Getting Rid of Clutter

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Woodman's picture
Woodman
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Posts: 1028
Getting Rid of Clutter

Along with CM's blog post this weekend about gorwing government adminstration, I've noticed how much more time I seem to spend managing my affairs and stuff.  This huge time sink takes from my quality of life and from time needed to take action to prepare for a different future.  I'm a bit of a packrat, but also have a huge number of interests and projects, plus kids bringing home more stuff and randomly distributing stuff around the house all the time. 

My goal each day is get rid of more stuff each day than new stuff coming in.  The best defense seems to be never to the store.  I still get folks giving me tons of stuff for free though.  Who's got simple ideas to get rid of stuff without the process taking so much itself? 

Getting rid of stuff so you can be nimble in the future, while saving what you might need that might not be as readily available someday, is the challenge.

Tom

joemanc's picture
joemanc
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Posts: 834
Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

I got rid of a lot of stuff last year before I moved. If you want to spend a bit of time, and perhaps make some money, there's always ebay or craiglist. Otherwise, if you have a Goodwill nearby, you can go there. They take just about everything.

poisonivy113's picture
poisonivy113
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Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

I'll never forget this: somewhere near 30 years ago, my (now ex) husband came home to say that he had driven by a very funny sight. In front of one house was a pile of stuff with a sign saying "free junk".  There were dozens of cars parked along the street, and many people carting stuff off!

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rhare
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Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

Depending on what you have and how much storage you have you might want to consider organizing rather than getting rid of stuff.  If we do collapse the economy, even that broken old junk may become valuable and have a use.

crazyhorse's picture
crazyhorse
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Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

My grandfather (who lived throught the great depression) would always say..."Don't throw that away...you never know when you might need that someday".

But then again...I've always been a pack rat!

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Lbart09
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Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

We have downsized from a 4500 s.f. house, to a 1650 s.f. house and are now in our final resting house of about 1,200 s.f.  This was all done over a period of 12 years.  Lots of clutter went by the boards:  two garage sales, one estate sale last month when we sold our medium-sized house, and lots of giving away to Goodwill.

Now I have the perfect excuse for people who want to give me stuff:  my house is too small, I really don't have room for anything else.  I am closer to achieving a minimalist lifestyle than ever before.  I don't buy any durable good without knowing where it will go and of course I can't accept durable goods as gifts (food and fresh flowers always welcome though!).

We have enough "stuff" to survive about anything.  And my husband has a barn bigger than the house for his pack-ratting tendencies.  As for me, "No More Stuff!"

rocketgirl1's picture
rocketgirl1
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Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

I think that as Peak Oil, Peak Energy, etc. believers that we are at an odd time in history with regard to "Stuff".  Americans are drowning in "Stuff" and I wonder if initially, after a collapse (oil ore financial or both) we will see "Stuff" being sold on every street corner as food becomes more important and then if there will be a shift to "Stuff" being in short supply and the value increasing.  I'm not sure but that scenario is my hunch so these are the changes we've made a s a family of 4.

I think twice about getting rid of it.  When I do get rid of anything it is most certainly donated or recycled.  I have a very neat and organized home (most of the time) .

I'm aware that my children will probably struggle for stuff as there will most certainly be energy shortages and financial troubles lingering by the time they are ready to begin their independant lives (they're teens now) so I'm mindful of this and have begun setting aside stuff for them when they're older.  Blue jeans (levis) straight cut, Keen hiking boots for my son and Merril for my daughter, basically just anything that is good quality and you will probably pay a small fortune for in the near future and that's if you can even find it.

If we go shopping and my daughter wants something she doesn't really need I will purchase it the next size up and that way I continue to build the "for when she's older" inventory.  She's growing like the typical weed so this process works very well.  (She's 5'2" with womens size 8.5 feet!  I just had to mention that hysterical factiod) 

Jackets and polar fleece are another "keep" catagory.  I have bought good brand (northface, REI, etc.) down jackets when they go on clearance and Smartwool wool socks (merino wool  washable and won't itch) again through REI or Sierra Trading Post.  Down, polar fleece and merino wool are my stockpile items for the future.  Most of the things I give away are the trendy but no longer useful, things that won't matter much in the future.  I really don't think fashion will be a top priority (just got to giggle, OMG) in the future, Ya think!  So I try to think in terms of enduring quality and some nice "look good" things for special occasions.

Overall I know my kids will have a much tougher time with resources and that is the theme that drives my decisions today with regard to stuff.

Jared Diamonds did a documentary on the thriving of certain cultures when he was asked by a friend in Papua New Guinea "Why you have so much cargo and I have so little?"  .  This question started Diamonds on a quest to answer that question and it  took him about 30 yrs. (If I remember correctly)  You can find this documentary on utube under Guns, Germs and Steel.  Remember The Furtile Crescent!   I

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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Posts: 409
Re: Getting Rid of Clutter
Lbart09 wrote:

I don't buy any durable good without knowing where it will go and of course I can't accept durable goods as gifts (food and fresh flowers always welcome though!).

