The Cost of Clutter

The clutter in our lives and homes is costly—knowing the negative effects of clutter can help you keep it at bay.

The negative effects of clutter

Welcome to Day 14 of the 31 Day Decluttering Challenge.

As I’ve been working to declutter my life this past two weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what all the clutter has cost me—and continues to cost me. I’d already realized that it was costing me a certain amount of peace, which is why I have titled this series the way I have.

But as I have been getting rid of more and more of my stuff, I’ve come to the realization that the clutter is taking much more from me than just my peace.

The negative effects of clutter cost you a lot—knowing how much clutter is costing you will help you keep the clutter out of your home and your life.

Are you ready to declutter your life?

Join the 31 day challenge to get rid of clutter and make room for peace.

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How Much is Your Clutter Costing You?

1. Your clutter is costing you TIME

Clutter forces me to use my time in a way that I don’t necessarily want to use it! My office, which is the number one cluttered room in my home, gets out of hand so badly that I have actually sent my husband and children out of town for an entire day so I could get it under control.

The last time I did this they went to a stock car race a couple hours away and also saw a movie. So not only did I stay home and work my butt off to clean my mess of stuff, I missed out on some great quality time with my family!

Because of clutter, I misplace things and can’t find them. It takes time out of my day to find overdue library books, car keys, my daughter’s other tennis shoe, my umbrella, and who knows how many other things?

Some of the problem is because these things don’t have a designated spot, or that they don’t get put away properly. However, the biggest problem is because there is too much stuff to manage.

2. Your clutter is costing you MONEY

Clutter costs much more than the initial money spent to acquire it. It costs money to store it—especially if you are renting storage units for all your stuff, but even if you are just storing it in your home. You are still paying for that space, after all.

Clutter costs money in the form of time. If you are using up your time managing your stuff or looking for things when you could be clocking hours on the job, you’re also losing money.

What about when you can’t find something you need? Have you ever had to purchase another one? I have. It’s unfortunate, especially since I almost always end up finding the first one eventually. Know where your things are, and you’ll save money when you actually need them!

Clutter can also cost us money in late fees. Misplaced library books and rental DVDs can rack up the fines pretty quickly. And if your desk is so cluttered that you forget to pay a bill that is buried under all the junk, you’ll accrue late fees and/or interest there, too.

3. Your clutter is costing you ENERGY

Just looking at a cluttered area in my home drains me of my energy, much less having to deal with it!

I really, really don’t want to give either my mental energy or my physical energy to a bunch of stuff I simply don’t need. And yet I do it every single day.

4. Your clutter is costing you CLEANLINESS

I bet if we all got rid of our clutter, we’d have to do less housework. Or, we could actually devote the same amount of time to deep cleaning instead of just clutter management and have a cleaner and healthier home.

Just think of the messes the clutter hotspots cause. I dream of eradicating that entirely and being able to open my tupperware cabinet without dying a little bit inside and then wasting ten minutes looking for the right lid for the container I want to use!

For instance.

I can think of many more for instances, and I know you can, too.

5. Your clutter is costing you PEACE

Clutter causes stress, and that is the opposite of peace. There have been many studies lately about how clutter causes extra anxiety and depression.

When I know someone is coming over, it takes longer than it should to get my house visitor-ready. (I’m not kidding, people who have been to my house.) This is why my office gets so out of hand—it is the go-to place to shove everything on the day I’m hosting book club or having dinner guests.

Sometimes when I go upstairs to kiss my kids good-night, I instead freak out about all the mess of stuff everywhere! No peaceful good night stories happen then, because I spend our time before bed frantically helping them clean up.

No more! Just looking at this list makes me so happy about what I’ve already accomplished and excited to do even more decluttering. I already have two huge boxes to donate ready to go. I can’t wait to see what I’m able to clear out this week!

Every time I get rid of something I feel a little bit lighter, and that is worth a LOT.

The cost of clutter—how much is your clutter costing you?

What has clutter cost you? How is your decluttering project going this month?

Find all of the posts in this 31 Day Challenge here: A Place for Everything: 31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace.

Want to start the 30-day declutter challenge?

Fill out the form at the very end of this post and you will receive an email each day with a new decluttering assignment.

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

Are you ready to declutter your life?

Join the 31 day challenge to get rid of clutter and make room for peace.

