52 Responses to “A Little Box of Just in Case”

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  1. I found the “just in case” was a huge anchor when I got started simplifying my life. Original boxes for stuff just in case I needed to mail it somewhere, which I never needed to. Every cable that ever came with anything I’ve ever bought incase I needed it, which meant I had 20 USB cables that I never needed (although I kept 1 extra). Having gone through it, I can say that 99% of the time we keep things “just in case”, that case never comes. In the event that the case happens, there’s usually a way to handle it (buy a new box, get a new cable). And when there isn’t, it will still be ok.

  2. Board games I haven’t played for years, that I keep just in case… Not much “just in case” stuff at home however: I’ve become good at fighting Mr. Justin Case, thanks to blogs like yours!

  3. I have a lot of “just in case” where my crafting supplies are concerned. I love crafting but don’t do it all the time. Is it town to grab that box? I’m not sure…I might need it “just in case”.

  4. I recently had a “just in case” moment…it snowed here (which is unusual) and we didn’t have our snow shovel anymore. Guess what…we survived and made do with what we had.

    I still hold on to things, “just in case”…but each time I let go of something, it frees me a little more.

  5. Diana

    Crafting supplies are my huge just in case thing. Although, I do actually use most of it. I am doing pretty good getting rid of lots of things in my life, but I am struggling with the craft supplies. I would love to know the best strategy for that.

    I have been living in my grandpa’s large house for several years, and I’m now getting ready to move back into a smaller place. I’m realizing that you kind of just grow to fit your surroundings. I have kept alot of things that I wouldn’t have kept normally, but there is room for it, and it doesn’t bother me, so I do it. So now, I’m starting to clean and organize and get rid of things, and it has felt great to be free of some of the clutter I’ve collected the last few years.

    • Jamie

      I have been working on the craft thing for a while. I love all of it but someone said one time they like to buy it more than use it or have it more than use it. Ding Ding! I decided to focus my projects. I like paper crafts the best and sorted it out from there. Items I can’t think of something instantly to use it for it gets passed on to someone who will use it like a kids school programs. They are starving for supplies. Plus as I purged I saw the projects I wanted to do and did them. Like lifting the curtain. Good luck.

    • Jamie

      I have been working on the craft thing for a while. I love all of it but someone said one time they like to buy it more than use it or have it more than use it. Ding Ding! I decided to focus my projects. I like paper crafts the best and sorted it out from there. Items I can’t think of something instantly to use it for it gets passed on to someone who will use it like a kids school programs. They are starving for supplies. Plus as I purged I saw the projects I wanted to do and did them. Like lifting the curtain. Good luck.

      • Diana

        I am totally a “collector” more than a user of a lot of my craft supplies. But, I hesitate to give it all away because I do actually end up using it for various and random projects, for church or with my nieces. But, I also know the feeling of finding things you’ve forgotten about and wanting to work on those things again, especially when there is less clutter around. So, I’ve got to find a balance somehow. I currently have a whole room for my craft stuff, and I’m planning to move to a one-bedroom apartment, so something’s gotta go.

        • Jamie

          Me too, I like to make jewelry and cards and ceramics and…I had to pick my favorites. Courtney has taught me the value of a list. So I made a list of projects I wanted to complete and a time frame. Or I had to get rid of them. In 3 weeks I finished 6 projects. It was awesome. I am so excited to be in a community of like minded folks. You can do it!

    • Oh…craft and sewing supplies are my just in case too. I have a roooooom full of them which needs to be turned into a guest room/home office as well as a sewing and crafting room, so they need to go. SO many things – more zippers than I could ever imagine dresses and so on and so forth. I recently went through and assigned patterns to fabric, but if they don’t get made in the next few months, then they are history. Zippers etc. I am selling. If I really need a new zipper, I can go and buy just that one. I am also trying to focus on the mentality of “imagine I had to pay to ship it”. Finally – I have picked a bookshelf and I am trying to narrow them down to fit into that one shelf. With these myriad of constraints, I hope that soon they will be manageable! The major bonus is that with an uncluttered room, I feel much more like creating! Win-win.

