Wednesday, April 10, 2024

How to Stop Buying Things that Clutter up the Home

A Bedroom at Mrs. White's House in Vermont.

It has become common to frequent yard sales and thrift stores as many look for bargains to bring home.  There are so many pretty and interesting things to find in such places. It seems like shopping in retail stores is very expensive.  When we have a small amount of money, we tend to venture out to places where the expense will be minimal.  However, is it a wise use of time and money to buy all these interesting things?

During my childhood years, my mother never went to a yard sale or a thrift store. I don't think they were in fashion at the time.  She did what many homemakers did in those days. She took care of what she had. She focused on a cleaning routine, working in the kitchen, and taking care of the family.  Money was carefully saved to spend during seasonal events such as Christmas, birthdays, Easter, and back-to-school shopping.  Her main goal was to make sure the house looked clean and neat and that we were well fed and taken care of.  She rarely went to the store unless it was for groceries.

In the old days, mother would mend and care for her belongings. She would notice a tear in a quilt and neatly sew it back up. She would repair curtains, sheets, and pillowcases. If she noticed a washcloth was starting to fray around the edges, she would cut the loose threads and then prepare a new hem to set in place.  She would mend the clothes and keep everything properly maintained with effort that did not cost any money. 

Mother may have wanted a pretty piece of furniture. Perhaps she dreamed about a little end table for the corner of a bedroom.  Someday, she hoped, she would find just the right piece to fill this little spot with something useful.  In the meantime, she was content with what she had.  This was much like the old story of mother wanting a new coat for Christmas but always using the saved money for something more important that always seemed to come along. 

It is lovely to dream and to desire nice things, as long as we are wise with the money that comes into our household accounts.  Contentment means that we are happy with our lot and we remain productive as we take care of our possessions.  Our minds are at rest when we are not always seeking to acquire things.  Yet, when we do receive a special gift of a much desired item, we are more grateful that the average person. This is because we did not place a high value on the material item. We gave it up in our minds, realizing there are more important things in our lives than what we own. 

It used to be that window shopping at Christmas-time was a lovely time of recreation.  We would also look through the large Sears Catalog at all the many household items that were available. We would leaf through the pages and pretend we were shopping, but we didn't buy any of those things. They were non-essentials. We were practical minded when it came to the use of money.  It was also enjoyable to walk by the big stores and see a window display of a variety of gift options. Everything looked so pretty and pleasant. The colors and decorations were inviting.  We would smile as we took the time to look at all the merchandise. It is much like when we walk down the floral department of a store and just admire all the beautiful flowers.  We look but we do not buy. The fun is in the seeing. We enjoy all the pretty things around us, but we rarely part with our much needed money for such things.  Why would we bring home all these neat things just to clutter up our homes and lives?

The way to stop buying things we do not really need is to understand that we simply do not have room. If we want a rested mind and a peaceful heart, this cannot be obtained when we are surrounded and overwhelmed by things we have acquired.  We cannot dust and clean and maintain an abundance of belongings!  Bringing in more pretty things will only bring more work. 

To stop spending money is also a good way to be content with what one already has.  When we stop cluttering up the home, our time is more free. We can garden, take walks, do the cleaning and cooking, and have plenty of quality time to be with our families. Too much stuff makes too much work. 

When we can find happiness with less, we are able to live a simpler life.  This frees the mind. It gives us more time as we are led along a path of beautiful and graceful living.


Mrs. White

From the Archives -

A Special Room for the children - Grandmother's Nursery.

"There is No Ambition" - Simplicity of Old Fashioned Homemaking.

 The Inspiring Example of D.L. Moody's mother - Poverty in the 1800's.


 - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -


Learn How To Manage Money on a Small Income, with this helpful book:

- It is an honor to be the bookkeeper for the house! - 

Find detailed instruction and inspiration in budgeting on a small income, along with a method for keeping a handwritten ledger, with lots of thrifty ideas, in Mrs.White's book:

 -An Old Fashioned Budget: Humble Financial Management for the Christian Housewife

 Paperback, 77 pages.







Tinygrammy said...

