Stop the Work-Spend-Accumulate Cycle

Today, I am honored to have my first guest post! Jenny, from Ex-Consumer, and I met online via our blogs and we both appreciate so much what the other has to say! After you read her post here, be sure to go visit her. And next week, you will find ME over at her blog!


On Friday, Bernice wrote about clearing some of the clutter from the main living areas in your home in her post titled, Does Having Less Stuff Make Life Easier? She gave all kinds of exceptional tips for getting the clutter under control in the areas of you home where clutter tends to accumulate the fastest. Today, I’m going to talk about the importance of controlled spending to keep new clutter from making its way back in your home.

2325 Armada

Even after you get the clutter cleared from the main areas of your home, you may find that it’s difficult to find ways to keep new clutter from entering into your home. One of the most effective ways to control the influx of new clutter is to stop spending money on things you don’t need.

What is a Need?

To clarify a little, let’s delve a little further into what exactly constitutes a need.

A need is:

  • Enough groceries to feed yourself and your family healthfully, but not so many that you have to consistently throw spoiled food away at the end of the week.
  • Personal care items you will use (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.), but not the newest, shiniest products that you may or may not end up using.
  • Doctor visits and medicines you need to take.
  • Gas and maintenance for your car.

A need is not:

  • The magazine at the checkout line.
  • The new makeup you’ve been wanting to try.
  • The lunch or dinner out even though you have plenty of food at home.
  • The new gadget.
  • The cute, sparkly shoes your daughter would look so cute in.

Stop the Work-Spend-Accumulate Cycle

Many times we become so trapped in the work-spend-accumulate cycle, that we don’t even realize we’re doing it anymore. We throw the cute top in the cart because it’s on sale. We grab the new paperback off the shelf and purchase it because it’s only $7. We skim the $1 section at Target to see what kind of great deals we can get on crap we don’t need and won’t use. You get the point.

Each time we spend our hard earned money on something we don’t need, it usually ends up becoming clutter once we bring it home. And clutter robs us of both our time and happiness.

Are You Up for a Challenge?

Here is a little challenge. For the next two weeks, try not spending money on anything you don’t need, or can’t consume. This means no home goods or decorating items. No clothes you don’t need, products you may not use and no toys of any sort.

For Easter, this would mean instead of buying decorations, sparkly eggs and stuffed bunnies, you would buy things like Peeps, chocolate bunnies and some Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. Once the edible items are consumed, they’re out of your life (except for what’s left on your hips). Although these items aren’t technically needs, you’ll probably want to celebrate the holiday with your children and this way no clutter is left behind.

Upon completing this challenge, you’ll find two things will have happened:

  1. You won’t have a lot of new store-bought clutter to shuffle around and manage in your home.
  2. You will have more money!

The Benefits of Beating the Work-Spend-Accumulate Cycle

Having less clutter to manage means you’ll have more time to do the things you care about. Things that make you happy! Having more money in the bank will give you more freedom to live life without the constant worry of getting that next paycheck. And really, what could be better than that?

Jenny writes about getting out of debt, becoming more frugal, living lighter, exploring the world of minimalism and all the life that falls in between on her blog, Ex-Consumer.

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20 comments to Stop the Work-Spend-Accumulate Cycle

  • Hi Bernice! Thank you so much for the opportunity to write a guest post for you. I had a great time writing this! :)
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..What Will You Take When You LeaveMy Profile

  • Oooo, magazines are my downfall. I even had a ottoman full of ones I wanted to read but haven’t gotten to. I finally had to donate them so now I will accept that challenge and NOT buy new ones while standing in the checkout line! Very good challenge. I have been working on boxes for charity so now I’ll get more serious and get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit this new house!
    LBDDiaries recently posted..30PDC Days 13-19 Always and ForeverMy Profile

    Jenny @ exconsumer Reply:

    You can do it! I would love to hear how your two-week magazine fast works out. ;)
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..Is My Husband Feeling Forced into a Non-Consumerist LifeMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    I love magazines too! I try very hard not to buy any at all! I keep telling myself if I want any specific ones, I need to intentionally subscribe, which would save me money and keep me from impulse buying!

  • I’m going to try this! I really think that buying becomes so automatic that we don’t think about what we are bringing into our homes!

    Jenny @ exconsumer Reply:

    It really does become automatic Heather! It’s amazing how just being aware of the excess that ends up in our carts or baskets can make us think twice about the things we buy. It’s not so automatic anymore if we see it happening. :)
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..Is My Husband Feeling Forced into a Non-Consumerist LifeMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    It is so easy to just pick up this and that when we are out and about. Try to only buy things you need. If it is not groceries or basic toiletry or household products, stop yourself and really question if you need it. Can make a big difference!
    Thanks for coming by!

  • I am moving to Australia, so for months I am getting rid of everything except what I’m boxing and mailing, and whatever I take in my check on bag, and in my carry on…

    Jenny @ exconsumer Reply:

    Hi Elizabeth – Moving to another country is a quick way to de-clutter, huh? And I’m sure it’s a huge incentive not to buy anything extra since you won’t want to pay to have it shipped.

    Good luck with your move and wrestle a crocodile for me. ;)
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..20 Free or Really Cheap Ways to Entertain YourselfMy Profile

  • Jan

    Great article. I tend to accumulate way too much as well. I need to continue paring down and also stop spending more money. Great tips.
    Jan recently posted..Living Well Wednesday- 4-20-11My Profile

    Jenny @ exconsumer Reply:

    Hi Jan – I’m glad you enjoyed the tips here. Thanks for leaving your thoughts!
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..20 Free or Really Cheap Ways to Entertain YourselfMy Profile

  • I love this idea and have been instituing it for awhile…but the remnder is needed sometimes. I can’t remember the last time I bought home decor or furniture type things. The only thing I buy along these lines are candles – but they are consumable and help me create a peaceful setting, which makes me Happy! i did also buy two strings of white lights for inside, all year long brightness. Other than that? Nothing. I am focusing on getting rid of stuff and just keeping the bare minimum of what I need. I am also trying to teach this idea to my kids. THAT is not always easy.
    Thanks for the post.
    Liane recently posted..Huckleberry Swamp WalkaboutMy Profile

    Jenny @ exconsumer Reply:

    Hey Liane. I know what you mean about teaching your kids about your new non-consumerist ways. My oldest son is finally getting on board, but it’s been a process for him to adjust to the changes. :)
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..20 Free or Really Cheap Ways to Entertain YourselfMy Profile

  • I love this challenge! Decluttering is pointless if you don’t maintain it. I’m saving for a new gadget, but one that I’ve had on my “wish” list for months and one that will help me in my current quest to add some oomph to my blogging..
    Stacy recently posted..The Perfect Gift for your Minimalist MomMy Profile

  • Love this:/How to stop the Work-Spend-Accumulate-Cycle ~ rt @womanonajourney

  • I broke my magazine addiction a few years ago by sending the ones around the house to school with my husband (an elementary school teacher) to be used for art projects and making the rule that I could only buy magazines when I go on business trips that require flying. Even then, I’m only allowed to get two: one for the flight out and one for the flight home. In the interim, I love reading blogs like this one to feed my media wants! :-)
    Emily @ Make It Happen Mama recently posted..Made Up for MonkeyMy Profile

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