As I sit looking around my house, I have come to realize just how much stuff we have accumulated. We have only been in this house for 6.5 years (together for almost 7), and we have, somehow, managed to almost overflow a 4 bedroom house.
A couple of years ago, we renovated our attic space to make it usable and to hold a bunch of our off-season items. It is walk-in, and it was perfect. We now have much more room to keep lesser used items out of our way. Since then, it has become the home to craft supplies that do not fit in my craft room, outgrown baby clothes and toys, tons of Christmas decorations, and more board games than you can count. And we still seem to have excess stuff in the main part of our house.
Recently, Richard and I were faced with the fact that we have way too much stuff. Well, Richard knew this already. I was sitting fat, dumb, and happy, completely oblivious to the stuff around us that never even get used. I had to be shown over and over again how we have things sitting around that we never touch except to move them out of the way or store them out of sight when people come over.
Finally, I came to the realization that I had to start using the things I have or give them to someone else who could get use out of them. And we have to stop accumulating more stuff that does not provide any utility, joy, or purpose in our life. It really has gotten quite depressing to see things ‘going to waste’ because they never get used in our house. They would definitely serve someone else better that would actually use it.
Getting even more stuff
After this realization, we still had to swim through Christmas. We have all the stuff around us, but we wanted and got more for Christmas. This just adds to the amount of clutter.
For Christmas, did you get more stuff/junk to fill up your house? Was it all on your list or was it some things that had little to no purpose? Did you have stuff on your list you really didn’t even want or need just so you could fill out a list for family.
This is really difficult to face because we know our family and friends love us and want to give us things. And we are very grateful for most of it. But some things don’t provide real utility or joy in our lives.
For the most part this year, our family did well with our gifts. We are growing to love consumables, and we received yummy cookies, spiced pecans, and a gift card to the movies. They don’t take up space and taste great (except the movie gift card – that is impossible to taste good, no matter how much butter and salt you put on it). We also received wall plugs with USB ports* in them. How cool is that?
I received a planner for the new year with gel pins for taking notes in every color imaginable (120 to be exact) and Richard got some video and board games he has been wanting. Monkey was gifted more toys than we can count, but most were cars, balls, and books, so he is thrilled. And while most of the stuff we received was desired and greatly appreciated, it added to the amount of stuff in our house.
Making the decision to declutter
We have been toying with the idea of decluttering for a while, but never quite found the time. We knew it needed to happen, but there was always something better to do. But while trying to put away our new Christmas gifts, we could not find a location for much of it because of the sheer amount of stuff in our house. And we know we want to move to a better house/location in the next year or two, and we definitely do not want to pack up and move all of this stuff with us.
Another huge deciding factor in our move to declutter is the fact that it will save us money. That’s right, decluttering will save you loads of money.
Do you ever know you have something at your house but you have no idea where it is so you go out and buy more because you need it urgently? I am bad about this with tissue paper. I know I have tons, but it moves locations and I can never find the color I want at the time. If I get rid of unnecessary stuff, I will be able to quickly and easily find the tissue paper when I need it, saving me money.
Do you rent a storage shed to house some of your stuff, even seasonally? If you clean up and out your house, you will be able to store your seasonal stuff in a corner of a closet or a basement instead of paying money every month to hold something that is only used once a year, or never. If you only have room to keep one tote of stuff, that is even better. It gives you guaranteed boundaries in which to keep your seasonal items.
Decluttering as a group
Due to the close-knit following on this blog, I figured it would be a great avenue to join together to declutter our homes and lives.
Don’t worry, we will start small (I need baby steps sometimes). And keep in mind that there is no judgment or ridicule in this environment. Some people will have more clutter than others. Some people have none (I envy you).
You can sign up below to get exclusive emails containing tips to declutter, encouragement by email, and see our progress along the way. You will not get more than 1 decluttering email per week. It will also be a way for you to let me know of your progress/decluttered area and potentially be featured in the next declutter blog post under the Hall of Fame section. I will also post on Facebook, so be sure to join us there.
*If you are signed up to other aspects of this blog, you will not be automatically signed up to the declutter series. We do not want to send you more emails than you wish for.
So, with this blog to document our progress and the support of each of you, we will be decluttering our house from one end to the other. We will be systematically going through all of our stuff and deciding what to keep, what to sell, what to donate to someone else, and what needs to go in the trash (I’m talking to you, 10 year old funny newspaper clippings).
The basis of our decluttering
Decluttering and minimalism have gained huge followings recently. In the age of buying more, people are actually choosing to have less. But they ensure that the things they do have bring them joy and provide utility in their lives. This is the basis of the KonMari lifestyle.
We will not be following KonMari directly, but we will be steadily moving that direction to find the right balance of ‘things’ in our lives.
Each month, we will be focusing on a new aspect of our home and life to declutter. This isn’t a sprint, though you can make it one. We are running a marathon here with a completely decluttered and functional home as our goal. We also want to have changed our habits along the way to keep the clutter from even taking up valuable real estate in our homes. As we move through the clutter, we will be able to streamline our lives, make the things we do have more accessible, and bring more joy to our lives.
I have read many times in many places that when you clear the clutter from your life, you actually start to feel more at peace and have less anxiety. I can’t wait to say that is me.
Declutter Challenge for January
To begin our decluttering journey, we are going to start small. It is often easiest to change habits by making just a small change at a time. If you are truly hardcore, you can run ahead of us here on the blog. Make sure you let us know how you are doing with your decluttering so we can congratulate you!
Starting tomorrow, we will be collecting at least 1 item per day that is obvious we need to get rid of. This could be something you move every day looking for something else, mail that has sat on the counter too long, 14 old magazines that you don’t look at anymore, or even socks with holes in them. If you collect 4 items in 1 day, great. But you will still have to collect at least 1 more item tomorrow. You will just be ahead on getting your house back in order.
This will run until February 11th, so, at the end of this first challenge, you should have at least 30 items to get out of your house.
Be sure to sign up for the Declutter Challenge email series above so you don’t miss anything in this awesome journey!
What to do with the stuff you collect
As we collect items around our house to get rid of, we have several options to actually get them out of the house. We can donate them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, we can throw them in the trash (if they are obviously trash and no good to anyone), or we can sell them to someone else who wants them.
Most of the obvious stuff you will be collecting this month will be trash, but if it is truly worth something, it makes sense to sell it or donate it. If you donate it, be sure to keep a log of the item so you can take it off on your taxes for 2018 (if you itemize). If you sell it, good on you – you just saved money and earned money at the same time! You saved money by not having to move around or lose that item anymore and you earned money from selling the item. Make sure to put that money in the bank to be invested later so you don’t just blow it on Starbucks or the dollar store (guilty!)
Do not fall into the trap of telling yourself you are going to sell something and then having it pile up in a corner forever (also guilty!).
I challenge you to take a picture of the stuff you have collected at the end of the month or as you get rid of it. This way, you can see your progress and share it with us. Remember, if you share your success, you could be featured in the declutter hall of fame. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?
Do you need to declutter your house? Are you going to join us?
* This post contains affiliate links.