Why it's so hard to get rid of stuff

tripletmom83August 8, 2012

As I continue on in my quest to purge my whole house of all the stuff I don't need, I keep asking myself "Why is this so hard for me?" If this were someone else's house I could tell them what to toss easily. I think I've hit on something. Throwing away something I've purchased means I officially wasted my money. This is especially true with cosmetics, face creams, hair products, etc. Things I tried but were not quite right. As long as they sit on my dresser or vanity there is always the possibility they will be used. Throwing them out is like throwing away money. Rationally, I know that the money was gone as soon as I bought the stuff. How can I convince myself that if I haven't used them by now I never will, and the space on my dresser and in my vanity is of more value than all this stuff?

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We all buy some things that we think are right and later find they are not. Your reasoning is faulty. Throwing things out you will never use may be like wasting money in your eyes but is it any more of a waste if you keep them and never use them. Really if you've used them and didn't like them what are the chances that you'd like them enough to use them again. Holding on to them and never using them is a waste of space and creates clutter.

At sometime you have to make a reasoned choice about what to keep and what to throw away. Makeup has a limited life. If you've used it at all it may be contaminated. I think you have to bite the bullet and purge

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 9:36PM
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Of course you're right. But it's like the leftovers that you put in the fridge even though you really didn't like it that much the first time. It feels wasteful, so you wait a week and then toss it. I wish makeup would turn green when it got old. It would be so much easier to toss.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 9:52PM
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I find it helps to tell myself things like "it's just stuff", and just try to put it in perspective. If it's no use to you, then it's just taking up space so telling yourself "it cost such and such" is just a way to justify keeping it, and that's what makes tossing things hard, we give them some value, such as it belonged to aunt sophie, I may need this one day, it cost $x. But take a step back and see it for what it is, something that has no value in your life. Ask yourself what's the worst that could happen if you toss something you don't use anyway since things like this can always be replaced. Will you really miss it? The answer is no, you will forget you even had it once it's gone because you didn't use it anyway. If you're still stuck, toss one of those things out today, and see what happens, you'll soon realise you don't even think of it and that may give you the confidence to toss the rest.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:06PM
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I take lotions and cosmetics in to work. I put them in the breakroom with a note that says "free." I do this twice a year or so. I gather up all the stuff I don't use and take it in. People take it even if its open or partially used. This helps me feel these things are not being wasted.

The extra mile is not to buy more! I have realized what works for my hair and skin and stick with a very few products that I know I like. That reduces clutter dramaticly.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:36AM
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I learned a financial concept called "sunk costs". Example-a county government decides to build a road but runs out of money when it is only half way constructed. Rather than raise taxes and obtain more money to finish the project, it is abandoned and the road ends in a dead-end. Useless and the original money spent is a "sunk cost." Irretrievable. Likewise, in a household level, you buy a chair that does not fit with your current decorating scheme. Say it's French Provincial and you have Early American. If you can't afford to buy more furniture to match, the cost of the chair is a "sunk cost". You are out the money, the chair never gets used and you wish you had the money to buy food instead. Just like clutter. "It cost a lot of money. I liked it then. I might use it someday."

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 6:48AM
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Okay, got rid of the old lotions and face creams and hair products I never used anymore. Also got hubby to go through some things he had stashed in the nightstand. Freed up some valuable drawer space there. I think I'll just keep it empty until I'm all done and then figure out what should go there.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:29PM
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I like the concept of "rental" space. Stuff costs money to have....you have to clean around it, if your linen closet or the cabinet under the sink are packed every time you try to get one thing three fall over....
I get excited when I can fill up a trash bag or a box for charity.
The night before trash comes I always challenge myself and the kids to fill up a trash bag. (I pay a fortune for trash collection so I am always determined to have them pick up as much as possible)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 4:35AM
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What an interesting thread. I have the same problem, and use the same rationale, as tripletmom. I have found, however, if I give the stuff away, rather than throwing it away, I feel better. The money I've spent may help someone else and that's a whole lot better than throwing it down the drain.

