There are a few of you out there living spartan lives, and you think this doesn’t apply. Keep reading.

My mom recently wrote about her decluttering efforts brought about by an actual move. Which caused me to not-so-fondly remember our process when we moved from Seattle to Phoenix.

Before we go any further, I want to address the basic question: Why is decluttering frugal?

1. A clean house means a calm mind. Or so I hear. Our house is in perpetual chaos. But I’m sure I would feel better if the house were clean. A calm mind means you can think more rationally — especially about finance.

An added bonus? You won’t feel the need to flee the mess by going out. Which means you don’t spend money going out — at least, not because of a mess.

2.  You save a ton on organizers. We buy those nifty-but-expensive doodads to help us deal with the overwhelming sea of stuff we’ve accumulated. No sea, no need for organizers.

3. It reminds you just how much crap you’ve got. It’s embarrassing how little of it you actually need/use. You’ll be more cautious about buying in the future.

4. You can have a yard sale, which usually brings in at least $100. And if you don’t the hassle of a yard sale, donate it for a potential tax write-off.

Here’s where I address those of you living spartan lives.

When we were getting ready to move, we scoffed at the idea that we’d have to get rid of much. I mean, we were low income, paying off medical/student loan debt and we lived in a one-bedroom apartment.

How much did we really have?

Then we found the cheapest move would be via Relo Cube (6′ x 7′ by 8′). That 336 cubic feet had to fit all our stuff, including our queen bed, two dressers and a couch. That, or we’d have to pay another $1,200 for a second cube.

Suddenly, a lot of our stuff seemed superfluous.

Suddenly, we changed the question.

When people are decluttering, they ask themselves Do I want to get rid of this?

That’s a terrible way to frame it. Who wants to get rid of their stuff? Yes, we want less clutter. But if we could do that without actually getting rid of anything, we would. (Hence the market share for organizers.)

Once we were moving, Tim and I found that we didn’t have the luxury of keeping things we were lukewarm about. It made our decisions more cutthroat but a lot more efficient.

So when you’re decluttering, don’t ask yourself if you want to get rid of it, or if you’d miss it. Ask yourself: Would I keep this if I had to pay to move it?

Or pretend you had to move a much smaller place. Would you keep it if space were at a premium? Because, if you’re desperately decluttering, then space is at a premium.

And if you’re not sure, bag up the items and tuck them away for a couple of months. If you don’t miss them — and you probably won’t — then you have your answer.

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The First Election Debate and Links
October 7, 2012 at 5:47 am

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