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If you had a lot of stuff, how long did it take you to do a major de-clutter?
Old 06-13-2014, 07:21 AM   #1
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If you had a lot of stuff, how long did it take you to do a major de-clutter?

Too much stuff has collected. Too busy over the years to deal with it - or saved it because it was "still good". Then some more stuff inherited (the only value is sentimental). Have been sorting, recycling, trashing, and donating - but it just seems to take so-o-o long.

I'm taking photos of some things that are sentimental - and then giving them up, so that is a good step forward.

Even if this is a repeat topic, I solicit your current comments on how you kept yourself going (we're in the stage where it's worse before it's better and feels daunting).

Thanks.
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Old 06-13-2014, 07:44 AM   #2
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We just downsized to a newer and a little bit smaller house after 20 years in our old home. We collected a lot of good, but useless to us anymore, stuff too.

Over the last 6 months (we moved in November 2013), we just gave a lot of items to Goodwill, sold a few things on Craigslist, gave our kids back their "stuff" we have been storing for them (for years) and just plain threw out items. The only things that were not purged were DW's closet(s) full of clothing and shoes .

We are now "cleansed" of a fair amount of useable goods that were probably going to be thrown out when the kids take over our assets someday.

What's left in the attic are Christmas decorations and a box that contains "Grandmother's salt and pepper shaker collection".

It took a while to purge but it feels good now. Just don't start the acquisition process all over again!
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Old 06-13-2014, 07:48 AM   #3
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We had a major push over a 6-9 month period where we sold some stuff on eBay, gave a away/donated some, and just threw out other items. It was liberating, and we made $2500 on 65 items on eBay, stuff we'd have otherwise thrown away! We're still getting rid of stuff, and probably will for years. We're far more selective in what we buy these days now too. It's been a win-win for us.
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Old 06-13-2014, 08:53 AM   #4
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Threads like this make me love my wife She is a purger by nature, at least 2-3 times a year she gets a bug to get rid of things and does a run through the house and garage and basically if we haven't used it in 6 months, out it goes! Watch a few episodes of Hoarders -- it seems that her purging exercises seem to coincide with watching that show!

There has been exactly ONE time that this sort of burned us. We were invited to go on a friends boat and I wanted to take some beer in one of those small 6pack coolers. I knew we had one, but she had got rid of it about a year earlier. We made out fine without it of course.

Other than that, I can honestly say I haven't missed anything she has given away, or sold or disposed of. In the end it is just stuff, and if you get too much stuff you can't enjoy it, if you can't find it!

Good luck and if you keep in mind that it is just stuff you should be able to get through it all.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:12 AM   #5
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We downsized last year to a new much smaller home while having lived in the old house for 20+ years. We threw out a lot of clutter, shredded files, donated furniture and stuff and gave other items to the kids. Even with that, I had to rent an 8x10 storage locker for about 6 months to give us additional time to organize the new house and to continue the disposal process. We are still not done, but certainly feel good to have reduced so much of that clutter. There is a lot to be said about living simply.

Our biggest issue was getting our house ready to sell and having to do the decluttering very quickly. To this end, procrastination is not the way to go or you could end up as a quasi-horder. Making decluttering an ongoing objective makes things easier and remembering what we went through should keep us from replenishing a bunch of no longer needed things.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:16 AM   #6
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We have gotten rid of stuff through:
Neighborhood garage sale
A collectible dealer bought an entire hobby collection
Craigslist
Goodwill
Half price books
Recycle center - bags of old shredded financial papers

Sometimes we watch a Netflix movie and each have a stack of old files to sort through. We gave most of the Christmas and other holiday decorations and the artificial tree to Goodwill.

It is definitely thought provoking just how much clutter we have gotten rid of and not missed at all. We do think twice now before we buy anything new. The less stuff we can pare down to the less hassle it will be to move. I agree it does feel very freeing. It is interesting there are so many ads to buy stuff when giving it away has actually felt better.

I have told myself that it is worth $2k or so to get rid of all this stuff, so I have mentally set aside $2K to replace what I might find out I need again. I think so far all I have replaced was a $20 water kettle. And even then I sold the old one so the difference was probably $15.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:21 AM   #7
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We downsized from a 1200 sq ft house to a little more than a car over the course of 1-2 years. Basically in terms of paper (books, photos, documents) and media we tried to scan/digitize everything and got rid of all but the most important originals (don't do this unless you have a good backup procedure).

In terms of physical goods we tended to prioritize where we got rid of things based on value and size. Typically our rough order of preference was ebay > give to family/friends > sell on craigslist > donate to goodwill > give away free > recycle (e.g. old electronics nobody wants) > trash > garage sale. We shipped a small amount of stuff to relatives to store (old sentimental items, photos we wanted to keep, etc.)

It was hard to keep going especially as it seemed like there was no end. We set ourselves small decluttering goals (went on my to do list) every week like get rid of the printer or digitize a few envelops of photos. I think work habits are far too ingrained in me as I still get joy in crossing an item off my to do list.