It's still hard to do, but I've begun to set aside a bin for the million and one charities that call for donations. When the bin gets full, it goes to the first charity that calls.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 6:52PM
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We used to get calls from the Viet Nam Vets that they would be in our neighborhood on such and such a date and did we have anything. I always said yes, and then marked my calendar. I knew I could always come up with at least one box of outgrown clothes and anything else we didn't need. This was a great way of forcing myself to do it because I had committed to it. Unfortunately I haven't gotten those calls in a long time, so now I have to take the initiative to get things to the drop off point. I am not picky, I drop them off at one of the three places that are on my way to work.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 8:39PM
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he idea behind "sunk cost" isn't to discourage spending or to pile on the guilt.

the idea behind a "sunk cost" is to recognize that *holding onto something* (whether it's an unfinished road or a piece of furniture you don't like) isn't ever going to give you the money BACK.

You shouldn't keep sending energy, or money, trying to "keep the dream alive." Don't keep something because you've spent the money on it--the money's GONE ("sunk"), and keeping the stuff isn't going to bring the money back. It's just going to make it WORSE.

From Wikipedia's entry:

Many people have strong misgivings about "wasting" resources (loss aversion). In the above example involving a non-refundable movie ticket, many people, for example, would feel obliged to go to the movie despite not really wanting to, because doing otherwise would be wasting the ticket price; they feel they've passed the point of no return. This is sometimes referred to as the sunk cost fallacy. Economists would label this behavior "irrational": it is inefficient because it misallocates resources by depending on information that is irrelevant to the decision being made. Colloquially, this is known as "throwing good money after bad".

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 3:57PM
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My other theory lately is this one: "It's all going to end up in the landfill anyway--eventually."

Once you recognize this, then it's just a matter of whether the object is going to do good or evil between now and then.

If it's in my way in my home, and it makes me feel guilty every time I see it in the bathroom cabinet, then it's evil. ("stop me before I kill again!") And so I send it where it can do good, or at least I put it out of my misery, so it's not doing evil anymore.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 3:58PM
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Talley Sue, I love both your posts. The first reminded me of my Dad whose sister is in an Assisted Living facility where her meals are all paid for monthly. My Dad is reluctant to take her out for meals because she would then be paying for meals that she didn't eat. I try to convince him that he is looking at it the wrong way, but I have not been very successful. Unfortunately I don't think he'd really get the "sunk cost" concept either.
I also like the concept of objects doing good or evil. It's not something I've thought of before, but I have often said that the more expensive an article of clothing is the more likely it is to become an albatross around your neck. From now on if an object makes me feel guilty then it is doing evil and must go.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:23PM
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I know too many hoarders. I'm actually prone in the other direction.

But nostalgia is the tough one for me. "Things" often have pleasant memories that we're trying to hang on to.

The way I resolved it was, "Ditch the stuff; save the memory."

That "separation" between the stuff and the memory helped me a lot.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Talley - Yes, it all does end up in a landfill someday but if someone uses something you have as opposed to purchasing a new item then it slows(in theory) production of new product. So, while I completely agree that getting things out of your home that you don't need is great, but if they can be put to use by someone else, it's better for the environment.

Yesterday, my(21yo) daughter and I went to Goodwill to peruse. She purchased a cute Corningware baking dish for $3. She has other "vintage" Corningware and I said why would anyone ever buy it new? This is just an example.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 9:58AM
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dawnp--did you miss this part of my post?

"And so I send it where it can do good,"

However, if sending something to the Goodwill is too hard, and creates "evil" in my life, I will admit that I am completely not above throwing it straight into the garbage.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:53PM
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I'm sorry Talley Sue. I did respond without considering that part of your post!

I'm super sensitive about minimizing waste! We have such a throw away society.

And Yes, I can understand that sometimes you just have to throw it away!

I always enjoy reading your great and thoughtful contributions to this forum.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Hi All!

I was checking out some of the forums that I had never been to and came across this post and boy, do I know know this story well.

I went through a period of many years where I moved almost every year. Then, I settled into a kind of spacious 2-bedroom apartment with an attic where I stayed for nine years. Without realizing it, I turned it into the 'House of Mights'. I can't throw this away because I might need it. I might be able to fit these again one day. I might go back to this decorating style. I might find that other earring/shoe/glove/candlestick. I might need this original box and packaging material to these computer speakers that I bought five years ago. I might want to re-read those articles from those six year old magazines. I might not be able to find another (insert item here) when I need it. I might remember the person that gave me this card when I left the job I had before the one I had right before the one before this one and might want to reconnect. I think you get the idea. But everything was tucked away behind doors and drawers and would really only require my attention when I had to find room for another "might". And then I bought a house. When I first started packing, only irreparable things were thrown away. Everything else went into a box. When moving day came, I thought I had almost everything packed but my friends and family were opening doors and drawers and finding all kinds of things. By the THIRD day of moving, I was less attached to things. By the SEVENTH day of moving, I would have put my mother on the curb if she sat in one place long enough. And there was still a bunch of stuff that the landlord ended up throwing away.