  6. Susan

    I love this Just In Case box idea! I’ve already thought through some just in case items like too many extra towels, but I’m sure I have more. Closely related is being overly prepared for infrequent occurances. A couple of years ago I culled some very heavy wool sweaters, because when I actually thought about how many days we have that are actually in the zero to 15 degrees range, it wasn’t enough to justify keeping all of them.

  7. I don’t have many “just in case” items, but I do hold onto books so I know that counts. And they do fill a whole box! Time to sort through and see which ones can certainly go. Thanks for the encouragement.

  8. This is awesome. My mom and I had a converstation about this last night and its funny because she is great at keeping things “just in case” and I have been relaying to her my journey and progress through simplification. She always asks me, “what if you will need it?” I always say the same thing, “if i dont need or use it now it will never get used. Might as well pass it along.” Thank you for sharing this.

    • Mariel, I have been having conversations with my mum, 85, since my move back to BE near her in October. I had one just yesterday. She loves to look through every day’s paper and find sales. Deals. And she had spoken to me about one for shoes, then showed it to me when I was over yesterday. I KNOW she wants to simplify, but it is almost like taking away the oxygen in the room, if that makes sense. I have learned to BE extremely patient and that has been good for me. She is BEginning to get the idea BEhind my ways of DOing and BEing. I have Enough. Today is the only day I need to “have” whatever I “need” and I DO have it. And more!! I can only change what I change for ME and love her while she just in cases her way through however much more Life she is going to have. MayBE she will warm to this Just In Case box for some things.

  9. I have a pair of old roller skates (that probably don’t even fit my post-2-pregnancies spread-out feet, none of my other old shoes did!) that I have kept “just in case”. Seriously, they are 25+ years old! They used to be hidden behind everything else, but in our current home they are really obvious in the closet. I’ve cleaned through a lot of stuff in recent years, but somehow these escaped. We’re having a garage sale this May and I’m planning to send them on their way!

  10. What a great idea! I love the concept of having a designated spot for those items. For some reason, this seems different than the “maybe box” of stuff you don’t know if you can part with. But “just in case” is a definite hangup for many of us, and a great place to put those items!

  11. Rae

    I save the knick knacks I so carefully purchased because I thought they would display my great taste in knick knacks to the world. They ended up being too precious to even display (what if they got dusty, or broken?), so I stored them. I have kept many of them, JIC, and I don’t think they meet my need to have great taste in knick knacks. :D I rarely have people over, and when I did, no one noticed how awesome a person I am via my stuff. Stuff isn’t really me, even if I want it to represent me, and “say something” about me. I continue to learn that I am quietly ok, and I don’t have to convince people of that through my various accessories. It is slow going, but I am a work in progress. I am grateful for this blog, because it supports me gently and with care. Thank you. :)

  12. I have been trying – really trying – to embrace simplicity. From many previous moves, I have learned to get rid of things But, it seems I never get rid of enough. Really digging in there requires some baby steps. We live in a too big house on too many acres. It is overwhelming. But, I know if I do just one drawer, one closet, one shelf at a time, I will get there. Here are some “just in case” things that I got rid of this week – an adapter to a video camera with a battery that no longer holds a charge; an adapter for using small cassettes in a large VCR (I somehow bought the wrong one years ago, but never got rid of it!); two board games that we never, ever played; etc. It feels good to get rid of this stuff! Only 2,346,98 items to go. LOL!

  13. I cracked up when I read “the little black piece that fell off the remote”! Those are some of my favorite just-in-case items! As for the old VHS/8mm/other media, I’ve already had the stuff digitized, and I’m still saving the originals “just-in-case” someone else wants to make a better digital copy someday. Kinda ridiculous when I think about it. Thanks for helping me think about it!

  14. What I love most about the “just in case” process, is how my brain starts to work after the items are long gone. When an occasion comes up that I think I need an item I no longer own, my brain opens up in all kinds of creative ways to work with “what I have” and to “find another way”.

