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Organizing Tips for a Pack Rat

If you aren't a pack rat yourself, you likely know one. This page contains organizing tips for a pack rat.

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February 10, 2006 Flag
3 found this helpful

Tips from a Reforming Pack RatThis is an organizing tip from a reforming pack rat that will also save you lots of money. It is a fun challenging idea. We love it!

My husband and I made a decision not to buy anything for one entire year except bare necessities, for example gas, water, groceries, unless we could exchange it for something we already had, but never used. (People, you know who you are!)

Use a large plastic container to store all of your receipts for purchases made within the last 3 months or more, for example clothing store and grocery and home depot, Walmart and other store receipts. Keep it in a easily accessible location, so you can develop the habit of emptying your receipts when you come in.

Pick a closet or dresser to clean out. Recently I found $75.00 worth of clothing from the same store that I had never worn, purchased in August. Here it is January!

I put all of the clothing with receipts in a storage container with a lid, and just checked it if I was running errands (paying bills) and knew I'd be near one of those stores. I saw a skirt that I loved and asked when it would be marked down. Turns out, it was the following week. I traded it in and got a gorgeous denim skirt, which I wear and cost the full amount of my original purchase.

If by chance, you don't have your receipt, most stores will give you credit at the current cost of that item. Having your receipt makes it easier to prove what you spent and less stressful.

What a wonderful reward for my efforts, cleaning and decluttering!

This even works with buying books. I have a ton of them at home, half I have read the others I got from yard sales. There is a wonderful trade in program at a second hand Bookstore in a nearby town. I took in enough books to have credit built up of $50.00.

I kept a list of books I wanted to get and kept it in my purse. The next time I wanted to get some books, it cost me nothing but the time it took to clean off the shelves at home.

Not only did this improve the Feng (how do you say) Shui, giving us less clutter. It also helped us stick to our commitment not to purchase impulsively.

I could go on forever with ways that we have saved by adopting this clean and trade policy in our household.

Lastly, I wanted to paint the kitchen and we all know that can be costly. I took three different colored paints and mixed them to get the desired color I wanted (Salmon). Warning do not do this without first calling the paint dept of your local paint store or Home Depot. Or you might be forced to spend money to fix the error.

After calling HD, I opened three cans of paint and began to slowly mix them with the off white that I had. These paints had been in the closet for months! My kitchen looks so cute! And it cost me all of $15.00 (spent last year) to paint. I used to shop in the Oops section of the paint department. Now those cans of Oops have turned my kitchen to FAB! Not only did organizing the paint closet help me realize I had enough supplies to paint the entire house, it helped to create one great color out of three not so great.

Think collecting receipts does not pay? We recently realized we have $1,000.00 in merchandise from Costco that we never used, from our wedding. Look out Costco, here we come!

By Felicia from Apache Junction


May 12, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

Do you have any tips for helping a pack rat organize and get rid of their stuff? Feel free to post them below.

April 5, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful

I have a pack-rat spouse! He never wants to toss anything. I have been secretly tossing things and they are NEVER missed. But how do I toss old TV's, phones, clothes that will never fit his body again, ect?

Grandma Ev from Southern Indiana

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April 6, 20060 found this helpful

Try donating all of his "good stuff" to your local thrift shop, or to a local shelter.. is also a great place to get rid of unwanted items.

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April 6, 20060 found this helpful

my grandmother was like this...when my mom cleaned out her house, she had 19 coffee is what we did and worked out great...(the coffee maker is the example because she also found 15 bath mats in addition to mutiple of other items!)

My mom and grandma put everything (I mean everything extra!!) in a spare room. Each time my mom went over, she told my grandma so and so needed something. My mom then took the items to the thrift store (without grandma). This way, my grandma felt like she was helping so and so, her house was being cleaned out and other people got a bargin.

My cousin didn't like it b/c so and so really didn't need it...I felt that oh well b/c my grandma's mental health (and non beyond fire trap of a house) felt great!! And in reality, we that go to thrift stores do need it!!

