How to deal w/ things that I think 'have value'

dwyskySeptember 5, 2010

Just stumbled upon this forum -- usually I read the decorating and kitchen boards. I love the idea of decorating and styling my house, but the truth is that it's too cluttered and there are too many other things that need to get done before I can decorate. Like a lot of other people here (and in the other forums!), we have lots of unfinished projects. But here's an example - my DH bought a new, programmable thermostat to replace our old dial one. His dad can put it in for us. But the house is so messy that we don't want to have him over to do it yet! Other rooms are just victims of "a work in progress." I got a lot of ideas and comfort from the posts here. I love lists and I am going to take my lists to the next level -- I'm writing one for each room and taping it to the wall. Hopefully it will stop us from feeling overwhelmed if we can look at it and take small steps, then cross off each accomplishment. It's worth a try.

My main question is this: my issue with purging is that I am always afraid that the thing has value. I have donated lots of stuff, but we lived with those things in boxes for a while, wondering if we should have a garage sale instead. Finally I realized that it would be a lot of work and we are better off just dropping it at the Goodwill and adding the receipt to our taxes for next year. But I still can't shake the feeling of things having value, and I would love to break through this. When I go through my closet, I think that some of the clothes could earn a little money at the consignment shop. So then the problem becomes which one is the best consignment shop to deal with? Same with books, CDs, knick knacks, etc. I look at them and think, "someday I'll put them on CL or ebay." ... but it doesn't happen. I even have toiletries that I don't use, but it's way too hard to just throw them away. How do I get past this? We aren't in a financial crisis where I need to make money off of these things, but I am in an emotional crisis that I can't get rid of it since there's a nagging part of me that I could earn something from it. Anyone else deal with this, and if so, how do you triumph from it? I really want to get to the point where our stuff is manageable, easier to access and enjoy, and not having such a stronghold on my daily life.

Sigh. Thank you again for the hints and links and everything. Have a great weekend.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The author of one of the hoarding books talks about the tipping point that hoarders have to reach before they can let go of their stuff - the point where the need to get rid of stuff outweighs the benefits of keeping it.

I believe we all have some form of the tipping point. It sounds like you are just about ready to tip in favor of moving stuff out of the house.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 5:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The thing that helps me let go of "valuable" stuff, is to ask myself what I would think of it if I saw it at someone else's house, or how much I would pay for it at a garage sale.

Funny how our junk is so much more valuable than other people's junk, isn't it? ;)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 5:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This may not be her original idea but My sister once looked at a huge stack of mail on her husband's desk and said: "Those are not papers -- that's a stack of delayed decisions."
For some reason, this gets me going with my own stacks of papers. When going through the stack I force myself to make some real decision about each piece of paper.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 7:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If something has value then it either should be in a prominent place on it's own to some extent where it will be appreciated, or if that's inappropriate maybe it belongs in a safe deposit box, a picture album, a corner display case, etc. etc., but half buried under last year's old clothes and other stuff? Either get rid of it because its value has obviously been downgraded (in your mind) or else do one of the above. If it's just a matter of relative value money-wise, but is really just a fairly small item everyone can pick up at Wal-Mart, the dollar store or whatever, and you haven't used it in 6 mos. at the most, then either have a garage sale for other similar items, donate it, or just throw it out! It is not appreciating in value at the bottom of some pile of junk in a room in your house.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 8:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think the hardest part is to just start. When you are going through things ask yourself if you can live without it and if yes out it goes.

Garage sales are a lot of work. If the things have real money value then take the time to sell them but if it is a blouse that you can get $3 for I would let it go.

Start small with one closet or section of a room and things that you aren't sure about put in a pile. Sometimes when it comes time to put every thing back we then see that we really don't need that thing.

Sometimes it helps to have a friend help and others find it easier to do it alone.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 11:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Put a value on your time, and on your space if it helps, and you'll soon see that those things have almost no value at all. I have a formula in my head along the lines of, unless you can get more than $50 for it in under a half hour, it's not worth the trouble. And a storage locker rents for $x per square foot - so how much is it costing you to store it in your house??

In Canada, we can't get tax deductions for donations of stuff (at least not unless we work at it) so my rationale for donating is that my donation creates jobs at Value Village (or wherever I choose to donate) and thus stimulates the economy. Thrift stores are set up to extract value from my stuff; I'm not.

