Getting Rid of Clutter

Clutter can add up around the house faster then you thought possible. Keeping clutter down in your home helps your home be more organized and clean. This is a guide about getting rid of clutter.

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Garage Full of Boxes and Clutter
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Tip: Plan a Bring and Barter Event

By ayesha christmas 38 130

At my school, we are just about to start organizing our second annual Bring and Barter event. After the great success of the first one, we are hoping for even more happiness and learning from this one. The idea came to one of my colleagues and I after I gave her a spare tomato plant I had grown and, in return, she gave me a large jar of home-produced honey. Now, I thought that this trade was unfair as the actual monetary value of the honey was far higher than one tomato plant (even if it was in quite a big pot!) but her reasoning was that to get that one plant she would have had to buy seeds, compost, pots in several sizes and find somewhere to put them along the way. So as far as she was concerned the trade was fair.

This got us both thinking and within a month we had organized a Bring and Barter event. We invited everyone to bring ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING they wanted to trade, set up a table and then waited to see what happened. Two hours later, about 150 people of various shapes, sizes and ages left delighted with their 'bargains' and happy to leave unwanted or surplus items with other folk who wanted or needed them more. One of our colleagues who had been very dubious about the idea was amazed that he had managed to trade up a wooden spoon, value approx 50 cents (multiple swaps of course) to a jar of my mango jam, value around $5. Children had to think hard about what things were worth to them and to others and some learned the hard way when their swaps were turned down!

If you want to use the idea as a fundraiser or need to pay for a venue you could make a small charge for entry, perhaps $1-$2. It was a great way of bringing the community together and the children really got to understand the meaning of 'Fair Trade'. Best of all, there was no clearing up or disposing of unsold items as they were taken away by the participants!

By Mrs. Christmas from Slovenia, EU

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Tip: Get Rid of Clutter in 30 Days

By coville123 326 89

If you're like me you can get overwhelmed with the clutter. I found this tip in a magazine it works really well. Clear out 30 bags of junk in 30 days. I just fill a handbag from all over the house as I'm cleaning each day, and the clutter is going down.

By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario

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Article: Don't Accumulate Stuff, Give It Away

By Pat Wilkens 5

Garage Full of Boxes and ClutterWhen my father passed over a year ago, my husband and I were faced with the daunting task of cleaning out his house to sell it. We live in another state and it took us much time and money to get this done, almost a year in fact.

After going through this I am determined not to put my children through this hardship. I have been sorting through all the stuff my husband and I have accumulated over the years. I have sold things at flea markets, yard sales, and given to our local Salvation Army. I have earned money not only by selling but finding things I probably would have bought in the near future.

I am more aware of the stuff I bring into my home now. I weigh each purchase. The best is I save time by not having to move "piles" from one area to the next. We enjoy are home more because we are not always stepping over things and battling clutter. Home is a calmer more spacious place to be.

By Pat W. from Eastern PA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

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Tip: 6 Month Rule For Clutter

By Luana M. 82 149

I hate clutter; probably because I dislike dirt. Clutter makes it far harder to just keep up, and to find things. I have even read that it can cause stress. For me, clutter means I can't find what I'm looking for, or hiding something I forgot I have. Whichever the case it may be time to get rid of a few things.

I like everything in my kitchen tidy; the cans facing all the same way, plates stacked neatly, pans where I can use them, etc. What happens is you get in a hurry, and everything get in disarray fast. I have discovered doing it right the first time saves time in the long run.

I live alone, so I have to check dates on canned foods, things in fridge and freezer to make sure they are still good. The best way to do this, is have all of your cans stacked in order neatly. For example: I have soups in one row or area, and vegetables in another. Keeping them separate makes it easier to rotate these items; making sure nothing goes to waste.

Keeping food in boxes take up a lot of space and can allow bugs. Unless you eat it up fast, I have found it best to take the contents out of the box, and store it in same-sized plastic lock containers. Having these containers keep everything fresher longer, and make everything easy to see. I have organic cereal which I don't eat a lot of, and it has been fresh for months. So in the kitchen, toss out the boxes. You can find these containers on sale, and even at thrift stores in great condition.

