Too Much Stuff: Time To Let Go
One day you may wake up, look around, and say, “Where did all this stuff come from and what am I going to do with it?”
Rather than waiting for that day, take action now.
Let’s begin by dealing with the hardest part of the process: Letting go.
It’s easy to say, “It’s just stuff,” but there may be several reasons why it’s hard to part with something. If you feel a little panicked when thinking of unloading some of your possessions or suffer from SSAS (Stuff Separation Anxiety Syndrome, as we like to call it), here are some ways to deal with it before you end up on an episode of Hoarders:
- “I might need it sometime in the future.” Is that exercise equipment spending more time as a clothes dryer? You bought all the supplies for leatherwork. How long have they been sitting in the cupboard? Yes, the plaque for making Hungarian Cream Puffs came from a very upscale cooking store – 30 years ago – and you’ve never used it. It may be time to say goodbye.
- “I’ll wear it again.” When was the last time you wore the mohair jacket with the giant shoulder pads? Do you really see yourself wearing it again? With fashion, there are a few simple concepts that will help you unclutter that closet. If you’re waiting for it to come back into style, stop waiting. It’s either a dead fashion or when it does come back, you should pass. A common rule is if you were around the first time it was cool, great; if it returns as a fad, don’t repeat the look. Also, if you haven’t worn it in over a year, chances are you can live without it. And, those clothes that you’re waiting to fit back in to? We believe you can but in the meantime, buy clothes that make you look good now, and reward yourself with new items when you return to smaller sizes.
- “My kids might want it.” Really? It’s time to find out. Create a pile of things you think they might want, invite them over (or send photos), tell them to divide what they want with each other (nicely!) and take it with them. If they live far away, pack up a box and send it to them. You are not a storage facility and if they want something badly enough, they’ll find a place for it. Make exceptions for truly worthy situations, like students, active duty military, and Peace Corps volunteers.
- “It was a gift from (fill in the blank).” If it was a gift, then you own it now and can do with it as you wish. Chances are the giver will neither know nor care if you give it away yourself. Be careful about re-gifting. You may think the rhinestone picture frame is perfect for your cousin until you remember that she gave it to you. It’s tricky if the giver comes to your home and notices that the ceramic flying ducks are missing, but you can say that a friend (preferably one they don’t know) admired them so much you gave them away.
- “It could be worth something someday.” Condition and scarcity are the drivers of value for collectibles, and it’s almost impossible to predict what collectors will want in the future. You and a million other people have beanbag animals, so it’s unlikely that they are worth keeping. Remember that even if you don’t have your original Barbie doll in mint condition, you probably had years of fun playing with it. No regrets allowed.
- “It reminds me of the time I….” The most challenging items to let go of may be those with strong emotional associations. Try this. If an item has a strong tie to a memory, take a photo and revisit the happy time by looking at it. If you’re satisfied, let go of the physical object. If you just can’t let it go, don’t. Better to keep something than agonize over parting with it.
Now that we’ve set some parameters of what to keep and what to release, in our next post, we’ll look at what to do with the things you’re letting go.