One-Month Clutter Challenge: Day One

As readers of this blog will know, I sell on eBay and Kijiji as well as other platforms items I already own, in order to clear the clutter and pay the mortgage, at the same time. Both are good for my wife and I’s sanity and peace of mind. We find the amount of stuff that we have accumulated throughout the years to weigh tremendously, not only physically cluttering our home but also mentally.

For the month of April, we are determined to kick it up a notch not only by selling unwanted goods, but also by pledging not to purchase anything that is not food or gas for the car, and that, for the entire month. This means we can do groceries, even in bulk at Costco, but we’re not buying anything we cannot eat. If I run out of body wash, I will finally have to use the small bars of soap I’ve pilfered from hotel rooms 10 years ago!

The goal here is start making a dent on the volume of our physical belongings, which can be overwhelming, and that’s not even counting the warehouse. With nothing coming in for a month and stuff going out, hopefully at an accelerated pace, we should be able to see a visible difference!

This will be tougher than it looks. We are conditioned and encouraged to purchase AT EVERY TURN.

We picked the month of April because no one in the immediate family has a birthday, so no gifts to buy and no parties to attend, and Christmas expenses from last year are all taken care of.

Every few days I’ll be posting an update here about how we are doing, how much money we spend and on what. There could be exceptions, of course. For example, we will buy medication if so required, as well as hygiene products if such are needed, but we shop at Costco, so we should be pretty set already.

Can you take the One-Month Clutter Challenge as well? Let me know in the comments below what you think of my project, and you’d be game to try. I’ll be sharing some exact numbers in the days ahead.

The First Step to Effective Decluttering

As I’ve talked about in a previous post, I’m a recovering hoarder. Okay, perhaps recovering is too strong a word. Let’s say that I’ve finally realized what’s wrong with me, and I’m trying to work through it. Being a hoarder is not easy, and breaking the habit of hoarding is the hardest thing to do, even more difficult than getting rid of what you already have.

To me, the first step to effective decluttering is to staunch the inbound flow of clutter, so that you can start thinking clearly about the stuff you already own and that is creating all that pressure and stress..

First things first: stop accumulating stuff!

Try the one One Month Challenge! Simply don’t buy anything except food for a month. It’s a lot harder than it looks, because there will be times when you think that you absolutely need something, and you MUST buy it! Unless it relates to your health or employability, simply put it off. Tell yourself you’ll buy it next month, when the challenge is over. Think of it as a firearms waiting period, except for stuff; chances are, you’ll realize you didn’t need it in the first place or just forget about it. In any case, it stays in the store and not in your home.

Even reducing the inward flow of things in your living space, rather than stopping it completely, can make a huge difference on your health and well-being. Being conscious of what you’re doing, of every single item that comes in your living space, will provoke thoughts. You’ll start visualizing new items after they’ve been in your house for years, untouched, useless and gathering dust. You’ll think twice and consider each purchase more carefully.

This first step to effective decluttering is simply to stop accumulating; once you’ve mastered this, you can move on to eliminating the overflow that’s already around!

Are you a hoarder, or have hoarding tendencies? What are the techniques you use to keep yourself in check? Share in the comments below!

Being a Hoarder is in my Blood, and Driving my Wife Crazy

For the longest time I thought that a hoarder was something you saw on a television documentary, or on the news. An elderly person died and in their house was every single newspaper they’d ever owned, since the 1930s. Perhaps a house was full of garbage, and it made the news. Nothing about the poor souls that lived there, just mountains of junk, to the ceiling.

When my mother passed away, my sister and I, and my father to a certain extent, had to come to the realization that our mother had been a hoarder. Now, not a sad hoarder like those on television… just a regular hoarder. She kept everything that could possibly have had any sentimental value.

She kept her clothes from when she was a child, back in the forties. She kept all her books, including her childhood books. She kept EVERYTHING.

Since she was so organized, we never noticed. We didn’t grow up in a house full of newspapers or garbage, it was pretty normal, no visible accumulation anywhere. It’s only when she was no longer there to manage it all that it became apparent. I don’t think she had a very severe case, but it was definitely persistent throughout her life.

She’s been gone for over a decade, and my sister and I still deal with the aftershocks, mainly a warehouse full of stuff that we have no need for. I am gamely listing things on eBay and Kijiji, trying to get rid of stuff, but it’s a long, difficult process, fraught with emotions at every single item I handle.

I’m afraid that I suffer from the same condition, although I am certainly more willing to admit it than my mom ever did, certainly because of the influence of my wife, who sees all this from an outside perspective. It just seems that no matter how much I sell or dispose of, there is more that comes in; it’s a constant, uphill battle.

I’m better than I was; I don’t collect empty prescription pill bottles anymore (although I find them strangely useful), and I’ve come to see my crazy mess with somewhat fresh eyes.

The Lively Dollar

It is said that feeling distress about possessions, of feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed, is a symptom of hoarding, and if that is the case, then I’m definitely a hoarder. Having anyone but family or very close friends over at home is difficult and requires an inordinate amount of stress and organization to pull off.

With the other classic symptoms of hoarding, I seem to do better; I am able to get rid of possessions, but only so far through selling; throwing out items is still very difficult, but I guess that at some point the junk that’s left will be just that, junk, and nobody wants that.

What helps me is realizing the pain, stress and feeling of being overwhelmed that my compulsion imposes on my family, particularly on my wife. She doesn’t have to deal with that, and it is something that I am able to fix. It’s not easy.

I also have young children; I don’t want, hopefully far into the future, to pass away and leave them a house full of junk that they have to deal with, just like I have to deal with the warehouse now. I am glad to have so many cherished family items, but it would have been nice for my parents to do some pruning before giving us the keys to the warehouse.

As I get to writing the blog more and more, my efforts in getting rid of all that stuff will become more apparent; this website is about money, making it, saving it and putting it to work, and selling all those items will be an additional source or revenue that I will mine for a long time.