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As a little girl I used to save up a lot of money. Most of my pocket money went into my piggy bank, to save up for bigger items I would want to buy. Soon I found out that doing this, made me a target. Family members came to borrow money, as I always had some. Most of the time my piggy bank was left emptier, and even though I got paid back most of the time, I started to see my saving as a bad habit.
That is when I started the downward spiral. I became addicted to stuff. My piggy bank was empty, and my room filled with toys. 7 years ago, I was married by that time, I reached the pinnacle of spendthriftiness. Due to medication I became depressed, and my answer to the depression was Ebay. I started to like those maneki neko (beckoning cat) statues... I bought 20. I started to knit again... I bought boxes and boxes of yarns.
Until, one moment last year, I started to realize that surrounding myself with stuff, didn't make me a happier person. Cleaning the house became a chore that I detested. I was spending lots of time putting our stuff in various hiding places, and then had no energy left to spend on the actual cleaning.
That was when I began decluttering.
The decluttering was my first step on the way to frugality. I started to collect things from the house, asking two very simple questions with every item in my hands: "Does this item bring me joy?" or "Do I still use this item?" I collected the items, for which both answers were no, and sent them to the thrift shop or sold them on Ebay. I still do both these steps, and every time something leaves the house, I feel more fresh air chasing the staleness away.
My second step was buying the tightwad gazette, and started to read about saving money. I found some ideas very radical, especially for my spendthrifty nature, but I took some great ideas from it.
My third step to frugality was reviving my love for the earth. Would I really want to clutter the earth any more with my waste? Did I show my love for the earth by buying things, that would cost the earth centuries to break down? And wouldn't we live much more in balance, if we were eating vegetables grown in our own backyard? All these questions, and more, moved through my head, and I knew the answers to all of them. It was clear, very clear.
We started our frugal life by doing monthly trips to cheaper supermarkets, filling our pantry with cheap and healthy foods. Then once a week we stocked our fridge with perishables, like milk and veggies. We have become more conscious shoppers now, and have also stopped eating and drinking unhealthy food. All in all, we succeeded in cutting our grocery bill in half, without spending lots of time comparing price lists.
Then we started to shop at thrift shops. When we need something replaced, we first go look there.
More steps followed, and I realized that every step we take towards thriftiness, I feel happier. I feel more alive now, than I did two years ago. I have renewed my bond with the earth we live on through frugality. I know that sounds like two aspects that have nothing to do with each other, but for me, both are linked.
The biggest surprise in this new life of being thrifty is, that my dreams are floating to the surface now. Not spending time spending money, is time spent on following my dreams. I have a focus in life, that I didn't have for most of my life, even though I always knew what my dreams were.
To me, this is the biggest, and most unexpected, gift of frugality, and it made me realize that frugality isn't about pinching pennies, or saving money. It is about saving yourself, creating the space where you can go and live your dreams.
Sylver from the Netherlands
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Cleaning closets and clutter have been the largest project taken on this past week-end. I've renewed my determination to ask myself these questions before I bring anything of significance into this house:
Then I'm going to go home and sleep on it for 24 hours. If I decide to go back and buy it in the morning, I'll know without a doubt that, whatever it is, it can come into this house. I never want to spend another precious weekend the way I spent this one.
By the way, I will take a deduction for the fair-market value of the items I donated to charity as allowed by the IRS. I use the valuation system, It's Deductible (Intuit) because the values for more than 850 specific household and clothing items comply with IRS guidelines. Go to http://www.itsdeductible.com/. Or you can check the Salvation Army's Valuation Guide for a simplified list.
By Bobbie G from Rockwall
I have been having a major declutter at my house. Nothing has been spared. I figured if I hadn't looked at some of the stuff I was considering hanging onto, I didn't really need it.
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I would like some suggestions for easy ways to declutter the house?
I started a few years ago buying small plastic baskets and bins. You can get these at Dollar General or Big Lots. Keep all your small stuff which you really in them and put them away when not in use. A good place to start is to go through everything and toss, or give away everything you haven't used in the past year. I keep my sewing supplies in plastic bins and decorative tins. In my kitchen I have even progressed to the place where I have a pasta basket for when I find it on special.
Check out The Fly Lady web site. Many people swear by her methods.
I have, in the past when my children were home, used the method of Keep, Recycle, and Throw away. I had three boxes and went into each room and put everything that was out of place in one of those boxes. I didn't rethink my first selection as far as the throw away and recycle boxes went. Sometimes I would add to them from the Keep box. Then I'd follow through. Once you rid yourself of things you don't actually want or need it's much easier to keep house.
I put a laundry basket in each room of our house, yes even the kitchen, and once a day go through and pick up, at the end of the day everything is sorted and put away. Not sure if you have kids, but we have 2 boys in the same room and a tall laundry basket for each boy in their room. The rule is if laundry is not in there then it does not get washed. Really works. Hope this helps
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I, too, have been decluttering. I joined Half.com and I am able to buy/sell books.
