!

  11. Shannon @ Financially Blonde June 2, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I have never thought about the “would I buy it again” question, but it is a good one. I typically give items quarterly check ins and if I haven’t thought about it, asked about it, wanted to use it or wanted to see it in over four quarters, then it is given away in the hopes that someone else might feel this way about it.

  12. debster (@debtdebs.com) June 2, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    I will try this rule J$. I do have trouble getting rid of stuff in case we ‘need’ it again. My husband recently bought a $5 kitchen utensil he said he needed because I threw his out (donated). I honestly don’t remember doing it, but who’s gonna argue with the chef!

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      I’ve been just telling myself if I ever *need* something again I’ll just go out and borrow or buy it. Which a) isn’t the worst thing in the world really, but b) gets me to finally GET RID OF IT and more than likely never miss. I can only remember two times I wanted something back but none of them were life threatening :)

  13. Tonya@Budget and the Beach June 2, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    It’s funny how in our lives we go through trends with the purchases we make and somehow they find their way into the back of our closet. It seemed like such a good purchase at the time, but like you said some things run their course. I felt that way about surfing and snowboarding stuff. For awhile if you looked around that’s all you’d see, but with snowboarding being so expensive, I couldn’t really go, and my passion faded, so I ended up selling most of my stuff and still trying to get rid of more.

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      Good job!! There’s another aspect to this too which may help – your stuff is exciting SOMEONE ELSE! Especially in the surfing/snowboarding aspect. Gives someone who CAN use it some good deals and smiles to go along with it :) Much better than collecting dust, even if you DO want to keep them, haha…

  14. @freepursue June 2, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Thanks J$. I needed an additional angle to help me as I free myself of unnecessary “stuff”. I was successful in May (down 500, if you count things I’m selling that are not yet out of the house). Who knew I had so much crap to give/trash/sell!

    I feel so good, I’m going for the “G-note”…another 500 by the end of June. See you on the other side.

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Nice!!! Some people only *have* 500 or 1,000 things too which is another thing you could try and shoot for in, say, 20 years, haha… Too hardcore for me, though I’d love to try one day :) (when the kids are out of the house)

  15. Dave Lalonde June 2, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Wow, that video was hilarious. But great trick. I’m in need of some hardcore de-cluttering. I think I might still have some items from my prime days. Lol, JK.

  16. Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life June 2, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Will definitely give this a try later in the week! We are trying to get rid of a bunch of stuff that really has no purpose or space in our home. Not that we are running out of space, but it’s a bother to keep on looking at it day in and day out.

  17. Crystal June 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Good idea. :-) I’m looking around my living room right now and there is nothing in my eye line that I wouldn’t buy again (there are some not applicable things that were free hand-me-downs that we’ll eventually replace, but nothing we actually bought that should be decluttered). Yay!

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Try going into your garage next :)

  18. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich June 2, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    If you ever find yourself a little homesick for that painting, you can check out others like it at the MOBA in Massachusetts. That’s the Museum of Bad Art. It’s real. And awesome. And free.

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      That is AWESOME!!! I have like three paintings right NOW I could donate to it, haha… Damn I wish I lived closer and could go check it out :) Or better yet, invented it!

  19. Done by Forty June 2, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    It’s like a sunk cost analysis for all the stuff you already own. Very cool trick, J-Mo! I unfortunately would not buy hardly any of my stuff again, except maybe the scooters. :)

  20. Naomi @ Rising Net Worth June 2, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    I find myself hanging onto thrift store clothes that I bought at a steal! Thrifting gems are like one-in-a-million so that makes it sooo much harder to part with things, even if they aren’t the correct size anymore!

    1. J. Money June 2, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      That’s an interesting note, actually… If you got a great deal on something, how much does it skew offloading it? Hmm…

  21. BARBARA FRIEDBERG June 2, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    J. I like the pic and I like the question. I am a persistent declutterer. Always have a “giveaway bag” in my closet!

    1. J. Money June 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      That’s a wonderful idea!

  22. Nick Loper June 2, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I like it — we use the same test when trying to decide what to keep and what to toss. That, and the “if it hasn’t been used in a year” test. Well, sometimes 2 years :)

  23. Brian @ Luke1428 June 3, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    LOL…Hard hats with cups…gotta love it! I have no trouble throwing things away. I actually get a bit overzealous. But will definitely pass this tip on to Mrs. Luke1428.

  24. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green June 3, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    I have a habit of always looking over a room and spotting items I don’t really need. Haha the funny thing is that since I have a lot more space now in my house there’s a ton of empty space! I’ve kept some things round just to “fill” areas until I get something else I would actually want to keep.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      HAH! Better than most people who will fill it up just because! That’s the part most people forget when upsizing – you spend more to just furnish the dang place.

  25. Zee @ Work To Not Work June 5, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    Rock solid test. But I need a rock solid method for actually getting rid of things that are actually worth something!

    I’m good at throwing things out that I wouldn’t need or donating certain items, but sometimes I have stuff that is worth selling but I’m just too lazy to do it. I know if I took the time I could get $80-$100 for that old fish tank sitting there empty. Or probably over $500 for my turntables that I don’t use any more. and the records… the stacks and stacks of records. That’s usually what gets me, I know I would get little to nothing back for the records.

    I really need one of those “we sell it for you on ebay” stores near my house.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      I hear ya :) I mean, if you REALLY want to be lazy you can just take it all to a Pawn Shop and get some money for them. It wouldn’t be top dollar but you’d succeed in getting rid of stuff and emptying your house… Or better yet, putting an ad on CL for someone to put all your stuff on CL for a profit :) Would take more time on your behalf, but the money would also be bigger… Just gotta figure out how much you care about money vs laziness! Haha…

  26. Mr Ikonz @ Projectikonz.com June 7, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    I’m amazed at how much of my money is spent on absolute crap! Being an eBay fiend doesn’t really help either.

    I’m finding now though that I get more enjoyment in “spending” money on investments rather than junk. I have so much passion for making $10m, that buying trinkets and gadgets isn’t that exciting anymore.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      That’s a good mindset to be in. If only you can convince the other 95% of the country to be the same :)

  27. Kendal @HassleFreeSaver June 10, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Great idea, J! I’m constantly in decluttering mode (which begs the question…why do I still have clutter?!) and I plan to start asking myself this question. My challenge is not just donating everything and selecting a few items to actually sell. I’m impatient and when I want it gone, I want it OUT and often overlook the money-making opportunities.

    1. J. Money June 11, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      You can try storing it in your car’s trunk :) That way it’s out of site (and your house), and then if you still can’t decide what to do with it just drive it on over to be donated!