Lauren, can you share how you tactfully refuse a gift?  I struggle with knowing how to handle this.  I don't want stuff I don't like or can't use.  Generally I end up just accepting it with a smile and finding it a new home (thrift shop, freecycle, whatever), but sometimes I get frustrated because the giver clearly does not recognize that s/he is obligating me to responsibly dispose of the item, and I feel burdened by that obligation.  I would love to hear how you (or others) manage this.

Lbart09's picture
Lbart09
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Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

I can refuse because my house IS too small.  My sister-in-law loves to shop and buy and can afford to do so; during her last visit to my small town we  went shopping together as usual.  She wanted to "buy me one" of everything she bought, as she has done for years, and I told her no -- I really, literally don't have the room for it.  Ended the shopping trip with a 3 x 5 x 1/2" book of old Texas recipes.  That's all I ended up having to find a new place for in the house

And I sold all the "stuff" that had been gifts in our moving estate sale.  On http:// zenhabits.net/2007/08/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/ , which is a great de-clutter blog, the blogger suggests taking a photo (digital!) of anything with great sentimental value and letting the item move on to a place where it will actually be used.  My mother died earlier this year and I couldn't bring myself to part with her last large gift to me, a world globe, but my son had asked for it when he is settled, so that I packed over.

If I indiscrimintely refuse all gifts ("my house really is too small; may I pass it on to someone who can use it?") folks will get the message.  The other thing:  my beautiful "stuff" that I had literally paid hundres or thousands of dollars for sold for a tenth of what I paid on average.  There is so much "stuff" in the USA, very little of it has any real value left.  My true wealth seems to be being cured of the need & craving for "stuff."

Money won't make a person happy, but must of us want to prove that for ourselves.  Been there, done that.  Extremely beautiful or extremely useful, or I don't have a place for it.

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
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Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

My family has always been pretty big on gift-giving, so I had to learn a long time ago how to decline gifts softly.

I started dropping hints prior to big ocassions (birthday, Christmas, etc) that I really didn't need anything, except maybe "X" -- with "X" either being a consumable item or an expensive durable item. Of course, I would add that if "X" was expensive, perhaps the entire family could get together and pool their resources... voila! 16 small bits of stuff just became one big needed item of quality.

If someone just hands me something or tries to offload their junk on me, I just tell them that I really appreciate their offer, but I don't have any use/need for it and perhaps they could donate it instead.

Some people will still get offended, but I'm offended the 13th time I trip over Aunt Millie's hideous purple ceramic thing. Aunt Millie might have thought it was lovely, but I think it's atrocious and it's sucking up my valuable space that I need to to keep clear for my own peace of mind. I guess I just got over feeling obligated to suffer myself rather than to possibly offend someone else.

Now I do pack-rat a few things -- useful things like tools and hardware and warm/durable clothing -- but everything else goes. I started a strict regime... if I haven't used something non-seasonal in the last 6 months it leaves the house, if I haven't used a seasonal item in the last year it leaves the house, if I buy a new thing the thing it replaces leaves the house.

Garage sales, eBay, CraigsList, donations, recycling or repurposing... whatever, just don't waste your precious space on junk. It helps to think of it in terms of cash -- the average American spend 1/3 his salary on ever-increasingly larger homes to store an ever-increasing large amount of crap... the more money you have, the more crap you get, the bigger the house you need to keep it all... it's viscious. Now think about being able to retire earlier, or start working part-time because you never wasted the money on crap and never had to buy a pricey large home to store it all?!?!?!

So next time Aunt Millie tries to pawn off another hideous piece of ceramics on you... realize she probably just added another 6 months to your working life. Bet you won't feel so bad about declining her gift then :)

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Getting Rid of Clutter

Oh yeah - another cool tip for the compulsive gift-giver... get them to send you a picture or link to something that they thought about giving you.

My sister and I do this all the time - "hey this is cool, if I had the money/you had the space I'd have gotten you one".  It let's the person know you're thinking about them and want to be generous without loading them up with stuff that might not be right or useful. If my sister sends me a link to something I really do need, I can always tell her that it's great and let her or the folks buy for me if they want.

Otherwise, I just have a folder on my PC full of product pics called "Gifts from Ruth" --- doesn't take up nearly as much space :)

I also make judicious use of Amazon's Wish List feature and PayPal's Send Money feature.... my folks have learned that $20 in my hand is always a better gift than $20 worth of stuff that way I can get my own stuff for the cost of a stamp rather than paying extra for shipping or just treat myself to a movie, etc.

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