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« Even I Have My Limits | Main | Mindless Spending 2: You'll Get By with a Little Help from Your Friends »

December 08, 2009


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My husband decided to use a weekend to clean out and organize our huge walk-in pantry and downstairs storage closet. While he hit those, I went through the rest of the downstairs to shred unnecessary papers and organize the kitchen and dining room.

We ended up tossing a lot of expired food like opened cereal that didn't get eaten in time and candy that had been in there since we moved in.

We also ended up with a few pieces of furniture that were just wasting space like a rolling storage bin, a plastic storage tower, and a floating shelf. I sold the storage bin and tower for $20 on craigslist and gave the floating shelf to a coworker who was interested.

Lastly, we had some stuffed animals, baseball caps, shoes, and belts that I donated to Goodwill.

Now the downstairs is perfectly organized, but it took hours...I cringe at the idea of hitting the upstairs closets and office/storage room...

I can totally relate! I actually like getting rid of stuff almost as much as I like buying new things--and it's much better for my budget. I also agree--cleaning and tossing and organizing makes my old house seem spiffy and new somehow.

I find it's important for me to keep on thinking while cleaning, "if I ever need something like this, I can just buy another one". Because otherwise I tend to try to save *everything* for a rainy day. Which of course never (usually!) actually arrives.

...did that 2-3 years ago, sold over $8K on Craigslist and gave 18 various moving boxes to Goodwill, a lot to friends and some left at the trash heap...moved myself w/ just some clothing, tools, few things and purchased new ONLY whaat I needed for new/smaller house, feels good to be lightweight again! Emoty garage, 1/2 empty attic, empty cabinets and drawers, LOTS of floor space, LIFE IS GOOD!

I have been going through my home office, that I share with my wife. Shredded, tossed, recycled a day away. I have so many more rooms to go, so little time....

I think my wife and I both share the hoarding gene, although she got the dominant gene, mine recessive, and she would probably even agree.

We both have decided to do better in the future, time will tell.

Last nite I went through an entire 2 hours of hardcore bathroom and room cleaning. I don't get how I can accumulate so much stuff in such little space. I ended up throwing away a lot of unnecessary junk.

When I'm doing my "Do I really need this?" cleaning, I always tell myself: If I haven't used it in the past 2 years, I probably won't ever be using it. It just makes decision-making so much easier for me.

I do have a little big of a pack rat mentality but I'm not a full blown hoarder. I just tend to collect stuff more than not and I don't throw things out automatically. But I don't have any problems getting rid of true junk. Its an ongoing battle. If you don't keep on top of it and clean things out every year then it will start to pile up big time. One of my weaknesses is keeping empty boxes. I have this somewhat irrational need to keep the empty box from things I buy just in case I need to return it or if I want to resell the item later. Plus I'm a bit paranoid about keeping paperwork. Switching to electronic billing has helped a lot on the paperwork side.

@Jim, You must be related to my wife, who loves to save boxes. I used to be stupid and make comments or throw them away. Every time, I mean every time, I did this, the next day we would need a box for something.

Now, in my wise old age, I just appreciate her far superior wisdom, and keep my mouth shut!

Only disasters in financial responsibility seem able to throw away stuff effortlessly. The rest of us ('normal' people) seem programmed to save stuff "for when I need it again." That day usually never arrives, and I've become a fan of "If I haven't used it in the last x time, I'll never need it." Also, I keep storage space to a minimum, because any space gets filled, and the stored stuff is a drain on your life (checking, reviewing, reorganizing, ...).

This is an ongoing issue for my bride and I. We will clean up our repective offices and a week later the clutter returns. I've come the view that the clutter breeds at night like rabbits. the poster above has the right plan, it must be kept on top of daily. good to hear that we aren't alone in this.

I think I've been able to avoid having way too much stuff by moving often (an average of once every 2 years). Trust me, after the 4th or 5th time of packing everything up, you'll get to the point where you're selling and tossing as much stuff as you can, just so you don't have to pack it AGAIN.

