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Declutter Your Home So Stuff Won’t Weigh You Down

Declutter your home… because have you ever looked around your house and wonder, how the heck did I accumulate so much stuff?!

I have. And I did.

Even though I have been going through a process of to declutter my home, I must have been adding to my collection of stuff because somehow, my apartment doesn’t seem any more simplified than it had been a year or two ago.

I like most of my things (that’s why I bought them!), but I don’t need them. I don’t even necessarily want them. They are clothes I’ve haven’t worn in a year. Books I’ve read and will not read again. Shoes that look cute but pinch my feet. Old papers I haven’t gotten around to shredding. Half-empty bottles of lotion past their expiration date. They are gathering dust, sitting idle. Even the items with sentimental value are surprisingly few.

For the past few days, I’ve been through my belongings with a more critical eye. Books, clothes, jewelry, shoes – everything is fair game. What is this pull that “stuff” have on us? Looking around my apartment, I realized that I want to pare down, I want to declutter, even more. Just because I can have all this stuff doesn’t mean that I should. Though I don’t want to be able to pack my life in a suitcase, a la George Clooney in Up In The Air, I recognize that stuff obligates us, and not just in financial terms.

Think about it – whenever you buy something, you have to take time to look for stuff, make money to pay for stuff, and then find space to put stuff!

Big changes are coming up ahead. I may take a job in the States, I may move overseas. The possibility of moving crystallizes what is important – what I really love and what I’m lukewarm about. So I’m taking this time to shed some stuff. I don’t want to live ascetic lifestyle, I want to have nice things – I suppose the key is to have a clear sense of what stuff is important, what I really enjoy (which makes the cost worthwhile), and what is just extraneous.

image source: andreaharner.com

  • Financial Samurai - I went from a 1,000sqft condo to a 2,500 sqft house and i STILL filled up every room with furniture and A LOT of clutter. Recently, I've made two bedrooms and the dining room clutter free. The master bedroom, and the living room…. no can help.

    BTW, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the SMB topic. I responded in kind.

    Best, Sam ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - Haha it's the case of the mysteriously expanding stuff. Every time I watch HGTV I want to de-clutter. Rooms just look nicer with fewer things in it! ReplyCancel

  • The Asian Pear - I share your sentiments. I have to say though, I realized that STUFF is where the home is. When I was at school, home to me was in my apartment in my university's town. When I was backpacking through, home was wherever – hotel/hostel – we were laying for the night. ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - "Home is where the stuff is" – I love it! It should be a bumper sticker. ūüėÄ ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Good luck! I hauled loads of stuff to Goodwill before I moved from my apartment into my house (600 sq ft to 1500 sq ft). I still had space for everything. That was over a year ago. This year I STILL hauled several loads of stuff to Goodwill, to the second hand bookstore, to recycling and to the curb for trash. STILL plenty of stuff. My spare bedroom closet is filled with boxes that I have not unpacked since moving over a year ago.

    The best part about all of this? My family comes to my house and is marveled at the lack of "stuff" I have. Yet I still feel suffocated. My solution is one project a weekend. Be it the mail drawer, the shred bin, the book collection, the pantry, the bathroom closet, or a single box in my spare closet. Week by week, it has to get better…right? ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - Yes it has to get better! The one-project-a-weekend seems like a very smart and sustainable way to declutter. ReplyCancel

  • Money Reasons - I used to buy magazine subscriptions (I was a sucker for Money mag and Kiplingers). But then I realized that I go to the library every day… so I stop that, but I still get tons of free magazines that I never read! What a waste and mountain of paper!

    I've made progress this year, but I still need to purge "my stuff" that I will never read!

    Congrats on realizing this now… I'm still battling with "my stuff" issues.

    Good luck on the local job search (Overseas seems so far away :( and like alot of work!) ReplyCancel

  • Money Funk - I have been trying to rid of my books and mags but to no avail! Must try harder. You'll find your books depreciate rather quick unless you carry all the latest topics. That is if you are trying to sell them.

