Before you buy or accept anything ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I really need this?
This should be a consideration before you bring anything into your home, whether that's food, toys, books, cleaning supplies or any other number of things. This counts for freebies, as well as expensive items. Just because something is free, doesn't mean it's a good deal and it doesn't mean you need it. Start asking yourself this question and see how often you can say no. Then, put the item down and walk away. I'm going to try hard to do this because I want to stop bring unneeded things into my home.
2. Do I already have something else that will work?
If you said yes to the first question, follow it up with this one. Do you have anything else you could use besides the free chip clips from the neighbor's garage sale to close bags of food in the kitchen? Maybe those old clothespins that are hanging out in the laundry room would work. Could your kids use the new play-doh kit? Maybe, but maybe they can use the old cookie cutters and a rolling pin that you already own. You get the idea. Try to brainstorm a bit before you commit to bringing something new home.
3. Where am I going to put it?
If the item has passed scrutiny so far, try to imagine it in your home. Where's it going to go? Do you have a place to store it? I successfully used this question to put a stop to some new toys coming to our home this weekend. We visited a museum and my kids were desperate to get something from the gift shop. The things they wanted weren't expensive and I let it slide that we didn't really need them and that they had lots of toys that were similar. But, when I imagined the new toys adding to the clutter in the toy box, I said no. It's overflowing as it is because we already have too many toys.
4. What is going to go to make room for this?
Tree Huggin' Mama suggests that every time you bring one thing into your home, you discard one thing. Leanne even took it a step further in her comment and recommended that you discard two things for every one thing that comes in. I really love this idea and am going to try hard to put it into practice!
Cutting clutter off at the source seems to be a large piece of the puzzle that I was missing. If you can relate, then it's time we worked on this together. We can stop bringing clutter into our homes because we deserve to live in clean, organized, clutter-free homes! Thanks for the inspiration, Tree Huggin' Mama!