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What follows is the Tale of Two Purses.  On the left was the first purse…it stunk up my car. Yuck!  On the right was the replacement…so shiny and cute 🙂


I needed a new purse.  I’m not a big shopper and I haven’t a clue on fashion. But…I needed a purse STAT, one that could fit all the stuff that was overflowing out of my cute-but-far-too-small purse.

So I figured I’d just pick a reasonable purse at Ross and be done with it.  I stopped in last weekend to pick one up but nothing stood out to me.  Still, I needed a purse, so I grabbed one that I felt would “do” for $33.


There was a problem.  It was actually kind of ugly.  I also came to realize something after I left the store.  The purse had this funky scent about it…not a desirable feature in the bag you carry around with you 24-7.

I had already discarded the tags so wasn’t sure I could take it back.  I figured I was stuck with it and I needed to make it work. But each day this past week as I packed up my things to leave the house, I got a little more bummed about my ugly, stinky purse.


It wasn’t until yesterday when I read James Clear’s most recent article “5 Common Mental Errors That Sway You From Making Good Decisions” that I realized what was going on with me.

Clear deftly explains one of the five errors, “Loss Aversion”. He writes:

Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Research has shown that if someone gives you $10 you will experience a small boost in satisfaction, but if you lose $10 you will experience a dramatically higher loss in satisfaction. Yes, the responses are opposite, but they are not equal in magnitude. 

Our tendency to avoid losses causes us to make silly decisions and change our behavior simply to keep the things that we already own. We are wired to feel protective of the things we own and that can lead us to overvalue these items in comparison with the options.

For example, if you buy a new pair of shoes it may provide a small boost in pleasure. However, even if you never wear the shoes, giving them away a few months later might be incredibly painful. You never use them, but for some reason you just can’t stand parting with them. Loss aversion.

Even though I had grown to really dislike the purse (it was UGLY and STINKY!!!), I was keeping it due to “Loss Aversion.”


Well guess what?! The article provided clarity and helped resolve my loss aversion in this particular case.  Last night I met my hanai parents for dinner. We popped into Macy’s afterwards and I found a beautiful purse that retailed for $98 but was on a “Daily Deal” rack for $29.  Plus BONUS, it didn’t stink!

I will attempt to take the ugly purse back to Ross, but if they won’t take it back, I won’t sweat it. The knowledge gained through this process was worth WAY more than $33 to me.


In our work with clients, we see “loss aversion” every single day.  Clients are hesitant to get rid of things because of the pain involved in the process.  As Clear’s article states, the “keep” tendency is in our wiring.

However, the ability to declutter can be built, just like a muscle.  I’ve seen it happen in my clients and in myself. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Like lifting weights, learning math, or taking risks.

Want to decrease your clutter quota?  You need to decrease your personal loss aversion. You CAN and WILL do so by increasing your ability to declutter!

For a little inspiration, check out Clear’s full article, “5 Common Mental Errors That Sway You From Making Good Decisions“.

Wishing you the kind of “ah-ha” that I had from reading it.

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