What I eat more of, I try to get on sale in bulk and freeze. If it's in the right container, it saves space and saves the food from freezer burn. Living thrifty means buying on sale. These containers are great for soups, and things that you make ahead of time and freeze. Bread is great to freeze. Make sure you put it into another bag (even plastic store bag helps), to prevent freezer burn. Date it, and don't put where it could be damaged before it freezes. Once it's frozen, depending on space, you can stack it.

Before you go out to the big sales, un-clutter. Examine the food you have and clean out freezer before buying more. It will save you money not to let what you may have forgotten go to waste. I weekly go through the inside the refrigerator to see what I may have forgotten. I check the dates on condiments, and make sure milk or other dairy products are good before buying other things. This saves money and time, and makes meals so much easier. Once a week, I plan my meals, and eat what's there or clean out what may not be good.

Take a minute to put away dishes, pots and pans neatly. The cabinets will have more room, and later you will get to what you need faster. If you have things you don't use donate it. Chances are if you haven't used it in 6 months you probably aren't going to. If you use the 6 month rule on most things (except china or holiday things) and rid yourself of it, you'll have more space and time.

I have very little drawer space. My towels, fiber cloths are neatly stacked in a basket in cabinet next to the sink. Having them in a nice basket helps me keep them looking nice and neat. It's OK to throw away or use for rags, the old holey dish towels. You can find them at dollar store, 2 for $1.00. Take inventory, and rotate so you aren't using same one over and over. They all will get equal use this way.

Sometimes being thrifty, we feel bad about buying anything extra. I loved the way my baskets looked when I bought new dish towels. A few years later they still look nice. Throw out the old rags, and make new rags with old towels.

In the kitchen I also got rid of the mixed silverware, and old plastic containers that I didn't need. It's surprising how fast saving used plastic containers stack up and are forgotten. In my tableware drawers, I got rid of what I didn't use, got the right dividers, and put them away correctly. It stays neat.

I don't eat out, but my son loved fast food. When he was here, he kept all of the plastic spoons and forks. They were everywhere. I didn't throw them away of course, they are in plastic bags. They are great for on the go (grab a yogurt). Those plastic containers I told you about are great for straws, plastic forks. Don't throw it the drawers.

Clutter can be anywhere, with anything. My answer is the 6 month rule, and having the right containers. Buying all of the right plastic container helped so much in every area of the kitchen. Being organized will take so much stress out of your life. It is just easier when everything has its place. Donate it, have a garage sale, or toss it if it's not good. I have found everything is better when everything is neat, orderly, clean, and less money is wasted.

Source: Life. I was always a clean nut. But until my son left, I had no idea what he had in the back of my cabinets, closets, drawers, etc. I learned that less is usually best for me.

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

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Tip: Get Rid of Extra Stuff in Home

By pam munro 522 790

One thing I noticed in a movie based in Iceland that I just saw, is that there was a noticeable lack of extra STUFF in their homes and other places. We as Americans have so much extra stuff, but I am trying to use that vision of a stripped-down environment to inspire me. That has helped me as I am clearing out my apartment and the rest of my life - I have so much to donate. And it's a good feeling that I can contribute somehow without putting out extra cash.

By pamphyila from L.A., CA

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Link: Stop Phone Book Delivery

By Angie 3 3

YellowPagesGoesGreen.org is the Movement Against Unsolicited Phone Book Delivery. If you need a book, simply call and order one. I have signed up to remove my home or office from receiving the telephone directories.

What a great tip, especially now that I see scads of phone books sitting under mailboxes all over the place. Most have been there for weeks already, all wet from the rain.

By GreenGirls from Summerfield, FL

Editor's Note: Be sure to follow the links. If you don't have the name exact, it will take you to a phony site. You should see a photo of a mountain at the top of the correct page, not a bunch of links to unrelated subjects.


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Question: Clutter Control Tips

Clutter control tips from our readers. Post your ideas!