With that new found religion, I began unpacking at the new house and ended up getting rid of more than half of the stuff I moved. I had the clutch bug bite a little when I would think of what I'd spent on something but then, I realized that, by keeping it, I'm continuing to spend. Spending time cleaning/caring for it. Spending energy thinking about what to do with it. Spending emotional energy knowing that I really don't need it yet I'm allowing it to clutter my home.

Sorry for the long rant but I just wanted to share that I don't think we set out to build these attachments to things but I also don't think that we realize just how much of a burden these things become and how liberating it is to release them!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 11:55AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

This has always been a problem for me too. I haven't reached the level of hoarding, thankfully, but I have the reputation of never wanting to throw out anything. I still have a box of papers from the 1970s, with receipts and bills. (g) I really do enjoy looking those over, when I run across that box though. One thing that works in my favor is that I hate clutter. So I try to keep the living areas, organized and free of clutter. The attic, the basement and the garage are normally packed though.

I don't have a problem throwing away something that hasn't worked out. I usually have trouble with anything that has sentimental attachment or history, or I feel 'may have some use someday'.

Sapphire, my family used to tease me mercilessly about my need to save every box! Now they just accept. But I try not to save everything now, only when I really think I may be returning something, or if I'm unsure about whether it is working out, I leave the box right in the Living Room where I'm tripping over it until I'm sure it's not going back.

We did clean out the basement 3 years ago and I took photos of the empty space. This summer I noticed it's about 3/4 full again. How does that happen so fast?

The attic is the worst. Most of the things I have emotional attachment to are in the attic, so unless I run out of space entirely and need to get rid of something, I'm staying away from the attic.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 6:01AM
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Sapphire, Welcome. Thanks for the "Mights"; I love it and certainly can relate. I love repurposing so I have "stuff" that has little value but you never know when I "might" find a creative use for it.

For example, these empty tea bottles that I use for salt and peppers (left) and sugars (right). Oh, and the Voss water bottles on the top shelf for baking products.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:16PM
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Prairiemoon2, you sound just like me when I was in my apartment! I had pay stubs from my first job, greeting cards from when I left my first job, pictures of people whose names I had long since forgotten but I knew that I'd worked with them at my first job. All gone now. I kept everything neatly tucked away so that I had no real concept of how much "stuff" I had accumulated. That moving process was such a nightmare to me that the very thought of holding on to something just for the sake of nostalgia will make my body ache!

Thanks for the welcome, Mustangs! I have to say that your baking collection looks quite neat! I'm just past that point where I'm willing to hold onto something until I figure out what to do with it. My mother and I love to go to thrift stores on the weekends. There have been plenty of things that I have just loved and some of them even made it into my cart. However, if I didn't know exactly where it was going to go or what exactly I was going to do with it, it didn't make it into my car. My house is much larger than my apartment and it would be all too easy to fill it up with "stuff". I even refuse to buy furniture whose sole purpose is to display "stuff".

My mother is a hoarder except her house is not allowed to get anything close to the ones on television. I have told her that, under no uncertain terms, if it even looks like it's getting that bad, we will drag her out by her ankles and set the house on fire! So, what she does instead is have layers of things. You open up a cabinet to get the salt and you have to move ten things to get to it. She will put a picture frame on a table with a glass cigarette lighter in front of it and a ceramic do-dad on top of that. It's a decorator's nightmare but it works for her. When she goes, it will all go back to Goodwill where it came from.

I just feel like there is so much maintenance involved and so much energy expended in holding on to these things and we can't even logically explain why we need to keep them. Receipts from the 70s? The stores probably don't even exist anymore! My brother has all of his credit card statements from all of the cards he's ever had. I would say at least fifty percent of those banks don't even exist anymore! What's his reason for keeping them? "Because you never know..."

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Consider donating cosmetics, lotions, shampoo/conditioner that didn't work out for you to the women's center in your town. I know the one near my home accepts donations of "business" clothing for homeless women to use for job interviews, etc. I'm guessing they would be grateful for the beauty products as well.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 12:04PM
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"I just feel like there is so much maintenance involved and so much energy expended in holding on to these things and we can't even logically explain why we need to keep them. "

so true sappire69, it all adds on maintenance, even dusting around all the extra stuff becomes a nightmare.