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April 8, 20060 found this helpful

I am troubled by the attitudes I find on many of these feedbacks. My husband and I live in a house. It is not MY house. It is not HIS house. It is OUR house. Many of the items in this house belong to both of us. There are also items here that belong to HIM. There are items here that are MINE. There is this thing called RESPECT. If I choose to dispose of something that is his..........that is DISRESPECT! My husband and I are friends, partners and equals. Neither one of us "is the boss of this house"! We share the decisions about everything.

We could both be described as pack rats, although my case of it is more severe than his. Every few months we look at each other and laugh and say"We need to thin out this mess" and we do it. He thins out his, I thin out mine. We take stuff to Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army and rearrange our remaining "stuff". I wouldn't dream of disposing of anything he was keeping. That would be so insulting and unloving! We both know that we can just "be" in our own home. He can sit on any piece of furniture he chooses to, set his glass of iced tea on any table in this house.....and just "be".

I do understand that some people take the pack rat syndrome too far and it becomes a safety and comfort issue. I think you need to deal with them kindly and firmly. Tell them some of this has to go. Say "You choose what you can give up, I'll put it in the car/truck and take it where you like, or I'll even choose where to take it if it's difficult for you to choose." Many will be relieved to have someone help them, they just need to have control over the selection process. I helped my mother-in-law this way and it worked. I handled most of the items while she sat in a comfortable chair. I'd show her an item and ask donate, keep or pitch? She'd make a decision and I'd move on to the next item. At the end of the day I'd haul the pitched items to our dumpster, take the "donate" to the appropriate charity and return the kept items to the "junk room" we were working on. Eventually we worked it down to an acceptable level. The neat thing about it was that the more area we got cleaned out, the more eager and willing she was to let go of things. I believe as folks get older it just takes so much of their energy and effort that they are reluctant to start on the elimination process. It just overwhelms them so they do nothing, and the "monster" just grows.

I could be wrong ( I know I've been before :>) !)....but it appears that most of these complaints are coming from the ladies who are so caught up in having the "perfect" house to show off to neighbors, friends and the magazine salesman! In the final accounting of your life.........will you be proud and glad that strangers could say "her house was always neat as a pin"..... but your husband and children will say "well, I could do or have almost long as I was in the barn or garage, the house was off-limits".

The house I live in is a "home". It is not fashionably decorated. It is rarely "spotlessly clean". It is filled with many things, mainly peace, contentment and joy. The rooms are overflowing with happy memories and we make more every day.

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April 13, 20060 found this helpful

Grandma Eve,

I been married 11 yrs to my honey and he does want to keep 'stuff' I do toss out stuff without

his knowing and he has NOT missed or asked for

one item. It is not a matter of 'disrespect' its a matter of clearing clutter. I have finally convinced him that some people like Katrina victims could use

that never opened box of dishes and would be happy to use them! I would rather have my good things re-used than sitting in a box rotting...and

taking up space. So good luck...

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Read More Answers...

February 28, 2012 Flag
0 found this helpful

I decided several years ago not to keep everything "just in case". I know several people I can call if I need something I do not save, like oleo tubs, coffee cans, or even bits of fabric. Why not let them save the extra things so I can stay organized? It works very well for me and even if I can't find what I need from friends, the items usually don't cost much to buy, much less than hiring a professional organizer.

By Susan from Elkhart, IN


April 20, 2007 Flag

I know that this sounds simplistic but if you are a pack rat (and who isn't?), try to root through your things on a regular basis. I put away items into a "safe" place and then I cannot find them. I am in a store and I "think" I need pens when I have dozens of them, if I only knew where. I have been going through some of my things for spring cleaning and I found that I have three different packages of whiteout because I put each one in a different place for storage. This goes for food. And seasonal clothes. Do not buy new clothes before you take out the clothes that you have stored and really know what you need (or can fit into). I believed that, as a pack-rat, I was always prepared for an emergency, but the emergency was tieing up my money on things I did not need or already had.

By Heather from Boston, MA

May 9, 2004 Flag
0 found this helpful

If you have not yet seen the show on TLC called "Clean Sweep", you should! I came from a long line of relatives that hung on to everything for whatever reasons. This show has really opened my eyes to what you should or should not keep and when.

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