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Best Answers

By Warren D. Lockaby 2 168 Flag

August 15, 2004

Yup, that's me. I'm a 53 YO male packrat from a long line of packrats (on my Mom's side). This fact of course results in a lot of clutter. There are a lot of great tips here but one just occured to me and I intend to start today. The plan is this: set aside a certain period of time every day to methodically sort, store, donate, or toss the stuff.

The best place to start would seem to be the storage areas themselves; closets, the basement, attic, garage, shelves and pantry, etc. You can't put anything 'up' unless 'up' has room for it. Then perhaps by starting at one corner of one room and working out from there, my paths will expand until they're not paths anymore, but large areas of open space.

I'll probably start with an hour a day and see how that works out. Since there is no one here but my cat and me, blaming it on the kids (or getting them to help clean up) is not an option. However, an advantage to this is that it doesn't matter how long it takes to do it. Nobody suffers from my clutter but me (and the cat, who doesn't seem to care).

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By guest (Guest Post) Flag

August 18, 2004

Turn your "clutter" into cash by selling clothes, collectibles, etc on ebay! Too much trouble? Set a goal of a major garage sale at least once a year and donate remainder to charity. I make a LOT of money selling "junk" each year.

When shopping, live by the mantra "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without".

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By Jayne 3 31 Flag

August 19, 2004

Egg cartons, tops cut off, make good organizers in drawers for little things. Earrings, safety pins, jewelry, keys, etc. For larger things, entirely fill a drawer with cut-off cereal or other boxes. Makes nice compartments and you can customize them to whatever you plan to put in them. Underwear drawer--just cut cardboard "dividers" fit to size. The clothing will keep them upright. Also you can use bowls from the thrift store for the "junk" drawer. One for keys, one for bread ties, one for popsicle sticks, whatever you save for later use.

Zip-lock baggies make nice organizers for your purse, suitcase, briefcase. Baskets are nice too, for catch-alls in the bathroom or on your dresser, such things as hair barrettes, small bottles of cosmetics, clippers, things like that. I keep a plastic desk drawer organizer on TOP of my desk. A little slot for paperclips, staple puller, note paper, calculator, etc. On the countertop, a large vase holds your most-used utensils. Only keep the ones you use frequently in here, the rest go into the drawer, so they don't just sit around and get dirty. I built a little shelf, VERY simple, top & 2 sides, to give myself more room over my kitchen countertop. Now there's 2 layers there with more workspace.

Some of your stuff looks good organized into a "collection". This way you get to show it off and enjoy it instead of considering it clutter. For instance, a pile of books on a coffee table. Keep them dusted. Maybe tie them with a ribbon and a silk flower on top. Baskets of yarn are especially nice to look at. Seashells too. Green or blue glass. and you can store smaller things in jars and make an arrangement. Hang shoe pocket organizers on the backs of bedroom doors, or make some out of fabric like old jeans, they're not hard to make. Boxes, shoe boxes especially, can fit into the most amazing places, like under the bed or behind the couch. Label everything if you do this. Mostly, just go around your house and see what's causing you the grief, then figure out what it would fit into, and whether you need to hide it or not. Now go have some fun, you have lots of work to do! LOL.

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Question: How Do I Successfully Organize and Get Rid of Clutter?

By Trina Sudhoff 9 10

I have a long icky story that I won't bore you all with, but I am in a bit of a pickle. I have made huge strides in de-cluttering and clearing my home. I began 3 weeks ago with the easy stuff, garbage, old magazines, papers, etc. that were most visible and I knew would make the "visual" impact that would keep me motivated.

Now I am at the hard stuff. Let me give you a scenario. I have a ______ (enter "box, closet, room, container, etc") containing the following: letters, books, important papers, pictures, office supplies, crafts, samples, toys, kitchen items, bathroom items, shoes, etc.

