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Cleaning Out My Closets & My Mind

by J. Money on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

stuff equals yuckIf there’s one thing I love more than finances & beer (and women my wife), it’s a clean mind. When that noggin’s empty of worries & clutter it’s the most beautiful thing in the world!

And I can function SO MUCH better too – it really is amazing. It’s like you turn into some “SUPER you,” getting things done in half the time and w/ much more efficiency ;)  I love it.  And there are financial rewards as well:

You make & save money when you unload your stuff!

The first thing I do when it’s time to start cleaning out closets/rooms/drawers is to grab 3 trash bags and a pen & paper.  The bags are divided simply as “stuff to throw away, “stuff to donate,” and “stuff to try and sell” – that last one being saved for another day (although from experience it’s best to knock out after all the cleaning IF you can pull it off.  The mood to clean doesn’t extend for a long period of time, so just make sure to pencil in a time to try & sell all the stuff (I usually start with Craigslist, then go to eBay if I have something valuable and it’s worth spending the time – which is usually like never, haha….).

The pad & paper is to write down all the stuff you’re going to give away to The Salvation Army or Goodwill, or wherever.  You’ll need this to document what you’re donating, as well as how to tell how much money you’re going to “write off.”  Here’s an excellent valuation guideline from Goodwill (pdf). As soon as I drop everything off, and get that receipt (IMPORTANT!!!), I staple this scrap of paper to it and throw it right into my “taxes” folder so it’s all in the same place for the end of the year.

And then I start going at it!I crank up the music, down a crap-load of coffee, and start dividing up all my stuff into the 3 piles.  It’s not the funnest thing in the entire world, but it sure does feel good every time you drop off one of those boogers into its new bag-home :)  The $hit we accumulate over time is just incredible. If you don’t continually clean it out every now and then, you’ll be trapped like those sad hoarders!  Makes for great tv, but a horrible lifestyle (feel so bad for those people :().

If you’re looking for something to do this week, here it is!  It’s a perfect time to shed your “stuff” and get pumped up with some tax benefits before 2010 comes to a close… wouldn’t it be HOT starting a new year, with less crap in your house? And mind? Answer: YES. Now let’s roll…


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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mercedes December 29, 2010 at 7:58 am

This is what I’ve been doing all week! Sunday was my Clothing, Monday was CDs and DVDs, last night was my bathroom closet…. I’m running out of places to purge!

I figured it’d be nice to start with a clean slate(ish) for the new year. :-)

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2 Valencia December 29, 2010 at 8:32 am

Absolutely! Thanks for reminding me that I need to complete this task!

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3 sarah December 29, 2010 at 9:10 am

I LOVE THIS POST.

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4 J. Money December 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

It feels damn good, do whatever you can to start! :)

@Mercedes – Yeah girl! Keep on trucking! I ran into that problem in the Summer but it’s been a good 6 months now so plenty of stuff to get back into shape ;) Although I’m finding my number of items go down and down ever since I got into minimalism! I love it. Still got a ways to go but we’re working on it…

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5 Gina @The Crave To Save December 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

I spent a good part of my time off last week going through my house doing the same thing…and I consider myself a pretty orderly person without a lot of junk in my house.HA! I have about 8 bags of stuff in my trunk to bring to Goodwill tomorrow and a crap ton off stuff hit the trash. I think it is almost as effective as therapy :)

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6 Lazy Man and Money December 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I like to turn the bag of “stuff to try and sell” into a bag of “stuff to donate” when the “try” in the sell fails.

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7 J. Money December 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

@Gina @The Crave To Save – Agreed! Very therapeutic ;)
@Lazy Man and Money – Haha yup. And my “trying” usually isn’t all that successful when it comes to clothes either. Only with bigger items like furniture and what not.

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8 twentysomethingmoney December 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I try to ‘delete’ stuff from my life every 6 months… I go through old clothes, books, magazines, and other crap thats around my home, and get rid of it. Sometimes its hard to part ways, but once its gone, you quickly forget it ever existed.

I live in a fairly small apartment, so I need to be pretty conscious of what I buy to begin with, but its also good to have the occasional clean out. Minimal living feels great!

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9 Sunshine December 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I wish I could get the equivalent list of valuation guideline from Goodwill for Canada (Quebec)…..

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10 Mummyscrooge December 29, 2010 at 7:41 pm

We are moving soon so have been having a big purge. It does clean out your mind.
I have also started a minimalist journey so hope not to refill the new house.

Great Post

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11 Investing Newbie December 29, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I actually had to do this against my will recently! I decided to redesign my room and since the theme was “minimalist” I ended up with a lot less “spaces” to hide my stuff. So I had to face the hard facts about what I was going to give away/chuck. In the end, my room is a lot more spacious and less junky, but I’m sure in a year or so, I”ll have to do the same thing again.

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12 ~Carla~ December 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm

The first thing I need to purge is my girls toys… I really should have done it *before* Christmas, but oh well.. wanna come help?? :P lol!!

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13 Molly On Money December 30, 2010 at 12:49 am

I had a ‘stayvacation’ over the holidays and ended up spending several days clearing out all the crap that accumulates. It’s rather shocking!

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14 Sarah December 30, 2010 at 1:17 am

As a girl with way too many clothes, I tend to do the same thing, but tweaked a little. Maybe other women can relate:
A pile to donate
A pile to throw away
A pile to sell on eBay
A pile that needs some lovin’ from a tailor or a cobbler
I can’t express how important it is to have a good tailor and a good cobbler. My $398 Frye boots that have gone through hell and back looked brand new after I got it back from my favorite cobbler. I could have kissed him, I was so thrilled! Many more years of wear out of an expensive pair of boots for only $30?! Yes, please. Tailors can also do miracles-if the reason why I don’t wear a favorite jacket is because a hole has sprouted in the pockets, my tailor can redo the lining of my coat for much cheaper than it would cost to go buy a new one.

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15 Steph December 30, 2010 at 8:29 am

I actually love to clean up and out all the stuff I no longer find useful. I love the minimalist idea too. I have a dream that one day I will be able to buy one of those old shotgun style houses in the New Orleans French Quarter and they are pretty small.

The biggest problem I have is that I tend to make my three piles/bags/boxes and the “sell” pile seems to sit forever. I never seem to find the time to photograph and list each item nor do I have the desire to take it to the consignment shop and wait for them to pick through my stuff and tell me what they will take (I always feel insulted when they refuse something “like my crap’s not good enough for you??”).

I suppose if I had some high dollar stuff it may get me more motivated, but as of right now, I just can’t seem to do it.

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16 J. Money December 30, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Funny story – I went yesterday to donate all 7 bags of clothes/items to Salvation Army, and came back with a table :) I didn’t mean to (believe me) but it was so damn cool! And only $20. Just goes to show that the only true way NOT to buy stuff is to not go into stores or anywhere online, haha… 300+ items and only 1 back ain’t too bad though.

@twentysomethingmoney – So true! I barely think of/remember stuff I’ve given away. And when I do, it’s not like it’s every super important.
@Sunshine – Hmmmm… you already try googling it?
@Mummyscrooge – That’s the key – once stuff is out, don’t fill it back up!
@Investing Newbie – Not if we keep doing it every couple of months ;) I like the gradual way better – although it’s not as exciting as seeing the 1-time major difference.
@~Carla~ – Hahaha… bow chicka wha wha!
@Molly On Money – Good for you! Esp during a staycation, that takes skill ;)
@Sarah – Good call! I have these Armani jeans that have been re-patched and stiched a few times – and only costs $10 or $15 a visit (an older lady that lives down the street from us). Unfortunately I’m starting to outgrow these jeans, but still a VERY valuable person to know for sure. Good addition.
@Steph – Yeah, that is a problem that comes up… even w/ me. It can take months for me to finally list something so I’ll usually end up taking it out to donate if there’s nothing expensive in there. Or if I’m just lazy/too busy. As long as it’s out of the house though, it’s a-okay :)

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17 Mike- Saving Money Today December 30, 2010 at 9:33 pm

You’re so right…it’s amazing how much crap we accumulate. In the fall we cleaned out the basement and got rid of a TON of stuff…next up is the garage, if I can find it!

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18 Briana @ GBR December 31, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I do the exact same the thing. Crank the music up and get trash bags upon trash bags of things to donate. Thanks for the Goodwill Valuation Guide; definitely needed that.

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19 J. Money January 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm

@Mike- Saving Money Today – haha, good luck w/ that sir. know one way to avoid that? not having a garage ;) (although, basements are probably worse — I swear everything migrates there after every cleaning session)
@Briana @ GBR – It’s the best right? Jammin’ out to Jay-Z or some Bon Jovi! I actually installed my old stereo into my new bookshelves in the bedroom so now it’s always on!

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