Money at 30: Why Does Decluttering Feel Like Saving Money?

A few weeks ago, I shared that I was going on a bit of a subscription cancelation binge — and, let me tell you, I’ve been on a high ever since. In fact, after slashing those costs and racking up savings, I was inspired to keep the good times rolling… except how? Well, after sitting with this feeling, I realized that what I really wanted to do was engage in another round of decluttering and discarding items I no longer need.

This instinct struck me as a bit odd. After all, throwing away (or donating) items I’ve purchased really doesn’t save me any more money. Yet, in my mind, the two actions are very much tied together. So why is that? Here are a few reasons why I think decluttering can often feel like you’re actually saving money.

3 Ways That Declutter Can Feel Like Saving Money

Seeing money wasted can help change future actions

Okay, so while decluttering doesn’t directly save you money, I suppose it can play a role in future cash savings. I don’t know about you but, when I start tossing stuff and thinking about how much money I initially spent on something I barely use, it turns me off to the idea of spending more. Heck, that’s probably why I decided to cancel my D23 membership (as mentioned in my previous post) as the growing stack of magazines served as a reminder that I was not only wasting my money but was also cluttering my apartment for no good reason. While this is a very specific example, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same idea applied to many other people as well.

It’s freeing

As I was assessing my subscriptions and making my way through the multiple steps of cancelation, when I was done, I felt pretty amazing. Even if I only managed to save myself a few dollars a month, I still felt better for it. Well, as you can imagine, I’ve found the same is true of decluttering.

For me, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with getting rid of unneeded items. Sometimes this is just because it literally clears space in my apartment while, in other cases, parting with a particular item signifies saying “goodbye” to a past part of my life. Sure, it can be a bit emotional — as were a couple of my subscription cancelations, if I’m being honest — but I’ve yet to regret doing away with something I’ve discarded during my decluttering efforts. So, I’d say it’s definitely worth it.

It can inspire more change

Finally, just as my initial efforts to save money begat additional cost-cutting initiatives — and a decluttering mission — decluttering can also lead to more changes. In fact, the last time we decided to go through all of our stuff and get rid of unnecessary items, we considered the possibility that we didn’t really need a two-bedroom apartment. Granted, we did end up moving to a one-bedroom place that happened to cost more, but the change itself was still positive.

If you’re reading a personal finance site, I have to assume you’ve at least heard the term “Snowball Debt Paydown Method” in passing. The idea behind this approach is that, by paying off your smallest debts first, you can enjoy small wins that will motivate you to keep going and tackle your larger debts. I think it’s exactly the same with decluttering. When you finish a project — be it a closet, a bedroom, or just a bookshelf — I’m betting you’ll feel like doing more. In that way, it’s an awful lot like saving money.

I don’t expect that everyone who decides to do as I did and cancel some of their subscriptions will suddenly also feel a need to declutter their homes. However, given that this was my reaction, I’m beginning to see what the two have in common that could cause this linkage in my brain. With that, if you’ve been seeking the dopamine hit that comes with saving money or just want to keep it going, I humbly suggest you look to decluttering as your next big project.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at

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