My question is, what do I do first? Sort and put things where they are supposed to go? or purge? (do the emotional part of deciding to toss, ie., do I need this, do I have another one just like it, does it work, does it make me sad, happy, etc.). By Economystimul8r

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Best Answer

By Cindy 3 287 Flag

February 7, 2011

I'm going to call you Econo for short 'cuz your user name is too long for me to memorize as I scroll down the page to respond. :) Congrats for the first step! I'm like you, the visual improvement motivates me to continue the de-cluttering process. Just be aware that it can also cause a false sense of achievement! (Been there, still dealing with that!)

My best suggestion involves eight bins or bags with eight different labels:

1) Keep - Put back where it belongs.

2) Donate - Items must be clean and functional

3) Recycle - Plastic, paper, etc.

4) Trash - Trash, soiled, broken, dysfunctional, 'Nuf said

5) Sell - The garage/yard sell stuff

6) Sell - the more valuable E-Bay/auction stuff

7) Repurpose - Wood, fabric, etc.

8) Keep - Sentimental

As soon as the #1 bin (put back where it belongs), the #2) bin (donate), the #3 bin (recycle) or the #4 bin (trash) gets full, deal with them: put up, donate, recycle or trash at each days end.

Bins # 5, 6, 7, & 8, as they fill up, will need to move into another area for later action. (These will be the toughest to deal with and you will feel better by giving yourself a second, slightly delayed, opportunity to validate your original quick sort decision.) Honestly, however, by allowing yourself a second chance to go through these items you will probably find more and more items to eliminate via the trash, donate, recycle options. You will feel more confident in these choices as you give yourself the opportunity to think through it twice!

For most, the room by room method works best, but for others, it's drawer by drawer, or wall by wall. Just keep your system flexible enough that if you get stuck ("what do I do with this?") you can forgive yourself for not tackling it immediately and move on to another area that helps you keep up the momentum.

Be realistic as to how many hours per week you can actually devote to de-cluttering. Even if you get behind schedule, never beat yourself up as long as you are making significant progress on a routine basis.

I got into my own cluttered life style because a) I'm sentimental - my grandparents and parents were all gone before I was 33 years old and I inherited a lot of their stuff, b) I'm frugal, borderline cheap, and can tell you within a dollar how much I spent on every item in my home, not wanting to part with a dime and c) I can't stand throwing away anything that still has a useful purpose, even if I don't have a useful purpose for that item. (In part, that's why I use so many bins.)

I'm getting out of my cluttered life style because I'm weary of being the caretaker of "stuff"! Wishing you the same sense of sanity and best of luck with the process.

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Tip: Donating Your Extras

If you are cleaning your closets, basement, or garage now, consider donating your unwanted items to the Goodwill, Amvets, Salvation Army, or some other worthy charity. They will give you a receipt for your goods if you ask, as your donations are tax-deductible if you itemize your return. Even if you don't use the deduction, you are doing a good deed, AND cleaning up your home!

By Ness from Lakeview, NY

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Tip: Use Thanksgiving Weekend to Sort and Donate Extra Stuff

By Dorrie Jones 16 8

Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to go through all you're grateful to have, and donate as much as you can! Since so many of us have a lot of time off for Thanksgiving, it's a good time to go through stuff and see all you've been blessed with. If you're like us, you've been blessed with an abundance, even if you mostly buy used stuff in the first place!

So, if you're bored between now and the shopping frenzy of the weekend, consider sorting through it all. Go through your craft supplies, toys, clothes, and books. In this season of spending and plenty, there's lots of folks who'll be doing their holiday shopping at thrift stores. If you can, donate generously it clears space for you and gives back to your community. And, seeing what you're donating can even help you choose purchases during the upcoming New Year a bit more wisely.

By Dorrie from Norman, OK

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Question: Reducing Clutter

Tips for reducing clutter in your home. Post your ideas.