  15. I’m normally pretty good at keeping ‘just in case’ items at bay. Like many of you, my problem is craft supplies plus photo shoot props. If it was just for my own needs I would be fine, but with my blog I do a lot of craft tutorials and photo shoots so I will often dig through my stash to find the perfect backdrop/vase/embellishment. I am starting to borrow more from my stylist friends rather than buy everything and I think I will still keep a craft/prop cupboard but limit it to a certain space, once it overflows I must reduce.

  16. Julia

    I’m planning a tiny house build within the next 12 months so my just in case items have been thrown into a new focus. They are too large to fit in a box anyway! I live with family at the moment so I need very little from my previous life of one person in a 3 bedroom house so it’s all in storage which has made me really assess my stuff. Last week the super comfy sofa went – a ‘just in case I move into a normal sized house’ item (armchairs are next), my massage table and 2 huge boxes of massage linens are another ‘just in case I take up massage again’ item that I need to release from my past. Most of the small junky just in case items have been released and all the just in case bed/bath linens were donated to the local Women’s Refuge. I love the huge weight off my shoulders that comes with doing this and I love observing the mental process that occurs within me – from the ‘I love that and might need it someday’ to the ‘I love it but will I ever use it again?’ and finally to the ‘I still love it but it’s no longer a part of who I am and I no longer need it, time to give it someone else who does’.
    Thanks for another great thought provoking post.

  17. Christy King

    While we don’t have a just-in-case box, we put stray electronics cords and hardware bits in a ziplock bag and write the date on it with a sharpie. Each time we toss a bag into the desk drawer where we store this stuff, we see if any of other the bags has been around for several months and should be disposed of.

  18. Mike

    I got started simplifying my life in 2009 and got rid of almost all of my just in case items and just keep what I need. The only thing I keep just in case is Jeep parts each time I add something new I keep the old one just in case they wont fit in a box but I need to get rid of a lot of it.

    Courtney I love your web page

  19. I have got rid of almost all of the “just in case” items. What shocked me was just how many there were. I did think that we had too many mugs, but as I frequently host meetings of 15+ at home I need plenty of mugs so they were allowed to stay.

    The clothes were interesting. I thought I had culled everything I didn’t wear. Then I began to pack for a month long trip to Australia that would cover everything from formal dinners to the beach. Two dresses I had kept mysteriously no longer fitted me. Clearly they had not been worn in a very long time. So out they went too.

  20. erin

    Like a lot of others, I had a hefty amount of craft stuff “just in case” – I had a whole gamut of things from stacks of felt to skeins of yarn to more paint than one person could ever possibly need. I had a wall of craft cubby type storage on the wall of my office filled with art supplies that I had used once or twice then forgotten about. When I tried to purge them I had a rough time. I didn’t want to donate them and then suddenly rediscover my passion for making tissue-paper flowers or something. But I forced myself to get rid of all but the most basic supplies- white and colored paper, colored pencils, a small set of paints, scissors and an exacto knife and a bottle of glue. And the weird thing is that I’m feeling more creative and I use those things more than when I had a big wall o’ crafting at my fingertips.

  21. Today I released my “just in case” wine glasses. I live in a small studio flat. I will never host a dinner for six here! I did keep two of them, we do drink wine occasionally :)

    It might be time to release the “just in case” extra computer cable thingeys – my computer runs fine without them and I don’t know what they are for…

  22. Anna

    Those little rubber feet that drop off the bottoms of phone bases and other gadgets so the naked bases scrape the surface of the table they are on. When I find out which feet belong to which gadgets, I’ll reapply them all. I promise.