Thank you so much for this reminder. I used to do yard sales and couldn’t wait to get the weekly free paper to map out our route to all the different homes we would stop at. I had to stop going to them 2 years ago when I found out I had 4 different types of breast cancer. I have spent the last 2 years having chemo, double mastectomy surgery, radiation treatments and now I’m on oral chemo and anti hormone pills. I am suffering through so many of the side effects from all of these. But I said all of that to say that my faith in God is stronger than it ever has been and I find blessings in every single day to praise Him for. But, now, the things that used to be important no longer matter. My husband of 52 years is dearer to me now than ever before. And now, my house is full of all of those unnecessary “pretties” and I’m needing to get rid of so much “stuff”. I’ve realized that my Lord may call me home sooner than I expected and I don’t want to leave these things for my husband and adult children to find a home for. It brings me to tears to think of it but I have very little strength to do much anymore. I rely on the Lord’s strength to get me through each painful day. I look forward to your blog and I have all of your books and am so thankful for your ministry. May the Lord bless you and may this be a reminder of the joy your ministry brings to folks like me. In Christ, Jackie

Luba @ Healthy with Luba said...

Mrs. White,

You have said so very gently and eloquently what we all need to hear. None of us need more stuff/clutter in our homes. My mother also makes a new hem on towels or serges them to make them last longer.

There is enough to care for in the home without bringing in more clutter, no matter how pretty it is.

Thank you so much!

Rose said...

This is such a a much needed message, Mrs. White🐦
God bless you and yours.

Lana said...

It helps us to keep a list of needs for when we thrift or yard sale shop. My daughter and I decided many years ago that we would consider pretty things as just being rented. We would enjoy them for a time and then re-donate them. Now I have reached the point of just needing and wanting less so we only buy what is truly needed.

Martha Jane Orlando said...

Jesus tells us to store our treasures in heaven, not on earth. Such great advice you have mirrored for all of us in this all-too materialistic world we live in.

Patty B said...

I smiled when I read about your mother mending items in the home. I do this too! I still mend socks, clothing, jeans, and towels, and my husband does his part to repair household items. This is the way we were brought up. I recently had a conversation with some young ladies. When I told them how I mended socks and towels they just laughed and told me it "wasn't worth the time and you can just go buy new ones". I told them mending socks was relaxing and new socks cost a lot and come from a country that I do not support.
As for garage sales, there is definitely a lot of stuff and junk at these events! Sometimes a person CAN find almost new useful items and I certainly do not let these go by. My husband has found chain saws, shirts and tools he needed at garage sales. I sometimes find fabric, thread, and canning jars at garage sales. We pass by the frivolous decorations and useless things.
Your post had the best advice: to take care of what the Lord has given to us and not accumulate 'stuff'.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post. You expressed the benefits of living more simply better than most of the books I have read on the subject. Living with fewer things really does make it easier to take care of what you own, and gives you freedom in a way that shoudldn't be underestimated.

Dee from a nearby state.

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

It truly amazes me, Mrs. White, how every post you write inspires me or encourages me in some way. Thank you for sharing your life with your readers.
Laura Lane

Regina said...

Oh my I needed this. I love finding pretty things at thrift stores and Dollar Tree. My latest "obsession" if you will is flames candles from Dollar Tree and I ask myself why am I buying this dust collector? Thank you Mrs. White.

Jenni said...

I was so glad to see this post - I may just print it out and highlight many of the truths it contains! My home feels overwhelmed with clutter right now, even though I don't feel like I go out and buy a lot of "things." It does seem like society wants to keep us endlessly consumed with consuming more. But there is so much to be done in the home just by maintaining what we have and using it.

Debbie said...

What a timely message, Mrs. White. I've been overwhelmed lately just walking into my little office and seeing too many books, craft projects and other items that call out to me. My mind just spins, wondering what book I should pick up or what I should busy myself with next. I've been thinking that it's causing me to not do anything, because it's all so overwhelming.

This word is just what I needed to hear. Thank you :)

Amelia said...

Yes, stop buying. I think it goes to being content. I was raised that you didn't buy things you did not need...It wasn't for the reason of "needing a change".

I remember so much of what you describe and I too try to mend things, yes, we can now afford to buy new many times but that cherished homemade top I made for myself? I'll be glad to mend that little whole and just take good care of my cherished belongings, I'm shocked on how people will just toss things. There is just something about holding that sweet top in my hands and sewing it and making it wearable again, it's very satisfying and a sweet thing. My parents were also sticklers on polishing shoes once a week at least and taking care of those shoes. Growing up we paid cash for a car and truck and drove that car and truck til it fell apart! : ) When my parents and grandparents did buy things they bought good quality too so it would last longer.

God bless you Mrs. White, hope all is well in your neck of the country.

Rhonda said...

I hope this article helps some people. When I look around our neighborhood when garage doors are open, most are full of stuff and cars are parked in the garage. People seem to almost drowning in stuff!
How can you ever clean or organize mountains of stuff anyway?

I saw a meme today that said something like “don’t spend the first 2/3s of your life acquiring things and then the last 1/3 of your life getting rid of those things”.