Is Your Stuff Renting for Free?

You know when you have one of those ‘Aha!’ moments where things just kind of click? I have been reading about simplifying life since 2008. For a long time it was kind of just a great idea. It sounds good, but how do you actually do it? Simplifying, as I have mentioned before, involves a lot more than just de-cluttering. It is also a mindset about things, schedules, priorities, and life in general. I hope to touch on those other areas soon, but since we have been in spring cleaning mode, I wanted to share this idea with you. It really helped me to take the idea of de-cluttering and simplifying into actually making it a reality.

Is Your Stuff Renting for Free?

What do I mean by that? The basic idea is that your stuff should be giving you some sort of payback. That “payback” could take the form of sentimentality, beauty, or practicality. But if you have it in our home, it should have a purpose.

Let me explain. We have a stroller that we are selling (hopefully!) on Craig’s List. That particular stroller no longer meets our needs and therefore we never use it. After several months of it being in the closet and never getting pulled out, we have determined that it is not “paying” us enough to merit closet space. It needs to go.

However, in that same closet I have folding chairs. Those also take up some space, but we pull those out when we have company. Having company is something that we do regularly, and is important to us. The chairs are giving us enough “payback” that we don’t mind renting them space in the closet.

I have items in my home that I think are beautiful and help me take things from house to home. You know what I mean? I am not an extremely sentimental person. I would rather hold onto memories than things, but I still have items in my home that hold some sentimental value to us and we want to keep them. They are important to us.

How about a figurine that you don’t even remember where it came from, and you don’t even like anymore? Why are you still holding onto it? It is taking up space and is giving you no payback. It is not practical; it obviously isn’t sentimental if you don’t remember where it came from. If you don’t believe it is beautiful, then it is renting space in your home for free.

What about the pile of old magazines? Or that box of old toys that nobody plays with. [I am not talking about great quality toys that could be passed down to your grand kids. Don’t get rid of those! :) ] I am talking about the cheap toys that are never going to be played with again.

I think sometimes we keep things, just because we are so used to it being there that we have not stopped to consider that we could free up some space. Our attics and basements (if you have them, I don’t!) are full of stuff. If you have not seen it in five years then it is probably giving you very little payback. Even our bedroom closets, kitchen cabinets, and garages, and sometimes even open shelves, are full of things that are giving us little to no payback.

Bottom line. If it is in your home, whether out in the open, in closets, or in storage, there should be some compensation. Is the square footage that you are granting it worth the payback it is giving you, either because it is practical and needed, or sentimental and beautiful?

If you were a landlord, you would not be happy if your tenants quit paying you. You should not keep stuff that is no longer “paying” you either. People change, and sometimes ourĀ  stuff needs to be reevaluated. Make certain that your stuff is paying you well. :)

Have you ever had a concept that made things click as far as simplifying goes? Please share! We will all benefit!


  1. I like the renting space idea; it’ll help me look at things more objectively when I’m trying to decide whether or not to keep it.

    Simplifying clicked for me when I realized it as a core value for our family. I didn’t want simplifying to be something we do but for simple living to be part of who we are.

    • Johanna says:

      I think that is why it helped me. It brought objectivity! I agree with it being a core value. When I realized I wanted to live like this all the time, not just because we were in a small space or not settled permanently yet, it really changed my perspective!

  2. Great post, Jo… so I am wondering… do I ditch all your boxes in the attic? Just joking! I will work from oldest to youngest, so you will have time to decide :-)

  3. GREAT Post!!! With our month of April being mostly free of traveling, I’ll be doing our Spring Cleaning and de-cluttering this month and I’ll keep this post in mind when deciding if we really need to hold one to so much of our stuff :) In the next week or so, I might be mentioning your blog on mine…I hope you don’t mind!

  4. This concept was REALLY helpful! Thanks.

  5. Love this concept and I’m going to try to ask myself that question when I have trouble getting rid of something that does NEED to go! =) We have been blessed to receive several items (for the kids, mostly) over the years but the problem is when it’s time to sort through and de-clutter I can remember exactly who gave what and feel badly getting rid of it! However, I think this concept will help me to keep in mind if what I’m hanging on to is actually serving a purpose or renting for free! =)

    • I know the feeling, Rachel! Maybe you could find a family that needs the stuff to pass it on to. That always helps me, when I am getting rid of something. Knowing we are helping someone else. We just recently gave a car seat/stroller set, and I have to admit it was a bit sentimental, but it was so nice knowing we were helping out a young family!


  1. […] looking at items I might buy and asking myself if I really want this in my closet or if it would be Renting For Free? I have saved myself from a lot of unneeded purchases, and therefore, a lot of money with this […]

  2. […] through your stuff, de-cluttering, and evaluating what is renting for free does take time. That is time, I think, that is well spent. But today I want to share some things […]

  3. […] One key thing in getting rid of clutter is identifying why it is you are keeping it. If something is not useful to you, and you no longer love looking at it, then you can get rid of it. Guilt is never a good reason to have stuff renting for free. […]

  4. […] Remember that anything you keep is renting space in your closet. Make sure nothing is renting for free. […]

Speak Your Mind