And last time we had a garage sale, it messed up the house extracting the saleable stuff from the dark corners, it distracted me from doing day-to-day work so the house got messier on two counts. Plus all the leftovers had to be piled back inside the house, messing it up further. To be worth all the trouble it was we would have had to make a thousand dollars, but it was of course nowhere near that. Plus I had a woman walk off with a tupperware container I was trying to get her to pay a quarter for. NOT gonna EVER have a garage sale again.

We just cleaned out my MIL's apartment and cheerfully took carloads of stuff to donate. Could have made a few bucks on her stuff with a garage sale, but the wonderful floating feeling we got leaving Value Village with a completely empty car, whenever it suited us to get rid of it and all of it taken, with no questions asked, no bickering, was worth every foregone penny.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 11:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stuff you don't use is taking up your valuable real estate. Wouldn't you like to have an empty closet or a few empty drawers? Then donate, sell, or throw out those "valuables".

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 8:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the insights! It does seem like writing and reading about it is a good way to approach it and think about it in a new way. Mari8a, you're so right that it seems that our own junk is more valuable than other people's! I feel like I could get a handle on someone else's clutter to help them but couldn't do it for myself. Graywings, I hope you're right that I'm near the tipping point. I do want to regain the freedom from worrying about this and have more space back. It's alarming how much time and energy we spend on things trying to get to the point of doing what's right. (In this case, making those delayed decisions and passing along the things we don't need.)
Today's a new day and I hope to make some more progress. Thanks for the suggestions and rational ideas - much needed and appreciated!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 11:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good luck with it dwysky. I just got out 3 boxes and instead of labeling them "Trash", "Donate", and "Save", I labeled them "Trash", "Donate", and "Use". I thought that might keep me (& dh) from saving stuff for no reason.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It seems you're looking for another way to think about your things. Right now you see them as valuable, and therefore you shouldn't get rid of them. What if you approach them this way---if you keep something that's valuable or useful, and you aren't enjoying or using it, are you being selfish? Wouldn't it be a blessing for both you and someone else, if you gave it away. I find it much easier to part with my "treasures" if I think about them in this way.
Best wishes,

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 6:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What works for me is thinking about the dollar value of having a home that I am comfortable in, and comfortable having people visit. I know there is a dollar value to that because if I were unable to create that kind of home, I would have to pay someone to do it for me. So, when I think "I might be able to get $10 for that at a yard sale" I think about whether that $10 will pay for the people I'll have to hire to make my house look un-crazy if I keep every $10 item?

I have sold a lot on Craigslist, but I limit myself to 2 weekends of trying. If it hasn't sold in two weeks, it gets donated.

I have four children and lots of pets; things can go from perfectly tidy to embarrassingly awful in a very short amount of time, but the less cluttered my rooms are, the faster and easier it is to turn the situation around.

I am a list-lover, too. One of my daughters seemed to be quite organizationally challenged but made huge improvements when we hung up a list of what order to do things in when cleaning up her room. Although she hadn't learned the process of tidying her room in 13 years of me showing her how to do it, doing it with her, and fussing at her for not doing it, three months with the list taped to the back of her door and she mastered it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 7:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First I reiterate that a lot of people, me included, go through some degree of what you are going through, so first thing is to be okay with that, and congrats for progressing through some of the phases.

One thing that helped me was hearing the term "churning" and realizing that I was spending a lot of time "churning" through stuff so when I had some time off coming up, I needed to spend it moving or sorting or otherwise worrying about stuff. That is different from actually doing a hobby or something WITH the stuff. And I realized that in terms of my self-image or what I would like to be valued or remembered for, it would be anything except that! Reading, exercising, writing letters, going to movies or plays, cooking good food, refinishing furniture but not just rearranging stuff and worrying about it.

When you are a churner, you avoid doing some of those good things because you "need" to save time to mess with your stuff.
But it actually works in reverse, that if you start reminding yourself that you have these other talents and interests and make yourself schedule more truly valuable activities, then it becomes crystal clear that your life has not enough time and space for these other items and concerns, so you strengthen your own motivation for "uncluttered" space and time, rather than doing it because you think you ought to or someone else thinks so.