Also, I have joined the local freecycle website, so I can list my giveaway items or items wanted there. Our local library has a bin where people can bring magazines that they no longer need or want. I regularly sort through the magazines at the library and have found older and current issues of popular as well as specialty magazines. We have local thrift stores that resell donated items. And you can get a receipt to count the donation on your taxes. I also ask friends and family if they'd be interested in having any of the books or other items I am getting rid of.
Hope this helps, happy decluttering! (07/29/2008)
I had an item placed on a box marked FREE and within 30 minutes, the item was gone. It was fun seeing how fast something leaves the FREE box. I intend on doing this until all those unwanted stored items are finally eliminated. I figure if I put a lot out there at once, people will think it's junk and pass it up when really it's just things we don't use or need anymore.
First you go girl. I am in the same predicament. I had a hard time with fly lady.com cluttering up my mailbox so I had to un-join from there. I have had some men here putting in shelves for me and I have chucked stuff, given stuff away and have a large pile for a yard sale in September. I still have mini piles throughout the house but they are getting smaller and there are less of them. (07/29/2008)
I recently cleaned out my files, as well. First, I went through the magazines and catalogs and pulled out any ideas and projects I wanted. If there was nothing, I put it in a pile for selling or donating. For the stuff I wanted to keep, I bought a 3 ring 3 inch binder, and glued the item on cardstock. I write the date on the cardstock when I use the recipe or whatever. I plan to go through the binder every year and pull the stuff I still haven't used to make room for the new stuff I find. (07/29/2008)
Also, a good way to recycle your gently used items is FreeCycle. I belong to my local FreeCycle group and enjoy passing on my items to others who will get some use out of my things. These items will no longer be cluttering up your house and you are helping others and the environment by recycling. REMEMBER: Practice safety when using this system. Never give out personal info and meet in a public place to exchange items. Go to FreeCycle.com and check out your local group. (07/29/2008)
From a sister clutterer: A group of us crafty women had a craft supply sale at a local church. Each of us brought craft stuff to sell and handled our own sales. We advertised on a local on-line bulletin board, and of course bought lots of each others' things. Newspaper ads would have been better, but we did get some things sold to outsiders. (07/30/2008)
I love using Free Cycle in our county. I have given a lot of useful things away. I found that it was easier to group items, i.e. Group 1, 2 and so on and offer them by groups with the caveat that the responder must take all in each group. It's worked wonderfully for me! It's worth checking out. (08/02/2008)
By Syd's 2 cents
I am going to be single if I do not attend to clutter that I've accumulated. But to me, it's a mess not a throw-away kind of clutter. Can you give me ideas, like where to start? I have accumulated many 5 gallon buckets for tool carriers and this season's container garden. All wrenches, hammers, paint brushes in their own bucket?
Should I pick a room that I need to conquer? Or pick a singular flat surface I would like to see again? I want tried and true suggestions, not a link please. The tough part is that I will be without help. So I've got to start somewhere. Please let me know how to declutter my workbench, which is what my entire house has turned into. Thank you, and my family thanks you, big time.
Jane from Baltimore, MD
One of the posts mentioned giving magazines to the library. DH and I also started taking books to the library. Our branch library sells books and uses the money for the coffee break supplies. In my own decluttering situation I have tried to keep small containers for my stuff and put things away immediately after use. (03/04/2009)
By Marty Dick
I would use a peg board to store most tools. Tools that can't be stored on pegs can be placed in a tool box. If you can't afford a new tool box. Pick up an old dresser from a garage sale or thrift store and use that for your tools. (03/04/2009)
It sounds like you should pick one room at a time. Clean some floor space and get some empty boxes (can be found behind most stores) and sort. You can label your boxes according to what room it should be in or like items. Also, if you intend to have a yard sale or donate, label boxes for those type of items as well. As for papers, if you are quick read. Toss the trash fast. If not, put them in one box and go through them last. Then label boxes for the papers:trash, file, pictures, coupons, recipes, taxes, anything that you need to keep and organize.
Once it has been sorted, you'll be great and go ahead and start another room and repeat. You should find as you go about your day. You will find things out of place and sort them accordingly. Then you can clean and put things where they belong. Love the peg board for tools. Don't stress, you'll be fine.
I can't tell if you're completely serious about being single or not, but if so I think you need to take drastic action. Start by asking yourself why the things you're accumulating are so important to you that you would let them threaten a relationship with a loved one.
There are many excellent tips here as to the most thrifty or frugal ways to dispose of things, but if you're in an emergency situation, I suggest you simply start throwing out things, everything that's not of major monetary value or that you don't see a use for in the next six months or so.
I've been told that setting a timer and working for 15 minutes a day will eventually get the job done. I would start in the area of the home that's most troubling to your spouse, and work out from there. (03/05/2009)
There is one important thing I have learned: I will never live long enough to do all the projects I have collected stuff for. So consider saving only the stuff that is in your favorite field. It pares down the choices. (03/05/2009)
By Coreen Hart