How I Conquer Clutter in my home.
According to a recent survey, the average American home is over 2600 square feet. Mine is less than half that, especially when you consider that our square footage includes our basement which is a utility basement. It has a washer, dryer, and storage but no livable space. While I love my small home, it can be challenging to keep it neat with two boys and two dogs.
Maybe you’ve noticed that decluttering or purging is something that pops up in lifestyle magazines and TV shows on a regular basis. The truth is, many homes have at least some clutter. While clutter may not be taking over your home, it can still be a nuisance. Here’s how I stay on top of it. For me, I have to, it’s a sanity saver. My brain is cluttered with too many thoughts. I don’t need my visual fields cluttered too.
Tips to Getting Rid of Clutter
And let me tell you, it’s a learning process. My Depression-era grandmother raised me. Let me tell you, she threw away nothing. And I mean nothing. Because “you might need it someday.” I mean it, the woman reused aluminum foil and wax paper and washed plastic utensils.
On top of that, I love collecting certain vintage items which makes it hard for me to get rid of things. My basement is still a work in progress, but our upstairs is better organized than before.
Use Transition Times-Every few months, you’re more than likely switching out fall and winter for spring and summer or vice versa. This is a great time to purge your home. As you go through your clothing, purge anything you no longer love. The same goes for home decor. This year I really purged holiday decorations. I also make it a point to go through both my boys’ rooms twice a year-right before their birthday and right before Christmas. Those are times of the year when there is an influx of toys and clothing, and purging beforehand keeps it manageable.
Join Facebook Groups-There are so many Facebook groups dedicated to de-cluttering, minimalist living and so on. I have found these to be very motivating for me. In one, the group leader posts a monthly challenge and every day we have a task. Sure, I don’t do every task, every day. But it’s enough to keep me chipping away at it and stay motivated.
Have limits, set goals and have a system-Decide what your limits are. If the kids have not played with this toy in X amount of months, it goes. If I have not worn this item in X months, it goes. And so on. I have two bins in the basement for consignment sales, one for the fall sale and one for the spring sale. I keep another shopping bag with the bins for Goodwill. When I’m purging, I just quickly evaluate each item: consignment sale, donate, or trash. I know of a decluttering group and they have a “Rule of 20” which is: If I haven’t used it recently and can be replaced in 20 minutes for under $20, it goes.
Getting real with why I wanted to keep items-I held on to our TMNT stuff for far too long. Then, one day I had that epiphany. I wasn’t emotionally attached to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was attached and wistful for the years that Brian played with that stuff. He played with it as a preschooler and it’s hard to let go of those years. But realizing that, and remembering that I have a ton of photos from that time period, helped me let go. I kept one TMNT shirt that was his favorite, and the rest got sold or donated.
Get Creative: Repurposing things is all the rage right now. No, I don’t listen to many of my CDs anymore. But guess what? We have them hanging around our trampoline to keep birds away. I’ve seen them over gardens too. A quick search of “how to repurpose (name of item)” will bring you some interesting suggestions.
It can be very difficult to ‘get real’ when it comes to heirlooms and family items like that. Still, it’s important to do or you could be overwhelmed and a candidate for the Dr. Phil show on hoarders. I keep jewelry, pictures, anything that my mom made (she was really into ceramics in the 60s and 70s) and anything that is handwritten by the person. I’ve found that to be a good starting point and the rest is on a case-by-case basis.
My point is: I don’t keep every little thing from my grandmother’s house “just because it was hers.” Not every single item was important to her. They just happened to be in her home when she died.
You know what else helps? Reminding myself that many families shop at Goodwill, and will be happy to find my item at a great price. We all make purchasing mistakes or fall victim to impulse buys. But keeping it around the house “just because you spent the money on it” doesn’t help.
Keeping items that are like-new, just because they are expensive is not a good reason. Also, doing this has helped me become a better spender.
Does it take time to purge your home? Yes. Is it time well spent? Absolutely. If you want to live in a home that is clutter-free and well-organized, you need to take the time to get rid of the items you and your family no longer need.
Sell What you No Longer Use
Thanks to Marie Kondo and the minimalism trend, decluttering is all the rage right now. And with all this stay-at-home time, more are finally tackling closets and basements that they never had time to clean out before.
I have a huge bin of the boys’ stuff tagged and ready to hit a consignment sale whenever it opens again. I usually try to sell things first before I go right to donating the item.
But, in talking with a friend, she was unaware that there are some things that she could be selling instead of donating.
Believe it or not, there are things around your home that may be worth more than you thought. Best of all, you have so many selling options.
