Am I allowed to “waste” things?


Given my interest in decluttering, today I found myself pondering over a dilemma. At what point is it acceptable to get rid of something which is useful, but which you don’t like? For me, this issue tends to arise particularly around toiletries. At the moment, for example, I’m using some Dove body moisturiser which was given to me as a Christmas present. I don’t particularly like the smell or the texture, but not to the extent that I refuse to use it. More subtly, I don’t enjoy using it. That has a knock-on effect with my moisturising regime, in that it removes an incentive for me. It’s not enough to make me actively procrastinate on moisturising, but if it’s a bit cold when I get out of the bath, or I feel like it’s a bit later than usual, I’m less inclined to bother, and having something unenjoyable to use seems to push me towards skipping it for a day.

Compare that to my current bubble bath, which is marshmallow-scented and which I absolutely love. it becomes a reason to look forward to having a bath. A more accurate comparison might be with my current hand cream. Again, I love the smell of it, so if I’m teetering on the edge of putting cream on, that might just push me over.

Now, body moisturiser is fairly cheap anyway, and this specific one cost me nothing as it’s a present. Therefore, in concrete terms I lose nothing if I throw it away. In opportunity terms, I’ll have to buy a replacement moisturiser sooner, but again, that’s not the kind of expense that’s going to break the bank. If I didn’t like it at all, I could have happily given it to the charity shop unused, and the cost wouldn’t have been an issue in any way. Still, I feel some resistance to throwing it away. Perhaps it’s the waste element. I feel bad that neither I nor anyone else will get any benefit out of the remaining part of the bottle. However, if I take into account the disbenefit to me – the reduction in moisturising regularity – that would seem to outweigh the benefit of using up the rest of the bottle. Environmentally, the unused moisturiser will go in the bin and end up somewhere undesirable. But I suppose that even the used moisturiser gets washed off when I bathe, with the chemicals going down the plughole. So it doesn’t seem to make a big difference to anyone or anything, except in terms of my enjoyment level. Yet I still feel some level of resistance to throwing it out.

I’m sure a professional declutterer would tell me to throw it out if I don’t like it. I suspect an environmentalist would tell me that the damage is already done when the moisturiser is produced, and that I should switch to more eco-friendly products, like soap nuts. I can’t think who would tell me to keep it and use it up, except perhaps an older person with a “waste not want not” attitude carried over from the Second World War and rationing. So how have I internalised this message that I’m giving myself?

It’s an interesting question, and even after writing it all down and giving myself all the logical reasons to get rid, I still feel like “Maybe I’ll wait until tomorrow and see how I feel then”. What would you do? Do you know of any uses for half-empty toiletries that I haven’t thought of, and that would mean I could put mine to good use?


Financial independence – quarterly #mortgage update 2016 Q2


For some reason our mortgage term hasn’t been updated since February, although we’ve been making overpayments every month. Anyway, the balance has roughly halved in the last three months

  • Mortgage balance at start of year: £27,655.74
  • Current mortgage balance: £7661.13
  • Interest charged: £285.19
  • Overpayment allowed in year: unlimited
  • Current overpayment total: £10,232
  • Mortgage term at start of year: 39 months (March 2017)
  • Current mortgage term: 39 months (March 2017)
  • Months to go: 9
  • Estimated months to go with continued overpayments: 2

We’re still on target to pay off the mortgage in August, although I’ll probably have to use a bit of savings to pay off the final amount. I’d rather do that than wait until September though.

Financial independence – quarterly #mortgage update 2016 Q1


I got a bit behind with the updates, so figures here are current to 29 April, which is technically more of a “thirdly” update.

In January 2016 we paid the standard monthly charge for the last month of our 2-year fixed term period. From February 2016 we moved to a standard variable mortgage at a rate of 3.99% interest.  We used our first overpayment to reduce our monthly payments from around £1,850 per month to around £1,575 per month, then updated our preferences again to reduce our term, although it hasn’t been updated since February.

  • Mortgage balance at start of year: £27,655.74
  • Current mortgage balance: £14727.38
  • Interest charged: £216.72
  • Overpayment allowed in year: unlimited
  • Current overpayment total: £6,250
  • Mortgage term at start of year: 39 months (March 2017)
  • Current mortgage term: 39 months (March 2017)
  • Months to go: 11
  • Estimated months to go with continued overpayments: 4

At this point, we are overpaying whatever we can afford every month. I’m hoping to have the mortgage paid off by the end of August 2016, and plan to request a redemption statement in June to get a clearer idea of the final payment. August is ambitious, but doable. It’s really motivating to see the mortgage balance drop so considerably each month.