"Receipts from the 70s? The stores probably don't even exist anymore!"

lol, this reminded me of when we moved to this house, I had kept 7 years of rental receipts from our previous place, every single one of them neatly organised by date,and when I found them, it made me feel nostalgic about where we had lived so I kept them! Eventually I did just toss them but what a useless thing to collect. :)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 8:58AM
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This was a great thread to read -- I am at my daughter's apartment, 1000 square feet for her and her husband, every inch of wall space filled. All would be fine except there is a baby due in two weeks! I am here to help organize. It's a balancing act to help them toss stuff, install elfa shelves, convince them they really would do better to have a changing table rather than use the couch to change diapers . . . Tomorrow will be the turning point, I hope. (going to the container store! Boxing up chachkas!) Thanks for the good ideas --I read parts of the posts to them for inspiration.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:39AM
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Trancegemini, it is an uphill battle all of the time if you have those tendencies. I went to a concert not too long ago and found myself holding on to the ticket stub. Why? I certainly can't use it again? It's as if my mind believes that I might forget the date or even that I went at all so I need to keep the stub to remind myself. There's that word "might" again. I have to tell myself that the memory is in my head, not in the item. The sentiment is in my heart, not in the item. The stub is in the garbage. That's why forums like this are so important.

Elisa, I certainly hope you can get through to your daughter because I know lots of people who have successfully rationalized to themselves why they need to keep TONS of baby stuff. Mind you, the youngest child in that lot is a freshman in high school this year.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:13AM
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I admit I buy wayyy too much "stuff". I have those days where I just have to buy something and usually it's something useless - but I felt good when I bought it.
I feel sooo good when I clean out/up a drawer and give a bag of hair stuff, costmetics, etc. to my mom or sister. That way I don't feel like I wasted money - I gave it to someone. I really don't even care if they ever use it, it's not in my way anymore.
I also love the feeling when I empty a bottle/container and when it hits the trash can it's shear pleasure! Unfortunately, there is usually a back-up bottle or a new product to replace the used up one.
My problem is clothes, shoes and purses - I can't seem to part w/them. If, I could get my mind around giving those away, my closets would look a lot better!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 4:46PM
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I'm working on a project right now to organize my attic. I've pulled about one-quarter of its' contents down into my dining room, I'm putting things I'll use again in clear Sterlite tubs. The tubs cost eight bucks a piece,so far I'm still working on my Christmas stuff. Three fake trees (in pieces) loads of ornaments and holiday decorations. I'm hoping when my two daughters get married they'll take some of the Christmas things. I have to admit the attic has been a repository for "I might want this" stuff for about 30 years, thru two kids, deaths of all our parents, illnesses, depression, etc. it's good to go thru things, fun to see the Christmas stuff but I'll feel better when everything is packed away where I can't see it. I'm motivated by my Mom. She died in 2011 and left behind a hoarder's house. My poor brother had to go through nearly 50 years' worth of books, papers, toys, furniture,clothing (including a leopard coat) dishes and glassware galore. I don't want to leave a mess like that for my children. When MIL died, even though her house looked clean and she wasn't a hoarder, it took six months to go through all her belongings. Can you believe the family found utility bills back to the 1950's? What was she hoping for, a good customer rebate? Nobody collects old bills. We even found her parents' baptismal certificates. And loads of old passports and bankbooks. Remember when banks had passbooks that got stamped every time you added or took out money? Fun to look at maybe, but of absolutely no real value.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:16AM
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In addition to "sunk cost," there is the economic principle of "carrying costs." If it didn't cost anything to have a huge amount of inventory, no company would ever run out of anything. But it costs rent for the storage space, and while the money is tied up in inventory, it isn't available for other uses. So you can also consider the carrying costs of your stuff. How much space is it taking up? As someone pointed out, how difficult does it make it for you to access other items? So you aren't wasting money when you get rid of it, you are saving future expense of carrying costs.

