Paula-Loves-Marla's Blog

Observations about Art, Movies, Books, etc.

Your Possessions – Do You Own Them or Do They Own You?

We moved my mother-in-law this weekend. She moved from a 4000 square foot home into a very nice in-law suite in my sister-in-law’s home. The problem was/is that the house is filled with stuff; closets, dressers & chests of drawers packed with STUFF.

Now before you get the idea that I’m totally throwing my mother-in-law under the bus, I will openly confess that I am very guilty of holding onto possessions as well. When we moved into our current home my husband said that if we ever had to move all that crap again, he’d divorce me (justifiably). 

Since that time we’ve had two more children and I discovered the joys of thrift store shopping. This home, which seemed so vast when we moved in, has slowly been filled up with stuff. Our large storage room is now difficult to walk through because it has been a catch-all for everything that doesn’t fit.

The problem with letting things take over your house is that they begin to negatively affect your life. You’ve got to clean around them. You’ve got less living space. They steal your energy by taking up room in your home (and they don’t pay rent). The reason why most people hold onto things is because they attach value to them:

I can’t give that away!

I paid good money for that!

That’s still good!

Someone in the family could use that!

Your stuff may have emotional value to you but that doesn’t mean is has any real value. The best way to handle the treasures you’re not using or don’t need is to sell them or donate them to charity and write them off on your taxes. There are several avenues available that you can use to sell your things. Auction houses & eBay are very effective markets for your possessions that you are sure have real value (antiques, jewelry, heirlooms). Just make sure that you only sell items which have at least a $25 value (each). Auction fees & Paypal will take a chunk out of your bottom line and listing takes time. By selling these things you’re freeing up space and paying yourself for doing so.

Yard sales and flea markets are another avenue to sell your excess goods, but be prepared to dicker and bargain. If you’re going to get pissed because someone offers you a buck for your grandmother’s rhinestone broach when you think it’s worth at least $10, a yard sale is a bad idea. Craig’s list is also a good way to sell your things, especially furniture items that you are not willing to ship.

Whatever is left after the purge  is trash, thrift store donations or something you may need to store. You’ve done all this work, so be super critical before you take anything back into your now spacious home.

Before I got a handle on my piles of stuff, I used to be defeated by the sheer volume of what needed to be done and I’d walk away overwhelmed. It took me a while to realize that if I just handled it a little at a time, the smaller jobs were manageable. I’ve still got a long way to go. Having two girls who like to spread out makes it tougher, but I’m trying to teach them as I work on taming the clutter in our home (see earlier post: https://paulalovesmarla.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/labor-day-weekend-2010-%e2%80%93-saturday-mass-clean-up-part-i/).

I’m going to continue my quest to jettison crap that isn’t of any use in my house. I hope that when it comes time for me to downsize into an empty nest home that I have achieved my goal of having a manageable amount of possessions (no heartache and minimal baggage).

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