With physical goods that we sold, it helped to create a spreadsheet and keep track of sales. This brought about more goals (like lets try to hit 5k of sold stuff).

One thing that really lifted our spirits is when we found some old stuff, or things we got for free, and sold it on ebay for far more than any cheapass anybody on this board would pay for. E.g. things like a free "designer" canvas bag ($40), old film lobby cards ($50), free arcteryx jacket from work ($120), etc.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:29 AM   #8
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When we put our houses on the market for the interstate move-that-never-happened several years ago, we both did a major declutter and sold, donated, or threw out quite a bit. Like photoguy we set a daily goal, in my case to donate a carload of stuff or else to put out a bag of trash, every single day. We didn't always reach these goals but that was what we tried to do.

I started by doing one closet or room at a time and got rid of at least half my stuff. Then I did a second round and was amazed to discover that many of the things I kept the first time, were things I really could get rid of. Finally I did a third round.

By that time, I was rid of probably 80% of my stuff. I kept the few things that could not be replaced. I think it took about half a year to do that much decluttering, but we are retired and did it at a leisurely pace. I suppose that if we had been in a hurry, we could have had dumpsters set in front of our houses and we could have hired workers to help us fill them, but we weren't in that much of a hurry.

Even though we didn't move, I'm glad we did it. One of the things I hated about my house was that it had no closet space. Amazingly, now it has plenty of closet space. But the clutter is once again starting to build, so we are thinking about doing more decluttering soon.

One thing I did discover is that if I put something on the top closet shelf, thinking one of the following:

"Some day this will come in handy for something"
"What a lovely, well made item, even though I have no use for it right now"
"This would be worth something to somebody and I can't just throw it out"

then, really all I am doing is keeping trash. It pays to be ruthless.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:33 AM   #9
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Every couple of years I do a de-clutter. It can be daunting to think of what needs to be done. So, I do it in small bites. One room at a time.
In the case of my basement and my garage, which seem to magnetically attract clutter, I work 1/3 of the space at a time. I find it always takes much less time than I anticpate, and that progress keeps me motivated.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:46 AM   #10
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When I ER'd four years ago, I spent some time purging stuff. I think I disposed of some 20% of what I owned at that time. And, since then, I have deliberately tried to not buy any more "stuff."

Now that I'm in the process of looking for another place to live, after over 30 years here, that will likely be half the size of where I presently live, I am decluttering some more. (I use the 2nd bedroom here for storage only, so I shouldn't "need" that extra space in my new place.)

I have gone room-by-room, closet-by-closet, and cubby hole-by-cubby hole. Kitchen cupboards and drawers one day. Closets another day. Bedroom dressers. Book shelves another. I put a lot of stuff in a corner in the 2nd bedroom as I decluttered the other rooms, one-by-one. Then I tackled that amassed pile for a couple of days. Had a yard sale one weekend. Made about three trips to Goodwill. Placed a few ads on Craigslist. All-in-all it took me about ten days, but now I'm good to go. I still have some items I want to sell over time--including most of my comic book collection and some electronics, etc.

I guess my point is if you tackle this seemingly daunting task room-by-room and/or cupboard-by-cupboard, an hour or two a day, it'll be over before you know it.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:48 AM   #11
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I HIGHLY recommend "Rightsizing your Life" by Ciji Ware, which I got out of the library and may actually buy. She does a great job of sorting out all the issues, including emotional ones, and there are great resources in the back of the book for donating and recycling various things.

We're waiting a year to downsize; DH has pointed out that retirement in itself is a shock (I hadn't planned on leaving for another 3.5 years) and cash flow is fine. We're also still trying to figure out what we want for our next place. The standard Empty Nester Townhouse with high ceilings and granite countertops? Or just a normal 1950s house in a nice neighborhood, which is a heck of a lot cheaper?

Anyway, for us de-cluttering is best done a little at a time. Sometimes I'll open the bathroom closet door when I'm brushing my teeth and start tossing old OTC meds into the trash. There's a charity resale shop near us and they get a lot of our old stuff. Staples takes a lot of electronics for recycling (there are some exceptions such as TVs). I'm having a great time selling on e-Bay. Some items don't bring much (4 Dutch East India coins my late FIL brought home from WW II brought $5) but hey, it's positive cash flow and better than throwing them out.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:59 AM   #12
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For me, through multiple purgings in my life, it helped me to think of it as:

"I am going to keep 20% of my things. Which ones mean the most to me/are most useful/beautiful?"

instead of:

"Help! I need to get rid of 80% of my things! I can't decide--they all might be useful to me someday...argghh!"

It's a more positive decision making process to focus on what is most valuable to me rather than having to make negative judgments about so many things in my possession.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:01 AM   #13
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Every year, we move all our personal possessions into one bedroom and rent out our place as a 2BR penthouse when we travel south. This keeps the clutter to a minimum. It was a major project when we first did it.

