Tune In to the Power of One

We live in a culture of plenty.  So it's pretty typical for us to believe that we need more than one of almost everything.  Of course you need a backup spatula, cooking spoon, or sauté pan!  Naturally you want a selection of bath towels, dinner plates, and athletic shoes!  It's only common sense to keep an extra umbrella, water bottle, or charger (or two, three, or a lot more).

We don't even question this.

Yet a lot can be gained by not owning more than we need:

  • We save money when we don't buy all the extras.
  • We save space when we don't store all the extras.
  • We save aggravation when we don't have to search through all the extras.

Not to mention the resources we don't waste, and the waste we don't generate, when we don't manufacture and package and ship all the extras.

Over the years, I've reduced my belongings to the point where I own a single copy of items that many people own multiples of.  Some items are small and inexpensive, others are large or pricey.  As you read along, keep in mind that this is my list, and it might not be applicable to you.  But I hope it inspires you to consider how you might own just one of some things.

just one

13 examples of one = enough

1.  Comb

Many people have a comb in the bathroom, bedroom, their purse, and maybe in the car or in their desk at work.  I have short, wavy hair, and I don't need to brush or comb it constantly to keep it looking reasonably decent.  I find that having one comb means I always put it where it belongs and never have to hunt around for it.  I've replaced it perhaps once in the last decade.  (Of course, I clean it every now and then.)

2.  Computer

I have one computer, my HP laptop.  My husband has the same model.  We don't have desktops or tablets.  It's small enough to travel with, but has a powerful operating system that allows me to get my work done on a single device.

3.  Daily shoes

Many people have shoe collections.  They may be beautiful (if you're into that), but they might not be practical or comfortable.  I like to get full use from something that's supposed to be useful.  By owning just one pair of shoes that I wear daily, I actually wear them out.  By the time I replace my black Sketchers Go Walk Joy shoes, they're not actually frayed, but the uppers are stretched out and the soles are getting worn down.  By that time they're not that comfortable to walk in, so their usefulness is over.

4.  Moisturizer

There are millions of products you can buy for your skin, and most women I know own dozens of them.  The majority sit unused because they don't work, are too finicky for every day, cost too much to use regularly, or all three.

I've used Olay Original beauty fluid for many years.  I don't use eye cream, I don't use night cream, I no longer use a special cleanser.  Using one potion makes my skin care routine very simple and quick.  It's true I'm blessed with small pores and normal-to-dry skin, but I find that a washcloth, warm water, and Olay keep my skin clear and soft.

5.  Suitcase

When Jon and I got married, we had an entire set of luggage I had been given as a college graduation gift.  Huge suitcase, medium suitcase, carry-on suitcase, makeup case, over-the-shoulder tote bag.  Five pieces.  Today we use one carry-on roller bag for the both of us unless we need to bring dressy outfits, in which case we each use a carry-on bag.

6.  Purse

This is another item women tend to collect.  I have a black leather purse with the perfect number of sections and pockets for what I need.  I've used it for several years and it looks like new.

7.  Television

Jon and I enjoy watching a DVD or streaming a TV series every once in a while, but I think it can be dangerous when we start putting screens in our kitchens, dining areas, and bedrooms.  We have one television in our living room.

8.  Sunglasses

By owning just one pair of sunglasses, I'm very conscious of where they are when I'm not wearing them (I keep them in my car).  The ones I own are getting a bit scratched up, so I plan to replace them before summer, but I've been using them since just before the pandemic.

9.  Vehicle

When our oldest child started at the local community college, we got her a reliable used car.  That was the first time since our marriage that we owned more than one car, and once our younger child moved into his own apartment approximately 10 years ago, our multi-vehicle era ended.  

We always made one vehicle work by coordinating our schedules, sharing rides, and using a bicycle.  Over the years, this has not only saved us a lot of money, but it's made us more thoughtful and flexible about how we use our transportation.

10.  Kitchen utensils and cookware

I've found that it's easiest to own just one of each kitchen utensil.  I don't need multiple can openers, salad tongs, ladles, measuring spoons, etc.  Likewise, I don't need more than one sauté pan, 3-quart saucepan, or 9x13-inch baking dish.  Owning more than that just crowds my kitchen and insures that multiple items sit idly in the cupboard.

11.  Set of sheets

I buy high quality sheets for the bed Jon and I share, and mid-quality sheets for the bed my grandsons sleep on for one or two nights per month.  I simply wash our sheets and put them right back on the bed, saving space in our tiny linen closet for an extra pair of bath towels, small stacks of hand towels and wash cloths, and the extra blanket for each bed that we store for eight months out of the year.

12.  Book shelf

At one point, my home had five bookshelves, and all were completely full.  Most of the books were mine, some were my husband's, and each of my kids had substantial collections as well.  I'm not sure what the total number was, but I'd guess it was about 400.

My current small home doesn't have room for five bookshelves, or even three.  There isn't room to keep every book I've ever read (or might read someday).  Not even close.  I have one bookshelf in our living room, and it holds about 50 books I've read, loved, and will likely read again, about a dozen books I have plans to read this year, plus physical copies of the books I've written.  In our spare room (used by our grandsons when they stay), there's a bin of picture books.

I finally figured out that a large and growing home library encumbered me, and that decluttering books wouldn't diminish me.  I've uncovered the books I love.

13.  Little black dress

I've been a professional singer for several decades, and used to own the wardrobe to match.  Since the pandemic, I perform less, but I still perform.  Today, I own one beautiful black gown, and I accessorize with different jewelry and silk wraps for variety.

Not only does this save space in my closet for clothes I wear more often, but it means that the one gown I own is of high quality, designed and tailored just for me.  Owning a "neutral" gown makes it more versatile, which justifies the higher cost.  I feel confident that my voice speaks for me, rather than my clothes.

The power in you

One item is unique, like you.  By owning just one of some things, you create a signature look or a distinguishing trait.  Owning one creates confidence, since you're not following trends and influencers.  You decide what you need, what will fulfill that need, and make the choice that suits you best.

In which situations would one be enough for you?


  1. Love this post. In the odd-but-true category, I used to collect writing implements -- cool pens and pencils, arranged in jars all over the house. Now, I have one pen by my computer and one pen by the family calendar in the kitchen. I keep a pack of three for when a pen runs out of ink, but that's it.

  2. I have one coat, one purse, one pair of gloves, but two hats--one for summer and one for winter. My coat has a liner for winter.

  3. I can’t help but wonder if you wear your Sketchers with a “beautiful black gown?”

    1. Lol, I do have a pair of low-heeled pumps I wear with it. Understand I only sing about a dozen concerts a year. When I was younger and sang more often, I was usually in a costume.


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