The Art of Running Out of Stuff

Long ago, I caught a Doctor Phil episode where he was mediating between a couple. The dude didn’t want to scrape the bottom of the peanut butter jar. The wife was not having it and was ready to toss their marriage. I had no idea this was worth arguing over!

The Art of Running Out of Stuff


Would you scrape the bottom of the peanut butter jar? Or is that beneath you? Does it feel satisfying to use it all up? Or does it feel petty?

There’s no right answer, of course, but you might have guessed where I come out on this most days.

I love knowing that I’ve gotten maximum use out of most things.

This little turn-of-the-last-century chant runs through my head when I wear a hole through my socks, when I scrape the inside of the hand cream tube, or when my favorite purse finally breaks a strap:

Use it up

Wear it out

Make Do

Or do without

The Art of Running Out of Stuff

As a professional organizer, I hear a lot of, “I might just keep this because I might need it someday.”

Sure, there are a few useful “extras” hiding in our basements, closets and attic. In reality? Mostly our household storage spaces are where decisions go to die. We hold things so we don’t have to make a decision. We buy extras way before we can use them, and then buy replacements for the extras because it’s easier than searching in the dark spaces at home.

Things rot in storage or expire on the pantry shelves before we get to the bottom of the jar.

When was the last time you purposely ran out of stuff? Face cream, your favorite snacks, household cleaners? I’m not talking about toilet paper. I hope that never happens to you. But the other stuff?

If we can get better at gracefully running out of stuff and replacing it with only what we need, our lives are more simple, and our homes are less cluttered.

One of my favorite tools in this crusade is the Last Drop scooper.

mini spatula to organize the bathroom


Maybe this is the year you learn to become an expert at the art of running out of stuff. Something to think about.



This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Andria

    I like that last drop scooper… I just added it to my Amazon Wish List! Funny you wrote about this, because the topic of “running out” has come up for me a few times lately. My husband told me we were “almost out” of baby carrots, when I knew I had opened the package the night before. Indeed, it was still mostly full, but he wanted to know we had another bag at the ready. He’ll put crackers on the shopping list when we’ve just started a box and still have one in reserve. I used to like the feeling of preparedness, but now I’m enjoying running things down a little more than I used to. I think I got tired of the stockpiling mindset of the past two years!

    1. Darla

      It’s a trick to find the “just right” between two people. Thanks for sharing. BTW, if anyone in my house is asking for more vegetables, I’ll call that a win any day. 🙂

  2. Dream Closets

    Insightful thoughts, and it can be applied to so many things that we tend to stock up on, even clothing. Overstuffed closets might be worse than realizing your last black blouse is looking older and needs to be replaced. This is a great conversation to have!

    1. Darla

      Yes! Stocking up seems like such a good idea…until it isn’t.

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