We purge the stuff from that 3rd bedroom during the summer when we are back.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:04 AM   #14
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I HIGHLY recommend "Rightsizing your Life" by Ciji Ware, which I got out of the library and may actually buy. She does a great job of sorting out all the issues, including emotional ones, and there are great resources in the back of the book for donating and recycling various things.
Thanks for the book recommendation! This book looks terrific to me and I plan to read it in the near future.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:44 AM   #15
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Have been de-cluttering since January. For sale sign goes in the Texas yard on Tuesday. Real estate market here is hot!
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:54 AM   #16
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Threads like this make me love my wife She is a purger by nature, at least 2-3 times a year she gets a bug to get rid of things and does a run through the house and garage and basically if we haven't used it in 6 months, out it goes! Watch a few episodes of Hoarders -- it seems that her purging exercises seem to coincide with watching that show!
Watching a couple episodes of "Hoarding: Buried Alive" is my trick to get started on my annual purge.

It's just DW and I with our dog and we recently moved across the country for a single year, knowing we'll move somewhere else a year later, and probably again the year after that. Given this and that fact that our stuff wasn't worth paying 4k to move each time, we went through a massive purge. I found that it was easy to get started as you can sell stuff on craigslist, ebay, etc. The middle was more difficult as you tell yourself "what if I need it" and the items have less value. I took almost all this stuff to friends, family, or Goodwill. In the end, everything seemed to be necessary and we sort of burned out. We did move across the country with two cars and a 4x8 HF trailer with a 2' tall plywood box I built on top. We'll just buy and sell furniture off craigslist every year and basically break even on it. It's a feeling of freedom that is similar to the feeling of financial security in my view. An overwhelming amount of stuff has always bothered me.

Most purchases are governed more by "do I have a place for this" instead of "can I financially afford it". It's a nice view as well. I'd like to get down to two huge Samsonite rolling suitcases and two 40l backpacks one day, but we'll see what DW makes of that.
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Old 06-13-2014, 12:30 PM   #17
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One day - KATRINA.

Now time has passed and I got married last year at age 70. The Katrina experience I think helped my attitude. I moved to the new wife's airplane bungalow with some clothes(a very reduced amount), two dogs, one cat and a relatively small Kennedy toolbox.

I hired a crew of three to remove my house stuff - dishes, appliances, tools, furniture, etc., etc. INCLUDING my toolshed out back with weedwackers, lawnmower, outdoor tools, furniture, barbeque stuff etc. I neither watched nor supervised.

These things can be catching - she has been on a 'declutter' campaign for several months now.

heh heh heh - we'll see how long it lasts. I'm helping BUT avoiding decisons as to what goes or stays. I did that already with the 'bachelor pad'.
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Old 06-13-2014, 12:38 PM   #18
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I'm a purger, but DW is almost a hoarder.

To me, less is more.

I have a few useful criteria. Have I used this item in the past year? Do I expect to use it in the next year? Is it particularly valuable? Does it have sentimental value? If the answer to those 4 questions is no, out it goes (either sold, donated, recycled or trashed, as appropriate).

What happens with me sometimes is that I end up with a need for something I'm sure I have, but I can't find it. It is easier to go to the hardware store and get what I need when I need it.
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Old 06-13-2014, 12:48 PM   #19
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I started by doing one closet or room at a time and got rid of at least half my stuff. Then I did a second round and was amazed to discover that many of the things I kept the first time, were things I really could get rid of. Finally I did a third round. .
This is what we did when we downsized from 3000 sq ft (in a house that had LOTS AND LOTS of big closets) to 1500 sq ft (which is the perfect size for us). The big house had spare rooms with spare closets and a kitchen with twice as many cabinets as I really needed. Lots of space to keep stuff that should never have been saved.

We went through room by room and, as learned from Hoarders, made three piles 1. Keep 2. Donate 3. Trash. I found duplicates, triplicates and quadrulpes of things. I had stuff that I hadn't set eyes on in YEARS. The rule was "if you haven't wanted to needed it in the past 18 months then it goes to Donate or Trash".

I now have EMPTY storage space in the smaller home. Its amazing and it feels so good. I have all the things I love (including all birthday and holiday cards from the past 30 years !), and none of the junk.

Overall it took us about 3 weeks to go through the house, the garage and two storage sheds in the yard.

Don't get discouraged. Do it one room or closet at a time so that you can go back and look at your accomplishments when you feel like giving in. Before and after pictures will help too.
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Old 06-13-2014, 01:32 PM   #20
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Timely thread. We are in the process of vacating two bathrooms, the family room and the kitchen (and master bedroom, even though no work is happening there, but is in the path to the master bath) for some remodeling that starts Monday. And this process is mostly "just get it out of here and somewhere else". We are seeing lots of things we should part with. We plan to do some sorting and parting while the remodel is in progress. Right now we are more concerned just with making those rooms ready for work than we are with getting rid of stuff.
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