At times, all of us spend money on items that we don’t end up using. Most of us spend a lot of money on these things. For some of us, it is exercise equipment; for others it might be clothes, toys, kitchen gadgets or tools. We keep them because we would feel guilty if we got rid of them. "I mean, Do you know how much that is worth?" or "What if I get rid of it only to discover that I need it?"
Why are you punishing yourself by keeping something that is cluttering your life? Stress is one of the biggest problems that Americans face today and disorganization and clutter are among the biggest causes of stress. If you bought something you don’t use, face it. You made a mistake. Don’t make an even bigger one by keeping it. Get rid of it and move on. Donate it to someone who can use it and relieve you and your family of the stress of living with it. Learn from your mistakes and try to evaluate better whether you actually need something before you spend money.
If you are saying, "…but that might be worth something", why don’t you find out. If you are afraid to lose out on a financial windfall, sell it on Ebay or put it out for a garage sale. If you make big bucks, put it in the bank! If that item doesn’t get $5.00 on Ebay, you probably overestimated its value. Toss it!
But what if you get rid of it and later find out that you do need it? Most of us save all sorts of things that we might use one day. Very few of us will ever use more than one thing in twenty that we keep "just in case".
Think about this: If you sell the things that will put money in the bank, give the useful things you don’t need to other people or a thrift store and toss the rest, you can’t really lose. When you find out later that you needed that extra toolbox, take the money you made selling all the other stuff you never ended up needing and buy it! Almost everyone will be way ahead financially doing this because we will never need most of it. Not only that, but doing this will also eliminate the stress and expense of storing and moving it.
Oh and if it’s trash but you feel guilty about separating yourself emotionally from it, just put it in the trash. Don’t make the thrift store do it. Say a prayer over it if it makes you feel better and let it go.
Here are some specific things to work on:
- Do you have more than one of some utility item? Keep your favorite or best one and toss the rest. Many people keep four potato peelers, three strainers and five 9×13 pans. If this is you, do you often prepare meals for 50 or more people? No? Toss it!
- Food stuff – Wow, food is a big one. I think it’s because we think of all those starving people in some third world country. If you don’t need it (unless you are ready to box it up and send it to them), toss it.If there are bugs on food items, if cans are swollen, or if items are past the expiration dates, then toss them. Staring at them every time you open the pantry isn’t going to cure botulism. (Did she say bugs? Yech!!)If you have more items then your family can eat in a year then use them before you buy more or donate them to a food bank. If you want to use it, but didn’t realize you have 17 cans of beets and 12 cans of pie filling, you need a better pantry organization system.
- Are you really ever going to make that craft or sewing project? Toss it.
- Why save 25 empty mayo jars when you only use two a year?
- If you are saving a magazine that is dated from the last millennium or even last year and haven’t read it do you honestly think you’re going to ever read it? Those hair styles aren’t popular anymore and not many people even remember Commodore 64 computers.
- The same goes for newspapers. If you didn’t get yesterday’s paper read, what makes you think you are going to read last week’s? Time marches on and collecting newspapers can get you in hot water with the fire marshal.
- Why are you keeping it if it is torn, stained, too small or outdated? Get rid of it. The moth balls just make your house smell funny.
- How many tee shirts can you wear in a week? Why do you have 30 stuffed in your closet? How about pants, dresses, and pajamas?
- Do I really need 5 pairs of brown loafers? Enough said.
- Do your children play with the same half dozen favorite toys every day while the rest lay buried in the toy chest? Why are you saving the rest? Toss them! (But not in front of the kids. They will never consent to giving up anything!) If there are things they don’t play with but you think they still like, put them in a box for a few months and trade them out with some of the other stuff when they get bored with what they have. Don’t be a pack rat. If you have 12 boxes like this, keep tossing.
- Do you really think that when your son is 35 years old, he will get a thrill out of looking at every school paper he ever did, especially the ones where he wrote the letter "D" a hundred and one times? Keep the highlights if you like, but if it takes more than a small box, keep tossing. Let’s not even talk about saving every school paper you ever did for your kids.
The next time you open a closet and experience a major cave in, remember that stuff is not more important than your family. Your family deserves a peaceful, stress-free house and so do you. Are you choosing stuff over your family’s well being? Ask yourself that question as you sort through your "things".
For more help with organizing, cleaning and laundry, take a look at our Keeping It Clean e-books.