The Golden Rule of Simplifying

Life can get pretty complicated, can’t it? So why add a messy house to the mix? That’s what I tell friends when they comment on how clean and tidy they always usually find my house. “But how do you do it?” they wonder. ” By following my Golden Rule of simplifying,” I tell them.

My Golden Rule

My golden rule for simplifying is really quite simple. Just continually get rid of stuff! Because perhaps you didn’t know, but stuff just has a way of showing up and accumulating!

Even though I’m not a fan of shopping, (I actually dislike it), stuff still piles up. Perhaps my house secretly creates it in the night or maybe the dust bunnies drag it in when they come. I really don’t know!

I’ve had plenty of these conversations since adopting a simpler lifestyle. Mostly because many friends would love to keep their own home tidier.

So I share what I’ve learned and am still learning. And in sharing all the benefits, most see it as wonderful. I mean, who wouldn’t like easier cleaning, debt-free living, greater peace of mind and heart, and time to pursue more meaningful things?

Yet two facts usually emerge in these conversations:

  • Most people see the need for simplifying.
  • And most don’t think they can do it.

“I could never get my house decluttered,” is the oft-repeated response. So I thought it might be useful to look at the reasons for this.

5 main obstacles

People often list these 5 reasons for why they have a hard time decluttering and getting rid of things:

  • They’re afraid of getting rid of stuff from family and friends.
  • They don’t want to give up precious mementos.
  • They worry about possibly needing the items in the future.
  • It all sounds like too much work!
  • They feel remorse over the money they spent on it.

But I spent so much on it all…

But the biggest reason people seem to have for not decluttering is, “But what about all the money I spent?” And I understand. I went through these same struggles.

But I found that there’s only way to overcome the remorse of having spent money on stuff we didn’t really need or no longer even want. And that is to realize that we’ll never get that money back. By selling stuff, we could possibly recoup some of it. But once money is spent, it’s gone. (And that should help us think twice before spending!)

I guess you could say my liberating moment came with getting rid of my shoe collection. An absurd story in and of itself, that shoe collection, but for another time. Let’s just say that one day I got tired of dusting over 300 miniature shoes that I never wanted in the first place! Mostly gifts from people everywhere. Shoes I never wanted, from a collection I never started!

Ah, but to get rid of them and offend practically everyone I knew? Oh my! Until I finally decided that true friends would understand. (Or at least try to.) And family? Well, they go on being family, even when they don’t always understand our nonconformist steps!

A trifold rule

My golden decluttering rule is trifold:

  1. KEEP VALUE: Keep only things you actually use or which add value to your life in some way.
  2. CUT THE NONESSENTIAL: Cut out nonessential commitments, activities, and clutter.
  3. REMEMBER THE BENEFITS: Keep in mind all that you will gain by decluttering!

Decluttering Benefits

  • By sellling unnecessary stuff we could recover at least part of what we spent.
  • Or by gifting it we have the joy of knowing it’s gone to others who need and will use them!
  • But the main benefit is that by getting rid of stuff we don’t keep paying for it!

Let me explain. Everything involves a tradeoff. We love a paycheck but must work for it. We love owning a home but it needs upkeep. Every single thing we have or do requires some amount of work or maintenance. We continually pay for it in some way.

Every single thing we have or do requires some amount of work or maintenance. We continually pay for it in some way.

Kitchen counters get messier when full of stuff. Kids struggle to keep their rooms in order. Living rooms get more disorderly. Dirt and dust accumulate more easily. Keeping up with it all takes a lot of work and eats into our time. And the disorder can start to steal our peace of mind.

But by letting go of things we free ourselves of excess work, worry, and responsibility! So really my Golden Rule of Simplifying is to remember all the benefits!

Don’t think about what you’ve spent. Think of all you’ll gain! Because you’re sure to love your new simplified life!

People often don’t declutter because they worry over how much they spent on all their stuff. The key is to focus on all the benefits!

Images: Misc. stuff by congerdesign | Tiny shoes by photorama | Moving by Andrea Piacquadio.

10 replies on “The Golden Rule of Simplifying”

We have so much when there are others who have nothing. And how sad that we spend so much time thinking about our stuff. First we think of what we wish we had or do not have, and then when we have more we think about how much better off we’d be without it. How to refocus so that I am simply grateful, regardless of what I have or do not have because I have the greatest treasure there is and He is a wonderful Provider? I get rid of stuff and people give me more. I used to “worry” about getting rid of something I might later need, and now I just tell the Lord that I’m giving it to someone who will use it now and I trust Him to provide for me what I need as I need it.


That’s so good, Linda! You really hit the nail on the head! Stuff too often does become our focus, which is a real shame. I agree. Our focus needs to on God’s goodness and faithfulness, instead of thinking on what I think I need or want to get rid of. My difficulty comes in having 3 houses to manage. That alone just triples a lot of the stuff, and I sometimes struggle to keep on top of it all!!!


Your five main obstacles really got to me. Fear of offending those who gave things. Regret over something spent but not valued. And the big one my mom infused in my brain–you may need it someday! Thanks for these insights. I figure I pretty much need to just do it. I know I’ll be grateful once I do!


Ha, that’s a good one… infused in my brain! A lot of that stuff really is infused into our brains, isn’t it? So much depends on what we were taught while growing up. But often, we feel a lot more free once we take the plunge and find new homes for our unused stuff. One thing that helps me is that we are surrounded by needy people over here, and knowing that my excess stuff goes to meet real needs makes it so much easier. Perhaps you could find some needy people too!

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Ciao Sheila!! How is it that I’m not following your blog already!? I thought I had at some point. I see I’m going to have some catching up to do. This was a good place to start. COVID has been good for us in that way… we’ve been ‘out n about’ much less and have therefore spent less as a result. Less stuff and we’ve managed just fine with what we had! (Whooda-thunk!?) 🙂

Dominic is taking over the office as a bedroom which gave me the opportunity to go through stuff that had just accumulated over time in there. There’s still some ‘chucking’ to do… but it felt so good to start!

Dio ti benedica!


I know what you mean. It always does feel good to chuck some stuff. It is amazing how long we can make do with what we have, isn’t it. We always rediscover that when we go down to our summer base. We take few clothes, but always have plenty! I’m convinced that sometimes the WordPress bots (or whatever does such things), unfollows blogs for us sometimes. That’s happened to me too. Anyway, it’s great to have you back on board. I hope to get caught up with some blog reading next week too. We just got back from the summer base, where internet is sketchy – at best! Take care and stay safe!

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I love how you boil simplification of our homes down to one rule: get rid of stuff! Every few months my husband and I can at least fill a big bag for the Vietnam Veterans of America. But there’s still room for more simplification! ‘Think I’ll try to fill a bag once a month in 2020! You’re right: purging does feel good! Merry Christmas, Sheila!


That’s a pretty good goal for 2020, Nancy! But I don’t think I have enough stuff to do one bag per month. I’d have to settle for just a few item. Merry Christmas to you too!


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