Dejunk Your House to Save Money

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jar of money on concrete by grassy lawn, with text overlay: Frugal Fridays.

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One of the best ways to save money is to realize how stupid you’ve been about money and then to make some changes in your habits. Last weekend I shared with you how we are “staging for living” and rearranging, cleaning, and dejunking to make life be more of what we want and less of what it will be someday. We want to enjoy the now — and so downsizing is necessary.

Over the last week I’ve touched every school book and supply we own — it was like cryptonite. It took me four days to complete the job.Β And I’ve carried box after box of “stuff” out to the van so that we can donate it. I’ve sold over 20 books online and donated another 20.

And I’ve paid a stupid tax. Major. big. time.

Not only have I realized how I’ve become a slave to stuff, but I’ve also had to come face to face with the fact that I wasted money to buy that stuff in the first place.

Will I do it again? Probably. But, I think, hope, pray, that I will get better at saying no to superfluous stuff.

Notice that I say superfluous stuff. Stuff, in and of itself, is not bad. But owning and maintaining things that you don’t use or need is not the best way to live your life.

I’m going to be 40…. someday.

Actually, next year. I even have my first mammogram next week. And I don’t want extra junk to waste my time and money. Amen?

Here’s my office, shown off for no other reason than for you to know that I am not a fictional person, but rather a very messy, distracted one. Please note that all those boxes of stuff have been sold or donated! (And I did clean my room this week, too.)

So, let’s make a deal, K? Next time one of us wants to go shopping, let’s first fill a box full of stuff to get rid of. Either we will:

  1. Make room for new purchases and maybe earn some cash to pay for them.
  2. Realize that we’ve wasted money on past purchases and we can probably live without the X, Y, or Z that we are so desperate to go buy.
Deal? Deal.

How do YOU save money?

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  1. “superfluous ” is the key word in finding balance of supplies, items of beauty, etc and having clutter. That word hit home with me to REMIND me – I’ve tried that balance all my adult life and compared to lots of folks, I don’t have overabundance (excluding baskets, but we all have our weakness), but compared what I use or enjoy daily/weekly/monthly, perhaps it is time for a little pruning.
    “superfluous” reminds not to spend money on stuff that just fills space or can be used for that foggy “someday”.
    Sunday School will be getting extra craft supplies & GW will be getting doodads.
    Thanks for the reminder .

  2. I really want a nice road bike and my family could afford one. Instead I am putting a little bit of cash in a jar each week. I know it will take longer to get one. But I find if I wait and save for things, I take more pride in them and they mean much more. I bought our digital camera when we were dirt poor and in seminary. It took over a year to save up for it but I LOVED that camera.

  3. Even though I haven’t homeschooled in 4 years, I still have some homeschool stuff. Next week, I’m posting it on our local homeschool list to move it along.

    I know I have held on to stuff for “someday,” though that someday has yet to arrive. Just because I buy things cheaper now doesn’t mean I don’t waste money by not using it. $1 is still $1 that could have paid off the car loan faster.

  4. Did you at least find some stuff you could use for this year amongst the mistakes of the past? That’s always my hope when I do stuff like this.

  5. Inspiring post. I find that every once in a while I ‘go on a rampage’ like that, clearing out the junk and vowing not to buy more. Somehow it manages to creep in again. I’ve got to find a way to hold onto the inspiration.

  6. Really important reminder. I’m striving to be better about this as well. I recently organized my gift wrap supplies which revealed a lot of excess. Another area in which I over purchase is kids clothing. I’m getting better about it but I still have plenty to sell at consignment sales. My kids wardrobes are much better than mine.

  7. I was at a Borders bookstore last night, getting excited about all the 40% and 60% off stuff…”I could get this for my niece for Christmas!” … “I think my daughter wants one of these!” … “Oh, another planner for 2012…could I possibly use it?” … and then I went back outside, sat by my husband and listened to another hour of live jazz (which is why we went to the mall in the first place), and when we left I didn’t give all that “stuff” another thought. Well, except for the handmade Christmas cards that, even at 75% off are still over a buck each in a package of 6. Hmmmm…. πŸ˜‰

  8. Awesome second photo! LOL! Thanks for keepin’ it real!:) We’re moving to the other side of the US (Indiana to LA area) next week, and I think that I have purged out just about everything we don’t use…I’ll see how the organization half of the purging process goes when we are in our new space. I’m sure that I’ll find myself purging more and/or swapping out items for others that roll with the function of our new home better. I’m an organization nut, so at least I’ll enjoy the process.:)

  9. I have to chuckle, because my post this week is called “Sometimes it’s OK to be a Packrat,” and it’s all about the benefits of holding onto stuff. πŸ™‚ But, of course, there’s value in both decluttering and in saving things for future use – so long as you strike a healthy balance between the two!