    Have fun with the declutter. My process has been slower lately, but none the less still persisting. And I am trying real hard not to fill it back up.

    Look forward to keeping up your big changes. ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - I haven't tried to sell my books.. my problem is that whenever I go by a yard sale or an library sale and I see almost new books for $1-$2 I just can't resist! ReplyCancel

  • Savings - I recently threw away EVERYTHING we don't use (at least in our bedroom/closets thus far…). It's SO freeing. I wish I'd done it years ago. I hate that I've been moving junk from place to place for no reason at all. ReplyCancel

  • Kim - Oh lordy, do I ever know what you are talking about! I did a massive purge when I left for college oh so many years ago, but then I just kept moving into larger places and thus, accumulating more and more stuff. When I graduated from college and moved 400 miles up North, I got rid of a TON of stuff. (Seriously, so much) I moved up to Berkeley with only the items that fit into my little Honda Civic – and then one more little load from my parents with a couple things that were too big (oh, and furniture was kept in storage in LA). Now, I was moving into a fully-furnished room in a house, so I had no furniture…but when I moved into my current apartment (650 square feet, 1 bedroom), I brought my furniture up from LA.

    Flash forward almost 3 years. Boyfriend has moved in, and between the two of us, we have way more stuff than we need. We use 1/2 of a 1-car garage as storage, and the tiny apartment is bursting at the seams. This post has inspired me to do the big purge that needs to happen, though. The REAL BIG PROJECT is going to be books and magazines. I am a hoarder of magazines…I have every issue of Real Simple and Bust that I have gotten in the last few years since I started subscribing. I keep meaning to cut out things I want to save and recycle the rest, but I have never done it. The magazines just sit in never-ending piles (no more room on the bookshelves), collecting dust and guilt.

    I might just give them all away…but there is something I love about HAVING those Real Simple magazines all lined up so prettily (the ones that fit on the bookshelf, anyway. those piles are not pretty). Is it even worth it to go through them to keep the articles I like (since much of that information is available online these days), or should I just donate them all? I'm sure I could get rid of them on freecycle or craigslist, or maybe I could even donate them to my local library.

    Thoughts on keeping magazines around? ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - Hmm… I'd get a binder and spend a hour or so a day for a week and go through your magazines, especially if you think you'll miss them that much. BUT, you have to set a deadline. Everything that you can't get through gets recycled or donated. ReplyCancel

      • Kim - We're supposed to be sorting through our books/magazines on Monday…fingers crossed! ReplyCancel

        • Alyson - Kim- I've totally been there (my vices: Gourmet, the New Yorker, and the free magazine bin at work). I am a big "rip out and save" person. However, when I decided to purge my collection of New Yorkers, Wireds, Fast Companys, etc. (for me, these were magazines that I wanted to think I wanted to read all the time, but actually didn't), I made myself refrain from ripping and got rid of them in one fell swoop. It was hard, but afterwards felt AMAZING! No more unread magazines or ripped out articles making me feel guilty. What helped was repeating to myself that "if I need that information later, I'll be able to find it."

          I do have a few binders for inspiration (fashion, house, life tips, travel, recipes) for things that really catch my eye. This makes it easier to go through and get rid of new magazines that enter my apt!

          If you really like looking at the "Real Simples" in aggregate on your shelf and they inspire you, I say keep them (I still have a few of my favorite Gourmets). However, if they're making you feel guilty (most of my other mags were!), donate them whole to others– you'll feel good about putting the information in appreciative hands!

          Good luck! ReplyCancel

          • Amina - I don’t think it’s necessary to get rid of all magazines or books or other things we love and have too much. I’ve started decluttering my bookshelf with 50% method: first I get rid of half the books/magazines and see how it goes. In practice I’ve easily been able to let go more, but it has been easier to start when I’ve been able to think I can still have a half of them.

