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Eliminating Clutter in Your Household

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Clutter is a noticeable concern for many of us. It can be overwhelming and an impossible seeming task to reduce it. This page offers several ideas for eliminating clutter in your household.
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September 11, 2012

When 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.

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By Pat Wilkens from Eastern PA

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Anonymous
September 16, 20121 found this helpful
Top Comment

After many years of accumulating things, I am in the process of that now. I have saved things from my two sons who have passed on 21 and 18 years ago as well as so many things I've collected from the kids, their school papers, gifts, scrapbook items, etc. For the first time in 47 years, I will be living by myself. No more children, adult children, their spouses and no more grandchildren.

I realize that it is better to have a few nice things that mean something to me rather then a houseful of what nots that are just collecting dust. I do not want to leave everything for my children to do.

At one point we all discussed what would be done with all my belongings and they all said "bonfire" at the same time. I realized then that I had way too much stuff and it didn't mean anything to them. I have started a tote for each child and grandchild. As I go through my stuff, I put something into each tote that I think they would like as a remembrance of me. Much has gone into the trash, sold at yard sales or donated to someone that needed it.

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I understand where you are coming from and think all of us will do better by dealing with our things bedore we pass on and the kids have to make decisions at a sad time. People have so much more today then they did years ago and our children have enough of their own. A few special pieces will mean more to them then a houseful of unusable things.

Judie from Eau Claire, WI

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Anonymous
September 16, 20121 found this helpful
Top Comment

I so agree with this post - My mother was a packrat and I thought I had inherited this trait. Lucky for me 2005 brought me Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita and a move from Florida to Oregon. I sold my house and used Freecycle, Craigslist and a charity called Grubstake to empty the contents of my 3BR 2BA house. It was the most gratifying exercise and a revelation in what my "needs' versus my "wants" actually consisted of. I now live in a 1BR Condo surrounded only by the things I love. The weight off my shoulders is tangible and allows me to breathe.

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Anonymous
September 17, 20120 found this helpful
Top Comment

I went through the same thing with my parents passed. My brother, sister and I all spent time cleaning out the attic that has been paced since 1945, it too took us couple years and finally finished and sold the house.

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I feel the same way and when my girls come to visit I ask if there is anything they want otherwise it goes and have been doing this for almost a year of garage sales, flea markets and resale shops. It's getting there slowly but surely and am so enjoying what treasures I have long forgotten about or packed away.

Yes, my daughters have taken things and still find more treasures from their childhood. I anticipate another 6 months and will be finished. Being I work full time can only do so much at a time.

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Anonymous
September 18, 20120 found this helpful
Top Comment

Good idea. I too was faced with cleaning out my parent's huge overstuffed home. I donated to every charity that called, gave to my kids and the neighbors and threw stuff away. If anyone has trouble getting rid of something just look at it, contemplate the size of it, even if it is a shoebox and say to yourself "this item is taking up this much space in my home".

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There was an internet meme going around recently that read: "See that clutter in your home? It used to be money." That simple statement was a wow moment for me. OUCH!

All of my life, I have worked very hard for my money and where did most of it go? Like most "good consumers", it went big box stores to pay for something that was supposed nourish me, help me, amuse me, or to enrich my life. Some things met those needs, but then there was a whole list of epic fails and unnecessary items.

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I frequently got to the point where I looked around the house and saw a medicine cabinet, linen closet, laundry shelf, pantry, and window sill overflowing with "stuff". It pained me that each item used to be a Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, and or even a Franklin, that was now gone.

So, what do I do when this happens? I have an annual yard sale and occasionally set up a table at the local flea market to recoup some of my losses. While losing favor in some places, if they are still popular in your town, there is money to be made in the resale world; you just have to match your "stuff" to your potential buyers' needs.

I can honestly tell you that buyers DO NOT want grandma's heirloom dishes and glassware, the pretty "collector edition" dolls, your Beanie Babies, or your well-loved, brown furniture. Nope, they want everyday items at an awesome price.

Below are the lucky 13 everyday items that consistently sell at every sale I've had over the past 20 years. While you won't get rich, you may be able to put some lost dead presidents, I mean money, back into your pocket:

  1. Laundry detergent that I used once and hated how my clothing smelled (paid $6--sold for $1.50)

  2. Almost full, large box of dryer sheets that I bought right before my dryer died (I did not replace the dryer) (paid $5--sold for $1.25)

  3. Barely used bottles of shampoos and conditioners that did not make my hair shiny OR bouncy (paid $3 to $5--sold for 75 cents each)

  4. Hand lotions that smelled amazing in the store and terrible when I got home (paid $8 to $10--sold for $1 to $2 each)

  5. Chewable multi-vitamins that had a terrible aftertaste and the ones that had a weird gummy texture (paid $4-$8--sold for 75 cents to $2 each)

  6. The lipsticks, blushes, and perfumes that no longer worked for me (paid $5-20--sold for 75 cents to $5 each--yes USED!!)