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Hilda Rodgers

I totally agree with these costs Lara! And it's sad that we waste so much time and money on clutter and then complain about not having enough time or money to do things we want to do. I'm working on all this … it's a process 🙂


This post is so true! When we moved last December, I got rid of so much extra clutter!


i have totally been there done that Lara – especially the energy drainer part. If I walk in a room and see all the clutter I just go into a sort of panic mode. I do not handle clutter well and right now it has gotten away with me here. Love this post – I can relate to every word of it.

Meranda Devan

I have been trying to get rid of excess clutter over the past few years….and by doing so, does it ever give peace of mind. Too much stuff around me gives me anxiety… Does it for all of you? Thanks for this post! Another couple reasons to downsize….

Kelly Rodriguez

This is a great point, Lara. For me, clutter creates anxiety. I think it's the nomad in me. Too much stuff means too much to pack…too much to carry. I'm not a minimalist, but I prefer experiences over "stuff." Clutter represents unavailable travel money. 🙂


This is so true! Don't forget the extra cost. Example, you bought a gift months before Christmas, but you can't find it! Now you have to buy another one. By the time you find the first one, it doesn't fit, and you can't return it. Or you bought a bunch of stuff because it was valuable, and when you finally declutter 5 years later, it is worthless.


Yup. I'm much more discerning than I used to be about buying stuff just because it was a great deal. I'm determined to live more simply. Unfortunately, I have a lot of years of not living simply to declutter!


That's a good point, too. I think that's why moving so often really helped me to get rid of stuff. This Christmas we are doing a vacation to Hawaii instead of buying gifts for the kids. They weren't so excited about that until we asked them if they even remembered what gifts they received last Christmas. They didn't. Then we asked them if they remembered our family vacations and they of course remembered all of them. Experiences are much better than stuff!


It absolutely gives me anxiety. I feel like I can't be calm in my own home with so many things to take care of. Things that don't really even matter that much!


"A sort of panic mode." Yep! That's exactly it. I'm trying to reign it all back in because it's gotten away from me, too. Last year was a tough year for us and it shows in the clutter.


It almost makes me want to move again. Except, not really. I just have to pretend that I am and hopefully that will do the trick!


it's a huge process. But the older I get the more I understand the importance. And the less I want to spend my time managing my stuff!

Monica Jenkins

This is great.When I want to buy something I think "Wait!" Then i ask myself these questions.Do i really need it or is there something i already have that'll service me the same? Do I really wanna spend the money for this or on a family outing? Then I ask my partner and see what he thinks. Doing this has saved me money and has reduced clutter in my home.


I have lots and lots of stuff! I was thinking about just putting a sign out front- INDOOR YARD SALE, and just letting people take whatever they wanted. When we got married 5 years ago, my clutter and my husbands clutter came together in a jumbled disaster. Then we had our first child and the donations were wonderful, but so overwhelming- As a new parent, you have no idea what you need, so we bought and accepted everything, then knowing we wanted another kept it all stored. After our second daughter was born we just keep getting and receiving. My mom was cleaning out her house so she was bringing over car loads of stuff to my house, stuff I had not seen in about 10 years. My in-laws were having a family member move back into my hubby's old room, so you guessed it, they brought over several car loads of his stuff, they still have a whole garage of his stuff. We were robbed and it was terrible, but it made me realize all the crap they liberated from our home, we didn't need any of it. I started giving all the old baby things away to expecting relatives, and to the Salvation Army and the battered womens shelter. I gave away over 40 bags so far, two tv's (we are down to 1) a couch, coffee table, and the saddest part is most of that is still being paid for on my credit cards. It makes me sad to think of all the money I have spent trying to buy totes, storage solutions, extra dressers, etc. just to house all of my junk. I don't like being able to simply wipe off a counter and my allergies are paying the price. With two kids, grad school and full-time jobs I need to make time for this in my life. Thank you for the inspiration!

Rebecca Gunther

I finally gave myself limits, like, "Why do I need more than 14 shirts? That's two weeks worth of shirts, I can certainly manage that!" and kept ONLY my favorites. I just read Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Art of Tidying-Up, which is really about decluttering once and for always, all in one go. It's fantastic. Her advice is to ask yourself, for each item you own, "Does this bring me joy?" and if it does not TRULY bring you joy, let it go free. Also, imagine what you want your house to look like, and as you sort, put everything in each category in one pile on the floor so you can see just how massive that pile is. It's motivating to see how much really have and can do without!

Rebecca Gunther

Also, it's hard to keep your focus on those things which are most important in your life, in general, when you have to spend so much time and effort and energy managing things.