Overcoming “What If I Need This One Day” Type of Clutter

One of the biggest questions that runs through a lot of people’s minds during decluttering is, “what if I need this one day?” Even I’ve battled with such obstacles from time to time. Those “just in case items” seem necessary to hold onto because you think you are saving money. “What if I need this quesadilla maker on the off chance I want to make a quesadilla?” “What if we go to Paris in the near future – this beret [ i’ve never worn before] may come in handy at that moment!” What if the person who gifted me that item [ I never use] questions where it is when they visit?” The scenarios could go on & on. And if you let this category of item get to you, you’ll find yourself in the midst of becoming hoarders.

The Scarcity Mindset

Sometimes the reason we develop clutter is through fear. We are afraid we won’t be able to attain said item again in the future. Many times this correlates with socioeconomic status & the growth from lower to higher income. It’s a subconscious fear you won’t be this well off forever. So, you decide to hold onto things with the notion you won’t be able to attain it later. But regardless of your socioeconomic status, everyone should follow the 20×20 rule instead.

What is the 20×20 Rule?

If you can replace the item in 20 minutes with $20 or less, you should probably donate or sell said item. From my experience, anytime I finally get rid of something, I rarely regret or need a replacement in the future. For instance, over last summer we hosted an engagement party at our home. We purchased a bunch of paper plates, foil pans to hold the food selection & plastic cups & utensils. We ended up only using not even half of the supplies, so I stored it in a cabinet for a while. This May will be a year since we hosted said party & we haven’t used the items since. The paper plates have begun to yellow & quite honestly in our town home, we don’t have the best storage space. So, although I thought, “we could use this for our next get together or party.” I ended up donating what was still useable to a local donation centers. I’d much rather let those items go now & repurchase supplies when we do decide to host another party. Now, we have plenty of space for other necessities in this cabinet.

Doesn’t That Waste Money?

A lot of the reason for hoarding is due to the thought of “saving money.” If you hold on to xyz now, you don’t have to spend money later. But what I found with the kept party supplies was, they became unusable over time. Nobody wants to use paper plates that are discolored or broken plastic utensils. Who’s to say, when a get together did arise, I wouldn’t have purchased new supplies anyway? I find, when we fill our home with clutter – we aren’t truly saving money. We are losing time & energy, we are purchasing storage bins to keep the clutter contained. We are purchasing more cleaning supplies to keep the chaos of our homes at bay. I’d much rather let go of the unused items & spend a little cash in the future than fill my home with unnecessary things.


Even though you may think you need to hold onto every little thing you decide to purchase. In reality – there is a slim chance you’ll ever use that just in case item anyway. Save your home from the clutter & finally let those items go. Do you still own any items that make you say, “will I need this one day?”


50 thoughts on “Overcoming “What If I Need This One Day” Type of Clutter”

  1. I am terrible at this but also have this strong compulsion to let things go (it goes in cycles). I have a rule that it I haven’t used it al all in a certain amount of time it has to be recycled, gifted or donated. We moved recently so my husband and I had to declutter and sort through the stuff we were holding onto for “one day” — it was eye-opening how much of it there was. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so bad about this type of decluttering! I hang on to things like paper plates and paper napkins; just odd things I think it is beneficial to save so I do not need to buy them again when the time comes. You are right in saying the time rarely ever comes, and I love the idea that donating puts “what if I need this one day” items into the hands of people who will use them NOW!
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I really love this 20/20 idea! I have a lot of stuff that, if I’m being honest, I always say “one day” but years have passed + it’s still unused. I have 2 rooms that need to be cleaned/sorted through. Trying this this week + see how it goes! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always used to think about things I kept, the anxiety would kick in, thinking what if I need it. I am trying to work on this and I have been doing a bit better. Thank you for sharing your tips!

    Lauren x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Funny to read this today because I had this exact conversation with my sister-in-law yesterday. She said she’s afraid to declutter too much because she’s worried about post-pandemic supply issues and that we won’t be able to get stuff. I told her my view is if I’m holding on to something I don’t use “just in case”, I can get rid of it because if I had forgotten I had it, or hadn’t used it in years, I clearly don’t need it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I haven’t used them in 12 years. They were packed in a bin under the RV. Now, I have them all washed and sitting on our small kitchen table and looking at them, I don’t know if I have the heart to sell them. My mom bought them for me for my Hope Chest when I was 16.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am guilty of this, especially when it comes to clothes or gifts. I really like the idea of the 20 20 rule for getting rid of stuff. You are so right, you actually waste time and energy holding on to things you may never use. Decluttering can help free up mental clutter too from overthinking about these unused items. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Im terrible when it comes to the “what if i need this one day” type of clutter. Every time i clean i actually and sometimes need something and then i get upset that i threw it out. I definitely need to try these tips out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is something I’ve really struggled with! I hadn’t heard of the 20×20 rule before but it’s such a great idea, I’m definitely going to start using it. I’m actually moving out soon so I’m due a big declutter and I know this will really help then! Thank you so much for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve not heard of the 20×20 rule but that’s such a good idea. I’m not too bad with hoarding but my family are terrible, so I’ll tell them about this and then stand back and watch!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post B! And something so many people struggle with. I don’t get this too often anymore but when I do, I commit to only keeping the item for 6 months and if I haven’t used it more than twice I let it go. If I only use it once every 6 months, then I can get rid of it and borrow from a friend if and when I need it in the future. My home doesn’t need to be a storage unit for things I don’t use often enough!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a helpful post B – I adore my fiance but he’s definitely it saves money to keep things kind of guy! I’ve gotten better with kitchen and bathroom items and doing a bi-annual massive clear out if it hasn’t been touched in the past 6 months it likely should be gone. I like your 20/20 rule and have never heard of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I couldn’t agree more with you! There is no reason holding items you have not used for a long time just in case. Most of the times this case never happens and we collect too much clutter. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I haven’t heard of the 20×20 rule but that is a good tip! I used to keep a bag of leftover party supplies with the idea I would be saving money on the next party I hosted…except I always forgot I had the leftover supplies and bought it new anyway. Needless to say that was one of the first things to go when I decided to begin minimalism.

    Liked by 1 person

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