Why You Shouldn’t Throw Your Stuff Away

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Stuff, especially having a lot of it, can make being frugal hard. But sometimes, getting rid of your stuff can end up costing you money too. Balance is key.

Last week I spoke about how the size of homes seems to be ever-increasing over time. One of the reasons, I’m sure, that we seem to “need” more space is because we are a nation of stuff-collectors. Not only have the size of our homes increased, we need to buy even more space to hold our stuff, so we pay extra for storage facilities.

When I was in my 20s I was a stuff-collector. My old roommate and I used to hit Seattle’s chic, kitschy boutique stores and I would buy everything from throw rugs, to pillows, to random items like a super 8 camera, which I think I used once. And don’t even get me started on candles!

I also collected sports-related items as my interest in taking better care of my health emerged in my mid to late 20s. Every time some kind of new event came up, like taking an REI adventure trip to New Zealand when I was 31, I would buy new gear to go along with it.

When I Realized I had Too Much Stuff


My “stuff” wake up call came when I was relocated from Seattle to LA for a job transfer in 2003. Although for the first time in any of my previous moves a moving company was actually going to pack stuff for me, I realized how much crap I had sitting around that I wasn’t using. I had a storage locker in the basement of the apartment complex, and it freaked me out to sift through things that had tons of spider webs on it, and consequently, spiders. I began to feel the burden of stuff.

So as I went along in my 30s, I slowly began to get rid of things, so much so that every single thing in my life (besides my bike) sits in my 500-ish square foot apartment. I even have a full garage that I can use, but decided since I don’t have extra stuff, I can rent it out to make a little extra income.

But…there is a slight downside.

Although my life is pretty routine, I like to step outside of the comfort zone and do some things to add spice to my life. Case in point, my recent trip to Vegas and Utah. It involved camping and hiking, two things I had done more of in the past, but since it’s been awhile, I got rid of most of my gear.

Thankfully most of the camping gear was given to us by my friend’s cousin to borrow, but I had to search high and low to borrow hiking pants from a friend. I was seriously kicking myself for getting rid of several pairs I used to have from the New Zealand trip!

Stuff, especially having a lot of it, can make being frugal hard. But sometimes, getting rid of your stuff can end up costing you money too. Balance is key.

Stuff I Regret Discarding


Technology is another area where I have gotten rid of things that I now regret discarding. I used to do all my work on my laptop, which with video editing, can be eye and neck straining since the monitor is so small. I finally ended up getting a fairly small cinema display which helped, but then my producer sold me a MAC tower with a GIANT monitor for $500. Because I don’t like stuff sitting around, I gave my old monitor to my friend Jim for free. Lo and behold my giant monitor died recently and I was left without a one, right in the middle of a crucial project. Thankfully Jim let me borrow the monitor I gave him, but it’s only temporary. Yet another situation I’m kicking myself for not keeping the monitor as a backup.

And finally, back in the “old days” prior to my beach volleyball “career,” I used to cycle a lot more. I eventually sold the bike and bought a beach cruiser. In the last several years, many of my friends have gotten into triathlons, and have asked me to participate in a few. One of my main reasons for not joining them? I don’t have a good road bike! Grrrr!

While I’ll never go back to my stuff-collecting ways because ultimately, I believe being frugal means not paying for extra storage space, there are definitely times in my minimalist life that I regret not keeping certain things around. I guess the trick is to try and find a healthy balance.


What have you gotten rid of that you now regret discarding? What is the right balance between keeping stuff and letting it go? How do you find that balance?  

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Tonya Stumphauzer

Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. Visit her blog Budget & the Beach!


  • I regret discarding my computer consoles and games. Now that I have kids, I am really excited to show it to them and have them experience firsthand the games that we enjoyed before.

  • I have this same feeling about not getting rid of too much stuff! I probably err on the side of keeping too much, but I just hate the thought of getting rid of things I’ll need later on. I try to strike a balance by giving away stuff that I’ve never found much use for or that’s totally worn out.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I could definitely see you and the Mr. not wanting to spend money on something you might have thrown away. I think it is that thing of trying to find a balance. I love the idea of minimalism, but I also like not spending money on something if that rare occasion comes up where I need something too.

  • I hate clutter so I try not to keep anything we don’t use frequently. With that being said, we do have attic and garage space. I keep some stuff that we just can’t manage to part with up there. It isn’t in the way, and I don’t have to look at it every day.

    Let me rephrase all of this- most of my husband’s belongings from his college days are up in the attic.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      ha ha. Time for a sit down with Greg? 🙂 I hate clutter too, which is why I’m big on getting rid of stuff, but it has come back to kind of bite me in the *ss recently.

  • When we moved from Florida to New York we sold a bunch of stuff and threw out even more and I am still kicking myself at some of the stuff we threw out but we kind of had to do it because we were moving from a 4 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom condo. Ever since then, I have been better about my disposal situations and I haven’t regretted anything I got rid of lately.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Awe! I sometimes go, “whatever happened to that shirt I had” and realized I must have gotten rid of it and thought, “why did I do that?” For the most part I love getting rid of stuff, but occasionally it comes back to haunt me.