  • Laura - I am in total agreement with you! I've gone through the same revelation lately. I just keep getting rid of things one thing at a time… and I feel better each time! Sadly, I have a bf there and two roommates, so there is some stuff that I just can't do anything about! I'm curious about the magazine too… I'm thinking of getting some notebooks and just pulling out things I found interesting and making a fun reference books. (I have lots of scrapbooking materials.. more stuff I know!)

  • Laura - I keep all of my Real Simples… they are just SO pretty ReplyCancel

    • Kim - I know! I can't come to terms with ripping them up! Not yet, anyway… ReplyCancel

  • SeeJaneGetRich.com - I did a lot of cleaning up at the beginning of January and made a couple of trips to Goodwill and it felt sooo good. I felt light as air. Of course, that doesn't mean I am done with the purging just yet. Just one step in the right direction. ReplyCancel

  • Red - It's all about finding the things that matter to you. I went through a similar process with books. Once I realized that I was holding on to hundreds of books I'd never read again just to own them, I sold them all to a used bookstore and started using the library. Really, I don't understand why anyone keeps books when you can borrow them for free.

    There's no reason to keep anything that you don't use. Don't keep things because you *might* use them. Don't keep things because you've used them in the past even though you don't use them now. Good luck! ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - I struggle with books too… even though I *can* borrow them, I love having a small collection of books that I know I'll go back to. I have the first 6 books of Nancy Drew in hardcover, and once in a while it's just nice to pick them up and flip through them. The key is to figure out which books are keepers and which ones aren't. ReplyCancel

      • Kim - I'm the same way – I have a collection of books that I want to keep (for sentimental or practical purposes), but I've started using the library for new books I want to read. I might try out something like paperbackwap for books that aren't library-available, but I do love using the library. There's something about that old-book smell… :-) ReplyCancel

  • J. Money - LOVE this post!! and decluttering – I've started doing it 15 mins every day (going on 4 days now ) until I finish the entire house ūüėČ it's MUCH easier to do, and it's kinda fun finding stuff I had no idea I even owned. haha….although it will be even better when I sell some of it on Craigslist and/or donate 'em.

    The more simple life is GOOD! ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - I'm thinking of selling things to. It's harder to part with stuff than I thought it was! What was the weirdest thing you found you owned? ReplyCancel

  • Serendipity - I like J Moneys idea of 15 mins decluttering everyday. Last night I went through my company stash and worked on it for 15 mins. I hate clutter and everywhere I look it makes me feel suffocated. I'm going to hop on the decluttering train with you guys! ReplyCancel

  • Bucksome Boomer - We got rid of a lot of clutter three years ago when selling our single family home and moving toa condo. I sell books on half.com when I'm done with them.

    But you have motivated me to do the annual closet purge; it's overdue! ReplyCancel

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  • Minimalist vs. Moocher - […] great and all – who doesn’t aspire to a life filled with meaning, not clutter? But I wonder what Mr. Yurista’s friends have to say about his lifestyle.¬† To be fair, he […]ReplyCancel

  • Real Life Minimalists: WellHeeledBlog « miss minimalist - […] As a personal finance blogger, I am often searching for ways to make my money work for me. That’s how I discovered minimalist blogs – minimalism and saving money often seem to go together – after all, the fewer things you buy, the less money you spend. I have a fairly clear idea of what my relationship is with money. After reading a string of minimalist blogs (Miss Minimalist, for example!), I was inspired to think about what type of relationship I want to have with “stuff.” […]ReplyCancel

  • Ubercrap - Yeah, like, I want to live in a way people hate. I want to be a Cynic, there's no other crap so interesting for me to do. I want to be questioned for "virtuous" behaviour, and I want to sacrifice my reading, sacrifice my honouring to people, and sacrifice ever getting money. I'm proud to "waste" my life with inane life that nobody cares, because it's happier that way, I don't have to force my discipline. I want to be lazy, and decorate my house with junk for an armchair, who cares what people think of "stupid" people, I'm crap and I'm proud of it! ReplyCancel

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