How To Declutter Your Home Before Moving
Moving is a great opportunity to declutter your space and get organized. You a chance to re-evaluate whether you really need each item.
Living with less is beneficial in so many ways. You’ll have more space, money, and less stress. Not too long ago, I donated about half of my wardrobe. I couldn’t believe how much more space I had in my closet. I also felt about 10 pounds lighter!
Donating clothes wasn’t easy. Some of them had a lot of sentimental value. However, I kept reminding myself that they’re only physical items made by man. The memories stay with me even when they’re gone.
Detaching From Possessions
Pretend that you’re making a permanent move overseas. This means no storage facility to hold your stuff until you come back. Transporting items overseas is very complicated and expensive, so you have no choice but to limit how much to bring with.
Would you pack a sweater that you haven’t worn in two years? What about those shoes that don’t quite fit right anymore? What about the Christmas presents that you’ve received over the years that you didn’t really like, but kept anyway? Would you spend money and devote precious space to ship this stuff overseas?
Let’s say that your house is on fire in the middle of the night. You only have a few minutes to decide which stuff to take with. What would you grab? Maybe some important documents and photo albums? Chances are you would just be happy to get you and your family out alive, and wouldn’t care too much about all those possessions.
The less stuff you take with, the less you have to pack, the less boxes you have to move, and the less expensive it will be. There’s nothing worse than unpacking something at your new place and realizing you don’t want or need it.
Possessions have to earn the right to stay. I approach decluttering as if every possession will be donated, sold, or trashed. The items that are worthy of being kept are held onto.
Where To Start
Start with the stuff that is easiest to get rid of. Clear everything out of a section, whether it be a drawer, closet, shelves, or a cabinet. Taking items out of their usual spot can give you a different perspective of them. They have to earn their way back into the drawer or closet to stay.
Questions To Ask
- Do I want to unpack this?
- Has it been more than one year since I’ve worn this outfit? Does it still fit?
- How often do I use this gadget?
- Do I have a use for it in my new home?
- Will it have a place in my next home?
- Is there enough room in the moving truck for it?
- Why am I keeping this?
Trash, Treasure, or Transfer
This idea comes from the book The Joy of Less written by Francine Jay. All your items get placed into one of three categories: trash, treasure, or transfer. You’ll need some garbage bags and boxes for the trash and transfer piles.
You’ll likely have belongings that you aren’t sure about. You can put these in a box and make a decision later.
The trash category includes anything that is….trash. This stuff is broken, worn down, and not good enough for Goodwill. Recycle when possible.
The treasure pile is anything that will be kept. These possessions are truly valued, either because they’re useful or beautiful. If you haven’t used something for a year, it’s only taking up space. Put it in one of the other piles.
The transfer pile contains possessions that will be donated or sold. These items are in good condition, but are no longer loved or needed. Donate or sell anything that has not been used, opened, listened to, read, worn, or touched for at least six months. Divide the transfer pile into two sections: donate and sell.
What To Treasure
Possessions must serve a purpose for them to be treasured. If you have too much of one thing, then cut back. For example, do you really need 30 pens in a drawer? If you have ten or more pairs of jeans, is that really necessary?
Work on setting limits. For example, I don’t allow myself to own more than four pairs of jeans. That’s probably even more than I need, but you get the point.
What is the value of your furniture? Transporting it long distance may not be worth the cost. You could sell some or all of it, then buy all new once upon arrival at your new place.
When evaluating, ask what purpose the item serves and how often it’s used. Does it make your life better in some way? Is keeping it worth the effort? Is it expensive to replace? Is it more valuable then the space it takes up?
We use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. Which items constitute the 20%? My general rule of thumb: if I don’t love it or use it, then let someone else have it.
Where To Donate And Sell
Letting go of stuff can be difficult, but getting cash in return can help ease your pain. Consignment shops might be willing to buy some of your stuff. Are there any specialty stores for children and adults in your town? What about pawn shops? Zumu takes pre-owned CD’s, DVD’s, and games.
I sold quite a few items on Ebay that had really good value. I had several pairs of Air Jordans from years back that were selling for over $100 consistently, so I knew it would be worth the time and effort. If you believe that some of your possessions have value, then check to see how much they’re selling for online.
Don’t hesitate to donate items if you aren’t interesting in selling. Giving is one of the best feelings in the world. Here are some well-known organizations:
If you’re having a difficult time getting rid of something, just remember that someone else out there might really benefit from it. Almost every town has a Goodwill, Salvation Army, or some sort of non-profit organization that accepts donations
A garage sale may or may not interest you, but consider holding one if you have tons of stuff that you want to get rid of quickly. If someone else is holding one, you could ask them if they would be willing to include your items as well. Since garage sales are time consuming, I wouldn’t recommend having one unless you have free time available.
Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other charities will even come pick up your stuff for you, which makes it very convenient and far less time consuming than a yard sale. You might even profit just as much if you cam get a tax deduction. Most importantly, you will be giving to people who need it the most.
If you have a garage sale, do it right. Only sell stuff that is quality in order to attract more people. Have a 50% off sale for the last hour, and be willing to give away stuff within the last 15 minutes. Again, the objective of a garage sale is to clear out your inventory, not make a profit.
- put up signs so people can find your sale – make them large, colorful, and clearly visible.
- newspaper ads provide exposure, but aren’t necessary if you live near a main street.
- group similar items together
- set bargain prices
- rid of hazardous chemicals that can’t be taken with
- sell baked goods, drinks, and snacks
- be open early in the morning
- carefully consider all offers before accepting/declining – take what you can get and move on
- whatever is left can be donated to charity
If possible, have two or more people working the sale: at least one should have good negotiation skills.
Large Appliances And Equipment
Selling large appliances and equipment is less expensive than having them transported. The best case scenario is to sell these items a week or two before moving, then deliver them to the buyer a day or two before the move.
You can advertise in the newspaper, or ask family or friends if they have any interest. You can consider requesting a down payment from the buyer upon agreement, then get the rest when the items are delivered.
If you’re unable to find any takers, donate them to charity. Washers, dryers, snow blowers, lawn mowers, are all accepted by some charities. Washers and dryers would be greatly appreciated by those who are on a budget.
Clothing For Packing
Worn down clothing (shirts, costs, socks, pants), can be used instead of packing paper or bubble wrap as cushioning for fragile items. Sheets, pillow cases, blankets, and towels are also very useful, especially ones that you no longer use. Moving supplies aren’t cheap, so this is an easy way to save some money.
I put all the clothes I want to donate in large bags, but boxes will do as well. If you want to use them for packing purposes (cushioning), then put them in the designated packed boxes room.
To maximize the space inside of each box, pack smaller items into larger items such as buckets, waste baskets, and bowls. These are good for holding smaller, fragile items.
Even after your move, live simply. You never know when you’ll have to pack and move again.
I have a one-in-one out rule. If I buy something new, then a related item either gets donated or disposed of. If I buy a new shirt, then some article of clothing has to go, whether it be a pair of pants, a shirt, jacket, etc. This prevents my closet from getting too crowded.
Keep your eye out for anything that is contributing to clutter. Evaluate all your belongings once or twice per year. If you haven’t used something in that time period, then get rid of it.
Less is more. Stuff can literally take over our lives if we’re not aware of it.
Related: What To Do With All Those Papers