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Home Sweet Home: Decluttering

January 09, 2014

Yesterday I explained a little about the process of creating goals for your house and today it’s time for action: Decluttering! Your home is just one ruthless purge away from being the awesome Home Sweet Home you want. But you have to be serious about not keeping what you don’t need. You can organize all day and have the prettiest baskets all lined up, but if what’s in there isn’t useful, you’re wasting your time. Below is a little motivation and advice on how to rid your home of clutter so you can actually enjoy the space you have.

Declutter

I mentioned yesterday that we don’t have a ton of storage space in my home. I’m really thankful for that. Without extra closets, a basement, attic or garage, I’m forced to live side-by-side with all my stuff. When there’s too much stuff in my house my brain feels cluttered. It’s overwhelming and stressful.

Before you start, set up a work area. It’s best if it’s not in a high-traffic area because this might not get done in a day, a week, or even a month.

Gather up empty boxes, bins, shopping bags, paper and a marker.

Depending on the amount of stuff you have, you might not want to do the whole house at one time. My biggest problem area was upstairs with clothes and baby items. The photo you see above was my “before” pile set up in the spare bedroom. Ridiculous right?

Once you have your huge mess, start sorting. Your categories might be: keep for later, give to a friend, sell, donate, trash/recycle.

For anything you plan to keep, ask yourself:

Do I love this? Would I buy it in the store again today?

Is it useful for a specific purpose? Am I actually going to use it for that?

How many times have I used it in the past 6 months?

If I didn’t have it and suddenly needed it, could I buy or borrow another?

If I keep it, where is it going to go?

Be ruthless. If you are in serious doubt, try putting it away for six months and see if you have a need for it.

Not sure if you should get rid of something? Box it up and put a 'use by' date on it. If you haven't needed it in six months, chances are you won't need it anymore!

Once you have things generally sorted, you’ll be ready to start moving things out.

{KEEP}

For items in the keep pile, you’ll have to figure out how to store them. If possible, move them out of your work area. They don’t need to be arranged perfectly, but moving them close to where they will ultimately live is best. You might second-guess yourself on some of them at this point. Arranging these things in a thoughtful and sustainable manner are Phase Two!

{SELL}

For the items you plan on selling, there are several options. Each one will give you different returns and take up your time and energy accordingly. If you want no hassle at all, skip selling and donate everything.

Whenever I start a selling endeavor, I make myself a goal. This time I bought an iPhone with the money I made selling things. (Making the first $100 was actually pretty fast!)

You’ll also want to organize the items for sale since they won’t be leaving the house immediately. I sort them by type and keep them in large bins under a table. Things that are most difficult to store and take up the most space are first priority to get out. In this case, it was clothing, both kids’ and adults’.

Since there are so many ways to make money off of the stuff you have in your house, I’ll go over a few.

{Yard Sale.}

This is probably the most work at one time on your part, but if you have a ton of stuff, you can get it out in one day. When I was little we did yard sales and I remember helping my mom price things with little colored stickers the night before and counting all the money afterward. Your ability to have a successful sale depends greatly on where you live. Make sure you advertise with signs and on Craig’s List. Some areas don’t allow them at all, but it might be possible to set up a table at a flea market or swap meet.

{Alternative Yard Sale.}

This is what I’ve done a few times and I really like it. I set up a public album on Facebook and add photos of everything I want to sell, including the price in the description. Once something sells, I remove the photo. I also put things up on Craig’s List and other sites, but if a friend wants it hey, it’s much less hassle to sell!

{Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, etc.}

These are great for listing books, electronics, collectables, vintage or high-end items. You’ll typically have to be able to ship quickly so keep that in mind. You’ll also loose a little money to listing or selling fees so read all the fine print.

{Craig’s List.}

Here is really great advice on selling with CL. Baby stuff like cribs and strollers usually do well. Last year we sold my husband’s car on Craig’s List! Of course, use common sense. Meet people outside your home if possible and don’t go alone.

{Third Party Sellers.}

This might be the least return on your money but it’s also the least hassle. There are many children’s consignment shops that will buy gently used clothing. Many of them are picky, so don’t be offended if they reject your stuff. Make sure clothes are freshly-washed and not stained or dingy. Each store’s website usually has a list of what they are looking for and what they don’t accept.

I usually go to Children’s Orchard. I like that they take all clothes year-round so

I don’t have to worry about the season. Also, there’s one next to Sweetbottoms! Convenience!

There’s also the possibility of selling adult clothing and accessories. National chain,  Plato’s Closet buys clothes that are on the trendier side (not your old yoga pants) and there might be others in your area. I got $50 from Plato’s Closet and whatever was rejected went straight to donation.

There are also online sites like Gazelle where you can send in old electronics to sell them. Just know that when dealing with a third-party instead of selling direct-to-buyer you’ll probably make a little less money.

{DONATE}

From thrift shops to clothing drives, it’s easy to give stuff away for free. Some places even have a drive through! A quick Google search of your area will let you know your options. Please be sure there’s no trash in your piles, though. Things like stuffed animals, bedding and badly damaged items aren’t donate-able. They might be able to be recycled, however! Try Freecycle or The Council for Textile Recycling for more ideas.

Once you have everything ready, load the car. You’ll be so relieved to have your space back and since it’s in the car you’ll get rid of it faster.

***

How long should all this take you? It depends on how much stuff you have and how motivated you are to get rid of it. Some people knock it out in one weekend with a big sale and lots of help. I’m slowly making my way through my sale pile. It’s been a couple of months, but I’ve been busy. From the huge mess in the photo above, I’m down to 2 bins, a box of books, and the crib that still need to go. So far I’ve made over $200 and most importantly I have free space to play with my kids. Yep, that was the playroom.

Sell

Are you motivated to do a serious purge? What are you saving up for? What is your goal for your space?


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