Decluttering is Hard to Do

I happened upon this site today as I was blog hopping: The Life Change Experiment.  I only read through some of the posts, but the gist of the blog is that the couple has decided to give away everything they own. You might be able to get something for yourself, if you hurry. The offer ends on September 1st – here is the actual website where they are giving away their stuff. And in case you’re wondering, no I didn’t ask for anything.

On Monday, I spent about six hours going through my bedroom, decluttering. Or rather I should say trying to declutter.  Some of it was easy enough. Like all the VHS movies I’d collected over the years. I ended up keeping about ten of them. Maybe it’s stupid to keep them when DVDs are the rage, but I’d rather keep my VHS copy than go out and buy a DVD copy.   I’ll probably never watch the VHS version or the DVD version ever again, but at least having the VHS copy on hand, I won’t feel like buying the DVD version. I donated about 40 other movies to Goodwill.  I kept some books to put on Paperbookswap.com but donated several dozen others.

I used to eBay fairly regularly, and had some items collected that I was going to “try to sell on eBay someday”. Someday doesn’t seem to ever come, so I thought I’d just donate them instead. I did however, put one item on eBay that was new in the box, and recently sold for $16.99 with a bidding war.

The hardest of all was to go through my clothes and get rid of everything that no longer fits. I am not into fashion at all, and have no qualms about wearing clothes that aren’t in style (within reason).  I got rid of several of my beautiful skirt and jacket sets that I’d gotten from Dillard’s for $5 to $25 over the past few years.  It was really, really hard to let them go.  They were high quality items that really made me look sharp, when they fit. But they are in my vehicle, waiting to be dropped at a thrift store so someone else can enjoy them.

As the day went on, I began to lose my resolve to get rid of ALL the clutter.  Toward the end, I just lost all nerve and started shoving things into the bins and shuffled them to the back of my closet.  Another day I’ll have to go through them when I’ve built up my resolve again.  I kept some blankets that I probably should have donated, and also some throw pillows that won’t ever be used. I just couldn’t bring myself to part with them yet. Oh, and some chair cushions. But hopefully I’ll remember those the next time I need to replace the one on my milking chair in my milking parlor.

Looking at that The Life Change Experiment site, I had so many mixed feelings.   I signed in to see what kinds of things they have available… expensive stuff, it looks like to me… they must have tons of money in the bank. Enough to buy all that stuff back, and more. It’s easy to do that when you’re rich, and can afford to replace everything brand new. They have even given away their home, and their businesses. But they surely have another home, and another business, or at least a bunch of money in the bank somewhere.

Otherwise are they planning to live on the street and become homeless?  Surely they have a plan and money to fall back on, in case the “universe” doesn’t come through and save them.

Having grown up poor, and living at poverty level most of my life, I have a problem with getting rid of things.  Mr. A has it worse than me. I talked to my mom later in the day, and she has it, too. She’s trying really hard to declutter so when she goes we won’t have to go through a huge bunch of worthless stuff. She told me the other day she put three threadbare shirts in the trash, but by the end of the day had pulled them out.  She said sometimes she has to just “accidentally” leave things out in the yard until it gets sun damaged and/or mildewed before she can bear to throw it away. I laughed and said that is sometimes the same way with food for me.  But since we have chickens, it is much less of an issue. I can remember in the past never being able to throw any food away, and refrigerating it to eat later. But then forgetting I’d refrigerated it until it had molded over. THEN it would be okay to throw away.

I managed to donate about five large (55 gallon sized) trash bags worth of stuff to the thrift store.  I took pictures of the clothing so I can go back and see what I donated, because I just know one day I’ll be thinking, “Where’s my black dress with the purple and lavender roses” and forget that I donated it. It was such a beautiful dress, and only cost me $15 from Ross Dress for Less a few years ago. But it no longer fits, so there is no point in holding onto it. I’m not going to play that game, “I might fit into it again.”

Funny how if I’d lost weight, I don’t think I’d feel quite so badly about it. You know, like I wouldn’t be hoping one day I’ll gain back weight so I can fit into that dress. Someone will enjoy it. I’ve taken good care of it, handwashed and drip-dried it so it’s in good condition.

I’ve been trying to stop being a packrat and declutter for 23 years now. It would probably help if I had more time to work on it. But I guess I just need to be grateful for any baby steps I can make.

This post was included at the  195th Festival of Frugality – Apple Edition on September 15th, 2009 hosted at The Good Life on a Budget! Thank you JvW for including my post in the festival!

Are you a packrat? What do you find hard to let go?

Yours Truly,

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14 comments to Decluttering is Hard to Do

  • Books! I keep thinking I should sell them or give them away. But then–what if I want to reread that volume some time? Or maybe one of my adult kids will want to read it? Still, I really could donate that 1995 Fodor’s Guide to Venice,right? But. . .

    Oh Never Mind!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Grace… I rarely read a book a second time; however, I do worry about the world going to he#@ in a handbag and we’ll all have to kick into survival mode. And what if there is no Internet, and no electricity? What will I do without something to read? I’ll definitely need my books!!! 🙂 I know where you’re coming from! 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    [Reply]

  • Great job for de-cluttering for 23 years! You are a good example for the rest of us pack-rats. I’ve never heard of taking pictures of what you donate, but that’s a great idea for those times you wonder where those things went. I think I will implement that idea from now on. Thanks for your inspiration.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    LOL, the operative word is “trying” I definitely haven’t made it yet. The next step after taking the photos is to actually create a folder on my computer called “DONATIONS” or whatever and file all the pictures there, named and dated so I can go there easily. Otherwise my brilliant plan will not do me much good! 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting, Marci!

    [Reply]

  • nancy

    I too have inherited the packrat gene! My very small size clothes are the hardest to get rid of. One time, someone broke into the garage, and stole only the small sizes! lol
    You’ve got me more motivated now!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    That’s too funny! Well, at least being “very small” maybe they don’t take up too much space. Or you can take pictures for the memories and donate them!! 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    [Reply]

  • K

    I have been watching the series ‘HOARDERS’ (Monday nites, A&E) and have taped the episodes to re-watch later to inspire me when I backslide.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    I’ll have to see if I can catch that show some time, it might be helpful, lol! Thanks for visiting and commenting, K!

    [Reply]

  • […] Mrs. Accountability: Grace… I rarely read a book a second time; however, I do w… […]

  • […] marci: Great job for de-cluttering for 23 years! You are a good exa… […]

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  • […] Again, it just so happens about 16 months ago I went through my closet in a mad fit, determined to donate all the clothes that hadn’t fit me for years.  Who knew after vowing to never diet again for the past fifteen years that I’d give the […]

  • […] Again, it just so happens about 16 months ago I went through my closet in a mad fit, determined to donate all the clothes that hadn’t fit me for years.  Who knew after vowing to never diet again for the past fifteen years that I’d give the […]

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