  7. Spices that were only used in one dish (paid $4 to $5--sold for .50 to .75 cents each)

  8. The unopened box of cereal where I had to buy two, to get the BOGO price and found it way too sweet for my taste (paid $2--sold for .75 cents)

  9. Batteries that fit nothing in the house and my receipt when I went to return them was nowhere to be found (paid $5--sold for $1 a pack)

  10. Colorful candles and candle holders that were too pretty to use (paid $1 to $10 each--sold a boxed lot of 20 pieces for $6)

  11. The duplicate and triplicate hammers I bought when I couldn't find mine (paid $2 each at a yard sale--sold for $3 at my sale)

  12. The boxes of nails I bought for one project where I just needed a few nails (paid 25 cents for the box at a flea market--sold at my sale for 50 cents)

  13. Oodles of plant babies--especially spider plants, kalanchoe, and jades--that I kept propagating (paid $5 to $10 for the parent plant--sold the "babies" for $1 to $5 each depending on size)
While you will never get full retail value for your used items and you won't be able to retire on the sale proceeds, in many cases you may be able recoup some of your money. In my world, a little "green" in my pocket is much better than something turning green with rot in my house.

Be sure all of your items are clean, still have good expiration dates, and are kept out of the sun during your sale.

Don't want to invest the time a have yard sale or set up at the flea? I have had success selling boxed lots of "like" items on Facebook Marketplace, not the national version, but my local Sale Want Trade sites. Depending on your town, you may see them listed as [city name] SWT or FSOT--which is Sale Want Trade OR For Sale Or Trade, respectively.

You can find these sites using Facebook's search engine and type in your town name and these abbreviations above OR if nothing turns up, try your town name and the phrases "yard sale" or "flea market".

Select a few groups to join, gather your items together (for example, put 4-5 shampoos and conditioners together in a clean, sturdy box, take a few good, clear photos, write up a brief description, set your price, and post the items for approval on the sites.

For small items (under $25), I do what is called "porch pick up" sales. This is where I post my items on my local Facebook FSOTs, give my zip code, tell potential buyers that the item will be on my porch ready for them to pick up during daylight hours, and I ask them to private message me when they are on their way.

I am very specific that the items are sold on a first come, first serve, no holds, no deliveries, and when they are on the way, I send them the address in a private message.

I have a covered porch where I can tuck things out of street view and in a place where they will not get wet if it rains or have the sun beating down on them. When I give the address, I request that the buyer leave the cash (I do not take checks) in a secure place on my porch. I don't even have to be home for the sale, which is the best part.

If you are doing a porch pick up sale, I encourage you to always look at the person's profile BEFORE you answer and follow your gut reaction if something feels off. You are not obligated to sell to the person if you are not comfortable. You can simply tell them that someone else is on the way, then you can go in to Facebook and block their profile so they wont see your posts.

Out of close to 50 porch pick up sales, I have only been "burned" once by someone who left less than I asked without an explanation. I was not happy, but then I thought, if they needed the item that bad and that was all they could pay, I will give them the good karma to keep it without question. For the record, I did block the person from my Facebook so they can no longer see my posts.

Where I am, sales are typically safe and go along without issues. HOWEVER, knowing the lay of YOUR land is important for your sale's success and your own protection. In the spirit of SAFETY FIRST and in light of the new normal of general 21st century world madness, I respectively ask that you approach all sales with awareness and caution. Be aware of your surroundings, listen to your gut, and if you ever feel threatened or unsafe, call 911 or your local authorities.

Also, be sure to know your community's rules and regulations for sales. My town has no restrictions, but some towns and communities require you to have a permit or pass before you set up shop.

Wishing you safe and easy sales turning your household "fails" back into cash!

Source: From my own learning experiences!

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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.

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April 1, 2005

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.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

February 10, 2006

Today's poll asks: Do you have problems eliminating clutter in your household? Read our readers' answers and solutions here.

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Feel free to post feedback about this poll in the feedback forum below.

Answers

February 10, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

First it helps to be a disciplined person, secondly I think that with Ebay a lot of people are getting rid of the clutter and finding that they can make a little extra money too! Thirdly, with programs like freecycle.org people can get rid of a lot of stuff and know that it is being put to good use and not ending up in the landfill.

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By Angela (Guest Post)
February 10, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

1- Deal with mail as soon as you read it:
a) put bills together with a paper clip or in a folder kept for that purpose.
b) dispose of junk mail immediately.
c) put mail that can be dealt with later in its folder.
2- file folders immediately : it is easier to file 2 or 3 folders than a dozen.
3- organize laundry as follows: give each member of the family a basket for their laundry, in the laundry room, where they must drop in their dirty clothes. (This might require a family meeting).

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February 10, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have finally learned less is more. If you don't use it get rid of it. When I am gone someone else will come in and have to get rid of it so I might as well do it and save them from having to do it.

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February 11, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

All my life people have been so generous in giving me things,treasures for ME! How do you chuck so many fond memories? 54 years of marriage and 32 years in a very small house is NOT enough room to store "TREASURES", music boxes, photo albums,and all the love with each one .We all know you can't take it with you.LOL But How to part with it escapes me. Here is one, a birthday gift. Angel Granny (Vi) with a cell phone and a red string on her finger to remind her to call. She makes me smile alot.

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February 11, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Best solution to help me with my clutter was when I joined flylady.net four years ago. Changed how I dealt with it forever!

I'm a closet clutter type of person, sentimental clutter. I had to realize not all gifts make me smile, and that the item is not the loved one, so that helped me eliminate a lot of clutter and guilt that sometimes comes along with it.

I also do daily clutter patrols of my flat surfaces and weekly for my school paper and mail pile in my kitchen.

Go check out flylady, I learned it all from her! :)

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