You can sell through:
- Facebook groups
- Facebook Marketplace and your own personal profile post
- Look for free classified listings online; many community sites have them
- Community Bulletin Boards at grocery stores
Even if you have a yard sale, you can make some serious cash. Let’s look at ten categories to declutter and turn into cash. Some options are going to be more work than others (like a yard sale) so you have to decide what will work for you.
For me, I use Facebook groups and consignment sales. And, for Facebook groups, I won’t list an item that’s under $10 and I’m very specific about how far I will go to meet a buyer. This is something I’ve learned through trial and error, and experience.
Spend some time waiting in a parking lot for a no-show buyer for a $2 item…and you’ll rethink it too!
How to Determine Accurate eBay pricing.
How many times have you heard someone exclaim “But these are selling for $500 on ebay!” about a pretty mundane item? Well, sure, you can ask any price you want. Doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Here’s how to determine what things are actually selling for on ebay.
How to Find Accurate eBay Prices
- Name your Item.
Find the item you are interested in selling yourself. Be pretty specific, because the details do matter.
- Try a bunch of different phrases until you get a match.
I’m going to search ‘Nintendo DS XL Mario Edition’ because my son has one that he no longer plays.
- Find listings that match the item that you wish to sell. Get as close to it as you can.
Find a listing that is pretty comparable to what you have, click on it.
- In the upper right hand corner, click “advanced.”
- Look at the prices.
From there, you’ll get a menu. Adjust as applicable to your item, but make sure you check “sold listings.”
- Find your sweet spot….and sell!
Using this method, I can see that many people ask upwards of $100 for their DS. However, the sold ones are only going for about $40.
Important Pricing Tip for Resale
Remember, lots of people love to haggle when it comes to buying and selling used. Consider listing your items for 10-25% higher so that you have some wiggle room to negotiate. Or, put a rock-bottom, must sell price and put “will not accept less” if you’re not willing to accept less.
Sell or Donate?
Keep in mind that original price, brand name and wear and tear are all going to factor into how much money you recoup on your items. In my post about consignment sales, I have pricing guidelines from a national re-seller. But generally, for decent stuff, you can expect to recoup about 15-35% of what you originally paid for the item.
- Clothing-Many women are turning their old clothing into more than just pocket money. You can declutter your closet and sell your clothing on Poshmark. If you want, you can then reinvest your profits and buy more clothing to sell at Goodwill or yard sales. Poshmark is a very lucrative business for many stay-at-home moms.
- Books-Ready to cut the clutter from your bookshelves? Books can sometimes be worth a lot. You can scan books using the eBay or Amazon Seller’s app to see what the book’s worth. While not all books are going to have a good value, some will surprise you. For the rest of the books, group them together and sell through a Facebook yard sale group. I’ve had tremendous success with textbooks. List them by the ISBN number, and you might be surprised.
- Movies-Just like books, movies can sometimes be a goldmine – even VHS! The reason VHS tapes may sometimes be worth something is that some movies never made it to DVD or Blu-Ray. They are also becoming harder and harder to find. Just recently, Urban Outfitters announced that they are selling vintage VHS tapes for $40! With Disney+ you might think that Disney DVDs are worthless. However, many families still use portable DVD players for car rides and may be happy for them.
- Video Games-Some older games can be a nice profit for your bank account. Again, it’s all about rarity. Games that didn’t get remade for newer systems are often missed by those who played the games as a kid. If you’ve got some of those games lying around, do your research and see what they’re worth.
- Toys-Do you have toys your child no longer plays with? Before you toss them in the yard sale bin, check eBay. Some toys can be worth money. Even if you only make a $5, that’s $5 you wouldn’t have otherwise. For consignment sales, I bundle them and sell them at good prices.
- Home Décor-Home décor can also be a good seller. Mercari can be a good place to list these items. Everything from cute mugs, new curtains you never got around to using, etc. can all net you a profit. Vintage kitchen items are HUGE right now. So before you dismiss that 1970s-era baking dish, see if you can find one online for sale. You might be surprised at what people are getting for items.
- Music Collection-No one buys CDs anymore, right? Wrong. The older generation still enjoys CDs because they don’t want to learn yet another format. Some CDs can be worth $40 or more. Take your time to scan your CDs into the eBay or Amazon seller apps.
- Handbags, Accessories, and Shoes-Remember Poshmark from above? It’s also a great place to sell jewelry, handbags, scarves, and more. Gather all the things you’re done with and sell it. And, yes, you can sell the accessories your husband and children no longer want on Poshmark as well.
- Watches-Watches are one of those things that can resell at amazing prices. Fossil and other big brands may be worth a lot more than you expected or even paid. Search all the stores you sell with to see which is the best for listing your watches.