Now if only I could apply this to my own house...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 6:41PM
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My cousin is going through this right now, moving my elderly Aunt out to Arizona from NY. My Aunt is quite the hoarder (not like on the TV shows) but still tons of stuff.She is not happy about it but there is no way she can bring all that junk with her. They have moved all the nice furniture and china and things that she can fit into her new apartment, but all the rest needs to be given away, sold or donated. And I have to say seeing what my cousin is going through has got the whole rest of the family thinking. None of us wants to leave a problem for our kids. So my Mom and Dad are cleaning out, and my DH and I are cleaning out. Even some of the neighbors on the street that my Aunt and parents live on have gotten the bug and are getting rid of their junk.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:58PM
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Eliza z5, good luck with helping them get things organised (it sounds like a big job). Sometimes we can get stuck in the "keeping" but it's not until you start getting rid of things that you start to appreciate how much you gain. Not only will they gain space if they can pare down, but it makes it so much easier to organise, find things etc, and not only that it's so much easier just trying to clean. When we get stuck in that keeping mentality, we don't realise what we are giving up just to hold on to all the excess stuff.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:36PM
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I get sentimental over silly things too. When I moved 3 years ago, it took a long time to go through and get rid of a LOT of stuff to fit everything in the new house. Then I couldn't do anymore. Last week we got some new equipment for our business that needed to be stored in the garage. So I HAD to clear out more space (and space in there has been disappearing slowly but surely in the last couple years). So I started in the back, at the farthest depths and went through more boxes. Amazing how when I really need the space for something, I found it much easier to toss stuff I had kept for too long, stuff that survived previous purges. I still have more to go, but fit the new equipment in and need to take the purged boxes to the dump/recycle center/thrift shop. It will be interesting, now that I don't have the motivation to see if I can still clear out more stuff...

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 5:35PM
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I'm new here, but I've been slowly working on getting rid of my "stuff" that takes up space, is useless (to me) but still hard to part with.

At 57, I don't need as much stuff, and the thought of someone having to go through my junk when I'm gone is a good motivator.

I don't plan on kicking the bucket anytime soon, but I have a special needs daughter who cares nothing for my "treasures". It will be friends (or maybe strangers) who will have the job (someday) of getting rid of my "stuff". I plan on a gradual paring down to those things that I truly love and want to keep. I hate the thought of people having to sort through things, thinking "why the H*** did she keep this crap?"

I find that working with a friend is easier. As soon as I touch an item, it seem to connect with my brain and all the memories associated with it make it suddenly REALLY valuable. When someone else holds it up, and all I have to do is decide its future, the decision is much easier.

We sort into three bags - Goodwill, garbage and keep. The keep bag is mostly empty at the end of each short session. :)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 7:54PM
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I wish I could say my "keep" bag was mostly empty.

DH and I just spent the day going through a bunch of stuff in our basement. That is the place that our junk goes to die. It is a job that we have to do together, because DH is afraid I will get rid of all his stuff if he's not there, and if I am not there everything will get all shifted around and stacked up, but nothing will actually be gotten rid of.
We actually made a dent. But there is still so much to do. One thing we noticed is a good portion of the stuff is not ours. Much of it belongs to our adult children. They have left us tons of books, college and high school memorabilia,and tons of games and toys. We have filled some boxes and we need to have them go through their stuff and either take it or release it. Some of the toys I am saving for my grandchildren to play with when they visit. But I fear that there are far too many games that will go unplayed with. I think my kids will know which are worth keeping and which should be donated. I probably should try to sell some of this stuff, but I just think we would procrastinate, so it's more expeditious to just load them into the back of the car and take them to the drop off point that is right next door to my workplace. I think it's important to know yourself, and I know my weak area is in "finishing" certain jobs. So I have to force myself, but I also make it as simple as possible so I don't have any excuses. ( Like I'm waiting for my son to show me how to put it on Craigslist.)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 5:11PM
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We don't buy stuff but we're given stuff. We have too much stuff. My husband and son are "fixers". Everyone in our rural area calls on them when they need a whatever and they'll usually have it. Their stuff has saved us money, sometimes a LOT of money time and again. But we still have too much stuff. Or maybe it's not enough storage space. I keep saying we need to purge and get rid of stuff. the family agrees but words haven't translated into actions yet.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Triplemom -couldn't stop laughing over your line about the basement "...the place that our junk goes to die." Probably struck such a chord for me as it applies to my basement so well! There is a little bit of the waste of money going on but mainly, It hink I just get lazy/overwhelmed. I was just sizing things up down there the other day; it's a repository of good intentions, but in reality a black hole of the deitrius of my life. There's not a ton of stuff, but there is still way too much and worse- it's randomly placed - somethings just plunked down anywhere, making for a confusing, cluttered mess. I need to get started, but I put it off as there are more important projects, and the effort I imagine it will take makes the prospect unpleasant. What I *NEED* to do is stop thinking of taking the entire weekend it will entail, and consequently cannot manage anytime soon (or probably later, either!) and just start doing little bits as I go down to do the laundry. Maybe even just coming back upstairs each time with just *one* thing to throw away/recycle/donate....in two months, It would be noticably cleaner without much effort!!! OK - I'm going to commit to this - anybody else in???????????????????????????????

