Decluttering for Sanity & Savings

11 Jun

Photo by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Photo by Sean MacEntee via Flickr


I have a love-hate relationship with decluttering. For the most part, I find it cathartic and rewarding since cleaning out my space helps me breathe better and think more clearly. On the other hand, it seems to be a never-ending process due in part to my shameless consumerism. For every item I get rid of, another one seems to take its place within a few months.

It’s for this reason that J. Money’s recent post highlighting his decluttering trick really resonates with me. Asking “Would I buy this again?” removes all other considerations and elicits an immediate “yes” or “no,” making the decision to keep or donate much easier. As a serial declutterer (not a word, I know), I’m always looking for new ways to amp up my cleaning routine. In addition to J’s sound advice, I discovered another strategy earlier this week.

Ultimately, my husband would like to own a bit of land and have a small home on the property. This is a BHAG and definitely not something we’re seriously considering right now, but it did get me thinking about the process of selling a home. It’s a big pain to be sure, but it’s a pretty awesome exercise in decluttering. Faced with the prospect of moving, items are suddenly stripped of their sentimental value and evaluated purely on the ease in which they can be transported and setup in a new space. This discerning eye doesn’t extend to the truly meaningful stuff like family photos and heirlooms, but that weird oil painting you purchased a lifetime ago (looking at you, J!)? Yeah, that one’s not making the cut.

So, another question might be, would you bring it with you if you moved? The more stuff you move, the more money it costs, and the more time it takes to get unloaded and moved into your new place. Knowing this, many of us host epic yard sales and sell or donate as much unnecessary crap as possible just to avoid the expense and hardship of having to move it.

After making this revelation, I looked at my space with fresh eyes. If I were to move today, what would I bring with me? Better yet, if I were to show my home today to prospective buyers, what items might they perceive as clutter? This gets complicated since most experts suggest you de-personalize your space so home buyers can see themselves in your house. However, I was amazed by how quickly my perception of my home changed using this approach. Suddenly, certain things stood out as just taking up space, and the desire to purge my home of them was overwhelming. I’ll have to do it in steps, otherwise my husband will come home to an empty space and a crazed, clutter-slaying wife.

How do you approach decluttering?

8 Responses to “Decluttering for Sanity & Savings”

  1. Shannon June 11, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Decluttering is definitely a cathartic activity for me. This weekend I was feeling frazzled and stressed out and ended up re-organizing my bookshelf and cleaning my apartment. Although my husband couldn’t tell the difference, it made me feel a little better having a cleaner, neater space. And I hate moving more than anything, so I’m pretty ruthless on the final cut of what goes and what stays ;).

    • Kendal June 11, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

      Organizing my space is definitely a big de-stressor for me. Funny you bring up bookshelves; I spend a lot of time on the two I have a couple times a year, usually bulking them up for winter and paring them down for summer. It takes me a good hour or so, but I feel so triumphant when they’re done. Thanks for commenting, Shannon!

  2. Travis @debtchronicles June 12, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    The question I ask (by the way, I have a Love/Love relationship with decluttering) is “When was the last time I used this?” Pretty easy for me to toss things when I ask that question. 🙂

    • Kendal June 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

      Great advice, Travis! Overthinking is likely sabotaging my decluttering efforts. I hope to tackle my study this weekend using these new strategies — it will be a minimalist’s haven by the time I’m done! 🙂

  3. Michelle June 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    I like to make a to-do list before I even start so I have a plan of attack. I can only do one project at a time, so when I do decide to declutter, it is a step by step process.

    • Kendal June 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      Another great idea! I think I get overwhelmed when I move from one room to another and haven’t completed the first room. I see everything that needs to be done in the second room and get off track. A list sounds like something I need — thanks for the advice, Michelle!

  4. David S June 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Decluttering is a GREAT idea! I recommend trying to sell some of those unused clutter items for cash, so you actually make a few bucks in addition to cleaning your house. (If you don’t want to both with eBay or Craiglist or running a garage sale, try using to get quick free cash offers from pawn and thrift shops in your area that pay cash for used stuff. You never know what might be valuable!)

    • Kendal June 18, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

      Thanks for the tip about PawnGuru, David. The service looks pretty new — when was it established? Selling clutter for cash is definitely ideal and anything that makes the process easier is okay in my book!