New Year’s Resolutions for 2013: Declutter Your Home

Thank you to all of you who participated in last week’s poll about New Year’s Resolutions. If you didn’t, you can still fill out the poll and make your opinion heard. While the votes were pretty spread out, the most popular New Year’s resolution was “declutter your home” with 15% of the vote. Over the next few weeks, you will hear about some of the other winners.

While decluttering your home is certainly a good thing, many of you may be wondering what this has to do with frugality. First and foremost, decluttering helps you to simplify your life. A frugal life is a simple life. Decluttering can help us realize how little stuff we really need. Decluttering can help you save money on storage fees by freeing up new storage space in your home, eliminate buying duplicates as well as decrease heating and cooling expenses by increasing the air flow in your home. Decluttering can also help you make some money by selling some of the items that are in good condition that you no longer need. Additionally, decluttering is good for your physical and mental health, saving you money on health care costs.

Ready to start decluttering? Here are a few good tips:

  • Slow Down: Decluttering can be an emotional process, so before you start tearing your house apart slow down. More than likely, your clutter cannot be eliminated in just one day you are going to have to work slowly one room and problem at a time.
  • Make a plan: Schedule some dates with your clutter by setting aside some time on the calendar. For some people, it might be helpful to just schedule a few hours at a time, for others you might block off an entire week. Then, visualize what you want your space to look like and make a plan to help you get there.
  • First Things First: Don’t know where to begin? Start with the place that aggravates you the most. Still not sure? Start with storage spaces so that you will have more space to organize and put things away.
  • Avoid Distractions: Once you decide on the space that you want to tackle don’t leave that room! Create a “goes elsewhere in the house” box and take the last few minutes of decluttering to put these things away all at one time. The second you leave the space you are liable to get distracted or begin other projects.
  • Organize: Remember how you visualized your space? Organize with that visualization in mind. Don’t be afraid to use your space creatively. Keep items where you use them, with the most used items out and visible. Group like things together and examine your groups. This will help you to discard unwanted items as well as visualize the correct space for this group. When you are finished organizing, be sure to label everything.
  • Discard: Create four piles: sell, give, recycle and garbage.
    • Sell: More than likely, you have lightly used items like books, clothes, or furniture that you could sell in a yard sale or online on eBay or Craigslist.
    • Give: Are there things that you could give away to charity? These gently used items can be taken to your nearest Good Will or given away on the Free Cycle Network.
    • Recycle: Be conscious of the things, such as plastics and paper, that can be recycled before you chuck them in the garbage.
    • Garbage: The unusable, un-giftable, and un-recyclable stuff that is left.
  • Shop the Leftovers: Did you find some clothes that you forgot you had in your closet? Mix and match them to create new outfits. Did you find some food in your pantry that is still good? Use it in your meal plan for the next few weeks until it is gone.
  • Keeping the Clutter at Bay: Put up a laundry bag in your closet so that you can toss in clothes and donate little by little rather than in a massive overhaul. Create a 30-day list to buy anything outside of necessities. Write the item down on the list with the date, if you still want the item 30 days later then you can buy it. This will save you a lot of money on items that quickly lose their luster.

Looking for more practical decluttering tools? Check out: TLC How Stuff Works, The Daily Green, Zen Habits, or ivillage.

Join the Conversation: What is your best decluttering tip?

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