  10. Jessica,
    Great tips. Thanks for showing your pictures. Now, I don’t feel so bad about the kitchen…and living room…and my bedroom. I once heard a Joyce Meyer sermon about our stuff. About how we pray for it, then get it, then complain that we have to clean and maintain it. She was preaching to this choir (me).

  11. I love the picture of your office! Mine looked like that a few weeks ago, and then we had guests that needed to stay in it, so I had to clean. Now my husband comes in sometimes just to say how he likes to come and see me in my clean office. Sheesh- I didn’t think it was THAT bad! πŸ™‚

  12. This and your post on staging for living are so timely for us! We just moved to a home that’s double the size of out old place, (our last place was only 600 sq feet…) We’ve been daydreaming, musing about how much easier life would be with more space and storage. It has been great, buy I’m already surprised at how fast every nook and cranny is filling up! These posts are good reminders that less is more.

  13. I’ve been donating old books lately…my husband’s college books etc. Some in nice shape go to half price books.

    Yep, you’ll be 40 someday and even 50+. Take it from me.

    I’ve enjoyed your blog. Blessings, Amelia

  14. My mother was a teacher and still subs and tutors. She insists on giving me all her papers that she’s printed off and so they pile up and I want to just throw them away because I don’t have any way of knowing what’s there. It’s not organized and I find that in our homeschool, I just don’t have time for ‘busy’ worksheets like those. I say all this to ask for help! What do you ladies out there recommend I do? She remembers everything she gives me, so if I get rid of stuff, she’ll ask and then I feel guilty when I tell her I got rid of it. I sometimes think she takes that as I don’t love her because I don’t want her stuff. I’m not big on clutter. I mean, my office area is horrendous right now, but I’m a less is more kind of person. I’m not very sentimental about ‘things’. I have my memories and photographs and that’s good for me. I need suggestions, please! I’m tired of not being able to walk through my office area and being so embarrassed when someone goes in there. What should I do?

    1. This is clearly fodder for an entire post. πŸ˜‰ However, since I feel your pain, I want to answer now.

      I was a teacher – older teachers pawned off this kind of stuff on me all the time, massive piles of worksheets. My dad was a teacher — and in his effort to help me, has given me a lot of his old stuff, some of it 40 years old that sat in his garage all this time. And my mom seems to find all sorts of treasures that might be useful.

      BUT, if you don’t have a use for it, it’s not useful. It’s just dragging you down. If it were a family heirloom, I’d say think carefully. If it’s just paper, I’d recycle it.

      You can say to your mom, “As much as I appreciate it, please hold off on giving me more until I get a handle on my paper load. I’ll have to dump whatever you give me until then, because I am at overload.”

      Take the burden on yourself. Be thankful. And then don’t be a slave to someone else’s “stuff.”

      1. Thanks for the help! I’m going to go in there, set my timer and work a bit and not feel guilty at all. I need peace in my home! πŸ™‚

        1. Maybe you could just get ONE Rubbermaid Tote and have that be the designated place for all donated papers…when the tote is too full, you cannot possibly take any more. You can let your mom know, “I so appreciate all the wonderful info you’ve given me, but the Tote is full..I have to either decline the papers or give away one of the kids. There’s not room for both…you choose!” By making it a funny response while also acknowledging that maybe you are not the most organized gal (which your mom probably already knows) she can get an idea that more papers do not mean more peace for you, they actually cause more stress–but without putting any BLAME on her (perceived on her part). Make sense? I hope so. πŸ˜‰

          Jessica, love love love this post. I am constantly amazed at the STUFF we own, and we don’t even have as much as the normal married for almost 20 years, two kid family has. Moving alot has helped us go through our things more than the average bear, but still….it’s alot of stuff.

  15. Where do you sell your books at? I have several I need to sell as well. Thank you!

    1. I really like CKY Books and Cash4Books. I send the books (free shipping) to whichever of the two book buyers offers the better deal. I used to do it on ebay, but that is too time consuming and there’s no guarantee that it will sell.

      1. Thank you! I appreciate this post so much! Do you know of any places to sell CD’s as well? Thank you, again!

  16. I am totally on board with your deal. This summer we got rid of soooo much stuff. I brought 4 huge bins of my kids clothing to a consignment shop so hopefully I will make some cash from that. But everything else we got rid of we just donated. It really makes you think of your spending habits when hauling out bags of what is now junk to the goodwill.

  17. Deal! We have a non-functional toilet in a stall in the basement (Don’t ask, it’s not all that uncommon for our area) and I’ve made that my catch all for stuff to donate. I haven’t done a Salvation Army run in awhile and just yesterday I realized things are piling up in there again. Thanks for kicking my butt with the reminder.