I also tried really tuning in to whether a particular item--it might be something I bought myself or it might be an inherited item -- improved my "quality of life" or made it worse. As in a post above, this is a moving concept that might require doing something--e.g., you could have a family photo that is a burden loose, but if framed and put on a wall, it becomes a pleasure. A chair that would go perfectly in the den but needs re-covering so is unusable until that is done. So I sympathize that one source of conflict is deciding whether a certain item is a QOL-improvement just waiting to happen, or not. But I don't think there are many people who can manage dozens of such issues every week and month along with regular work and family obligations. An exception might be a person who has traded off working outside the home for being at-home and doing a large number of DIY projects, or some couples for whom this is truly a shared hobby and interest and so it works out as improved QOL rather than a burden and conflict. For me the answer lay in limiting the number of such goals or challenges to a few things per year that I could take pride and pleasure in, and letting other stuff go, not feeling like I was a craft- or project-failure.

Another thing was, I had to learn when and how to leave something alone when it is pretty good and when there was a good chance I would have trouble dealing with the aftermath. Here's what I mean: there is a constant pressure to upgrade or change or add--to wardrobe, decor, yard, electronics, new recipes, you name it. I have the same tendency you describe, to have trouble letting go of something that still seems to have some value. Sometimes it is really easy--the microwave gets fried, we get a new one, I chuck the old one. But other times, trying to improve or upgrade just destabilizes what was a perfectly good situation and now there is an extra chair that I can't throw out, or I have several new clothing items but am not ready to get rid of a similar amount of older items.

I'm not suggesting we all remain static--I'm just noting that for me, there is a cost of changing because sometimes I can see I am not ready or able to make a complete swap or do the one in/one out thing. Then I can see, huh, actually my quality of life was better before; now I am fretting about how to rearrange things, recycle something, cram things together. The old grass-is-greener idea.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 11:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Donate to thrift shops which support organizations which you would like to support. For example, my nicer stuff I take to the thrift shop which benefits our local hospital. Another thrift shop I donate to supports organizations in my community which help the poor and needy. Then I feel my donations are doing some good, not putting a couple bucks in my pocket.

Books are donated to the library's used bookstore.

Our school district is having a "garage sale" later in the fall, so I'm donating things there because I do support our schools.

When my mom died, it pained me to get rid of her stuff, but she had lived in her community for 50 years and loved it, so I know she would have been happy with her things going to the local thrift shop rather than one of the big, well-known agencies.

So try to make meaningful donations. Don't throw away useful things, donate mindfully.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Frankie, thanks for the wise words and encouragement. It's so easy to feel overwhelmed ... no matter how many clutter-control strategies I read about, there's a disconnect between understanding the concept and actually executing the process. Churning is a great description, and it really shows how unproductive it is to have too much stuff around. And definitely true about the upgrading. Good analogy about the microwave - why is it easy to throw that out but not easy to weed out a few old pairs of socks when I get some new ones? Socks12345, that makes a lot of sense and I'm glad you were able to share your mom's things in her community. One of my trouble areas is a closet full of toiletries. I know if I take them out and start dumping the contents (so that I can recycle the containers) I'll have second thoughts and feel like I should "just hang on to these." But I did a search after reading your post and found that there are women's shelters that often accept usable toiletry items. Domestic violence is a cause close to my heart so I will definitely feel good about someone in a shelter using those things. In fact that makes me feel better than the thought of using them myself. (or saving them) What a breakthrough! I also have loved donating sheets and towels to the animal shelter, I think that's a great cause. Pat, you're totally right that I was just looking for another reason to hold onto things. Again, now that I see it in writing and "hear" it from someone else, it makes perfect sense - so simple yet so true that I was doing that, and it was certainly getting the best of me. I deserve to feel better than that!
Between these smart points of view and my confidence in my lists (glad it worked for your daughter, leafy!) I will attempt again to regain control and to dismiss my strange "value" hurdles. Thank you again. I hope that others are helped by this too.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 6:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some of the "value' of these things are sunk costs-money you spent on them but that money is gone and you can't get it back. So that's a negative. My father had a strange idea of "value". A pine tree fell over in his back yard during a windstorm. A neighbor offered to cut it up and haul it away for firewood. dad said "no" to a free yard clean up and instead that old tree rotted away. A disgusting eyesore. Get it? For Dad, that tree represented something "valuabe". He had spent money on it as a sapling. When the teree was wrecked, he couldn't give it up. Rsather than have a clean yard , he decided to keep that darned dead tree.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 8:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is a great resource out there to help you through this process: a book called "Buried in Treasures" by David Tolin and Randy Frost.

Look for it at your local library if you can, it's well-worth reading. Here's a link to the book on Amazon, too.