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Best Answers

By guest (Guest Post) Flag

April 24, 2005

FlyLady is great. Also, we live in a location where we have to evacuate periodically for hurricanes. Seeing a Category 5 storm headed toward your house helps you realize what is important and what is not. Would you be heartbroken if a particular item was lost to a natural or other type of disaster? If your entire house were gone, what would you really miss or want to replace? If you only had 12 hours to pack up and leave, would you be able to find the things that are most important to you? I went through my entire house and asked myself those questions about everything. That helped me throw out, give away, sell, donate or recycle a lot of excess stuff. It is a great relief to have space to breathe!

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By guest (Guest Post) Flag

May 9, 2008

Log into Yahoo.com and search for FreeCycle groups within your state and in your county/area. I believe every state and a lot of countries are represented on this site. FreeCycle is an international group created to keep things out of landfills and to promote a healthier environment. Members on this site do not throw away anything. Nothing is sold or traded, strictly give away.

They recommend that you start the group with an offer. I have seen EVERYTHING on this site: books & magazines, movies & music, furniture, clothing, toys, appliances, food, and even automobiles. I have also seen, offered and received things like empty kitty litter buckets, butter tubs, coupons, empty wine bottles & corks, plants & seeds, used lumber, countertops, sinks. You name it, you can either find it or give it away on these sites.

Before I purchase most things, I will place a WANTED on this site first. Hey if someone has it sitting around collecting dust, I can give it a new home. I save money (which us thrifty people love), save the environment by keeping something from a landfill and from the pollutants created by the manufacture of a new item, and I help the giver declutter.

Some area groups have rules against offering or requesting pets, but we have been able to give (2) wonderful kittens a new home. On 11-18-06, we received our first one and on 11-18-2007, we received our second one. This website is wonderful!

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Tip: Get Rid Of Clutter 15 Minutes at a Time

By Leila B. 11 5

Clearing up clutter is a step by step process. I remember the saying from when I sold Amway "Inch by inch, everything is a cinch". Although selling Amway did not become my life's goal, that saying has stuck. I have learned that I can accomplish anything if I break it up into 15 minute increments.

It is important to set a goal the night before, mapping out the square yard area of clutter I want to clear and writing down ten - 15 minute tasks, to do to achieve that goal. Also set out 4 boxes or laundry baskets with labels on them for "keep", "give away", "throw away", and "store: emotional attachment -- get rid of later", according to Don Asslett's method, which works for me. The next day when I get up and am fed, washed, and dressed, I set the timer for 15 minutes and proceed to go through my list of 10.

I do the same thing each day until I have achieved one whole room. I go from room to room following the same principles, until the whole house is complete.

When you bring items into the house, put them away immediately. If you do not have a place for them, you don't need them.

It is important to do maintenance one day per week, checking through the already tidied rooms for "hot spots", as Fly Lady says in her lessons on clearing up clutter. She also recommends the "fling boogey" daily, where you take a plastic garbage sack, hang it over your arm and with the timer set for 15 minutes you go through the house and collect 10 items to get rid of. When the buzzer rings, you take it out to the car ready to take to the thrift store.

In conclusion: I do not find the skeleton closet method to be at all effective. It just creates clutter in a space that has already been tidied. Stuffing things out of sight leaves one feeling cluttered inside, and you still have to deal with it later in an enclosed space. You can see below in the photos how ineffective the skeleton closet method is.

Clutter in a skeleton closet. A different view of clutter in a skeleton closet.

Source: Don Aslett's "Clutter's Last Stand" and Flylady.com, both good sources of help for clutter management. I also acknowledge the Amway sales tapes as a source for the "Inch by inch, everything is a cinch" statement.

By Leila B. from Brookings, OR

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Tip: Clean Out Clutter

By Diana 91 30

I am a pack rat by nature and I save everything: Broken jewelry and bits of china, ribbon pieces to be used in future craft projects; clothing that is a decade out of style but just too nice to throw away. It is a compulsion and a bad habit that with some practice can be reformed.

Clean Out Clutter

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Tip: Start With Small Projects

By Auliya 2 3

To get rid of clutter, I usually start on a small project. If I start with a small junk drawer and get it all cleaned out, I feel a sense of accomplishment that makes me want to do more.