  23. Deborah

    I keep holding on to my just in case, because I always think that the moment I get rid of them I’m going to need it. As in Murphy’s Laws this may of happened once-twice? but I remember these few more than the hundreds of things I’ve never needed again!. My biggest ‘problem’ has really been another one though. I have a 21 year old daughter. I’ve kept a few clothing items of when she was a baby and a toddler . For me it was like keeping a bit of my little baby. Stupid, I know. Also I’ve kept the load of cot, pram, baby tub, etc and that was because, knowing that we didn’t want to have anymore children, I was terrified thinking that if I got rid of it I would be needing it the next day!. This is more stupid than the other one. Now I’m being ‘very brave’. I’ve given my baby girl’s clothes and slowly I’m giving away the rest of baby stuff.

    • Suzanne

      We are getting ready to move and I have saved some of my son’s shirts from when he was little, along with some of my most favorite t-shirts and my hubby’s. They are all items that would normally go to the thrift store, but I’m hoping to make a “family quilt” out of them. I thought that this would be a way to get rid of some of the items (even if it’s just the sleeves and collars, lol!) and have a new, useful item in the end.

  24. One of the things I have watched in myself is my tendency to hold onto things. THINGS. NOT ideas. NOT moments. NOT even JOY. THINGS. And I have discovered that it is a lot like holding onto the side of the pool. No chance to feel the water and enJOY the sense of swimming from the side of the pool. As I have let go and let go and let go some more these past few years, I have discovered that THINGS are NEVER what bring JOY or cherished moments or even good ideas. They stand in the way of Living Life Fully. A Just In Case box really makes sense. Great post and greater still the comments.

  25. When I was growing up, the family’s mantra was, “Don’t throw anything away; you might need it sometime.” It was a natural result of living through The Great Depression and believe me, it sticks with you all your life and overcoming it isn’t easy! About five years ago I began to come to terms with my mortality and decided to get rid of a lot of things so the children wouldn’t have to do it after I’m gone. I dabbled at it, but now I’m doing it with a purpose because my husband died last November and I’m preparing to go to live with my youngest son, where I will have one room for my bed, my computer, and my craft supplies. Most difficult to let go of were my husband’s personal items, but for them there is no “just in case.” Now it’s a “thrift shop” box–or two or three–that fills up rapidly. I absolutely identify with many of the previous comments.

  26. The things that I have kept just in case include but, are not limited to wedding gifts that have really served no purpose except to be shoved in a box and gotten rid of also the cake topper. I have also kept my “good dishes” but, now use them as everyday dishes.

  27. janey

    Totally agree with Jean Allen: My parents were Depression era kids and I witnessed a very organized hoard/JIC stash as I grew up. Sadly, the consequences were huge for my eldest sister who had the task of clearing their home after they passed. I think something broke, as I recently had to clean up HER hoard after she passed. It was awful. I think all of us need to think beyond our own little world and consider who will be cleaning up after us. All that JIC stuff will be useless [emotional] clutter for them. I want to leave only good memories behind!
    The obvious immediate benefit is a clearer, unburdened mind and heart, and just plain easier lifestyle since you needn’t fret anymore as to WHERE did I put that thingy…

  28. The biggest issue with the just in case items in many cases is they are legitimate just in case items. Its far easier to remove junk or items you don’t need. What I found worked for me was looking at the items when they first come into the house and deciding how likely it is that we’ll need it. And then will the just in case item have a home? If the answer is not likely or no it won’t really have a home I get rid of it.

    Its a process and getting rid of things has taken a lot of time and I’m sure it will take a lot more till we’ve simplified fully.

  29. MelD

    It’s often about comfort, isn’t it?! I hung onto clothes for years until I noticed the younger girls didn’t really want to wear the outdated stuff the older girls had worn, however cute. They each had their own style.
    Then I used books as my comfort object. I moved to a house where i had a whole room just for my books – bliss! But I had to get rid of some for them to fit… since then I have got better and better at getting rid. Now our house is much smaller and I keep going through them. It’s something I have to keep doing in addition to curating the ones I buy and despite reading a lot of books on ereader. On Friday I suddenly thought of going through the books again – and was amazed that it took me all of about 10 minutes to make two 2′ piles to go! My bookcases were looking very tidy and I gave up books that I didn’t love but which maybe looked impressive… then I turned to the many, many magazines I have kept. Oops, another comfort object. We have lived here for nearly 8 years and we don’t need to remodel nor will we leave here anytime soon. I did flick through the magazines I used to “love” and ended up with three nearly 3′ piles of magazines I’d kept – for what?! Most were outdated in terms of styles/technologies, I need to do yoga, not read about it, and the dog glossies were pretty but… It’s so freeing and I will have a wonderful time cleaning away the dust and dirt today, now there is space :)

