Continuing To Purge

Over the last several months, I’ve made numerous small changes in my life, and I am thrilled with the results.  It all started last fall when I began making the bed every morning.  I had never done that before (I used to make the bed about once a week, at best), but now I can’t imagine leaving the bedroom in the morning without making the bed.  It was a small change, but my success with it was the catalyst for a lot of other small changes.

The most recent change I’ve made was to start appreciating the idea of living with less stuff.  We have a 1320 square foot house (plus a full unfinished basement).  Three people, a cat, and a dog, and somehow we had managed to fill not only the house but the basement as well.  Just about everything we own was purchased used, so we didn’t have a huge financial investment in any of it, but our stuff was taking up way too much time and space.  So I started purging.  I’ve taken three full car-loads to the thrift store recently (I have a station wagon, so that’s a lot of stuff) and have avoided going into the store when I dropped stuff off.

I just checked out credit card statement, and so far this month, all that we’ve bought is food and irrigation supplies for our garden (my husband got the irrigation set up last week, and so far it’s working great).  No toys, clothes, shoes, etc.  Financially, skipping the thrift stores doesn’t make much of a difference.  I would say that in an average month I used to spend somewhere between $20 and $30 at the thrift stores.  I never shop at the mall, really the only place I shopped other than thrift stores was the grocery store.  But while there’s not much of an impact on our budget, I can already see the impact in our house.  Rooms are starting to look emptier, and take less time to clean (bare surfaces are a lot easier to clean than surfaces with a bunch of stuff on them).  My craft area in the basement is much neater, as I cleared out about five boxes of material and supplies that I didn’t really need.  It’s easier in general to find things in the basement now, as there’s a lot less stuff down there.  Nothing is safe from my purging right now… if it hasn’t been used in the last year or so, it’s out.  Decorative items are mostly out, except for a few things that we truly love.  I’m finding that it’s much easier to get rid of things now than it was when I started.  Things that I debated about a month ago are easy to toss now.  I have empty space in the linen closet and our clothes closet.  My sock drawer closes easily, and even the kitchen cupboards are emptier.

I used to go to the thrift stores just for fun.  I would call my sister or my parents and ask if they wanted to meet me at Goodwill, and we’d just wander around for a while.  Now I can call them and see if they want to meet us for a walk on the trail instead.

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  1. says

    I just started making my bed every (OK, most) morning about six months ago, and I never knew how life-changing it could be. I find myself being much more organized and just generally cleaning up more these days. I think the made bed has a lot to do with it.

  2. MP says

    I started by hanging up my clothes before bed instead of throwing them on a pile on the floor, if you can believe it. Then graduated to throwing out or purging minimum seven items a day (i.e. 7 old magazines, 7 pieces of paper, 7 items of clothing) I figured that would take 5 minutes of my time every day. I started in my bedroom and cleaned out the bedside table drawers. Then kept on going. After about four months, really began to see the difference.
    All in all, resulted in my becoming far more organized and able to set priorities both at home and at work.
    Now my problem is pricing all the stuff in boxes waiting for that garage sale I plan to have…

  3. says

    FB, The making of bed started it all, huh? I’ll get on it right away.

    I started my decluttering journey last year and have been doing it v.e.r.y slowly. There’s still a long way to go. I’m not a hoarder and I don’t collect anything and am not a compulsive buyer. Even then there’s still too much stuff that I do not use in our everyday lives. And this stuff is taking up most of the valuable space. I’m also reading a book ‘It’s all too much’ which I got from my local freecycle and it is very eye opening.

    Letting go one garbage bag at a time.

  4. Rhiannon says

    Thanks for the inspiration! My husband and I are both VERY messy people, and although it bothers us some, it apparently hasn’t bothered us enough to make real changes. You’ve inspired me to at least start making the bed in the morning — something I have NEVER done — with the hope that it’ll catch on in other areas of my house and life.

  5. says

    I make my bed and run my Roomba vacuum cleaner almost every day. It makes coming home at the end of the day much more calm. Up until a few years ago I was a collector (horder) and kinda messy. Having less stuff means less cleaning, organizing and buying (of the stuff). I have more time to do the things I actually want to do OR more time to think about what I want to do!

  6. Courtney says

    It is such a revelation for me to learn that you’ve struggled with clutter and disorganization! In the years I’ve followed your blog I always assumed your home care habits were as disciplined and harmonious as your financial habits. Just goes to show you cannot make certain assumptions of people based on a small window into their life. Good for you in your journey, I know from living most of my adult life in clean, organized, “stuff”-limited spaces that it’s one of the biggest mood and productivity boosters going for me.

  7. Kaytee says

    FB – I’m curious what you did with crafting supplies. I’ve got tons of fabric scraps that I’m probably not going to use, but I refuse to throw them away. There’s no reason they should end up in a dumpster. Lately, I’ve been contemplating posting to craigslist, but do you have any other avenues that you’ve tried? I’ve thought about bagging them up and sending to Goodwill, but I don’t have much confidence that they won’t end up in the dumpster anyway.

    PS – Looking forward to pictures of your garden!

  8. FrugalBabe says

    For the last year or so, I had been saving old clothes in my sewing area instead of donating them if I liked the pattern or color of the fabric. I had used some of it for sewing projects, but it was piling up a lot faster than I was using it, so just about all of it got donated. Everything was in good shape, and will be resold as clothing rather than fabric.
    I did toss out one bag full of scraps that were super small (like just a few inches long… don’t know why I hadn’t tossed them earlier). Now I just have a couple boxes of fabric, all neatly folded.
    I would highly recommend craigslist if you’re trying to get rid of fabric scraps. Everything I’ve posted on there as a freebie has been taken within a day, and I’m sure there are tons of people who would be thrilled to have your fabric scraps. You might also want to see if there’s a senior center in your area that has a quilting or sewing club – they would probably love your fabric too.

  9. says

    I am doing this same exact thing. I have realized I have loads of great stuff all purchased on the cheap at thrift stores and garage sales…and it’s taking over my house.

    I have tried purging in the past but never to this extreme and it feels amazing. I can actually come home and enjoy the house instead of picking up, straightening and dusting all this stuff.

    My daughter in college made this observation when dealing with STUFF..” when I see something I want, I ask myself is it worth the effort to keep it up, clean it and store it? Most of the time the answer is No…” She is in a tiny dorm room with limited space. She is great at keeping her clutter to a minimum.

    I even passed on the Tuesday Thrift with a friend, though I may borrow your idea to get out and enjoy the outdoors or do something else.

  10. Christine | Money Funk says

    Awesome job on the purging! I recently rid of a bunch of stuff too {that sat in my trunk and garage for much too long}. it’s an awesome feeling. And I love that about thrift stores…you can find lots of stuff for very little money.

    We have a 1277 sq ft house w/ four of us, a cat, and fish. And we make it work too. But you do have to keep a handle on the clutter each day.
    Glad to have found your blog. :)

  11. Ana says

    I’ve been trying to get rid of stuff lately but I struggle with decorative keepsakes that have been given to me as a gift. I’m going go home and try again. The bed making tip is a great one – if that part of my room looked tidy I’d be less tolerant of piles of stuff everywhere else.

    With the craft stuff, maybe see if there is a girl scout troop in your area that you could donate too? I’m a brownie leader (they’re aged 7-10) and they love craft nights. Not everyone can donate time to volunteering, but resources help too.

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