Thursday, March 31, 2011

Purging the House - Where To Go With Stuff

Bit by bit I've been trying to clear things out of our house that aren't needed or wanted anymore.  First of all, let me say that this has been a big step for me.  It's hard for me to let go of things (I have even hung on to broken toys thinking I'd fix them someday).  But, once I started forcing myself to do it, purging has actually become somewhat enjoyable.

I'm a long way from having a clutter free house.  But, it's my goal that when (and if) the time comes for us to move to a different house, we won't be dragging junk from one place to another but instead moving only cherished and essential items.  Since my husband and I have a 5 year plan of saving and preparing toward purchasing a different home,  I have some time to work on my de-cluttering goal.

The question comes up.  What do I do with the things that I am not keeping?  Do I have a yard sale?  Sell on Craigslist or ebay?  Donate?  

Well,  I've tried a yard sale a couple times and it's always been met with very disappointing results.  We just don't have a very good location.  Also, preparing for a yard sale is a lot of work without, in my experience, a lot of return.  I think my worst yard sale results left me with $5 in pocket and my best, about $20.  Plus, stockpiling stuff to sell at a yard sale always makes my husband a little jittery too.  It bugs him.  And, he will ask me repeatedly if he should just haul it all down to the dumpster at work.

Craigslist and Ebay could give slightly better results from what I hear, but I haven't tried either of those yet.  So, for now, my method of choice is donation.

Here's where my stuff goes.....

1.  Book/ Magazines:  A couple years ago I came across a couple websites that offered free year long trial issues to different magazines.  I went a little nuts signing up for different offers and I ended up getting a ton of magazines in the mail.  They pile up quickly.  I take any old books or magazines to my local library.  They accept donations year round and save them for their annual fund-raising book sale.

2.  Ripped/Stained Clothes:  I did a little research and found out that the Goodwill in my area will accept ripped & stained clothing donations.  They then sell these to a fabric recycling center.  Be careful.   Not every place that takes clothing donations does this.  Some will just toss the items.  Since my goal was for these things not to end up in a landfill, I had to call around to find out who made use of them in this way.

3. Outgrown/ Unworn Clothing:  If clothes are still in good shape, I try to find someone I know who can use them.  My boy clothes are being handed down to my sister who just had her first baby (a boy).  Clothes belonging to myself or my husband I'll either pass on to a friend or donate to Goodwill or ReUzit.
4.  Old linens/ towels:  If you have old sheets, blankets, towels, etc. that are frayed and showing wear, many times these are accepted at vet's offices or animal shelters where they can use them as bedding for the animals.  I just dropped off a couple bags of old linens at my vet office and they were thankful for the donation.

5.  Household items/ toys:  These items I usually donate to my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group for our annual fund-raising auction.  Otherwise they go to my local Goodwill or ReUzit.

6.  Collectibles:  This is the one thing that I might actually turn to Craigslist or Ebay for.  I used to collect (and wear) vintage dresses(in my single years - alas the dresses no longer fit me).  I have about 30 dresses that are circa 1940's - 1960's.  I paid good money for many of these dresses and I'd love to see them go to someone who would truly appreciate them.  For now, they are still taking up valuable closet space (we don't have many closets in our house at all - 2 small ones to be exact).  And, letting go of these pieces is a little more difficult.  They hold sentimental value and represent good times.  I'll probably keep one or two favorite pieces and then bid adieu to the rest.

Sometimes, getting the donations to the different places means extra trips for me.   But, I like the idea of taking them places where they are going to get the best use.

So what do you do with purged items.  Do you sell them?  Donate them?  I'd love to hear.


  1. Good question Karen, especially since I am in the middle of my 40 bags in 40 days campaign! I am not a real saver, so my husband swears it will be impossible to get 40 bags out of this house, but I am tackling room by room (at a snails pace it seems sometimes) and so far have found quite a few things that are no longer, beautiful, useful or sentimental! We have been donating some things to Goodwill, consigning some clothes, and taking some old books to the library for them to sell. It is slow going, but what a great feeling huh?:)
    Have a happy day

  2. It feels so good to get some things out of the house. Last year I had a garage sale. I made about 140.00. This year I donated to a church garage sale. Having garage sales is so much work.

  3. Ah, man, Karen- did you have to talk about this now? Now I feel guilty!!! Me and you are twins separated at birth with the saving toys I plan on fixing thing.
    All right, now I will start to purge too. I am cringing that you are going to get rid of your dresses- but you're right- it is not worth keeping.

    Does this mean I have to get rid of my Mudd jeans from senior year of high school with the frayed hems and bleach stain that will never fit again, but looked oh, so cool?
    Now, you wouldn't want me to throw those out, would you?
    I am thinking of posting some picks of my basement that is filled with stuff for a future yard sale- but I am afraid the Hoarders show will call me.

    I actually bring my stuff to my girlfriends' house, a half mile away to sell at her yard sale because she has a better spot. But it does seem like a lot of work for $100.

    Wow- I could talk forever about this- but I will go check out Cindy's blog and find our about her 40 in 40 system...

  4. Great tips! This is the first time I came across your blog. I love the name. I too am a mom named Karen of stair step kids and I love it. 4 as well. The 4th I was certain would be a boy and I was okay with that and to our surprise it was a girl, still has not completely set in.

    I will be your newest follower can't wait to hear more about your family and how you manage your 4 little ones.

    Have a blessed day!



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