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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 3 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY Show, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Getting Rid of Just-in-Case Items: 20 Dollars, 20 Minutes

just in case essay

Just in Case

We often hold on to things just in case we need them. We don’t let go because we might need something in some far-off, non-existent, hypothetical future. And we pack too much stuff for trips and vacations just in case.

But we needn’t hold on to these things just in case. The truth is, we rarely use our just-in-case items, and so they sit there, take up space, get in the way, weigh us down. Most of the time they aren’t items we need at all.

Instead, if we remove the just-in-case items from our lives, we can get them out of the way, we can free up the space they consume.

Over the last year, the two of us let go of the vast majority of our just-in-case possessions. And during our tour, we made sure we didn’t pack anything just in case.

And then we tested our theory…

20/20 Theory

Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location. Thus far, this theory has held true 100% of the time. Although we’ve rarely had to replace a just-in-case item (less than five times this year for the two of us combined), we’ve never had to pay more than $20 or go more than 20 minutes out of our way to replace the item. This theory likely works 99% of the time for 99% of all items and 99% of all people. Including you.

More important, we haven’t missed the hundreds of just-in-case items we’ve gotten rid of, and we didn’t need to replace most of them at all.

Getting rid of these items clears one’s mind, frees up their space, and takes the weight off their shoulders.

So: what are you holding on to just in case?