While on vacation, I brought along the book ‘Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukoup that I had purchased at Target months ago, but never got around to reading it. I shoved it in my carry-on and pulled it out as soon as I was situated and seat-belted on my flight. On the 2.5 hour flight from CT to FL, I furiously underlined, asterisked and noted all of the inspiring goodness of this absolutely wonderful book. As someone who loathes clutter (and loves discovering budget-friendly and frugal ways) I really….I mean REALLY related to this book.
When I got to my destination, I transferred everything that I had marked up in the book to my planner then made a mental list of things throughout the house that I could purge. Now, my situation may be a little different than other families who had established their own clutter pile. My husband and I had purchased his now-deceased parents house back in 2004 which still contains boxes, etc. of their stuff from DECADES ago in the basement. Even after filling a 30 yard dumpster to the hilt and hub’s sister taking a good majority of the furniture, we were still left with lots of inherited stuff that remained untouched the last 11 years. And, over time, we just added to it with boxes of financial docs for both our businesses (I mean, the IRS makes us save this stuff for 7 years!), Christmas tree and decorations, tools, etc.
It wasn’t until this past June when I had decided to finally tackle the basement. Because I’m a not-so-extreme couponer, my current storage for all my haul was no longer sufficient and I had to come up with something else. Buried behind two old desks (one an old schoolhouse style where the top flips up) were four, heavy, wooden shelves my M-I-L had purchased at a yard sale more than 20 years ago. They were big and heavy, but I wasn’t deterred. Once dug out, dragged across the basement and strategically placed and cleaned, I began to fill them up. Next to our filled deep freezer, we are ready for the zombie apocalypse – or at least able to wash everyone’s clothes in the neighborhood!
After that, I was unstoppable.
In the span of about 5 hours I filled up bags and boxes of junk. I pulled out broken chairs from an alcove behind the furnace that I couldn’t believe I had the guts to venture into (there was something large and dark on the ground – I don’t know, could’ve been a body!) There was an old dresser with drawers filled with bank statements from 1976. And, yes, I even found some money!! Now don’t hyperventilate like I did. What I fantasized about being a wad of $100s were really $1 and $2 bills, with some European and Canadian currency tossed in. Those are also silver dollars, half dollars and quarters. Total after I exchanged it at the bank – $53!!
I pared down the Christmas stuff and stored ornaments, garland and lights into the drawers of that old dresser (now THATS storage repurposing!) When all was said and done, it took me a week to toss everything out, as I brought 1-2 items a day to the dumpster where I work. Here’s the haul-out list:
But after tossing all that stuff and re-arranging what was left in the basement (which is still a lot!) it looked more open and a whole lot cleaner – especially after sweeping the floor before using the broom to attack all the cobwebs in the ceiling joists. I also have a small area with an old tv and VCR where I play my Firm videos to workout that became even more of a joy because I wasn’t looking around mentally calculating what I can throw out while doing squats and lunges.
But even with it’s improved status, there was still more work to do. Not just in the basement, but throughout the house. LWSL inspired me to dedicate the last two months of 2015 to rid my house of any lingering clutter that I could move myself (big stuff like furniture would have to be done with hub and a dumpster) Doing a little every day would be manageable. Even if I tossed 1-2 items a day that’s 60 – 120 items lighter by the time the ball drops in Times Square. And because I’ll be doing it myself (1. hub has an advanced form of arthritis and 2) he’s a ‘keeper’ whereas I’m a ‘thrower-outer) it’s best he doesn’t see what’s getting the ol’ heave-ho. I mean, he hadn’t asked about this stuff in 10 years so I doubt he’ll notice it missing – 🙂
Ruth had initiated a declutter challenge for October which I am taking up for November and will extend into December. That’s 61 days for me to rid my hacienda of as much stuff as I’m physically able. Rather than clutter up my instagram feed with daily photos, I’ll be doing these weekly recaps on my blog. Plus knowing I have to make my progress public will shame me into making sure that something – anything – gets removed from my home EVERY DAY.
So, upon my first day back from vacation I was up at 5:30 in the morning (on a Saturday – repeat – up at 5:30am on a Saturday) because my mind was spinning with all that I had wanted to do. Hub was still soundly asleep while I went through the house like a pirate looking for a chest of gold. Everything that I decided to purge would have three fates – trash, Goodwill or consignment. When I was done, I had everything ready to begin.
Sunday November 1st. I had begun a small compilation of items to go to the consignment shop, but practically tripled the stash. Here’s a list that’s going on 11/7 (because that’s my next scheduled manicure and my consignment shop is right down the street)
That’s just a 3rd of the Longaberger basket collection I have (an old girlfriend was a rep back in the early 90’s), a Michael Kors mini messenger bag I had bought on eBay and never used and some Lenox china. There’s also leather belts, turquoise hoop earrings, a gorgeous pair of fabric, platform peep-toe pumps (again, never worn but HAD to buy them) and a couple of wallets from Target that still had the price tags on them. My consignment shop only takes 30 items per day (you can read more about how to consign for passive income here) so I’ll most likely be coordinating my every-third-week manicure with my consignment drop offs. I have much MUCH more to add and am psyched about the passive income that’ll be derived from it that will be put to good use (and NOT to buy more stuff – lol!!)
Monday November 2nd: Not everything is in consignment shape (drat!) so I had compiled 3 boxes filled with clothing, handbags, hat storage boxes, silk flower arrangements,blankets and household trinkets and such that was dropped off at Goodwill on my lunch hour. See – it’s even in loaded in the hatch of my car – proof that it’s OUT OF THE HOUSE!!
Tuesday November 3rd: After boxing and bagging up a bunch of odds and ends, I now wanted to take care of some larger items. This morning, I stowed an old, broken bug zapper (you’ll see I had already tossed 2 back on 6/24), faux-Tiffany style ceiling light fixture as well as another broken chair (my M-I-L had LOTS of spare stuff!)
Wednesday November 4th. What went this morning? A large, vinyl patio chair, a broken leader from when we had to replace our front gutters as well as a metal milk can that my M-I-L had painted, but sadly it got extremely dented and rusted. That’s the bottom of the leader peeking out of it like a periscope!
Thursday November 5th. I’m on fire, I tell ya! Wide awake at 4:30 and lying in bed wondering what I can toss today. What went? Two handicap shower chairs (remember, this was my elderly in-laws’ house we took over) we well as a box of Christmas and servingware chotchke for Goodwill
Friday November 6th: Ended off the workweek a little on the light side, but still progress. My M-I-L had a collection of small copper pieces that I went through and kept only the unbroken ones to clean and display in a curio we have in the dining room. These are very sentimental to hub, so these do not go, but the ones below were damaged. There is a huge dent (which you can’t see) on the back of the coffee pot and the cover of the tea kettle is missing. The rest is just junk glassware, extra cutlery (which we do not need) and two pairs of old, worn workout pants (yes, I worked out THAT hard that I wore them out! – lol)
Saturday & Sunday – November 7th & 8th. Ended my first week by finally discarding an old-fashioned scale (already checked online and it’s poor condition doesn’t make it worth anything, plus it’s REALLY rusty), another plastic patio chair, some metal curtain rods and a tire.
That’s it for week one and – wow – what a great, freeing feeling! And what a change in my outlook. When I now come upon something I really – REALLY – consider whether it’s something I simply cannot do without or if it can get the o’ heave-ho. My house feels lighter and my basement is really starting to shape up after all the ‘stuff’ocation – lol.
Let’s see what will find it’s way out in Week #2!