The Many Costs of Clutter


Many of us have clutter issues. We stock up on bulk buys, amazing deals, and books we will never read. But, did you know there are costs associated with clutter?

First, there is the monetary cost–the actual cost of buying the stuff you, or someone else, purchased in the first place be it gifts, spur of the moment purchases, or even duplicate items–if you don’t need them, then it’s a waste of money.  Depending on how much stuff you have accumulated, that could be a lot of money.

Next, is the opportunity cost. The opportunity cost is the price you pay to store your clutter wherever it is. In other words, if you didn’t have that potted plant on the counter, or you hadn’t bought that extra kitchen appliance, what would you put in it’s place? Moving that plant, or donating the kitchen appliance frees up the occupied space and provides an opportunity for something else (or even for nothing else) to go there.

Third, is the emotional cost. Clutter affects your stress levels, your safety (depending on how much clutter you have), and your relationships.  Our bedroom is filled with boxes that need to be gone through, and it seems like everything that doesn’t have a home ends up finding itself in our room!  We recently started decluttering our bedroom, our clothes, our kitchen, and our garage.  As we start going through boxes, we find that we make a bigger mess, at first, but, after we have thrown away, or donated the things that no longer have a use in our home, we feel a HUGE sense of relief.

We hold onto things gifted to us from people we love, or from people who have passed away, and even if they don’t bring us joy, we hold onto those items.  But, do they bring us happiness? If the cluttering items don’t bring us happiness, why do we hold onto them? I know for me, I have held onto things that I didn’t like out of fear of hurting a friend, or relative’s feelings. I’ve also held onto things out of grief, or guilt (Palmer, 2012).  Brooks Palmer, the author of Clutter Busting Your Life, addresses each of these things.

What I’m learning from reading Brooks Palmer’s Clutter Busting Your Life book and Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is that we should only keep those items which actually bring us joy, or serve some purpose in our life.  We need to pick up each item, look at it carefully, and decide if the item makes us happy, or makes us feel good.  As we go through the process of decluttering our homes, or offices, or both, we are forced to eliminate those things which do not bring us joy anymore — those items which have no purpose in our lives.  As we declutter our lives, we begin to feel free — a lightness is felt — we are no longer chained to the clutter that has made us feel so stressed in our environment.

When clutter abounds, money is wasted–duplicate products are purchased, and, as you go through the process of decluttering, you find that you have 15 tubes of toothpaste, or 5 bottles of ketchup.  I couldn’t believe how many clothing items I had kept that didn’t fit, or how many books I am still holding on to when I read all of my books now online.  As space is freed, and the clutter is replaced with nothing, I feel more relaxed, stress-free, dare I even say care-free, and the amount of cleaning I have to do, or re-organizing has greatly decreased. Where I once was straightening my pantry once or twice a week, now that it is de-cluttered, I only have to straighten the things that are put away incorrectly. Life becomes so much easier when you really look at the cost of clutter, and decide it’s better to get rid of it and become a more Pennywise Family. 😊


Kondo, M. (2019). Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Netflix.

Palmer, B. (2012). Clutter Busting Your Life. Novato: New World Library.


Published by Nichole Smart

I have a family of five with three children (19, 15, and 11). We live in a small town, where we drive 20 min for groceries and other items. I was in a bad accident a little over 3 years ago, that caused a lot of nerve damage to my foot. With mounting medical bills, we needed to find a way to save money, and still live an abundant life. This blog was born to help others. I thought the research I was doing to save money for my own family might be beneficial for other Pennywise Families, too! Join Pennywise Families to find ways to save money, and to share your tips for others! Please feel free to comment on any of the blogs!

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