Much of my belongings are in clear plastic bins (so I can see what's in 'em), and in order on shelves. This makes moving easier, since most everything is already 'packed'. I still go through periodically and see what hasn't been used for a while. If I've gone a year without any need for it, then out it goes (Craig's List has been a great place to sell things, as well as eBay). I've also become far more in tune to any spending, and before I buy something, I really think hard as to whether I *need* it or not. If I don't need it, I don't get it.

I've done this quite a lot since I moved into our family home. While I didn't come with much, over the 2 years I've lived here, I've had to work through years of things my mother had. We've been able narrow everything to one bedroom and the basement.

But even in our bedrooms, we routinely do the "do we really need it cleaning". Like so many others, I wonder why it comes in the first place! But I will say I love days off from work to take the first half of the day to clean and the second to relax. May sound lame but it's a perfect way to relax for a "in the middle of the week work getaway!"

Much of our "stuff" comes from birthday party gifts. This accumulates with 3 kids over the years.

Did you consider selling any of the items you had on eBay or Craigs List? We recnetly moved into a new house and with the move did a huge amount of selling off and donating off of stuff before and after the move. We sold furniture we wanted to replace in the new home before the move and then sold off what didn't fit in the house once the move was complete. Whatever did not sell right away we donated to Goodwill.
We made a fair amount of money with the sales of furniture (sold a couple of items -mostly solid wood furniture- for more than we bought them for) and were able to use that money to furnish the new house.
We also donated alot of clothing, toys and dishware to charity. We even gave a bunch of fixtures and hardware to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore after we renovated parts of the home. After six months in our home we are getting ready to go thru what is left in boxes in the basement and sell or donate whatever we do not need.

On a seperate note, for the past two years right around Thanksgiving time, we have worked with our kids to clean out their toyboxes and help them pick toys they no longer play with (most they have grown out of) and we then donate most of these to charity. We tell them they need to make room for their new toys and help out those less fortunate than themselves. Some memorable toys are kept as keepsakes but most are donated and we make sure or children know where they are going, to help others.

Arimack --

We didn't -- we just wanted to get rid of the stuff quickly as well as help some needy people. But that's a great tip for people looking to generate some cash.

Doing the same at our house. Bpught inexpensive shelving with gift card I wasnt going to use and have also picked up some of the plasitc tubs from various sources. Setting up attic and basement with usable and organized storage has been on my wish list for a long time. I'm considering this a gift to myself. We are also taking a day off to clean out mine and hubby's shared office so we can get our financials in order and get taxes done early next year.
It is sometimes shocking what accumulates. We have 4 kids and althought 2 are adults, we ended up with alot of their stuff. I'm asking once if items are still wanted, and then either selling or donating. I am looking forward to being "freed" of the excess.

Americk---I am surprised that Habitat for Humanity took your used fixtures.

The H for H in my town refused to take my used kitchen appliances (range, fridge--good to excellent condition) when I updated my kitchen a couple years ago--they said they couldn't accept/install in the homes anything that wasn't new. I ended up giving them to a different local charity.

MC - You are correct, Habitat for Humanity will not use anything on their home builds but they will take used items at their Restore which is a retail store where they sell leftover hardware and supplies from their builds as well as any donated items they can't use in construction. They use the profits to help with future builds.


Now you are ready to downsize your home???

My parents are packrats so it's easy for me to slip into that mindset. I do feel much better after a big clean!


Mike --

Ha! You're a trouble-maker!!! ;-)

Completely Relate!

My husband and I just moved, and found ourselves a little too rushed to do the "purging" we had hoped to go before packing everything up. However, in our new place, we've bowed to be very diligent about just getting rid of things. We're moving into a big place, and we know how easy it can be to say "yeah, but I have a place for that," and then keeping all of this stuff we don't even use (and haven't used for years).

It takes some effort, but really forcing yourself to analyze what you need and don't need is really rewarding. We're so excited to start with on a new plate!

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