From Amazon:
Product Description
Buried in Treasures outlines a scientifically-based and effective program for helping compulsive hoarders dig their way out of the clutter and chaos of their homes.

Discover the reasons for your problems with acquiring, saving, and hoarding, and learn new ways of thinking about your possessions so you can accurately identify those things you really need and those you can do without. Learn to recognize the "bad guys" that maintain your hoarding behavior and meet the "good guys" who will motivate you and put you on the path to change.

Features of this book include:

-Self-assessments to determine the severity of the problem

-Tips and tools for organizing your possessions and filing your paperwork

-Strategies for changing unhelpful beliefs about your possessions

-Behavioral experiments to reduce your fear of anxiety and fear of discarding.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 3:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm going to go out on a limb and post something religious.
On the theory that even if this isn't your belief system, there might be something of value you can glean from it.

When the Children of Israel were about to enter a new land, they were given a lecture about following their God's rules. Among them was this:

Leviticus 19: 9-10

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; [b]thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: [/b]I am the LORD your God. Lev. 23.22 · Deut. 24.19-22

The point of this is that Yahweh did not want his followers to be SO greedy about wresting every ounce of value from their land. He wanted them to be content with the part that was easily used. And to leave the "little bit around the edges," and the "scrapings of the mixing bowl" for those people who don't have anything.

The poor, and the people who are visiting in the land and therefore unable to provide all that richly for themselves.

(I also think it was intended to teach them to trust in their God, to believe that there would be "enough.")

I think of those "things that have value" that you speak of--the waffle iron I don't use anymore; the china doll that might be collectible, the sweater int he wrong color that's not stretched out--as being "the gleanings" referred to in this verse.

It's a bit like the little bit of batter left in the mixing bowl, if you will. Which I always give to my children, instead of insisting that it go into one last little cookie.

YOU have gotten all the value YOU need out of that item. Your time with it is done. Now send it out into the world, so that its value can be gleaned by someone who needs it more than you do. To me, that is the equivalent of leaving some grapes on the hard-to-reach vines around the edge of the vineyard, so that the traveler and the poor can use it.

That's why I don't even try to get money out of it. I pick a place to donate it that will maximize the likelihood that someone can get some use out of it.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 4:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is how I deal with things that have 'value'. I put the box of stuff right in front of my pantry door, which is a slider. It makes it just a bit inconvenient to get around it, and I sometimes have to move it to get something on the lower shelf. Then, 3 weeks later, when I'm sick of having the box block my way, I take it out to the van for a trip to the Goodwill store. I am at the point where I no longer want to look at it, and it's very easy to let it go.....


    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 5:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

tally sue - Beautifully said and so true.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 5:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've had a few garage sales and won't do another. I used to think about the value of things, too, but really the time spent thinking about it and doing it just make it not worth it to me. If something still has value, for the most part, I just want to give it to someone who will be able to use it while it is still some good to them. It won't be in style/useful/working forever! And it really is a RELIEF to get rid of things most of the time. I have found that even though it may be a little more time consuming, I will bring a box or two at a time wherever I am giving it, rather than waiting until I have a car load. I need to get it OUT before I have a chance to rethink! Good luck - it's a process. I really had to train myself to think a little differently.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Beautiful, Tally Sue.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 4:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"NOT gonna EVER have a garage sale again. "

LOL, I can so identify with that. We had a garage sale about 10 years ago and it was such a painful experience I will NEVER have another! whenever I get tempted to collect up stuff and do a garage sale I just remember how much I hated that day and I quickly come to my senses. I'd rather give stuff away or throw it out than go through another one lol

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 5:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a confession. I hoarded food today. I bought a package of Emglish muffins because they were 99 cents. Even though I already have white bread, rye bread and Italian bread in my house already.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

> my issue with purging is that I am always afraid that the thing has value

Donate and deduct from your taxes. Now someone else can actually USE it, and you get a $ value from it, too.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 11:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

With very rare exception (like tools and tax returns), if I haven't used it/worn it/touched it in the last 2 years, it's thrown out/donated/sold.

I go through the majority of our house once a year, setting aside 1 day for each room/area. I used to be much more of a saver, holding on to stuff that I thought had value. I know I was this way because I grew up with a dad who always, always griped about wasting things, the cost/value of things, and his experiences struggling after he and his sister lost their parents during the Great Depression. I've learned that I was using stuff to provide some level of emotional security and I've worked hard to let go of that.

