Declutter and Uncover Your Sanity

The other day I found myself considering the purchase of another filing cabinet. Yes, not quite a monumental decision, but one that takes careful consideration because my family lives in a 1000-square-foot home. Where will that filing cabinet take away precious space? There just aren’t many options.

The size of my home isn’t much smaller than the one I grew up in, yet we seem to have less space. One look into our storage areas and that filing cabinet revealed the answer. There is clutter creeping into the space we need.

I’m still in the process of going through our home and deciding what to cull and what to keep. It goes beyond the mere fact of saving the $150 it would take to buy a new filing cabinet. It helps to reinforce that we can continue to be comfortable in our cozy home.

Additionally, there is the hefty financial consideration of moving to a bigger home. While it would be great to have more room, my region of the United States features home prices that are well above the national average. The cost of selling our home and buying another that we could afford would not only bloat our mortgage and tax bill, but only get us a fixer-upper.

Decluttering our space relieves us of the pressure to justify the cost of a new home. Not only that, but removing what my family doesn’t find useful also reduces the number of things to store and maintain.

That filing cabinet: My filing cabinet is proof that we have a way to go to achieve a paperless society. For instance, paper proof of income and expenses is still recommended for our taxes every year. However I still see many things that can be discarded.

There is a lot of advice out there, but a good place to start is with the folks in Pueblo, Colorado, at the Federal Citizen Information Center.

I like that article in particular because they recommend what you can keep at home and what should go in a safety deposit box.

I’m going to take this filing cabinet decluttering a step further and shuffle my discarded personal records down to a local shredding business. The company guarantees the records are completely destroyed and I appreciate the peace of mind.

Those storage areas: I am guilty of shoving things into the closet to just get the stuff out of my way (and out of the way of two inquisitive kittens). The consequence, of course, is that the closet becomes stuffed beyond use.

My remedy: tackle one storage area at a time and take out all of the stuff hiding in the nooks and crannies. When it’s down to what should be in the closet, for example – clothes, shoes, etc., close the door and look at what’s left. Sort out what you want to keep and put it where it should go. Then get the rest of that stuff out of the house!

The kids are old enough that they can help me with this task in their rooms. We go through the toys they haven’t touched for more than a year and clothes they’ve outgrown or don’t favor. They decide what to keep and what to give away.

But, what about…: I can’t remember where I learned this tip, but it works for me. If you just can’t let something go during an initial sweep, save those special things in one place. Let a few months go by and reevaluate. If you’re ready to let it go, that’s great. If not, find it a permanent place in your house.

What do I do with all that stuff? Unless your items are ruined, say by water or mold, it’s likely there are people who would be interested in taking them home!

  • Garage/Yard Sale: Spend a day or perhaps an entire weekend selling your stuff at your house. Offer your goodies in a buyer-friendly manner and be prepared to negotiate.
  • Sell it online: Craigslist and eBay are two online sites that can help you make a little money from selling your items.
  • The Freecycle Network: This online community works on the principal of keeping, good, usable items out of the landfills. Visit to see if there’s a network near you.
  • Donate to a charity: A local charity, such as Goodwill or Salvation Army, would be happy to take the remainder of your unsold garage sale items. Perhaps skip the sale all together and donate it all to a charity. Some may even come by and pick up the big items, such as furniture. You can get a receipt for your contribution that you can use to write off the donation on your taxes.

Well, I’m off to tackle my filing cabinet! Wish me luck.

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5 Responses to Declutter and Uncover Your Sanity

  1. I used to move every few years – and by move I mean “temporarily emigrate to a far-off land”. It totally kept the clutter under control. However, I’ve been in the same country (USA, my homeland) for 8 years now, 5 of them in the same Manhattan studio, and my mother remarked last month after peeking in a closet, “you need to either move or pretend you’re moving.” I’ll whip through it when get into the right mood to deal with it…too bad that mood hasn’t struck me in over a year!

  2. Cassie says:

    I am a huge fan of decluttering. It makes me feel better. I’ve become ruthless over the years and probably get rid of too much when I go on a decluttering binge. When I’ve decluttered it always feels like my house breathes easier too. Must get the good chi flowing or something. LOL!

  3. Carol says:

    I have been contemplating this step for a while now. I’m ashamed to admit this as a so-called “frugalite”, but right now, I have at least 60 handbags in my closet, under the bed, etc. And I won’t even mention clothes and shoes. All purchsed in the name of “bargain hunting”. And now I feel like I am suffocating in stuff.

  4. Gail says:

    I store my tax records, several years worth in a box and on the outside of the box have a note to destroy said box after a date well past any audit possiblity. No need to even look and double check what is in the box before burning (allowed here). Other stuff like all those checks that comes with credit cards get stacked and shredded all at once. I try to keep our paperwork in some kind of order as my hubby would be lost if something happened to me. Even though I have lots of kitchen cabinet space, I realized the other day that some of the stuff in them hasn’t been used in a year and a half (when we moved) I think I need to donate stuff to the thrift store and use that space for other things.

  5. Pingback: Freecycle Newswire » Declutter and uncover your sanity

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