  30. Public service announcement for people who started reading Be More with Less after 2011. Courtney wrote a beautiful – and powerful – article a while back called The Sad Story of Justin Case. If you liked this post, you’ll dig this one from her archives too: http://www.bemorewithless.com/2011/the-sad-story-of-justin-case/

  31. I would have had a lot of clothes in the Just In Case box up until recently! For some reason I was still hanging onto my formal (prom) dress from 13 years ago, not only was it out of fashion but there is no way I was going to be able to squeeze into that one. After reading a Project 333 post I realised I was hanging onto items like this because they represented who I once was, not who I am now. It felt really good to letit go :)

  32. Amanda

    Oh…all the buttons and additional threads that come with clothes… I NEVER have used them…and yet!

  33. Judy

    Many of my JIC items include clothes which I want to keep so I will have CHOICES! They still fit so I have a hard time getting rid of them. Also I keep all those seasonal decorations which love to use but really don’t need as many as I have. Then there are the books that my mother who passed in 2010 at age 97 told me I had to keep. Plus all the craft items I have plus the myriad of ones I got from her! OMG Where do I begin??

  34. Amy

    “Just in case” for me are papers. I’m always holding on to random papers from a meeting or school JUST IN CASE I end up needing it… Despite the fact that I haven’t looked at them in months.

  35. Loretta

    What useful thoughts! I will put all my just in caes items into that box and put it in the garage. I am certain I will never look in there. What things do I keep just in case.

    BTW…all of this is in my closet.

    Fabrics-in case I want to make something.
    Frames-in case I need to frame something.
    Flat shoes for dancing in case my husband decides to take me dancing. HA!
    Patterns in case I want to make that something.
    Craft items in case I want to make something.

    Many of these things can go directly to the thrift store…
    It feels so good to be writing this.
    I commit to getting into that closet tomorrow and taking care of the just in cases and I will include the dress I will wear to the pool as a cover up in case I go to the pool…(Not gonna happen!)

    Wish me luck.

  36. Elise

    Oh, I struggle with this!!
    I’ve got lots of fabrics, as I’ve been quilting for 12+ years now… But I haven’t had the chance to finish a quilt since my son was born a year and a half ago. So I’m thinking of passing along many of my fabrics so someone else can enjoy them. But then again, I don’t want to…
    Initially, I was having a hard time getting rid of jewelry I didn’t wear (or like), and clothing items that had been special sometime in the past. But I’ve decided to adopt a “catch and release policy”! Someone out there will enjoy those “treasures” more than I will now.

  37. Gail

    I used to sew a lot, but in recent years not so much. Although I don’t have a stash of fabric, I find it hard to get rid of something that has a lot of nice fabric to it, like a tablecloth or a curtain. If I really like the color, pattern, texture of the fabric, I will tell myself that I could make it into a throw pillow or a cushion for the patio chairs. But do I WANT to make those things? Not really. Silly, isn’t it? Why do I want to give myself ANOTHER project to hang over my head??? I know that I don’t need a just in case box to sit around for 30-60 days. I am fully aware already of which things I’m saving “just in case” and I haven’t used them in YEARS! They just need to GO AWAY! Great topic for discussion.

    • Loretta

      Well, I’ve been thinking about the projects that are over my head and I have to decide if I want to keep them there or not. I ask myself if I am willing to sacrifice the $$ I spent for fabric, etc so that I can have the freedom of space and freedom in my mind.

      When I first moved into this home 9 years ago, I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted things to look; very intricate window coverings and bed coverings, etc. I have not finished the curtains or bed spread for the MB yet…Do I think I ever will? Well….I doubt it.