Two year rule works for me.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 6:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with what Marti wrote.

And, value is in the eye of the purchaser.
You might think a painting you've put out at your tag sale is worth $30. One of your shoppers will not, and will offer $10.
That will only make you feel insulted, but the definition of value shifts to what the buyer says it is.

So basically, you have to shift your understanding of value. It's no longer what you paid for it, but whether someone would want it, and what he/she would pay you for it. It's a buyer's market. It's hard for many people to not feel insulted if someone offered $5 for an item that you clearly recall spending $50 on. If that describes you, don't have a tag sale! You are better off trying to donate it and getting the tax deduction slip.

Besides, as another poster said, if you're not using an item anymore, you have gotten all of its possible value out of it (maybe you outgrew the jacket, or outgrew the hobby), and perhaps it can help someone else.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 12:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I donated some clothes my children had outgrown. As I exited the Goodwill store where I'd made my donation, I saw them put her Little Mermaid bathing suit out on a table. A man walked over and said "My kid will love this." Gave me goosebumps-my donation would make a little girl happy! Now that's valuable!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 8:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

What a great thread!

This may not be her original idea but My sister once looked at a huge stack of mail on her husband's desk and said: "Those are not papers -- that's a stack of delayed decisions."
I too have stacks of delayed decisions, but I have a new and little known disorder called Procrastination and Avoidance Disorder...along with AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder).

Friends are of no help either to me...I mentioned to 3 different ones that I was going to free myself of storing all my old Beatle albums and turntable which I know I will never use. All 3 friends told me that they sell for quite a bit at the right places and some could even be quite valuable...sigh...I know I will never have, make, or take the time to sell them there they are, taking up space in the entertainment center. Luckily they are in an enclosed area so I don't have to dust them. I told one friend that if she wanted to list and sell them that I would split the income from them 50/50 with her. What do you wanna bet that they are still here a year from now?


    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 1:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very occasionally you can partner with someone who will sell on e-bay as chemocurl was hoping. A college student in our church took on such items as fundraiser for her tuition. But as you say, most people just toss out, oh, you could sell that... and leave you re-thinking your resolve.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 2:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do you need the money? If not, toss the stuff out, or have a "Free Take It" tag sale and I guarantee someone will take it off your hands. Sure, they will probably go consign it or sell it on ebay, but who cares? Do you have freecycle in your area? I've gotten rid of tons of stuff that way.

Have you ever watched Clean Sweep? They do the 3 pile rule (keep, sell, toss) but I like how they do the detailed sorting. Instead of sorting per se, the homeowners look into a pile/drawer/bin and have to pick out X number of things to keep, and lose the rest. Much less time consuming than judging each individual book or pair of shoes or sweater. Pick your favorite 3 and move on! You could go into a room and say to yourself, I can keep three boxes of stuff. Everything else goes! Hire some college kids to deal with selling or hauling it away. Let them keep all the profits from the sales, then you can feel good about it.

I read once that hoarders are, on some level, perfectionists. I know it sounds crazy, but consider this -- you don't want to make a decision about these items because you might decide wrong! Gads! What if you NEED that widget next year, or a charity comes by looking for perfectly good whatsits after you throw them away? Let that go. I struggle with this every day, but if I don't do it, my kids are going to have to weed through my piles indecision someday.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 5:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I mentioned to 3 different ones that I was going to free myself of storing all my old Beatle albums and turntable which I know I will never use. All 3 friends told me that they sell for quite a bit at the right places and some could even be quite valuable...sigh...I know I will never have, make, or take the time to sell them there they are, taking up space in the entertainment center.

Look at it this way: There are people who need income. If they are scouring Freecycle, or the Goodwill, and they find those things you donated or gave away, wouldn't you agree that the effort they're putting out is something they deserve to be compensated for?

Think of yourself as scattering seeds that someone ELSE will sweat and toil to harvest. And give it away anyplace you can do so.

That's my reaction to the people who use Freecycle to find stuff that can resell for money--more power to them! Farmers harvest the land; fisherman harvest the stream; they're harvesting the landfill stream.

Turning that item into money DOES take work, and they are the ones DOING that work. They deserve the money.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Totally agree with TalleySue. I have sold on ebay before and it's really a pain for me. I hate searching for boxes and packing the stuff. It takes at least an hour out of my time to find a box and pack a thing if it can't go in a priority box. So my rule of thumb is that if I can't net $20 profit on the item, I just donate it. Getting $5.00 and then having to spend time and gas plus the loss of fees to paypal and ebay just isn't worth it.