January 2016 declutter total

Sold on eBay

  • 2 knitting magazines

Given to charity

  • 1 calendar
  • 1 folding mirror
  • 1 pair pyjamas
  • 1 pair socks
  • 1 crossword book
  • CLIC charity items: pen, badge, teddy

Thrown away/recycled

  • 1 cardboard box
  • 1 stereo aerial
  • 3 Merry Christmas banners (tatty)
  • Christmas cards
  • 1 pair tatty underwear


  • Slippers

Used up

  • Old moisturiser that’s been at my parents’ house for years

Total: 19 items

A fairly slow month for decluttering, but I kept progressing.


Financial independence – quarterly #mortgage update 2015 Q4

For this quarter, we continued to pay the standard monthly charge, and then saved as much as possible to pay off a lump sum at the beginning of 2016. Our fixed term continues until the end of January 2016, after which we will move to  a standard variable mortgage where we’ll be able to pay any amount. I think it is unlikely that we will (or could) remortgage, given the short term remaining.

  • Mortgage balance at start of year: £57,511.66
  • Current mortgage balance: ££27,654.12
  • Interest charged: £833.82
  • Overpayment allowed in year: £8,500
  • Current overpayment total: £8,500
  • Mortgage term at start of year: 48 months (December 2017)
  • Current mortgage term: 39 months (March 2017)
  • Months to go: 15
  • Overpayment savings: £6,000.00

Overpayment savings were lower than expecting, as my husband has been working less overtime and also got a company car for which he was taxed quite a large amount at once.

December 2015 declutter total

Given to charity

  • 3 pairs of glasses with the wrong prescription
  • 8 notebooks
  • 4 fiction books
  • Set of coasters
  • Bookmark
  • Set of Christmas cards
  • 4 toys
  • 4 necklaces
  • hanging storage item

Thrown away/recycled

  • 4 tins of expired food
  • 4 packets of expired food
  • Empty bottle (used contents to top up other bottles)
  • Tool for removing exercise ball plug (already sold exercise ball on eBay months ago)

Used up

  • Half-packet of walnuts used up in a recipe

Total: 38 items

This was my last session of the year, I’m always happy when I can get rid of more things than there are days in the month. However, I still have a way to go. I still have belongings which I haven’t used in the last year, so those will be the first things to look at in 2016.

October 2015 declutter total

Sold on eBay

  • 1 knitting magazine
  • 1 meerkat toy

Given away

  • 4 cloth napkins
  • 1 book
  • 3 mugs
  • 1 jacket
  • 2 sets of dividers in wrappers
  • 2 folders
  • 7 notebooks (one in wrapper, 5 unwrapped but completely brand new)
  • 1 cloth bag
  • 4 unused pens in wrappers
  • 2 lanyards
  • 3 rubber balls
  • 1 set of headphones and carry case

Recycled/used up/thrown away

  • 1 sellotape dispenser my husband brought home from his work
  • Tub of butter which my husband bought and doesn’t like (I don’t eat it)
  • 2 lettuces he bought which are going off
  • Saucepan with broken handle
  • Crumble mix – I think my husband got it off his mum, it’s been in the fridge for over a week, neither of us are going to eat it…
  • 5 hanging files – my husband keeps bringing these home from work. We already have stacks which he doesn’t use so I now have a zero tolerance policy. Until he uses the old ones, any new ones go straight out the door!
  • 6 packets of yeast – out of date and I don’t eat flour anymore
  • 1 pack casserole mix – as above

Total 51 items

Not bad going this month, I got quite a lot done one day at the beginning of the month and that set me up for the rest of the month. It’s not quite two items a day but it’s getting there. We are at a really high clutter point at the moment, my husband has filled up the majority of the rooms in the house with his stuff. We had a gas engineer come to the house, and I was genuinely ashamed to have a stranger see how we live. At the same time, I feel like I don’t have control over my husband’s belongings and the right to just get rid of everything. I’ve asked him to think about getting counselling for his hoarding and he’s said no, so I’m not sure what the next step is from here.