After selling, donating and tossing almost everything we own, we are calling ourselves self-professed Home De-Cluttering Experts. OK, so our efforts in de-cluttering were quite extreme, and minimalism may not be your thing, but we certainly learnt a few things along the way about de-cluttering that we think will be useful to many. We firmly believe that when you get rid of the excess ‘stuff’ you will save money, save time (cleaning and sorting) and save your sanity. So, here are our top 5 tips for a clutter-free home.
1. Stop buying stuff you don’t need.
No really, stop it. “It was on sale” and “It’s just perfect for that corner” are the justifications we give ourselves for buying useless crap that will: a) collect dust b) end up in the garage one day. If an item doesn’t actually represent a real, tangible long-term use, then back away folks. If in doubt, sleep on it… for a week! After a week, if you really feel that the item will be useful, then make the purchase then instead of impulse buying. We saved SO MUCH money in 12 months when we decided to stop buying ‘stuff’ on a whim.
2. Toss the crap.
Throw out stuff that has accumulated around your home. Old magazines and papers, broken toys and appliances, off-cuts lurking in the garage, and old Christmas and Birthday cards tossed in a drawer. Once upon a time this junk might have been saved for a rainy day, the recipe you were going to bake, the length of hose that might be handy in the yard, has long since become useless crap. We all know that if you can’t find it in the mess when you want it, you’ll end up buying or Googling another anyway! Even before deciding to sell up everything, we would have regular clean-ups like this. By taking a load of rubbish to the local tip 2-3 times a year we kept on top of accumulated rubbish!
3. Buy your own trailer.
This one may seem odd, but we found that having our own trailer kept in a corner of the yard meant that we could regularly toss in the large rubbish that did not fit in our curb side council bin. When the trailer was full we’d take it to the tip to be emptied. Buying your own trailer works out more economical than hiring a skip bin in the long run, and you won’t have to try and fill it in a weekend. It always felt easier to keep on top of tossing out rubbish when we could throw it in the trailer, ready for a trip to the tip, and of course they are dead useful for moving other stuff as well! Simon bought a second hand trailer for $350, whilst he could have used it as it was, he spent another $300 painting it and building caged sides for more capacity. He sold the same trailer for $900 when we left Adelaide!
4. Take out the stuff you no longer use.
Room by room, literally remove the stuff that you haven’t used in years. By bagging it up for charity or listing it for sale online, immediately you are taking action towards it’s removal. I found that if I bagged up stuff for charity and put them into the back of my car that same day I would drop them off straight away. My other trick was putting stuff in the doorway so that I could not ignore it on my way out next time. If you want to get rid of it, you have to physically remove it from the room where it is gathering dust. Seeing the lovely new space created is very motivational!
5. Keep a spreadsheet of money raised from the sale of your old stuff.
This one is quite a geeky tip we know. But, when we started selling our stuff to pay off our debt Simon (the Excel King) started a spreadsheet running on his desktop. Every sale that we made from just a few dollars to the big ticket items was recorded on the spreadsheet. It was very motivational to see just how much we were making, and to see our debt shrink as a result. Your motivation maybe different to ours (perhaps a family holiday) but seeing real progress toward your goal really works! Read here how we sold over $20,000 worth of stuff in 12 months. Even if you don’t want to sell everything that you own, we found it amazing that the first $5000 was stuff sold, we didn’t even notice was gone from the house.
On top of all that, the best advice that we can offer for de-cluttering a home is don’t be overwhelmed. Often people just don’t know where to start, so the mountain gets bigger and bigger to climb. You don’t have to de-clutter your entire house in a weekend. Just make a start. You will feel great with just a little progress and momentum will build. Donating to charity also boosts moral, and making a little extra pocket money never goes astray!