And it also isn't worth it to sell the same thing for $5 on craigslist if I have to wait for 4 noshows before someone finally shows up and then tries to get me to lower the price to $3.50.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 7:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Awesome points. At my library I reserved that book that cryptandrus recommended. I look forward to reading that when it's available. I found a few other titles with similar subject matter and reserved those, too. And since I'm borrowing them, I don't have to worry that they will live on my shelves forever!
Chemocurl/Sue, I had never heard of PAD -- what are the treatment suggestions for it?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 8:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

I know me selling them individually is not going to happen unless I maybe list them 'all' along with turntable for one set price or best offer....or I could give them to the music loving friend who will either cherish them, or else take the time to sell them and can keep it all, for all the work/hassle involved.

I don't know why letting go of the albums is hard to do. I have no problem with donating books, clothing, or finding homes for any other things. When I clean the shed, I plan to put stuff curbside with a FREE sign on some things...things that are maybe not good enough for jackets, water skis, table legs...project 'parts'.

Chemocurl/Sue, I had never heard of PAD is just a 'funny' a friend made up and she claims to have it. She and I both procrastinate and avoid things though.

what are the treatment suggestions for it?
Just do it! Put the thing/chore at the top of a list and don't do anything else until that one top thing/chore is complete.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 9:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

PAD DOES exist... as peripheral artery disease

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Oh my............that is sure not a funny matter either. Thanks for the heads up.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for starting this conversation. It has been good food for thought. I can't claim to be a hoarder but definitely a procrastinator. I have a few nests of stuff that after some of your suggestions it should be easier to go through and make decisions about them.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 8:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know why letting go of the albums is hard to do.

I think it's because they mean something to you.

I had trouble letting go of my fabric stash, because it felt like I was admitting that I wasn't a sewer anymore. It involved redefining who I was.

In your case, you probably haven't replaced all that music on the albums, and letting go of the albums means you won't get to listen to that music anymore. (Never mind, of course, that you *don't* listen to it.) So, that music represents your younger days, perhaps--or the time when you were passionate about music, or about something else.

You just needs to figure out what it is. And then figure out how to reconcile that with the "you" of today's reality.

In my case, I promised myself that I *could* go back to sewing, and I'd be allowed to get all new fabric when (not if) I did.

And I also realized that I'd rather be an organized mom *right now*; giving up the definition of "I sew clothes" for now meant I got to assume a different definition.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 11:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I used to buy stuff for pennies, when I had a regular stall at a local flea market. Then, I'd have yard sales. I've sold on eBay, but unless it's a big ticket item, it's not worth my time. I've got a shop on Etsy, which I've never used, because I have better things to do to earn money than wrap and ship stuff for $9.99.

I should have another yard sale, but I'm giving more stuff away, because it's just not worth the trouble.

If you've got original Tiffany glass, Georgian sterling and so on--yes, it's worth it. But collectibles, mass-produced 50s and 60s stuff, and Beanie babies aren't worth the space they take up and the mental energy the consume.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have this same fear in regard to jewelry that was left after my mother died. The very good stuff has already been parceled out, and also some of the good costume jewelry. But because I don't know what the value is of what's left, I am hanging on to stuff that I don't use, because it may have value.

As I write this, I can see immediately that one solution will be to bring it in to a jewelry shop and see if they know what the stones are and whether they are valuable.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 9:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For a long time I could not get rid of things that friends or family had given me....The stuff was cluttering up the basement shelves. One day I asked myself "if I were to be gone tomorrow, would my kids want that thing?" I decided they wouldn't even know who gave it to me and off it went. No regrets, valuable or not.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well said, Frankie. And Tally Sue, that was just beautiful. I'm already mostly there, but now I'm going to intentionally think of things that have some residual value as gleanings.

I sometimes also think about the remaining monetary value of stuff I want to get rid of, but I'm with the posters who say that if it's not significant enough value to make up for the time and expense of selling, it's simply not worth it.

For me, the big thing that inhibits me from getting rid of stuff has been that I don't want to just throw it away. I will keep things for years to avoid putting them in the trash. Partly this is because I know that someone *could* use the items, if I could just get them into the right hands, and part is because I hate adding to the landfills.