    The place where I accumulate Stuff is with clothing. With fall coming I’m itching to buy new things but I’m working hard to remember my wardrobe is just fine as is. A few new peices and church clothes are all I “need”. Sharing a closet with my husband for the first time in our marriage helps too, let me tell you!

  18. Stuff has been sucking so much of my energy and peace in the past five years. I cannot wade to finish wading through it and purging. I have gotten rid of, literally, over a thousand items – donating, selling, freecyling, tossing – and there is still more to go!

  19. Isn’t that the TRUTH?! I’ve got a box ready to be donated sitting by my back door – and I keep finding stuff to throw in it. I’ve got a post coming up on Monday about how I shopped my own closet and I was agast at what I found. Target is like a magnet to me, but after cleaning out and looking at piles of stuff all over the house, I actually drove right in front of the doors to Target this week and felt no desire to stop and go in. I’m so sick of all the excess STUFF and I don’t NEED anything else – not even a roll of paper towels (which is always a good excuse to go into Target). It almost makes me feel sick when I think about all the money we’ve wasted over the years on STUFF that was shortly loved and is now long gone. But like you, I am a work in progress. πŸ™‚ Love your two rules!!

  20. Thanks for the reminders of purging, donating, and selling what we don’t use.
    “STUFF” can get very overwhelming and controlling. Your office looks great!

  21. such a nice post! i LOVE to declutter my house when i get the time (i am not such a big fan when I don’t have the time LOL) i thought you were gonna say the big price you paid was your back hurting at the end of the day :0) Thats the price i pay after lugging my two kids and boxes around!

  22. I am turning 40 next year too. What more can I say, you have said it all.:) I always tell my husband when we see something we like, we have maxed out our house, we need a new house before we can buy anything else. Of course not buying those things helps us get closer to the goal of being able to buy a new house. I don’t even like to shop because it makes we want things I don’t need. Thanks, you always have good insights.

  23. Oh boy! Do I feel good about that second photo?! LOL
    We did this exercise once a few months ago when moving house and know I have a bag that I just dump things in which are outgrown, or no longer needed and then, just give the bag away at the end of the month. Sometimes there is a lot of stuff- when DD goes thru a growth spurt, other times there isn’t.
    This is just a small way of making sure that some of the clutter finds it way out of our house to people who may actually need it.
    I think I got this idea from your blog or someone else’s but it is a lovely one. πŸ™‚

  24. Love this post and the vulnerability, Jessica. And LOVED the photo. I am digging through piles here slowly. I have been struggling w/ what appears to be fibromyalgia and so things aren’t even as sorta messy as they used to be. And I have 3 messy men in my household. So I need to be easy on myself, but we need to make progress.

    Two weeks ago we sold an old A/C . I hope to sell some gift cards today and list some furniture on Craigslist. Thanks for the encouragement!

  25. I love this! We have been busy “blessing” (in Fly Lady’s terms) many people over the last month. It’s a gradual process, and even if I’m not making money, I’m feeling rich in the process πŸ™‚

  26. My organizing project this week was my clothes. I was a little disgusted with myself as to the amount of clothes that I had and really didn’t wear. Clearing out so many of them was really a good feeling, my goal is to be better and not let it get so out of hand. Congratulations on getting through so much!

    Thanks for hosting.

  27. I am borderline to hoarding! I have the hardest time letting go of things. Things that aren’t even mine. Kids toys for instance. They don’t play with them, I know this why can’t I get rid of them? I struggle with this daily and I’m trying to throw away more things every day. Another thing I struggle with is magazines and catalogs! Am I ever really going to read them again….haven’t yet! UGH!

  28. Okay you’ve officially made me feel better with that second picture.

    Sigh. If you can clean up your mess then maybe I should put on my big girl panties and wade through The Closet (yes it gets caps because it is that scary.)

    1. oh, honey. The second picture was the least of my messes, but it was the last. πŸ˜‰

    2. I have a “Dont’s Ask, Don’t Tell” room (my sewing/crafting room). Haven’t really been willing to go through things in there since I quit working 5 years ago, then my mother passed away a month later, my father’s health declined and then his passing, etc. It is now on my “Must Do” list for next week!!! The community yard sale was last week (did well – $370) and my husband and I just packed some things in his truck to take to the auction house on Monday. At least we are starting to make a dent on our “collection” of things.

      1. No problem. Thanks for fixing. I can’t tell you what link ups mean to me as I try and start a blog :D.

        It’s easy to collect stuff when it’s cheap isn’t it? It’s something I always have to watch with myself. We came to the conclusion that if we decided we should buy something and then chose not to buy it we can put that money straight to our student debt :D. So, that is fun.