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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Six Month Purge

Over time, we Americans seem to accumulate a lot of stuff. Owning stuff requires work to maintain it, store it, and clean it. There are even disorders and TV reality shows (like Hoarders) depicting the need for stuff. Some families even acquire the extra expense of a storage facility to store their stuff. Unless you have a lot of great antiques, furniture, or valuables to store, this is an incredible waste of family finances.

I adopted a motto a few years ago and hung this plaque on the wall to remind me of my new energy for simplifying:

One habit I have learned is to go through our belongings every 6 months and determine what we should keep and what we shouldn't. This can be very intimidating if you own a lot of stuff! I started out just going through storage items. Then later added specific rooms. First of all, if I defnitely know we need it, then it obviously stays. Momentos and keepsakes are also a given that they stay. But what about the things I'm not sure about?

The 6 Month Purge
All the things that I'm not sure we need or want are divided up into the following categories:
  • Things I Want to Donate
  • Things That Go in the Trash
  • Things I Might Want/Need - Not Sure I Want to Get Rid of It
Things I Want to Donate
I've come to apreciate second hand stores like Goodwill, Savers, and Desert Industries. Because I shop at these stores, these are also the ones I donate my items to. Sometimes we save out certain things for people we know who might need them: the missionaries, families with children that will fit the outgrown clothes, or family members.

I have decided to keep a donation box in the garage where family members can place things throughout the year that they want to donate. This makes it even easier and quicker to complete a Purge.

Things That Go in the Trash
Obviously this is the easiest step. If it is broken and cannot be reapaired - trash! Don't keep things that are broken, it just clutters up the house and makes life more messy.

Things I Might Want/Need - Not Sure I Want to Get Rid of It
This is often the largest category.
  1. The first time we did a Purge, I kept all the things in this pile. 
  2. The next time we did a Purge, I put all these items in boxes in the garage and said if I didn't pull them out during the next 6 months I would consider donating them.
  3. The 3rd time we did a Purge, I found I only needed/wanted a couple things from this category. We were actually moving and so I had a big garage sale and then donated the left over stuff.
How long does a Purge take?
In the beginning, it can be a long time. In fact, I only Purged the garage and storage room the first time I did it. It was overwhelming how much stuff I was holding onto. However, I can now do a Purge in a couple days of our entire house (1600 sq. ft.). We only have what we want and need in the house. There is not much else here! I have four boxes to go through this time.

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