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Is clutter costing you?

By Shannyn Allan · Bankrate.com
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

"Clear away junk" is one of the most touted pieces of advice for those of us seeking a more frugal life. Doing so helps us make better use of things we have, while avoiding the accumulation of things we don't want or need.

The more cluttered your life, the more you spend on:

  • Buying storage and containers to organize "stuff."
  • Replacing things you forgot you already owned or cannot find.

Many people hate going through everything they own, so they procrastinate. But the golden rule of personal finance is that everything costs either money or time. The more stuff you have, the more time you need to manage it. The less time you put forth to manage your junk, the more money you'll spend to maintain, store or replace it.

It's surprising how therapeutic purging and clearing can be. Typically, when we hold on to things we no longer use, it's an emotional thing. We look at an item and lovingly remember acquiring it. Granted, you never wear that shirt from your vacation anymore because it makes you feel frumpy, but the memory of the resort was so much fun!

Other emotions may include the fear of letting go, or guilt or shame that you never used an item or no longer use it. You also may worry that if you don't hold onto it, you'll need it someday.

Sometimes we hold on to things out of hope, too. We get a serious case of the "somedays," even when those things we hope to do no longer serve us. If you haven't read that best-seller by now, will you ever read it?

Dump clutter and free your mind

Ditching the idea and the false hope behind it can be freeing. You don't have to finish or start anything. Instead, give an unused item to someone who will actually use it, and don't let your guilt or your "someday" projects keep you from focusing on what you actually want to do.

Take time to seriously assess what you already have, and be honest about what it's already costing you. Learning to live frugally and downsizing combines both the appeal of utility with the quiet appreciation of a minimalist lifestyle (even if you're not truly a minimalist).

Saving money doesn't mean a mad dash to find something on sale just because it's a "good deal." Instead, slow down to find out what really matters to you. Many times, we focus on saving money on purchases we don't even need, which really isn't a great deal.

If you're looking to save money, take time to go through your stuff. Chances are you're dedicating more money and space to managing your stuff than you think.

Shannyn Allan writes for FrugalBeautiful.com about college, finance and fitness. You can find her on Twitter @frugalbeautiful.

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6 Comments
tom
November 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Sell it on craigslist , there is a buyer for anything........Make some money amd some room .
Tom

Doreen
November 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

'first & last yard sale' ....lol...that's funny...I can't get myself to have ONE yard sale. But, great job Virgina, that is my dilemma too - the sewing room!! I only have a 4x5 space which contains a few bins & 5 different sewing projects going. But it's becoming more of an expense & a chore to stay organized. This article has reminded me to ask if my 2ce a year hobby is worth more money. I like your idea Virginia...:)

stephen guy
November 15, 2012 at 6:56 am

you don't own stuff - it owns you.

Ellie
November 15, 2012 at 4:36 am

Good for you, Virginia.

I hope that you enjoy the holidays with a fresh new space within which to dream, create and decorate. I love how you involved your whole family in the effort, too. Thanks for sharing your garage sale idea.

Ellie

Virginia Anderson
November 15, 2012 at 3:39 am

I just had my first and last yard sale. It was the most sobering and hardest job I have done in years. I cleaned out a 16x30 foot storage area, my sewing room and the garage. It took about a month to look through, mark and assemble all of my treasures. When I say I, It took my husband, my son and daughter and myself to tote, drag
and decide what was throw away, give away or sell. It took fifty years to gather all of that stuff. It took two weekends and a
Salvation Army truck to finish the job. We made over 500 dollars
for the effort. I won't do It again but I can honestly say it was really worth the work. PLUS I found the Christmas decorations
just in time for the holidays. I wonder if my husband noticed the rolls of fabric at the back of the storage area? Oh Well