  • Kathy says:

    When we moved from the country to town nearly 6 years ago, we got rid of a bunch of stuff that had been in our attic for 20 years and never used since we moved to that house. When we move again next year we will probably get rid of more but we pared down so much, I doubt we’ll have a lot to pitch. One thing I regret is getting rid of some clothing after I lost weight. I could have taken some things to the tailor and had them altered but instead I took them to a resale shop for the money. I’ve seen a couple of items that are in style now that I had super similar ones. Wish I had them back.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I could see that happening. Hopefully you have the budget for some fresh new threads to show off the new body! Congrats on that by the way!

  • Every so often my wife and I do a clean up and sell a bunch of stuff on Craigslist. The last clean up generated over $1000 in cash. There’s only been a few times where we’ve regretted our decision. For the most part the extra space and extra cash is totally worth it.

  • I tend to keep and store over toss, which has its own issues, but you just highlighted a lot of why I don’t toss things as often as I should.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I think it’s just making sure it doesn’t turn into clutter where you can’t find things, or your tripping over things piling up. I don’t think I would ever get even close to that point unless I lived in a 100 square foot apartment.

  • When I was in my early twenties because of financial hardships I didn’t make an effort to pay on a storage filled with furniture. I had some really sentimental things in that storage. but at that time I was so consumed with the trials of life that I just shrugged it off and my things were actioned off. I regretted that decision for years.

  • Mrs. 1500 says:

    I come from almost-hoarders. My mom keeps everything, but she isn’t so bad that she has piles of stuff with paths to walk through. My brother, on the other hand, could be on one of those tv shows. Sigh.
    For a long time, I didn’t toss anything. I was kept in check by having a small house, but when I got married, suddenly there was all this space.
    I worked for a sewing supply company, and love to sew. Free samples? Yes please!
    I had so many sewing supplies, and a new baby with no time to sew, that I finally piled everything onto a bed, posted a note on free Craigslist, and told the responders to bring a suitcase with them.
    I wish I would have kept the bolts of fabric, because I have a lot of things I could do with that now.
    But “I can do something with that” is the official hoarder motto. So it is a balance.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I seriously have a hard time imagining what it would be like to be a hoarder. If I don’t have things neat and in their place, my life feels chaotic. I think the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and it sounds like sewing was that for you?

  • Oh Tonya. I will NOT let Jay read this. 😛

    I’m so minimalistic I squeak. Go ahead. Try me! 🙂

    I AM a big proponent of keeping spares of important things. That was a hard lesson learned on the monitor. Have you ever tried Free Cycle? It’s amazing what people will give. 🙂

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I have used free cycle before but I doubt I could get a good quality monitor from them. 🙂 It’s important for the type of work I do to have a good one. I have given them more stuff than I have taken. 🙂

  • I have way too much stuff still. I’ve been pairing down and I don’t think I’ve regretted anything I’ve gotten rid of yet, except maybe one pair of sandals, but I wouldn’t consider that a big deal. 🙂 My mom and dad are almost at the hoarder level so I’m trying to help them get rid of stuff too because I know if they don’t do it now I’ll have to do it eventually anyway…

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Growing up my house was the same way. The dining room table was full of paperwork and it make me feel anxious. I don’t need a big house, but it has to be clean and organized, so I feel ya!

  • This is so perfect. I was actually looking through my cabinet this morning thinking there were too many dishes. Most of them we got as wedding gifts. Honestly, why people need gravy boats is beyond me, but that’s another story.

    Then I thought about when we have lost of people over and need all those dishes, but that’s maybe twice a year. Couldn’t we just get paper plates? If we got rid of the gravy boat and butter tray, would the set not be worth as much? Is it worth anything anyway? It certainly is a mystery to know what to keep and what to toss!

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      It’s true Kim because random things do come up, but is it worth it to keep for that randomness? I think when it comes to expensive replacements like my monitor, I’ll err on the side of keeping backups, but if it’s not expensive, probably toss it.

  • Jason B says:

    I regret throwing away my old Air Jordan tennis shoes. I could have made a killing on eBay with them.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      ha I have a couple items I could have probably made a killing on on ebay, but they were mostly from my childhood so it would have been hard to lug around all these years.

  • I typically end up keeping things longer than I should and now with a house we have quite a bit of storage space compared to our old apartment. So I don’t have a lot of stories of things I threw out that I wish I had, but I think your Mac Screen is a good example. It’s a nice gesture to give things to friends for free, but it’s also nice to get some $ in return in case you end up needing it for a new or used monitor down the road.

  • Hannah says:

    My husband and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum on this one (he’s a saver and I’m a purger). Our biggest rub is with baby gear because I keep trying to toss it, and he says, “We want more babies” and I say, “But we don’t have one right now!”

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I could kind of sort of see that being a good reason to keep some stuff. From what I understand baby gear/clothes can really add up. Unless it’s taking up major space and cluttering up your place, I say keep it…especially if you know for sure you’ll be having another one!

  • I can’t think of anything specific, but I know I’ve thrown away stuff that I later needed to buy again. Incredibly frustrating.

    That said, there comes a point when you have to reasonably assume you’re not going to use something again, and it makes no sense to keep it. It’s a fine line.

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