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Opt-Out of Yellow Pages Delivery

By Fletcher 22 32

You can opt-out of receiving the yellow pages by visiting the following address. I almost never use a paper yellow pages any more since just about every business has a website so I really appreciate not having to receive delivery of them.

    Link: https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com

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    Tip: Keeping Clutter Off The Dining Room Table

    I finally found a simple solution to a problem that has bugged me for years! My dining room table seemed to take on the life of a dump-it-all spot for everyone in the family.

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    Tip: Can't Bring Yourself to Throw it Out?

    By Jennifer 33 93

    I moved to a smaller house and had so many things that wouldn't fit into the new house. After I had stored a lot of it in boxes for a year, I went through it all again and found that these things no longer had as much sentimental "pull".

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    Question: Ideas for Reducing Clutter

    I am trying to get rid of clutter, but am not quite sure as how to get started. Any ideas?

    By D

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    Best Answer

    By Linda 15 Flag

    March 12, 2012

    Start one thing at a time. I would suggest getting boxes ready to put things in and making arrangements to have those items removed before you do anything else. Than decide on one item that you are going to go through and get rid of the extra.

    Get every book that is in your house and find a home for it, get rid of the ones you decide to not keep. Than go through your kitchen drawers, get rid of duplicate items. Go through your kitchen cupboards one at a time and only keep what you have used in the last year.

    Go through dresser drawers and closets. Get rid of those items that you can not wear any more. Keep only the current size that you wear plus one size up and one size down from your current size. Fix any buttons or holes and put those things away or get rid of them.

    Call your friends and ask if they need the extra or post to craigslist or have Goodwill come and take it all.

    That is a start. Now I guess I have to go do my kitchen drawers and cupboards since you made me think about it.

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    Tip: Keep the Clutter Down, Don't Let it Overflow

    One way to keep clutter down is to provide dedicated space/containers, baskets, shelf space, plastic tubs, hangers, and hooks, for items which tend to accumulate.

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    Tip: Reducing Clutter

    By Lois Ann Zendarski 2

    I don't know if anyone has mentioned it, but along with getting rid of clutter, "stop buying more stuff!". That's how you got clutter in the first place.

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    Tip: Take Control of Clutter At The Door

    By Bobbie 166 11

    What works for me is to take control the minute clutter comes in the door, in any form. When the mail is brought in, sort it right then.

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    Tip: How Often Do I Use This?

    Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

    It's always a good idea to inventory and evaluate. There are items which are priceless, earning their keep over and over again. Then, there are those which only weigh us down with debt. How many items do you have which are earning their keep, and how many do you own which are weighing you down?

    Gas Tank With Cash Stuffed in it

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    Tip: Out With The Old, In With The New

    To avoid clutter do what I do, whenever I buy something new, I have to get rid of one of my old ones. It's a deal I had to make with my husband to keep him from griping.

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    Article: My Frugal Life: Clear Out the Clutter

    By ldraisen 1 3

    Spring is here and so comes the traditional spring cleaning. This year, due to my retirement, I really have the time to do a thorough cleaning of closets and cupboards. I've been discovering long lost "treasures" and duplicate grocery items.

    The items people accumulate is really mind boggling. I saved a few favorite toys (our children have grown, no grandchildren yet) and the rest to give away. That is a few shelves free immediately. Why do I save books after I read them?No more! Better yet I am starting to use the library more frequently.

    How many dishes does a family need? Ones that I have not used in the past year are going! In another cupboard, I noticed we have four cans of leather spray for shoes and boots? I have enough tea to last me for two years! Clothes, way too many! It really is quite silly.

    As I clean, I feel so much "lighter" and I am actually having a great time! Leading a frugal lifestyle taught from the wonderful entries on this site has inspired me to use up what I have before buying and to find new ways to not spend money. It has become a great lifestyle change!

    By ldraisen from Saskatchewan

    Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

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    Tip: Living with Packrats

    When it comes to clutter and being organized I have a rule: When going through old things every year, when I find an item that someone just had to have for christmas, birthday, etc. If that item or items is sitting and not being used...

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