One In Two Out: mini-mission

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In the process of uncluttering and learning to live with less, you will inevitably need to buy something. This mini-mission will ensure that you never have more than you do right now. One in, two out: Each time you make a purchase and bring something new into your life, let two things go.

I don’t apply this process to food, but everything else counts. It doesn’t have to be the same exact thing, but it helps to keep it in the same category. For instance, if you buy a new shirt, give away two shirts, or a pair of shoes and a hat that you never wear. If you buy a new yoga mat, give away your old one and a set of hand weights.

If you combine this mini-mission with your regular uncluttering, at some point, you may want to change to a one in/one out approach. Buying something new, with the awareness of what you will be letting go, will result in fewer shopping trips and more mindful purchases.

For more experiments to simplify your life, read Mini-missions for Simplicity. It’s available on the Amazon Kindle store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Kindle books can also be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android.


  1. says

    Love your mini-missions and this one’s a good one. Thanks for the continued tips and simplicity techniques. Cheers, Courtney.

  2. George Stnson says

    This is going to be difficult for me, but I know that you are spot on. The only problem I have is looking into the future. What happens when I have no clothes. I know your’re saying that would not happen for at least 25years, but it could. Maybe I’m just stressing out. If I just start, maybe it would not be so bad.

  3. says

    This is an excellent idea, and one I think I shall adopt, as there are still too many things cluttering up the Minimalist Woman house!

  4. says

    Hi Courtney, I found your blog via a link on The New Pursuit. I like this idea! Though I may not have the oomph to get rid of 2. Maybe I can start with 1 in, 1 out. Decluttering is definitely an issue for me, though I rarely buy new things now. I like the idea of a mini-mission, makes it sound much less daunting. =P Thanks for the post!

  5. says

    I follow this to a T…But now that I am such a minimalist, do you have any suggestions for other simplistic tactics to do when I do bring a new “thing” into my life?

    David Damron
    The Minimalist Path

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks for this great question. I think about that quite a bit, especially since I have a 15 year old daughter. She is going to need some new “things” and I will too most likely. I don’t think that buying something that you need or even want, makes you less of a minimalist because you aren’t purchasing to accumulate “things”, you are purchasing to add value to your life. When I do buy something, it is with the mindset, that it is likely only a temporary purchase, and I will be passing it on when I’m done with it. I don’t have a good example of that yet, but will be posting about it as soon as I do! If you are buying thoughtfully to fill an actual need vs. trying to fill a void, then I think you are still in line with your values of living with less. What do you think?


  6. Andrew C says

    Diligently follows this. In fact,at times, one in three out- practices on clothes, shoes, books/magazines, CDs/DVDs.

  7. Jacki Dixon says

    I have thought of this idea when I buy something new. It has been an “excuse” for getting a new item. I think, “I’ll get rid of item X” but when I put the new item in my closet I end up keeping iteam x too! I need to do a major closet overhaul. I like the mini-mission, 5 in 10. Maybe if I do one of those everyday, I can get my closet & life manageable.

  8. says

    this is a new year for me- a year hopefully that sees me gain back time that I feel is getting away from me. Firstly I want to de-clutter my home and office, to give me room to breathe again. I love the simplicity of your mini missions. It helps to give me momentum in creating the change.

  9. says

    Hi Courtney, just found you through Diana’s post at A Certain Simplicity (which I love). This has been our lifestyle for some time now, we have always planned to return to Italy so buying “stuff” seemed pointless. We have literally given away almost everything not essential and it is so freeing. We now own next to nothing and will leave with a cubic square metre and a few suitcases. Life is pared down to the minimum, next into a camper while we renovate. Just keep taking steps towards what you want to achieve, everything after that is a mystery…
    ciao lisa

  10. Angie Kay says

    I am in! I just started this minimalist lifestyle and I have already gotten rid of 206 things in my house. I am counting them as I go. It is such a great feeling too! I feel lighter. The sentimental things are the hardestt o deal with…and make-up. I have way too much of both. Thanks for you site. I have a new blog at
    Please take a look and I welcome your comments.

  11. says

    All of these mini-missions are great, I can’t believe I’m just finding them! This one in particular is extremely important, and often times hard to live by. I think about doing this and need to get better and implementing.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

  12. Luce says

    This is a great minimission! After having decluttered my wardrobe during my last move I have to be carefull not to fill it again with useless stuff! Above all now that Xmas is coming!
    Thanks for this and for the great tips that you always post!

  13. Brenda Leus says

    Wow. This is a great idea. I always buy stuff when I see cute and beautiful dress or top. The next time I buy stuff, I’ll keep in mind to let go of 2 things. I am starting to live minimally too.

  14. says

    Just did a major wardrobe upgrade, and will be tossing my old and tired clothes.
    In fact, I had just tossed 4 pairs of shoes and bought three, so I’m not too far off.
    Great principle to apply and not get overwhelmed. So many people do when they think of decluttering.