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:58PM
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peegee, I think that's a great plan and I think trying to do it all at once just gives us excuses to put it off (there's always something more important to do), and it leads to decluttering fatigue IMO. I think there are only so many decisions we can make before it just mentally starts to wear you out. I also found that when I first started decluttering, it was easier to start small and just make one or two decisions on things at a time.

As I got my momentum up, I spent a few years really purging stuff, but it was only done an hour or two here and there and I found it was more productive doing it in short spurts where I could really just get focused and then stop when it became mentally tiring and come back to it another day. But all of those small efforts really do add up, at first you might think it's overwhelming, but it doesn't take long before you start to see a difference, and that's when you can appreciate the payoff.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:31AM
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Peegee, I think you nailed my problem!! We can't declutter because there is never and will probably never be a block of time where we can get it done. But we don't have to get it done! Thank you for pointing out the obvious. If I got rid of one thing every day, I would be so much better off. Wow! What a concept. I don't have to get the four of us together at the same time on the same day (practically impossible) and purge the basement. I'm going to ask my family to get rid of one item every day.That would be four things. Surely we can do that much and then as we see improvement, maybe we can find storage space for the things we really want and need to keep.

Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 8:03AM
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This is the image I hold onto:
A long time ago in another declutter forum, a fellow wrote about his filthy car -- piled high with junk, wrappers, extra clothes, you name it. He couldn't face cleaning it out, such a big job. SO. He stopped bringing stuff in, and every time he got out of the car he took something with him, say, five things. Eventually the job was done!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:29AM
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A fine inspiration!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:19PM
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Okay Peegee, I'm in. Since that day, we haven't been back to "complete" the job. Like you say, never enough time. Plus, the basement is the one room you don't really have to worry about company ever seeing. (Although I have found myself apologizing for the mess to a plumber or two.)So from now on I will not leave the basement without taking out one thing, no matter how small. And I will avoid bringing anything new into it.
By the way, the best thing about this forum is that it is keeping decluttering in the front of my mind, so I have been much better at not bringing more stuff into my home. Also my husband, who really struggles with letting go of certain things, has, on his own, started to really purge the garage. And he says he's not done. This is really HUGE for us!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:52PM
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I'm in too!

I went down the basement storage area the other day and was looking for our pool cover frantically as the guy that closes up our pool showed up unexpectedly. He was in there looking with me as well. I looked around at all the stuff stored on shelves and piled on the floor and thought "why in the world am I keeping all this stuff???"

I even spent 3 hours down there with a home organizer helping me a couple of years ago. We took out carloads of stuff but I now know that I need to part with a lot more. It's just silly to keep things I will probably never use again. I seem to be more willing t part with things as time goes on. It is such an overwhelming to think of spending a big block of time down there. When I walk in there, I can't get out fast enough! I guess the "stuff" is unsettling. I used to feel that way when I went into my boys' messy playroom.

I love your idea to get rid of/donate one item at a time. I can do that! I think 5 things from that area would be too much at once but I can do one. Every little bit helps.

Maybe you should start a new(more visible) basement thread to encourage each other?

Thanks for the idea!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:26PM
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I agree! Since Sept 28, we have decluttered 20 items form the basement--4 each day.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:04PM
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I was thinking about my former garage (now my den).

My DH was a GC. He'd clean out his truck by putting everything into Hefty bags and first, putting them in the garage. Right in front of the door. So, the garage was kind of empty, but you couldn't get in.

Then he just left them in driveway. Thank goodness our home is in the country and no one could see. I hated it, but didn't know what the stuff was to clear it out or save.
For 3 years I lived in a home damaged by fire and subsequent rebuilding plans. No electricity, plumbing, windows, heat, kitchen, 1 toilet (I begged to have hooked up), and finally a shower. I lived in 1 room with 7 cats and 4 dogs, waiting for him to get thru depression, work exhaustion, God knows what.

