Save or Give Away? │ Three Tips on Minimalism Living

Learning to Save What Needs Saving and Giving Away What Doesn't

When my youngest son graduated high school just a few weeks ago, I knew it was time to find the graduation decor I had specifically set aside knowing this occasion would arrive again.

My oldest son graduated college a couple years ago. 

When I set out to buy the exorbitant-costing supplies and decor for the party, as a penny-pinching individual, I knew I would save some of it for my next son's party. Not all of it, of course. Some of it got destroyed and used, as it should have. 

But for the pieces that I salvaged, and pieces I knew could also act perennially for my next son, why would I rebuy what I already had?

One of the tenets of homesteading is to hold onto things you may need in the future. While I'm not an advocate of holding on to everything (because I'm a minimalist and because I don't live in a remote area and everything I could ever need for myself or any of the people in my house is within a five-minute drive) I understand the value of a dollar and holding onto things you may need in the future. Also, you can be a homesteader and a minimalist at the same time. (A great book by Bea Johnson called Zero Waste Home covers this idea of combining the homesteading experience alongside minimalism.)

A dollar more I spend on gradation decor means one fewer dollar to pay off the mortgage early. One dollar spent on things I will eventually throw away means I should keep what I didn't have to throw away and remain a good steward of my finances.

A dollar saved is a dollar earned.

But, as a minimalist, I had very carefully thought through the ramifications of holding onto the decor. It would take up space; I would not use it at all for the next two years, and ultimately, it sat living a useless life doing nothing. 

However, it was a good amount of money I didn't have to spend again for my son's high school graduation (win.) They were being reused and enjoyed (another win). And this time, I could throw away the items because they were sufficiently used (or give them to someone else who can use them - which I did!)

So, how do you know what to save and what not to save? For me, it all comes down to a few things.

Substantial Money Savings: The term "substantial" is subjective. A hundred dollars to one person may seem like pennies to another. For me, spending another 100 dollars on gradation decorations is substantial. I decided that holding onto those items - for two years - was worth it. And in the end, it absolutely was.

I knew what decor I had, it was easy to reassemble, and everything looked fantastic. The savings outweighed the desire to buy the items again so that's what I did. And no one noticed I was using the same decor. If saving an item means substantial savings, it's worth holding onto.

Replaceable Versus Irreplaceable: Could I have bought new graduation items? Sure. But I didn't want to because of the cost. I also originally purchased graduation decor that could be reused. Meaning, I didn't buy decor with the graduation year on it, but instead purchased items more along the lines of "Congratulations graduate." 

I saved what wasn't as easily replaceable. I made sure to find what could be reused and did just that. The graduate decor was irreplaceable to me because I couldn't guarantee I'd find what I wanted in two years. So, that helped my decision to keep the items. If it's going to be hard to find and you know you will need it again in the future, that's a reason to save the item in question.

Love Over Like: I'm of the mindset now, as I've progressed through my minimalism journey, that liking something isn't enough to keep it in my life (I would dare to venture this concept even with friends as I get older, but that's a different post to contend with). If I keep something, I have to love it with every part of me and if I do, it's worth keeping. Like isn't enough anymore. I loved the graduation decor and valued what I paid for it, so I kept it for another day.

I can apply this to my closet, my collections, the accessories in my home... everywhere. It's a waste of my time and life if I keep clothes I only like, but don't love. What's the fun in that? Outfits should be special, unique, and fun. If it's all blah or the whole "Well, I paid for this and I sorta liked it at the time," that is no reason to keep the article of clothing. 

A day not wearing something I love is a waste of an outfit. Truly. As a vintage clothing wearer and seller, I firmly believe this. If I miss one day to really love what I look like, and instead wear something I only kind of like, that's one less day to live passionately about what I love.

Our days are numbered. People should know what you love. They should see it in your life, around you, and hanging from your head like a crown. From your activities to clothing, your job, to how you love people, it should be so obvious that you live the life you love, not out of convenience, or laziness, but because you truly love it.

When you're going through a closet, or cleaning out a drawer, or wondering if you should keep the party decor, think about these three things: if it saves you money, is irreplaceable, and is something you love.

It's quite simple.

And that's what it's all about.


  1. After reading this post, I am viewing things in a new way. Your comments on only keeping things you love have really struck a chord with me. Over the past couple of days I have removed things because I realised i (kind-of) liked them, but did not love them. So why have them? They are now on their way to someone who does love them. I have also not purchased items because I realised I only liked them, but did not love them. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and insights, I love reading your posts!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Rebecca. I'm thrilled you're getting help with my posts. They tend to be posts I wish I'd had years ago... so I'm glad they're sticking with my readers because that is the whole point. :) Thanks again. I so appreciate your feedback.