My Allowance Box

During de-cluttering, one often comes across a few items it’s difficulty to know what to do with. You are not quite sure if you really need it, but you are not quite ready to let it go.

Over the years I have found that using an allowance box can be useful for these items.

What is an allowance box you might ask? It’s where I’ll put items that I need a little more grace period on, to see if I really needed them. You know the saying, out of sight, out of mind? Well….

An allowance box is a box for keeping the things that you are not a 100% sure if you need or not, but you cant bear to part with right now. It’s a box with a deadline on it. A deadline like; next season, 3, 6 or even 12 month into the future, but never more than 12 months.

The key thing is: If you haven’t used the item for the season it is meant for, or within the given deadline you gave yourself. Well, then most likely you will never use it, and it should go out the door.

What do I mean by the season the item is meant for? I mean first coming winter for winter; clothes/equipment/sports gear… Or first coming summer for summer; clothes/sport gear/garden stuff…  Or first coming Christmas for Christmas decoration. You get my drift 😉  And with first coming winter, I don’t mean next winter if your in the middle of winter when you do the clean up, I mean this winter 😉 (or summer/Christmas/spring).

For example, I’ve been wanting to throw a garden party for a while, but it seems like my summers are mostly filled with garden projects instead, which leaves no time for parties. Now that I’m almost done with creating my garden, there might actually be hope of throwing that party (yeah right, like that is really going to happen since I always find some project to do in the garden) 😉

So what’s that gotta do with an allowance box you might as. Well there are some stuff I have, that I think I’ll need for that party. Items that I otherwise won’t need to keep. So what will I do? I’ll be putting the garden party stuff into my allowance box, and if I don’t throw that party this year (yes 2014), well, then, guess what, come fall.. out the door it goes.

Here is another example, clothes: If it’s something that don’t fit you and you are having a hard time parting with it because you believe you will “grow” into it within the next xx months, be honest with yourself, do you really believe that it’s going to happen? If that is a yes, or you are already in the process of making it happen. Consider keeping only items that looks great on you, and that you love 🙂 Put the item in your allowance box. And set a date, to when they should fit or go out the door.

What items can this work for?
An allowance box can be great for a lot of things, for clothes, tools, kitchen stuff, books, office stuff, sports items, cables, computer stuff, you name it…

The important thing to remember is. That you never keep the stuff longer than the allotted time you have given yourself, on the allowance box.

You didn’t use those summer outfits this summer? It’s time to let them go. You didn’t use that Christmas decoration by Christmas, well it’s time to let it go, and so on.

How big is this box?
Well that depends a little on what it is your keeping, if your keeping a set of golf clubs they don’t really fit in a small box do they? If we are talking about clothes, then the box shouldn’t be all that big.

How many allowance boxes do I get?
You might find that you end up with two or three allowance boxes (I know I’ll probably have one for clothes and one for miscellaneous).

If you believe you will need more than a couple of small boxes, you should dedicate a limited space for them, so that you don’t save more than what fits in that space (and no I don’t mean the whole garage is your allotted space 😉 ). I’ve dedicated a shelve in one of my closets to keep my allowance boxes.

Where do I store them?
You should store the allowance box somewhere it’s a little bit difficult to get to it, but not so difficult you have to tear down the house to get to it.

What do I mean by a little bit difficult? Well, for example, I keep my kitchen tool allowance box in my guest room upstairs, hidden at the bottom of a cabinet, behind some stuff. Juuuust hidden enough that it’s a little bit of a hassle to get to it. But not so difficult it’s going to take a couple of days to get to that item I suddenly needed, in the middle of making a dish that demanded that specific item I had “de-cluttered”.

Out of sight, out of mind box:
Now, there is a different way of doing this if you want to.

Rather than have a allowance box which is readily available. you could make a out of sight, out of mind box, which is not so readily available.

For the items you are struggling with. Put them in a box, tape it shut, write a date, say… 6 months into the future. Put the box away (loft, garage, basement). When the day comes around, take the box and get rid of it. Do not open it first, most likely you won’t even remember what’s in it ? (another reason not to open it).

If you have already had to dig into the box for some reason, during the waiting period, whenever the date comes around, take what is left in the box and dispose of it. Just like if you had never opened the box at all. You have obviously already picked out the stuff that you absolutely needed, and whatever is left is, out the door items.

So which system do I use?
“Allowance box” or “Out of sight, out of mind box”?

They are in essence the same, the only difference might be the retrieval process 😉  So it depends a little on you, and how you want it. I have been known to use both 🙂 You gotta go with whatever feels right for you.

6 thoughts on “My Allowance Box

  1. I really like how the allowance box has a deadline on it. I think that’s key to making it work. I did something similar with my clothes. I turned all my hangers backwards and when I wear something I turn the hanger back the right way. After 6 months I have to assess the clothes on the still-backwards hangers.


    1. Thanks 🙂 it’s actually made it easier to declutter this way, because it makes me “toss” more (since it’s not actually tossed) and then I’ll find I don’t miss or need most of it, and then it really goes out the door. It’s worth the temporary storing space it needs, when the overall result is less clutter at the end 😉 another her benefit to having it, is that it allows me to experiment with things I really don’t think I can part with that I otherwise never would have thought to declutter.


  2. I really don’t understand the backwards hanger thing. How do you know which hanger to put it back on? Oh, boy. I just re-read that to myself. How stupid do I sound?? Of course, when you hang up the clean laundry, you put the hanger backwards. Duh! And I don’t ever have the excuse of being blonde anymore!
    So, did you have a garden party last year???


    1. I did actually have a “garden” party last year 🙂 I had a grill party for my birthday, it’s just that the weather was soooooo bad we unfortunately had to stay inside! The grill chefs on the other had was huddling under a canopy desperately trying to put food on our table, running like crazy through the rain to get it to us 😉

      And the backwards hanger thingy… When I cleaned through my closet the last time, I hung all my clothing with the hangers backwards. As I use my stuff, clean it and hang it back into the closet, I hang them with the hangers the right way. As I move through the year, I can see what clothes still hang with the hangers backwards, and those are the things I obviously do not use. So as I continue to clear up my closet, I look at the items not used and have to make decisions about are they very seasonal and I haven’t gotten to that season yet or are they stuff I won’t ever use, and if so.. they go! It makes for an easy visual way to take the guesswork out of.. did I use this item?


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