      I have to remember that there are other things I would rather be doing with my time. No one really gives a hoot about what kind of window treatments I have or don’t have and really, I don’t think I care anymore.

      I just turned 70 this year. If I don’t clean out and give myself more freedom who will AND will I be here to enjoy it????? Don’t want to sound morbid but these are the facts…ma’am…just the facts! :)

      • Gail

        Loretta,

        At 62, I think I’m slowly realizing that I’d rather have the freedom of space and time than to keep holding onto a neglected project just because of the money I initially invested in it.

        My journey into decluttering and downsizing began 5 years ago when my husband and I retired. Our first project was to tackle his deceased parents’ 60 year old house and possessions which was in another state. As an only child, it was all for us to take care of. At that time, I’d never read anything about decluttering or simplifying, but I was always an organized person. It didn’t take long for me to start thinking about my own possessions! Even so, we initially took into our own home many of my in-laws’ things, adding to our already full house. Eventually, I felt like I could hardly breathe for all the STUFF. I started to seek out how other people had handled this project. Five years later, I have read hundreds of articles about decluttering, and I have been working on my own things for the past 2-3 years. It can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, but so worth it. It takes lots of time. Just like losing weight, if you have, say, 50+ lbs to lose, the first 10-20 lbs can go unnoticed even though it is fantastic progress. Same with downsizing. I’ve given away literally hundreds of items, yet I still have lots more to go. I’m anxious to have empty spaces around the house, but… patience and persistence.
        Thanks, Courtney, for keeping us all inspired to continue this journey.
        Gail

  38. Loretta

    Yesterday I called Love INC, a thrift store in our area, and was thrilled to learn that they were able to come and pick up a piece of furniture I have been wanting to donate for a few years. I also boxed up some of the things I mentioned before; patterns and picture frames. I also decided to get rid of some really cute shoes that “Kill my feet”. These are the ones that used to have a time limit of two hours. Seems they have regressed to only about 30 minutes so, even though I loved them when I purchased them, I had to say “bye-bye” yesterday. The gentlemen who came for the furniture and other items were happy to receive them. All in all it was a win-win situation.
    As Gail said,things still look clutterd but I am making progress. Even though I gave away 4 boxes of stuff…my closet still does not look uncluttered. It will take awhile but I am not giving up!! Thank you everyone for your support!

  39. Thera

    We are getting ready to move and that is a great time for me to eliminate even more. I pack the non essentials first, that leaves us with app a month of the bare basics and once moved gives me a good perspective on what I really needed, wanted or missed and the rest can go!

  40. Jennifer

    Makeup & hair styling tools. I stopped wearing makeup a few years ago and always preferred a wash & go hairstyle that I don’t have to put products in and blow dry. Then my boss retired and I was unemployed (on purpose) for a few months and really enjoyed the freedom to do less. But when I started job hunting and then started working at my new job, I dug out that plastic shoebox full of makeup and the hairdryer & flat iron from under the bathroom sink and set about with a routine that I had ditched years ago. But wearing makeup and fussing with my hair didn’t last two months. For one thing, half the makeup had to be tossed because it was too old. Then I started having breakouts even from the minimal amount I was wearing – powder, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, and blush – which was, as I belatedly recalled, the reason I gave up wearing makeup years ago. I am almost embarrassed to admit that everything went back in the plastic shoebox and back under the sink “just in case”.

  41. Loretta

    I have been working on reducing our possessions and our clutter for about 3 months. Every time I make the decision to let something go makes the next decision easier. The importance of these past decisions has become evident…My husband and I have decided to downsize!
    So it semms I was preparing for our move into a much smaller home without knowing it. I feel confident that I will be able to let go of so much more than I ever would have had I not been practicing these past months. I will be very careful of the Just In Case scenario…after all, if I really need something, Walmart is only a 5 min ride from our home.
    Thank you for you very supportive articles and ideas. I have appreciated them immensely!

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