Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hoarders and Spring Cleaning

Here’s a cautionary tale. My previous house belonged to hoarders. When the bank finally foreclosed, they pulled many items out onto the lawn as if to take it with them, but eventually just got in their car and drove away.

We found an attic stuffed with sixteen artificial Christmas trees, and rooms filled with mountains of clothes, books, toys and takeout menus. As we moved items out, we discovered new items in unopened packages. Apparently, when they couldn’t find what they needed they bought it repeatedly. The stuff took on a life of its own eventually chasing the owners out.  The idea of getting everything in order so overwhelmed the owners that they never tried.

Do hoarders spring clean? Probably not, they hear the same commercials as we do and get the same cleaning products coupons too. What does spring cleaning mean to you? Most people wash windows, sweep out the garage, even, clean the carpets. It could be an opportunity to chuck a few things.

While you clean you find lost earrings and missing socks. Part of cleaning is getting rid of the stuff, but this is  often hard because we have rationale for hoarding. Yep, it is hoarding if we don’t use it currently, or have never used it.

Reasons We Save/Hoard

1.       We might need it in the future.

2.       Books, newspapers-we plan to get around to reading them. Set a deadline of one week.

3.       Food. Often people have cabinets of food because it gives them the sense they will never go hungry. Food does go bad. Check your labels and toss if expired.

4.       Baby Clothes and toys. Your children do not want these. Pick out a timeless item such as a book to pass on to your child.

5.       Clothing-you hold onto the skinny jeans in case you lose weight. Newsflash: If you do get to that size, you’ll want something new.

6.       Broken items- you are either going to fix or save for parts. If you haven’t fixed it, then you won’t. As for parts, you have to have the same twelve-year-old vacuum cleaners to make the broken one of use. Most likely the same part will be broken.

7.       Undone projects- this includes puzzles, half-stripped furniture, to partially restored cars. Set yourself a deadline to finish, then, get rid of it when you don’t finish it. Seeing the undone project causes stress and family arguments.

You can get a jump on chucking stuff and get the house clean too.  Decide what is the littlest you need. The china set for twelve you’ve hung onto, but used once could be gracing someone else’s table. It often helps to solicit help rather like a twelve-step program, so you don’t put it off. Call on a friend or relative, or at least ell them your plans to have accountability.

What can you do with what you don’t need?

1.       Donate it to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or DAV . Your donations are tax deductible.

2.       Sell it On Ebay or a Rummage Sale (Make sure this happens soon or you’ll end up reclaiming it all.)

3.       Historical items such as letters and journals could of value to your local historical society.

4.       Adult children need to get their stuff out of your garage or you’re trashing it.

5.       Barter it. There are many barter sites online. Refer to previous blog.

6.       Take items to a Swap meet. Look for this online or in your paper.

7.       Call Freecycle (This organization helps your items find new homes.)

8.       Sell Your Books, movies, video games, and music CDs at HPB or a used bookstore. Donate them to a library.

9.       Consignment Stores. There are ones for clothing, home furnishings, even sports equipment and musical instruments.

Maybe you have items in a storage unit. The fact you have it in a unit is proof you don’t need or use it. One man stored over 5,000 text and reference books, many out of print in a rental unit. When he decided to search for one book, he found his unit had a leak that damaged all his books. He could have donated the books to his alma mater’s library, been able to visit his books when he wished, and taken a hefty charitable deduction. He had to toss the damaged books.

I often wonder about my home's hoarders who left so much behind that it took four full dumpsters to get rid of it all. Did they start out new convinced they wouldn’t fall prey to the same incessant collecting? Maybe. Once you cleaned out your closet, garage, shed, or bedroom closet, do not see that as a sign to fill it back up. Resist. Be strong, and you’ll find there are other things to do in life besides shopping, collecting and cleaning.

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