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Minimizing tip: Avoid “rebound” items

Recently, one of my favorite pairs of pants wore out. They were burgundy jeans I’d owned since high school, so for at least five years—not bad at all for women’s clothing these days, sadly. When I finally had to get rid of them, I immediately began looking for a replacement pair of colored jeans. As it happens, burgundy no longer goes with everything in my closet, so I decided to look for the perfect olive-green pants. I found a good-looking, reasonably priced pair on Amazon, bought them with a gift card, and waited.

Well, it turned out they didn’t fit. (That’s women’s clothing for you…three different types of sizing and you’re never the same size in any two brands.) I would have to return them. But, I figured, while I had the jeans, I may as well lay them against the rest of my wardrobe and see how they fit in with everything else. And that’s how I learned that olive green doesn’t actually go with half my wardrobe. (And in a minimalist closet, half is a big deal!) I returned the jeans, got my money back, and realized a couple weeks later that I had stopped looking for new ones.

I didn’t really need to buy another pair of pants, it turns out. The three pairs of jeans I have now (blue, black, and metallic gold/silver) go with everything I have. My desire to shop had just been a knee-jerk reaction to losing a piece of clothing that I really liked. Thanks to a bad fit and a little time to think about it, I didn’t end up with a “rebound” item taking up space in my closet and taking $55 out of my wallet (well, gift card balance).

So, take a lesson from me and avoid “rebound” items. If your TV fizzles out, or you tear your favorite sweater, or you donate your old tennis racquet, don’t immediately go out and buy a new one. Take some time. Do the research and find your best option. And then, wait.

Give yourself two weeks, or thirty days. See how much your life really is affected by the absence of that item. What do you do to make up for it? (I, for example, just wear another pair of pants!) It may well turn out that that item didn’t have as much of an impact in your life as you thought, and you needn’t purchase a replacement at all.

And if that doesn’t work and you must have the item now, do what I did and buy the wrong fit. (Because, you know, I totally did that on purpose.) Basically, you’re testing yourself and the item: Knowing you’ll need to return the too-large sweater or the low-def TV, is it worth making the trip twice? When the item is in your home, unusable, and you aren’t being swayed purely by the fact that you like it, does it still fit into your life?

When an item has reached the end of its usefulness in your life, thank it mentally and let it go–don’t dishonor its memory by rushing out to replace it. See how living without it, a little more minimally, feels. Trust me, you will enjoy being one item lighter, one payment richer, and one space in your home—and your mind—freer.

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