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The Best Minimalist Tip: One Out, One In

Virtually the best minimalist tip shared with me since I started my minimalist journey is to get rid of something every time you buy a new thing. This is also called “the one in, one out rule.” It's important to find a system that works for your lifestyle and stick with it.

Once you get the hang of living the life of a minimalist, it usually becomes easier to choose purchases with intention. You’ll learn to trust your instincts and priorities when choosing items that will be useful to you and bring you joy. However, it’s possible to start gaining clutter again if you’re not careful.

Using this tip regularly is a huge help in keeping your possessions in check. In this post I'll talk about why it's the #1 tip and why it's important to stick to it!

Why it's the best minimalist tip

The premise of this rule is easy. One thing must go out of your home before you can bring another in. This maintains balance in the number of possessions you own and ensures you aren’t taken over by clutter. Some people prefer one in, one out. In this scenario, they must get rid of something after they’ve brought home something new. Generally, the items are in the same category such as clothing or kitchen gadgets. Both approaches work. However, I like to take a proactive stance by deciding to remove something and rewarding myself with a new purchase. It can be too tempting to skip the “one out” part once you’ve bought something new. 

A Fun Experiment

This past week, I did an experiment. Every time I brought something new into my home, it meant one of the items in that category had to go out (clothes, shoes or kitchen gadgets).

It really made me think about my purchases as well as what I was willing to let go of.

The first day, I had to let go of a pair of shoes that were not as comfortable as they used to be. The second day, it was an old shirt that had holes in it. The third day, I let go of a kitchen gadget that was no longer useful to me.

I found myself getting really attached to certain items, but I realized those attachments were not as strong as I thought they were. It was a great exercise in letting go and realizing what I really needed versus what I wanted.

The results: I have a better understanding of what I need versus what I want.

When you think about how many times we buy a new item and don’t get rid of anything in return for it, it’s a lot. It feels good to live by this rule as it helps me stick with the minimalist lifestyle. Plus, I love that my home is more organized and clutter-free.

The Benefits

One out, one in can be a helpful guideline for managing your possessions and limiting clutter. It feels good to live by this rule as it helps me stick with the minimalist lifestyle.

When it comes to organizing my home and limiting clutter I love this rule. It is a great way to keep the clutter away. It is also a good rule for helping me stick with my minimalist lifestyle. I feel like I can get rid of more things when applying this rule because it is a good way to keep me motivated. It really is the best minimalist tip shared with me to date!

Simple and Easy

The system is simple and easy to manage. You don’t have to worry about balancing the number of items you own with a hard rule like one in, two out (or three). It also saves time because it takes less effort to remember what needs to be removed from your home. Lastly, it helps you make more intentional purchases.

When I’m in the store and am tempted to buy something new that would mean a temporary imbalance of one out, two or three in (depending on your system), I stop myself because I know what needs to be removed from my home. This has helped me save money, time and energy. I use this minimalist tip regularly.

Saves time and energy

Because less effort required in remembering what needs to be removed from your home, you will naturally have more energy to focus on adding in new things that actually make your life better.

It also saves time because you'll know what you need to remove when you purchase something new.

best minimalist tip, one out one in

Maintain Progress

The biggest benefit to this system is that it helps you to maintain the progress you’ve made with regard to decluttering. The hardest part is removing years worth of possessions and paring down to just the things that are most meaningful. You certainly don’t want to backslide and have to do it all over again.

Intentional Purchases

Every time you go to make a purchase, ask yourself if you really need it. Will this item make your life better? Does it fit into your overall mission of living simply and intentionally?

If you can't answer yes to all of these questions, then it's probably not a good purchase. Put the item back and move on with your day.

If you answer yes to them, ask yourself what needs to leave if I buy this item. Will it replace something else? If so, what will you do with the item that is being replaced?

If nothing needs to leave, ask yourself if you can borrow or rent this item. If you can, then consider doing so. This will enable you to try it out before making a purchase and save money in the long run.

If nothing needs to leave or if you decide to buy it, then ask yourself if you'll use this item every day. If not, can you realistically expect to use it at least once a week?

Asking yourself a series of questions regarding a possible purchase makes you more intentional in your shopping and helps you to avoid buying things impulsively.

Assess Priorities

Another benefit to one out, one in is that it helps you to assess your priorities and to reinforce your purposeful decision making. Knowing you must donate or sell an item before buying something new forces you to evaluate that decision. You can save yourself stress, money, and time when you feel more secure in your purchasing decisions.


One out, one in is a guideline for managing your possessions and limiting clutter in your home by removing something every time you buy new thing to reduce buying things without thinking about whether they're useful to you or add value to your life. You may prefer to have one in, one out. In this scenario, you must get rid of an item after purchasing a new thing that is the same type (for example clothing or kitchen gadgets). Both approaches work and I like to take a pro-active stance by deciding what needs to be removed before bringing something else into my home.

Put It into Practice

This technique can be used in a number of ways. It often works best when you view your possessions as categories and pay particular attention to the categories that tend to be your most problematic.

If you are a clothes lover, you should take care to always adhere to the one out, one in rule when deciding to add another apparel item to your closet. The same can be said for those who love jewelry, socks, toys for the kids, or whatever the case may be.

Choose your top three triggers, like kitchen gadgets for me! Then strive to maintain a balance between what you currently have and any future purchases. My big trigger is anything in my kitchen. That's why I have to remove one before buying a new one, or else clutter will creep back in!

For some, it may be clothes or shoes. Yet others may have a collection of books, movies, or something else. The key is to identify your own triggers and stick with the one out, one in rule.

I love this tip, because it's so easy to follow and really works. I've been using the “one out one in” rule for a year now. I don't have a lot of room, so if something new comes in, something old has to go. That way I'm not accumulating more stuff that just takes up space.

best minimalist tip

Utilize One Out, One in Every Day

One out, One In is a technique for decluttering that requires you to remove something every time you purchase an item. It forces you to evaluate the decision after having made it because you know what needs to be removed for the item to fit in. You will save time, money and energy by using One Out, One In on a regular basis because it helps you make more intentional purchases.

If you put this best minimalist tip into practice in your daily life, you’ll soon see that you’re even more determined to make decisions that fit your lifestyle. Your clutter won’t build up, and you’ll feel a sense of contentment with your things. Give it a try. 

Are there other areas where practicing one out, one in would benefit your daily routine? Let us know below and we'll post an article about it!

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