Several years ago, I decided to take control and rid myself of the stuff that I did not use. I gathered some cardboard boxes, and went to work, removing the clutter from our home. I went through our closets, cabinets, dressers, and drawers. I separated our unused stuff in to four boxes.
Box 1 – Give It – I encourage everyone to consider donating a portion (or all) of any unneeded items to a local clothing bank or homeless shelter. Many of the folks who live in shelters need office-appropriate attire, for when they go to job interviews. We also try to find good homes for our kids’ used toys. We only donate items that are in usable, wearable, or working condition.
Box 2 – Trash It – I am amazed by how much stuff we have – stuff that no longer works or no longer fits. We recycle and reuse what we can, and get rid of the rest.
Box 3 – Sell It – We have two garage / yard sales per year. We sell baby clothes (and other items) on eBay. We have even listed items on our Facebook pages. Check online and in the local paper for free classifieds. The main purpose of selling our unnecessary stuff is to get rid of it – but it’s cool to make an extra buck-or-two, too.
Box 4 – Store It – We have stuff in our house that we don’t need, right now, but we might need it at some time in the future. So, we’ll store it in the shed or in the kids’ playhouse – up high and out of sight. Once a year, I’ll go through our stored stuff, see what we have, and purge what is broken or unnecessary.
Now is a great time of year to get rid of unnecessary clutter. Plus, if you make a few extra bucks – that’s more money for your debt reduction or savings!
I have found that there are several advantages to a life with less stuff:
1 – With less stuff, organization is rather easy. We do not have to invest in elaborate shelving, giant plastic tubs, or thousands of labels. Instead, we have removed the clutter – and what is left can be place neatly in our cabinets and closets. In other words, we’re not just moving piles of stuff around. We actually got rid of some stuff.
2. Our kids are organized. I have three kids, ranging from ages 3 to 12 – and all three of them keep their rooms neat and tidy.
3. Evenings are relaxing. Straightening up our entire house takes less than 15 minutes. Cleaning the house (with vacuuming, dusting, etc.) takes, oh, maybe an hour – thirty minutes if the kids pitch in. So, each evening, we cook a meal, clean that up, wash a couple loads of clothing, make lunches for the kids, and then we can relax.
You might be asking – What does removing the excess clutter from my home have to do with personal finance? Well, it’s hard to communicate, exactly – but there’s something… liberating… about a clutter-free home. It just feels better – and when we feel better, I think we make better decisions. We have more energy and enthusiasm to devote to more important tasks – like the management of our personal finances. So, the relationship isn’t direct, but it is indirect, and it is real.