Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Clutter, Be Gone!

How on earth did we get so much stuff? And why did we keep it all?

I've been reading a lot about clutter lately. It seeems that just about every message board I'm part of has a thread (or two, or five) about getting rid of clutter. As a person who struggles to keep the kitchen table cleared off (and fails at that a good percentage of the time), these threads have had my attention.

I think that clutter and frugality have been connected to one another in my mind. You know, save that old kitchen towel - it can be used to dust, or wash the car or something. Keep those spaghetti sauce jars, you could store rice in them. I also catch myself picking up items at yard sales or thrift sales because the price is really good. They are things we use, but sometimes they are things we have a supply of, so they are 'extra'. Maybe a good price isn't enough of a reason.

And I have to say, couponing contributed to the clutter a little bit too. I got a brand new Brita water pitcher for 45 cents! We have a countertop 'Big Berkey' ceramic filter that we use, so I didn't need the Brita AT ALL. It's still in the box. I got a really great price (using sales, coupons and rebates) on some of those Glade scented candles a while back, but when I went to put them away, there was no room for them - the space was full of: Glade scented candles that I got at a really great price (with sales, coupons and rebates).

We are preparing to have a big yard sale anyway. We have an old mobile home on the property that we lived in for about 8 years before we built our house, so we'll hold the sale in there. Our additional goal with the yard sale is to find someone who would like the mobile for storage. See, if you're trying to get rid of excess clutter, an empty mobile home on your property is a bad, bad idea. Plus, we'd like to have a back yard, hee hee.

So far I have cleared out the 'extra room'. We made it into a little family room, and it's nice! It feels so much bigger than it did with the stack of winter blankets, the under-bed storage containers, the excess stuff. And the closet? I wrapped some Christmas presents in that room, so I found 2 rolls of Christmas paper in there, a bow, some pillows, more blankets, art supplies I'd stashed in there so LittleBit couldn't get to them. I also found (blush) the stack of magazines and stuff that was on the kitchen table last time the book club was meeting at my house.


It will take a while, but I'm going to go through every drawer, every cabinet, every closet, and (gulp) every bookshelf. The other piece to this equation is that I have to find logical places to properly store the things we should keep, like those winter blankets. I'm trusting that space will be created as the clutter goes away.

For now, I am staying away from yard sales and thrift stores for the most part. I popped into a thrift store last week when I was early for an appointment, and I scored four new-in-the-box ink cartridges for our printer (woo HOO!), but I stayed away from the books, the kitchen stuff, the toys.

I'm also thinking about the 'why' of this. Why do I, and why do other people, hold onto so much stuff? How much is enough? When does it become too much, and why didn't I see 'too much' coming?

More on that soon, but I'd love your input on this issue. Please share your thoughts, experience and decluttering tips!


Scottish Witch said...

Wow this is so much what I've been thinking about!

I visit the thrifts WAY more than I need to and bought about 50 books last time I was there. I can't believe it! I certainly didn't really need them.

I know I inherited my "keep everything" mentality from my grandparents. They were alive during both wars and the great depresssion (in Scotland) and kept EVERYTHING. When we cleaned out the basement in their house we found 30 year old paint trays that might have been useful at some point but by the time we unburried them they were garbage.

I think often we have the impression that the rainy day that will come will require us to own anything and everything just as our grandparents did (only they had more of a need than we did.

Gill - That British Woman said...

I am a packrat also, I have the magazines still I brought with us from Britain back in 1989!!! I have enough Christmas decorations to open a store.....however I also have an unfinished basement when it all goes out of sight, so I suppose that is a blessing!!!

Toni Toni Toni said...

I have been doing this too. While I'm living at home, I'm slowly getting things from my storage and sorting through it. I really got out of control for a little while there.

desert said...

i moved alot so i didn't collect too much stuff, but i've been in this house for almost 10 years (yikes!)now. i find a good rule to go by is if you haven't used it in the last year, out it goes, and it feels so good to clean out old stuff, i think anyways.
i hope your yardsale is a success!!


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