I've been able to deal with it by searching out every recycling opportunity I can think of. I found a paper recycler who took 20 years of business files and shredded them, for free. I found that my niece's school has a big bin for recycling books, DVD's, and CD's, with the proceeds going to the school. When my city started electronics recycling - including old electrical cords - it was a happy day for me.

Anyway, the recycling opportunity I use for most things that have some value is Craigslist. I don't look for money unless the item is quite valuable. I just put it on my front porch, take a picture with my cell phone, and list it on Craigslist as free. Takes maybe 3-4 minutes per item, which is an investment of time I'm willing to make to be sure the stuff doesn't end up in the trash and that someone will actually use it.

If the item is big, I'll just put it on the street with a "FREE" sign, but my Craigslist strategy works well for everything else. It makes me so happy when I see people come to get the stuff that I was having (mental) trouble getting rid of. I've put dozens of things on Craigslist like this, and everything except one item was gone within 24 hours, usually within 2-3 hours. (For the one item that wasn't taken - even *I* had to admit that it had no residual value if no one even wanted it for free - and I let myself throw that one away.

Since you said that your issue isn't the money, I thought it might help to know that someone would get the value that you know the items have, without too much trouble to you.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 8:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

oh sue about those records..i have a stack too, and why i don't get rid of them i don't know...i guess because they are stored out of sight..

the funny thing? there is a truck i see every once in awhile that advertises they buy them...but have i ever taken the number? nope!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 12:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do have to say that I am not much of a saver but I had albums that I had pared down when we moved here 18 years ago but still must have had about 50. We also had the record player with the stereo. One day when I was going through stuff I finally decided since I hadn't played them since we lived here that I would put it on free cycle.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 8:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I had an extended illness that lasted for years, I lost all energy, was in so much pain I couldn't think, and shopping made me feel better. So I went from a minimalist home to a cluttered, junky house. I didn't really notice it at first; I was too focused on the pain and fatigue I was dealing with. But as my health issues were resolved, I was appalled at the mess my house was in.

I discovered and cleared out a bunch of stuff, little by little. It was hard at first to let go of things, but I really wanted my clean, organized home back. So I started posting boxfuls of things on Freecycle.

Then I discovered Ebay and Craigslist and realized that some of my things actually have quite a bit of value. I had tried to sell some of these things at a yard sale and could only get about 50cents per item, but on Ebay or Craigslist, the same items might get me $10 or $20. Knowing that I could actually get some "mad money" for precious belongings spurred me into gathering up more and more and listing them.

In an effort to clear things out quickly, I'd list "lot" or "boxes" of similar items, like a collection of Danielle Steele books. I could sell the whole collection instead of selling one book at a time. I sold collections of craft supplies by the box. And box by box, I've been able to clear out my house.

But once I got started clearing it out, I haven't been able to stop, which is a good thing. While my house is now once again neat and organized, it's not as minimalistic as I want. So I'm continually going thru shelves, cabinets, drawers, closets, etc and pulling out more stuff I can sell.

I have shelves in my laundry room where I can store stuff I'm selling. This way, I can pull it out of my actual living space, out of eyesight, out of my way, and I can store it neatly in the laundry room until it sells. You might designate a closet, guest room or such for all the stuff you "weed out". Organize it into lots and list it on Craigslist.

For the past year, our local newspaper has been offering one free classified ad weekly, so I've taken advantage of it to sell bigger items. About 80% of my listings in the newspaper have sold. About 70% of my listings on Craigslist sell. There are three Craigslist within 2 hrs of me, so I can list on all three to get a wider audience. Believe it or not, I've actually had people drive 5 or 6 hours for some of the stuff I've listed on Craigslist.

Many of the consignment shops around here have expanded to sell more than clothing. They also sell furniture, nicnacs, books, etc. You might check with your consignment shops; you might be able to consign quite a bit of your stuff. Consignment shops usually take 50% of whatever the item sells for. Usually, I can sell my own items for two or three times what I'd get if I consigned it, so I sell it myself.

If you have a lot of stuff, though, you might consider renting a booth in a well-patroned flea market. Some are fairly cheap, like $25/mo. Some charge a commission in addition, but some don't.

Personally, I find Craigslist the easiest way to sell. You just write a description, name your price, and post up to 4 pictures. Pictures sell your items, so make sure they're good photos.

You may not really NEED the money, but it would come in handy for the materals for your projects. And it's a wonderful incentive for decluttering. If you're like me, you really have some good stuff now, not useless junk. And it DOES have value. And people WILL pay for it. I've been able to do some home improvement projects, garden improvement projects, and buy new furniture with the money I've gotten from my "clutter". If you think about it as $10 here and $10 there, it doesn't seem like much. But if you sell a box of kitchen pots and pans and utensils for $50, that'll buy a tank of gas or several pieces of lumber, or a new ceiling fan--something else you can use.

Also, if you sell on Craigslist, you might also set up a FREE store. You can post an ad on Craigslist and then link to your blujay store where potential buyers can see everything you have for sale. You might be able to clear out several items to one buyer that way.

It DOES take time to set up your store and write your ads, but you could alot a morning or a day a week to focus on sales. Honestly, you'd spend less time actually selling than you would worrying about letting go of valuable items you no longer need.

Let us know what you end up doing. Are you taking before and after pictures? There's such a sense of accomplishment when you can see a big improvement.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 6:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I recently moved from my apartment into a house and I gave a lot away. It also helps it's a bigger space, but I like the minimalist approach. My living room just has an old couch and a couple prints from

It's nice to purge once in awhile :)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 5:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OP here. Lots of good posts to relate to and act on. CrazyPlantLady, thanks for the insights and tangible tips. So much easier for me to motivate myself when it's actual steps, not just "declutter" -- although with the recent suggestions that I just read on the forum, maybe I will get to a point where it's that easy. For now it's still a struggle. But when I read your process about putting things in the laundry room, I thought, "I can do that, too!" The laundry corner of the basement is uncluttered (and not musty, so it's safe for stuff). I like those ideas.
Yes, we've been taking photos. I'm a big proponent of before and after! As we progressed toward painting the dining room, I realized how hard it is for me to make decisions on things like choosing a color or committing to a furniture arrangement. Yes, both of those things can be changed, but it was interesting to discover how much I got in my own way about making those decisions. I was watching a home improvement show and one guy called it analysis paralysis - I can definitely relate to that! So I'm trying to appreciate the perspective of the satisfaction that results from cleaning and purging. Some satisfaction is from knowing that the items go to people that need them, and the rest is from the freedom of the gained space and lowered maintenance. And one of my other "crutches" is all of my house plants. Perhaps I should be crazy plant lady, too. :-) I just have a hard time realizing that they are in the way, yet the concept of giving them to someone who may kill them just devastates me. I know that sounds ridiculous. These are the hurdles I need to overcome.
Thanks again for the support and understanding.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 7:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I do want to regain the freedom from worrying about this and have more space back"

I took this phrase out of one of your previous posts; you need to write this and put it somewhere you can read it a few times a day, it sums up your main objective and is a great affirmation !!!!!!!

I so enjoyed this thread, it perfectly describes the essence of this forum.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 8:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dwysky, I so understand the houseplant issue. At one point, I had over 100 tropicals and houseplants in my house. They were my babies. But it took a lot of time to water them and tend to them and then there was the mess throughout the house and all the space they took up. Each spring, I carried them outside; each fall, I carried them back in. So one summer I decided I was not carrying them in again.

So I started trading them. I had some rare succulents so I traded them locally and thru different garden groups online. If it concerns you that someone might kill them, try trading them here at Gardenweb in the plant exchange forum.

I also sold some of the bigger plants in huge pots on Craigslist. And the rest, I gave away to garden friends. I now have 3 pots of various kinds of sanseverias, which I water once a month when they're in the house.

Honestly, I don't miss any of them, don't wonder what happened to them, and I love my free time and space. All the other plants I have, a yard full, are hardy plants and stay outside year round and come back year after year with minimal effort from me. Life is simpler and less cluttered now.

You know you might check into donating some of your houseplants to some senior citizens; many of them love the idea of gardening but can't really maneuver in the garden much, but they might love a few houseplants to talk to and care for. Chances are, they'd take pride in watching them flourish.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 2:04PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What to do with hundreds of CDs
I have nice storage boxes filled with hundreds of CDs...
"You Need a 'Waiting' Folder"--AskAManager has great advice
This is not just work--this would be great on a personal...
Best life lesson I ever learned
Best life lesson I ever learned was at 25 years old...
Meet and Greet - Please Introduce yourself!
I don't think I've ever seen that happen on this particular...
How to get your kid (young, or young adult, or adult) to declutter
On one of the other threads (the "madwoman"...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™