Spring cleaning. Two words that used to make me shudder. However, in the last six months or so, I’ve been trying to embrace the concept of purging and living with less. We have lived in our 1200-square-foot home since 2005. In the last eleven years, we have accumulated SO.MUCH.STUFF. I admit, my husband and I have been slightly (ok, very) pack-rat-ish. And, since our daughter arrived on the scene in 2010, we’ve continued to accumulated more and more . . . and more.
My husband changed jobs in late 2015 and, for the first few months, took a pay cut. So we decided to take the opportunity to work on our budget and watch our spending. This turned into us learning to do more with less and that life is about the memories you make—not the things you buy. From there, we decided to work on getting rid of all of the excess stuff we had cluttering up our home so we could uncover more space in our living quarters. Over the last few months, I’ve gotten rid of SO much. Starting out, I had NO idea how EASY purging would be! I mention this to my friends, and they look at me like I have three heads. ”But I wouldn’t even know where to start!” they say. “How do you decide what needs to go?”
First, you need to look at what you can do with what you have. There are four categories:
This category is for items you can’t live without or those that have serious sentimental value (more on that in a minute). Important documents need to be kept seven years. Food, makeup, hygiene products, essential oils, medicines, and cleaning supplies all have expiration dates (more on that in a minute, too). Everything else? If it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself when you put it on or make you feel happy when you look at it—get it out of your space. You should be surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy—not things that bring you down.
This applies to items—like toys and clothing—that are still in good condition, but you either don’t want to take the time to sell them—or perhaps they’re not in sellable condition. Have mismatched kitchen items (like an odd-number of mugs or plates)? Donate them! Anything that is in good condition can be donated. You can call or stop by your local food pantries and homeless/women’s shelters to see what they desperately need. You can even take old house/construction items—such as ceiling fans, windows, paint, light fixtures, shelving, cabinets, bricks (seriously, anything gals)—to a Habitat For Humanity Re-Store.
Have items that are broken, missing pieces, expired, or otherwise can’t be sold? These are the items you can’t use and can’t be donated. So, toss ’em!
Outgrown-but-still-in-great condition clothing, shoes, and toys, bedding, tools—basically anything can be sold somewhere if it is in good shape. Check out VarageSale, eBay, consignment sales, and local sales groups on Facebook. This option serves a double purpose—you’re living with less AND padding your savings. Just try to avoid the desire to go out and buy more stuff with your newly acquired cash (and space)!
Now, let’s expiration dates for a minute. Did you know that food isn’t the only thing that can expire? Medicines and essential oils can lose their potency over time. Make-up can become a breeding ground for bacteria if it’s kept too long. If you’re curious about expiration dates, this might help.
Let me be be honest here—the idea that my makeup expired was hard for me to take. It pained me to throw away my eyeshadow and other items! If you’re like me, you’ll find this helpful: