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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, 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

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, nonexistent, hypothetical future. We pack too much stuff in the remotest chance we might need something for trips and vacations.

We needn’t hold on to these things just in case: We rarely use our just-in-case items—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 get them out of the way and free up the space they consume.

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

Then we tested our hypothesis: the 20/20 Rule.

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 hypothesis has become a theory that has held true 100% of the time. Although we’ve rarely had to replace a just-in-case item (fewer than five times 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.

Getting rid of these items clears our minds, frees up our space, and takes the weight off our shoulders.

What are you holding on to just in case?

Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.