Minimizing: How to Let Go of Gifts and Expensive Items

by Kate on August 21, 2014

in Frugal Living, Simple Home, Simple Living

IMG_2124I live with my husband and our 11 month old son in about 900 square feet. Even though plenty of families live in homes of this size, I doubt you’d find one who would tell you it’s not challenging. Minimalism is the way we stay sane.

In our house, I am constantly spring cleaning. I religiously follow the “something in, something out” rule and if I haven’t used something in 6 months, I generally donate it or trash it. For the most part, following these two simple rules helps keep our home mostly free of clutter. But there are two types of items I tend to let linger a little longer than the rest, even if they haven’t been used in years.

Why Are Gifts and Expensive Items Hard to Let Go Of?

My main minimizing challenge? Gifts and expensive items. If I take a quick inventory of the things in our home, I would estimate about 30% are items we haven’t used or enjoyed in the last year. Of that 30%, I would estimate 90% of those were gifts or were expensive. I would really like to reduce that 30% to about 10%. But, I find a great deal of resistance coming up every time I consider getting rid of–for example–our really nice second set of flatware (“Everybody needs two sets right? What if there’s a sudden shortage of Forks?”), or the nice oak storage box it’s stored in.

I haven’t used the flatware or the box in well over a year, and I have another set I love even more. Why can’t I just let them go?  Because both of these were gifts, in perfectly good condition, and would cost a few hundred dollars to replace. On the surface they seem to have both monetary value (the amount it would cost to purchase them new) and emotional/sentimental value (my mom gave them to us as an engagement present).

The Truth About The Value in Gifts and Expensive Items

With further soul searching and craigslist-perusing I was able to debunk my own reservations.

The Monetary Value

I have been hoarding my flatware and their storage box thinking if got rid of them and suddenly decided I wanted to own the same set, I would have to pay around $500 (again, this was a high-end flatware set).

Truth? Tastes change and prices often follow them. Why did I replace the set to begin with? Because my tastes changed.

Furthermore, the longer I own the set of flatware, the less I’ll be able to sell it for. If I were to list it on Craigslist today, since it’s still relatively current and popular, I will likely be able to get around $200 for the whole set.  That number will most likely only go down over time.

The Emotional Value

The hardest gifts to let go of are those that came from someone you love, are valuable, and are gifts you like, but just don’t have room for.  We tend to place too much importance on who the gift came from and its monetary value, and not enough stress on the fact that we don’t have the space to keep it.

In order to overcome this hurdle, I find it helps to keep this little tenant in mind: the more stuff you have, the more you have to work to maintain and keep that stuff. If we refuse to let go of objects and continue to amass more and more belongings, eventually we need bigger homes to store all these items. A bigger home costs more, which means we have to work more, or go into debt and pay for it in sleepless nights of stress.  Not worth it! Furthermore, all the “valuable” items you keep, need to be cleaned and maintained to retain their value. Thus, they also cost you the time it takes to maintain them.

When In Doubt: A Gut-Check Question

In the end, when faced with the decision of whether to keep an expensive gift, I find the best question to ask is: does this add to my enjoyment of my life or is it taking up the space of something else that might enhance my life even more?  And always keep in mind that “something else” might simply be empty space, which can often be the most valuable and beautiful thing of all.

(And yes, the image above is the image I will be using on craigslist to sell my flatware! Go me! Woohoo!)

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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