Sharing the Idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”

I had the privilege of speaking to a wonderful group in Merillville, IN last night about downsizing.

We covered a lot in our 60 minutes together: clearing clutter, determining the value of our stuff, how long to keep certain types of papers.  One idea that I shared with the group was the idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”.  A couple of people made a point to tell me that they really liked the idea, so I thought I would share.

I wish I could say that this genius idea was my own, but I can’t!  The idea comes from The Minimalists, in their essay, Getting Rid of Just-In-Case Items: 20 Minutes, 20 Dollars.   The premise is that if you are debating whether to keep or get rid of an item, remind yourself that almost anything can be replaced within $20 minutes or for $20 dollars.  And because we can easily replace most things, we don’t have to keep a million items for JUST IN CASE!

For Example:

20 Minutes:  
At last night’s presentation, I referenced the set of siblings that I’ve organized, each with a full set of chafing dishes.  Awesome but big, awkward, and only occasionally useful chafing dishes.  Apparently, these siblings had a very nice Great Aunt Somebody who always bought newlyweds a set of chafing dishes.  Here’s the thing – surely these siblings could SHARE a set, and just move the set around from family event to family event, instead of each of them having to keep their full set.  As they were all trying to de-clutter, it seemed that a quick phone call to each other and a 20 minute errand to pick up the shared set was more reasonable than keeping all the sets.

20 Minutes:
Last summer a friend hosted a big group of teens at her home for a weekend.  Instead of buying 20 air mattresses, she asked Facebook friends if she could borrow air mattresses.  In 20 minutes, she had dozens of offers for what she needed.

20 Dollars:
You know that box of cords?  Yes, THAT box.  The one that drives you crazy?  Most of us have at least one.  The black spaghetti mess of unmatched, unlabeled and unclaimed charging cords from ancient phones or digital cameras gone by?  Look around.  If what you use regularly already has a cord attached, you could probably purge all of those unclaimed cords and spend $20 someday on a replacement in the very remote chance you actually needed one of those random cords.  Clear up a whole lot of space, and bank on the fact you don’t need what is in that THAT box!

20 Minutes and 20 Dollars:
Sombreros (or similar items, you get the idea!).  Sombreros are big.  Awkward to store.  Not a commonly used items, let’s face it.  If you EVER had a need for a sombrero – party, costume, school presentation – you could either spend the $20 to buy one at a party store or on-line, or better yet, ask 10 friends if anyone has a sombrero, and I bet someone does!

This week, look around your house and at your clutter.  Ask yourself if you are keeping things for JUST IN CASE that could easily be replaced for $20 and / or within 20 minutes!  If so, let it go!

Look for Love In All the Right Places!

If you are looking for love from your stuff, you’re missing the point.


From The Minimalists,

If I haven’t said it lately, let me say it now:  Life IS Not About The Stuff.
Life is about our interactions with other people.
Life is about love, friendship and relationships.
Life is about faith, service to others and our community, and using our gifts and skills for personal and professional achievements.
Life is about experiences and beauty, perhaps travel and adventure.
Life is about a million different things… that probably aren’t really things at all.
Life is NOT about the stuff.

Our stuff cannot love us.  It can only serve a purpose.

I am not saying that Stuff is bad.  For example, I really love my home.  And there are items in my house that I love and would be very sad to lose.  But mostly I love my home because it’s where my family lives, it’s filled with memories and good energy, it makes me feel warm and happy.  Our homes serve purposes; keeping us safe; a gathering place for friends and family; a retreat; a parking space for the things we need to use to love and serve others and work on our accomplishments.  We can love our home, but it is more likely that we love what it does for us.


I love my van, or to be clear, I really appreciate my van.  Not because it is a spectacular vehicle, but because it gets me and my family safely and comfortably where we need to go.  Would I love it more if it were a Mini Cooper instead of a minivan? Probably not (though I’d be happy to find out some day!)


Last summer, I offered a presentation on the Marie Kondo “Magic Art of Tidying Up” book.  We can learn much from the book, both what TO DO and what NOT TO DO with our stuff.  A problem with the book, though, is the idea that our stuff should Spark Joy in us.   The author recommends that we hold every item we own, and only keep it if the item sparks joy in us.

I understand what the author’s message and I even agree to some extent, but it’s ridiculous think that my new jeans will Spark Joy. They are jeans.  Just jeans. They make me happy because they will serve a purpose, keep me warm and relatively fashionable while I go about my days.  But expecting Joy from a pair of pants?  Um, no.

If I only kept my stuff that “Sparks Joy”, I would be in serious danger of purging too much stuff instead of not enough.  Joy does not come from our stuff.

When we can separate our stuff and our feelings, we can look at our stuff more objectively and clear clutter.

We can realize that our deceased loved ones do not exist in their stuff they left behind.  We can love and cherish the memory  of a person, but still let go of the 20 boxes left to us when they downsized or passed.

We can realize that we need to clear clutter left over from 5, 10 or 20 years ago or a life we’re no longer leading, in favor of a clearer, more organized and easy life today with the people that we love now (including ourselves).

And we can look at our stuff from a different and more positive perspective.  First, ask yourself what Life / Love / Joy you want.  And then ask “What stuff do I own that will move me towards the Life / Love / Joy that I want?”  Don’t look for love in the attic or basement or the back of your closet.  It’s not there. Clear your clutter and Look for Love in the world around you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends!


Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO