Updated: May 4, 2020
So yesterday you started thinking about your possessions and if: 1.) you have enough storage space, 2.) you have too many items, or 3.) both. What do you do with that knowledge? Let's see!
If you have too many items, you need to get rid of them. You will find some items are "sentimental", others are things you replaced with newer versions but failed to get rid of the old ones, some are items you have "just because" like 53 blouses. There are painless ways to get rid of each of these 3 categories.
Sentimental items - you were given gifts from people that you love that you don't really need/use/want but you feel guilty if you get rid of it. Don't! You have to get tough and stop to think: Have I used this is the last year? Will I use this in the coming year? Does it match my lifestyle, fashion sense or decorating theme? If the answer to any of these questions is no, get rid of it. If it's new, and you can exchange it for something you would really use, try to exchange it. If it can't be exchanged, it could go into your "Re-Gifting Bin" - gifts to give others. The gifts are nice - they're just not "you". No guilt! A separate category of sentimental items is family heirlooms. I tread lightly here. If you have one that you really don't like, see if another family member would appreciate it more. If no one else wants it, store it carefully so that it's not damaged and is ready to be passed on in the future to the next generation!
Replaced for upgrade items - you decide to buy a new lounge chair, new silverware, new pots and pans, new television, etc. Instead of getting rid of the old version, you decide to keep it because "one day I may need it" and it goes into a drawer, closet, or basement, which it sits languishing and collecting dust. If you decided it needed to be replaced, get rid of it! There are other people out there that want/need what you're getting rid of. Since electronic items get outdated overnight, you must pass these items on quickly so that others can get some use out of them before they're really outdated. Keeping it just creates clutter and storage problems now and disposal problems later when thrift shops won't take them.
Just because items - you like to shop and shopping brings you joy. So you have 53 blouses, 69 pairs of shoes, 10 rugs, 4 sets of dishes, 22 comforters, etc. Most probably caught on sale - which makes the attraction even stronger! You look up one day and have a lot of stuff that you don't really use, or only use once a year - some still with tags on them. Does using it once a year really outweigh having to store it for the other 364 days? That's what you need to decide.
Why not keep everything? Other than storage and maintenance problems, keep in mind that material possessions deteriorate over time - whether you're using them or not. Fabric gets eaten by moths and silverfish, elastic in waistbands dry rot, white clothes yellow, leather/fur dry out and split, and electronic parts get dust in them and stop working. Everything needs to be periodically cleaned to remain it's best and I doubt if those clothes hanging in a closet for years, or that old television in the basement are getting cleaned.
Four ways to get rid of items (re-gift, sell (online or in person), donate or trash):
1. Re-gift - perfect for occasions (like birthdays or gift swaps!) or give some of your not-new items away to friends or family that you know would appreciate them - like that young couple that just bought their first house - I'm sure they would appreciate one of those sets of dishes.... and that rug...... and that extra set of silverware! If you can no longer fit it, you know someone that can. Offer it, give them a reasonable amount of time to come get it. If they don't, get rid of it! Don't clutter up your house holding stuff for "other people".
2a. Online sales - use apps like OfferUp, LetGo, Craigslist or Ebay to sell items you no longer want/need. There's always someone that wants what you're selling. Usually the dividing factor is price. Set the right price and Poof! the item disappears! It's very easy to use these apps - but be safe: stay within the app at all times! There are scammers out there that try to get you to go outside the app (ex: "Please call my uncle, he doesn't have OfferUp on his phone."). Don't fall for it! Only deal with the honest people who are just looking for a deal. You can have them come pick up their items (if it's a big item like furniture) or meet them at a neutral spot like a shopping center for smaller items. You can also hire a company to sell your items online for you if you're not comfortable with online selling apps.
2b. Yard/garage/estate sales - my mom loved these kinds of sales and she found many a great deal there. I now love them as well! What you think someone would not want gets bought first! People come to these sales to find that one elusive item they need for a project of their own, or to buy your designer clothes at deep discount. Whatever the reason, put it out there and let it go! Don't charge too much or you will end the day with a lot of stuff to move back into the house! See if your community has a shared yard sale day and participate in that as well - there will be more people roaming the neighborhood ready to buy. Don't forget consignment shops - where you split the sale, or for-profit flea markets - where you pay for a booth. Plan to have a donation pick-up (or your drop off) on the Monday following your yard sale so that whatever did not sell does not find a place back in the house - it's history! There are companies that can host your sale for you if you need help.
3. Donate - there are plenty or organizations that need what you have! Shelters for men, women and children need clothing, furniture, appliances, etc. There's also "back to work" organizations like Dress for Success that outfit women or men returning to the workforce and need appropriate work clothes. They do not resell these items - they are used by their program participants. You can also donate to non-profit organizations that resell the items to fund their own programs, like the Salvation Army. Churches and schools host white elephant sales and silent auctions to cover operating expenses and look for donations. Non-profits, like ScholarCHIPS, sometimes host in-person or on-line auctions to raise money for their programs. Donations for all of these are usually tax deductible. Giving back never felt so good and it's such a teachable moment for our younger generations!
4. Trash - go thru your leftover items with a keen eye. Not all broken items are trash and you may have kept it because "one day" you were going to fix, paint, stain, reupholster it, but do an honest evaluation of it's current usability. If no one bought it online or at your yard sale, and the non-profits don't want it (like those big, old televisions), the final stop may be trash. Know what you can put in your "normal" trash pick-up and what needs to be picked-up in "bulk trash". All communities have their own rules so find out, then plan accordingly.
Improve your space, improve other people's space and improve the world - what better motivating factors?! My husband taught me, by example, the importance of this: When you get rid of things that you don't use, you reduce your carbon footprint on the world. Reduce, recycle, reuse - that's a great motto to live by!
Take Away: Identify re-gifting items and put into a gift bin. Chose one or several apps to sell items quickly and sell your first item. Label some boxes/bins as "donations" and start filling it. Schedule a donation day (yes, use that calendar!) for pick-up/drop-off to give you a target date. Pick-ups/drop-offs may be on hold while we're still in quarantine mode but don't stop filling those boxes! Decide if you have enough stuff to host a yard/garage/estate sale (or combine your things to sell with family/friends/neighbors!) and start planning (put on your long-term list for after the quarantine). Begin putting things out on trash day (if it's a lot, put the day before on your calendar so that you have time to put everything out!) or schedule a bulk-trash pick-up. Let's talk about how to store what we're keeping tomorrow! READ ALL 31 DAYS!
About the Author:
L. Sidney Irving is the owner of Sidco Properties, a real estate company dedicated to educating and assisting those that want to buy or sell a home, Sidney loves to organize herself and those around her because she believes that an organized space brings peace and fosters creativity. May the power of organization be with you!