Before you turn into one of those crazy pack rats whose fire hazard house makes the 6 o’clock news, take these steps to clear out some clutter.
Step 1: Have a sale If you want a little extra cash, take the items in best shape and have a garage sale.
Step 2: Look at your stuff Look at your stuff and ask yourself, 'Does having this make me happy right now?' Disregard if the possession meant something to you in the past; consider the feelings it gives you right now.
TIP: Listen to your gut. Research shows this really does work—we know the right answer subconsciously, even if we don’t want to admit it.
Step 3: Take a photo If the item you’re considering tossing has sentimental value but takes up a lot of room, like a trophy, take a photo of it and place it in a special album. Seeing the photo will remind you of your achievement just as much as the real thing.
TIP: Before you get rid of anything old—a postcard, a train set—check online to make sure you’re not tossing a valuable collectible. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Step 4: Find it a home Consider whether someone else could use the item. Has anyone told you they liked it? Giving something away is much easier if you know it’s going to someone who can use and appreciate it.
Step 5: Get good karma Donate as much as you can to charity. Not only will you feel good about helping someone else, but you can even score a tax deduction if you ask for a receipt.
Step 6: Recall Think of when you last used the item. Research shows if you haven’t touched something in the past year, there’s an 80% chance you never will again.
Step 7: Have a “time out” box Take anything that you’re worried you might need in the future, put it in a box, and date it. If six months go by and you still haven’t needed it, chances are you never will.
FACT: Most people use the same 20% of the items in our home more than 80% of the time!
TIP: Ask the charity if it has 501c status before parting with your items. If they do, you can deduct your donations.