Tackling Too Much Stuff: Kicking Off Our 2017 Declutter Project

When I did my February State of the Blog Report, I assumed I would be back to business as usual…2 posts a week, active on other blogs, etc.

I’m still feeling a bit off, and haven’t been nearly as active. I’ve written one post, and felt good to get at least one right now. Money, for the moment, isn’t a personal focus.

Actually, not much is these days. I have a bad case of the blahs.

So I’m attacking my malaise from a new angle…by divesting myself (and my family) of the stuff that’s overwhelming us.

Maybe changing our environment will change my mindset. Maybe I need to clear the clutter in our house to clear the clutter in my mind.

Welcome to the 2017 Declutter Project, wherein we start the process of taking back our house.

The Clutter Problem

I’ve generally been pretty bad about collecting more books than I could easily store. I used to add a new bookcase to my possessions at least once a year. Stacks of books would soon appear on bedside tables, coffee tables, and eventually spare corners.

When I started working for a used bookstore chain, I began doing purges every year or so. At first, I got rid of fiction I’d finished, and maybe some DVDs and CDs that would never get played again. I still would end up with more everything than I could possibly use. The only time I’d make a serious dent in my stuff was when I’d move.

When I met and married Jon, we each had our own household and had to find room for it all. I sold a few things, but a lot of my stuff went into his basement and stayed in boxes for years. When we moved into our current house, we’d just had Little Bit. I didn’t purge much at all. We shoved boxes into our basement, garage, closets, and other spare space.

Now we have a kid with her own stuff. She gets more stuff each year, and rarely wants to get rid of any toy (no matter how long it’s been since she’s played with it.) We’ve inherited items from my mom and been presented with items from other family members.

We’ve run out of corners to stuff our stuff. Time for a great purge.

Previous Attempts

That’s not to say we haven’t done anything over the last few years to have less. We have. I weeded out clothes that don’t fit or that I’ll never wear again during our initial no-spend challenge. We’ve sent plenty of other clothes to Goodwill, and most of our baby gear went to our nephew.

We’ve also cut back on our paper clutter quite a bit by having a better record storage and disposal system.

And, while Little Bit gets a fair amount of new-to-her stuff, Jon and I have slowed down a lot of our acquisitions over the last couple of years. We give each other (mostly) consumable gifts, we rarely pick up new clothes, and we use the library and downloads for most of our entertainment.

Unfortunately, that mostly keeps the status quo. And as Little Bit’s stuff expands, our storage space has shrunk until we have negative storage space. Storage has crept into our living space.

Confronting A Crisis of Stuff

A couple of things have sort of brought on our crisis of stuff. First, Jon’s parents had to clean out their basement. Years ago, Jon stored some items in it, and now he’s had to bring them home.

Secondly, Little Bit started having some sleeping issues. We decided that cleaning her room up and out would probably make for a much better environment for her, and lead to better sleep. Her sleep seems better, and it’s certainly easier to walk in her room.

On top of all our other stuff, though, the basement

That’s a lot of stuff that needs to find a new home. And while some of those homes will be inside our house, some of that stuff needs to be in someone else’s home. And some, frankly, needs to get tossed.

Step One: The Easy Calls

The last couple of weeks, we’ve started handling some of the easy stuff. Jon did the monumental job of cleaning out the garage and the barn, and lots of marginal items headed for the landfill.

Little Bit and I handled her wardrobe. We pulled out everything that didn’t fit. I took a bunch of the nicer stuff to the kid’s consignment store, but evidently, she’s tough on her clothes. They took all of 7 items. I accepted my $7.25 with a shrug and carted the rest off for a sizeable donation.

We also went through her bookcases, and her youngest cousin will be getting a bunch of board books for his first birthday as well as some age-appropriate toys. That left plenty of room for the chapter books she’s picked up over the last year.

As we cleaned out Little Bit’s room, most of her broken and Happy Meal toys went into the trash.

Okay, this was all low-hanging fruit in the clutter game. There’s little emotional investment in broken toys and outgrown clothes. We don’t need a second copy of Red Fish, Blue Fish or Curious George, and Little Bit stopped being obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer years ago.

I’m pretty sure we have a few more easy calls to make, but to do more than tread water, we’ll have to actually make some decisions about what to keep and why to keep it.


Tackling Too Much Stuff: Kicking Off Our 2017 Declutter Project

Kicking Off Our 2017 Declutter Project

We have a lot of work to do, first in defining our guiding principles. I’d love to pick up the idea of getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring me joy, but I have to live with other folks who aren’t ready for that philosophy (and may never be.)

So I think the operative question might be “Are we likely to use it again?” 

It’s a much laxer standard, but probably easier to get Jon and Little Bit on board. It’s just that the operative phrase needs to be are we likely to use it and not will we ever conceivably use it. 

I’m pretty sure that’s the standard we’ve been using, and it has led us to our current crisis. I might conceivably use the pastel pink and blue plates my stepmother gave me 30 years ago to set up my first apartment, but I haven’t used them in the last 20. Why are they still under my roof?

And then there’s the matter of what we might possibly do with our excess. Some of it will probably be sellable, but the vast majority may have to head to the local charity shop, or…the landfill. The idea of throwing our stuff away is painful but probably necessary. As I discovered in my consignment shop experiment, we can be a little hard on our stuff. Realistically, there just might not be much demand for some of it.

Whys and Wherefores

So that’s where my mind is...kicking off a new project, negotiating our whys and wherefores, and trying to create a few changes by changing our home environment for the better.

How do you negotiate eliminating clutter? What’s your best method for getting rid of the unnecessary? How do you balance the different clutter tolerances within a single household? 

In other words, HELP!

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*


39 Responses to “Tackling Too Much Stuff: Kicking Off Our 2017 Declutter Project”
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