Turns out "what" was an affair and the rebuilding he was doing on the house and come to a grinding halt because he was "busy". Not working for a year, but during patience and understanding, I didn't know that.

We split up and those bags became a blessing. Lots was rusted or ruined, but I was able to exchange anything with a bar code to Lowe's and HD. Probably well over $4500's worth of stuff I exchanged for electrical wire, plumbing stuff, additional drywall materials, roof tar paper, flashing, (stop me) if you can think of something you'd use to build a house, insert it here.

Because I had materials in those bags, I was able to get electricity in all but 2 rooms, a donated vanity sink installed, drywall materials (still LOTS of this to do), things built, some plumbing installed, and amazing stuff done. Without buying much at all! Some projects required NO material money whatsoever. I had 43 electrical outlet/switch boxes and the outlets and switches to go with them!

When I can get the money together to hire someone, even they started to ask where I had this tool, this gadget, this plumbing part, this electrical box, that wood, this type screw, that drill and this bit, (stop me again) vs. immediately thinking they were going to get an hour break to go to Lowe's or HD. Saved me TONS and TONS in time, money, frustration, and got rid of much of the Hefty bags.

Let me sing that song again: It also got rid of the bags.

I decided to teach myself how to build cabinets (no kitchen) since I had all this material in the garage and barn. Well, one little class at a woodworking club showed me many of those weird tool things I had were something I could use!!! Glad I didn't clear out everything in a grief/depression/frustration-purge. Turns out when he couldn't find something, he just bought another. I actually had MORE tools than the workshop!

So purging by returning.
Purging by installing.
Purging by building.
And not purging something I didn't understand has held me in good stead! I admit to giving away an entire lathe system and an evil radial arm saw. Afraid of that baby! But I know people who take this stuff can USE it.

I purge frequently and actually don't have stuff like I used to. I just have no place to put things yet (haven't built closets) so my life is in those Sterlite boxes stacked in different rooms. Slowly but surely, they're either given away or I finish a cabinet.

One project at a time, even if it's winding the cord up on the vacuum cleaner.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 9:51AM
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Wow, CEFreeman, what a project!

And what determination. I love that you took a woodworking class!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 3:22AM
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I forgot to compliment mustangs on her cabinet. :)
I have a useless 12" upper cab I use for vitamins. But vitamins come in short fat bottles. I collected caper jars from work and BJ's. They're tall and thin! My lazy Susans fit right in that dumb cabinet, as do my new vitamin jars.

I smile every time I look at the great repurposing that made my cabinet functional.

talley_sue_Nyc, I have a router class in mind when I can save $450. I have 3, and you can do so much little finishing detail that makes something look clean and professional. I built a 16' 10" and 24" maple butcher block countertop and I want to route the edge. $450 is tough when you're a waitress/yoga teacher trying to keep her home! [LOL]

But stranger things have happened. The class is in my sights.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 9:13AM
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ooh, I want a router, and a router class!

I used my FIL's router recently--he doesn't have a stand, it's free-form, so we had to attach a guide. We messed up a bunch of stuff, but it was fun.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 11:47AM
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So many statements on this thread resonate with me... when you start getting rid of things you appreciate what you have... places in your home where things "go to die," etc... I especially like how winding the vacuum cord "counts" as a project! :)
I've got two days of heating contractors coming this week and the folks will be in: the garage, attic (which I can stand up in and runs the length of the home- lots of things stored up there!), each and every room and outside- yikes!!! Hopefully there will be "aggressive purging," not bit by bit strategies at play this weekend!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:33AM
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Good Luck Merrygardener! Sometimes being "under the gun" is just what we need to get us going.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:55AM
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I come by the 'frugal, save it because you could use it for something' gene honestly. My mother, grandmother, and daughter also have it.

Several years ago my friend loaned me a hilarious, completely enjoyable book that changed my life. 'Get Your Act Together' by the Slob Sisters. I might be a little off on the title. It really helped me.

I haven't used the system in the past few years but am recently re-inspired. I am looking forward to getting newly organized, when I find the book amongst all my newly collected stuff (I purchased a copy, I enjoyed it so much :)

I have learned that for me staying on top of it is an ongoing process - like alcoholism I can't allow myself to 'save' even one unuseful, unbeautiful, or unsentimental item and certainly not if it doesn't have a designated storage space.

A few other friends told me about flylady.net I didn't try it but they really praised it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fly Lady

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:29PM
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