- Electronics-Last, but not least, even dated electronics can be worth something. You’ll be amazed at how much your old Sony VCR may be worth. Dust off those electronics and start making some money.
The clutter in your home can be turned into an emergency fund or even fund a family vacation. Why not start decluttering your home today? Getting rid of clutter is even good for your mental health!
Clutter and your Mental Health
Did you know that clutter can affect your mental health? Today’s households don’t do as much entertaining and guests as generations before us. As a kid, we often had drop-in guests, and neighbors who would just stop by to chat. That doesn’t happen anymore. So we may not think about clutter as much as our parents did, because “company isn’t coming.”
But those piles of mail at the front door or clutter on your desk can bother you more than you realize. Whether it’s a loss of focus or being overwhelmed, clutter shouldn’t be ignored. Clutter is excess information. So if you or your child struggle to process excess information, either verbally or visually, it makes sense that clutter would affect your well-being.
But, a lack of organization skills shouldn’t keep you from trying to make your home a more peaceful place.
Negative Effects of Clutter
Distraction and Loss of Focus-How often do you have trouble focusing on a task at hand because your mind keeps drifting back to the clutter around you? Do you often have thoughts about how you need to do something about it? Do these thoughts interrupt your work? A cluttered work area makes it almost impossible to focus on the task at hand. It is harder to complete a task if you spend excess time finding the supplies that you need.
How Clutter can cause Stress.
Stress-Do you find yourself feeling stressed out when you look at the pile of mail in the entryway or paperwork covering the dining room table? If the clutter is eating you up inside, it needs to be dealt with. Clutter and disorganization can lead to late payments on bills, which can create even more stress.
Perhaps you’re just not a big cleaner. I get it. We all have our priorities. However, it still weighs on you. An unkempt household serves as a visual reminder of an ongoing to-do list. And unfinished projects or tasks weigh on you and prevent you from relaxing.
Do you feel overwhelmed?
Being Overwhelmed-Clutter can make you feel overwhelmed to the point that you feel helpless. You may think, “There’s no way I’ll ever tackle this mess.” Those feelings can eventually make you physically sick. The key to not being overwhelmed. Don’t focus on the entire mess.
Choose one small area to tackle. Pretty soon the job will be finished. When a part of my home gets out of control, I remind myself that it didn’t get that way in a day so it won’t be fixed in a day. (Basement, I’m looking at you!)
Clutter can create anxiety.
Anxiety-Do you find yourself having trouble falling asleep because you’re thinking about all the clutter you need to take care of or misplaced items you need to find? Do the thoughts of dealing with it send you into a panic?
Believe it or not, clutter can cause anxiety. Not only do you worry about how it’s affecting your life, but you also worry about how others perceive your home or work space.
Difficulty with Visual Processing
Do you stare at the clutter surrounding you and find it impossible to process what you’re seeing? Do you sit down to work or read and can’t process what you’re trying to accomplish? Not only does clutter take away focus, but you may even find yourself unable to function when it comes to the simplest of tasks, such as writing out a grocery list or reading a novel.
Does your child’s IEP have accommodations for visual clutter? For example, are they supposed to have only one or two test questions per page, so that they can focus? If they struggle with visual clutter with school work, it’s only natural that it would affect them at home as well. Take a look at your home environment from their point of view.
Poorer Thinking and Mental Health
All of these things can cause strain on your mental health. Just like your body needs good hygiene, so does your brain. Allowing things like clutter to overrun your home can lead to mental health problems.
Clutter may seem like a small problem, but it’s worse than you imagined. Clutter can cause stress, anxiety, loss of focus, and even mental health problems. Don’t let this scare you. Instead, let this motivate you to tackle the problem once and for all.
Getting rid of clutter.
Sometimes it can be as simple as cleaning up your mudroom. For many households, this is your entry point to your home, and can set the tone. If things are tidy when you walk in, you’ll want that feeling to continue throughout the house.
Many moons ago, I was a store manager for some major retailers. Periodically, my team and I would walk around the entire store and create a giant to-do list of tasks. Yes, sometimes the lists were so huge it felt like we’d never be done. But, it also is very satisfying to cross items off a clutter list. I still use that technique in my own home today when I am feeling overwhelmed. And, I almost always try to turn my clutter into cash.
Clutter and over eating: There’s a connection!
Dr. Krauss-Whitborne of Psychology Today points out that clutter in your home can actually lead you to eat more junk food! Any time of year is a great time of year to commit to ridding your home of the excess.
Good luck and remember, Dr. Phil says that “Home should be your safe place to land.” Before you know it, your whole family will be more at ease and relaxed in your home.