Spring Cleaning: Saving on the High Cost of Storage

Did you know that in the US, nearly 1 in 10 households rents a storage unit?

Those self storage facilities have enough square footage for every man, woman, and child in America to stand in them at the same time. It comes at a hefty price.

Last year we paid $22 billion to store our stuff in self storage units.

It’s not even possible to calculate how much we paid in higher mortgages for extra rooms in our houses to store extra stuff.

Storage units can provide a valuable service. I’ve used one before. The problem is what happens when they are filled with things that we don’t miss and won’t use.

Storage units should be temporary in most cases. But we all know they are easy to fill up, and then hard to go back and empty out, even if we do have the best of intentions. (That’s why so many companies offer the first month’s rent for free.)

It takes time to go back and decide what to do with that stuff, and then make the effort to sell or donate it. It’s much easier to delay the trouble of making decisions and simply pay the fee for just one more month’s rent.

Before you know it, that monthly fee has added up to hundreds of dollars every year, which is often much higher than the value of the stuff being stored!

I don’t have a storage unit. I’m trying not to keep the extra stuff.

I’ve been listing some stuff on Craigslist lately. Yesterday as I watched my husband sitting outside with my old TV, waiting for someone to pick it up, I felt a tiny bit of loss. Mostly good feelings, but still a little bit of risk.

What if I needed it someday? What if one day we moved into a house and we had an upstairs playroom for the kids and we would want a TV to put in there so they could watch a movie? If we wanted one, then I wouldn’t need to buy one because I already had it.

But then I saw the hundreds of other used TVs on Craigslist, and suddenly letting go of it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. There is no shortage of used TVs.

I don’t need to keep one just in case. If I want one, I can always buy another one, from someone else, who is selling their used TV set on any day of the week.

A few months ago we bought a baby swing for Tom, but he’s already starting to grow out of it. It’s a nice one, and I almost thought about saving it for a future baby. It takes up a lot of room though, and I’ve been to baby showers. There’s no shortage of baby swings either. It will be no problem to find another one in the future.

(Since we bought it on Craigslist for $25 in the first place, and we can sell it again for $25, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about getting my money’s worth from it.)

I’ll happily keep my cash in my pocket, instead of my stuff in my storage.

There is no shortage of:

moving boxes

small kitchen appliances

Videos and DVD movies

exercise equipment

chairs

couches

old washing machines and dryers

baby stuff

clothes

dishes

electronics

coffee tables

The list is endless.

Is there something you’ve been hanging on to, just because it’s easier than getting rid of it, or in case you or someone you know “might need it later?”

What have you been spring cleaning lately?

Source for statistics: The Self Storage Association

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. I had a room that was almost entirely full of boys’ clothes. Two of my friends had unloaded all their boy clothes on me, including their own hand me downs. Some of these boy clothes were so old that I’m sure the kids that first wore them are in university now.

    A local organization was trying to fill a container of clothes, diapers, etc to send to an orphanage in Haiti. I sorted through these old clothes and sent 6 boxes full. I only kept things that I think I could use for my daughter, or that are bigger that I think one of my boys might actually wear — about one box for each year. Now I can actually get into my storage room to find things.

    jill´s last post…Free Family Fun

  2. Isn’t Craigslist great? We wanted a few extra things for our new baby arriving at the end of May but since this will probably be our last, didn’t want to buy new and Craigslist has been great. You have to be patient and check frequently, but I now have everything crossed off my list at a fraction of the cost of buying new!!

    My biggest dilemma right now is kids clothing. Our oldest is a boy and we don’t yet if babe #2 is a boy or a girl. So at the moment I am still holding onto all the baby boy clothes from #1. But, I am hoping that aver the next year I’ll be able to weed things out as I realize that they won’t be needed. We’re not positive that this is our last, but I don’t really want to hold onto things “just in case”. Especially since we’ll be moving again next year (we’re military).

    Thanks for the gentle reminder!

    Jen´s last post…Cranky

    • Baby clothes are hard for me to let go, since they’re both practical and emotional. I’ve written about saving and organizing baby clothes and being selective about I keep: How to Keep Baby Clothes from Taking Over Your Storage Space.

      • Thanks for the reminder! I read that post when you first wrote it, but wasn’t yet expecting #2! I do use totes at the moment but think I need to be a little more “ruthless” about what I am keeping and what I can let go. Maybe it’s just me…but I have never really been given any hand-me-downs. I’m the first in my family to have kids and most of my friends (sad-but-true) are pack-rats who have these storage spaces of which you speak because they cannot let go of anything!

        Thanks again for the tips :-)

        Jen´s last post…Cranky

      • It was baby clothes for me too. My kids are 7 and I thougt we would have one more. But I know we are done. My sister just had her first so I gave her all of my favorites and donated the rest. At least I will know that they are being used and loved.

        Rana´s last post…Post it Note Tuesday

    • Jen and Rachel,
      As the mother of two boys, I’m glad I saved the clothes from my older boy, as I’ve found used clothing stores have about 3/4 girls and very little to no boys stuff. I’m not sure why, I think that’s partly because boys wear it out more (so less left to hand down or sell) but also because people (grandmas esp) LOVE to buy girl stuff, not so much the boy stuff once you’re past the first few months. But I organized it and labeled them in a few big tupperware boxes, and now as the younger outgrows the littlest stuff, I can re-use the box for the next set of hand-me-downs from his older brother. I’ve also found a mother with a boy a year younger than my youngest, and her friend just had a baby boy so we’ve got a little hand-me-down train going! It’s much easier to give them away when you know they’re going to someone else who will put them on their child with love.
      Congrats and good luck!

  3. Last year our garage was FULL of stuff someone might need…or we might need…or we thought someone thought someone else might neeeeeed….it was awful. So last summer we had a HUGE yard sale and anything that did not sell went directly to the donation station for our local women’s shelter. Done. And I can’t even TELL you what went. That’s how much I do NOT miss it. And we have our garage back! (Luckily it’s a one-car…can you imagine if it were two? Yikes!)

    Michelle´s last post…photo challenge: color story

  4. Ah…such a great post. I tend to hold on to things…just in case, but after reading your blog and simplemom’s blog, I’m getting much better at letting go of stuff.

    We used to live in a relatively small house for 5 people, but we recently moved into a bigger home. My goal has been to NOT fill it. To be just as strict about clutter as I was in our smaller home.

    Thanks for making my decisions a little easier!

    Kat @ InspiredToAction´s last post…GIVEAWAY! – Motivation Monday: Why Mothers Need To Retreat

  5. Homeschooling books! I’m a compulsive curriculum junkie. We currently have more educational materials in our home than two children could use in a lifetime. Time to share the wealth!!

    Valerie´s last post…It’s Free Curriculum time again!

  6. This is such a great post! We are moving from 1000 sq. feet in Va. Beach to 600ish sq. feet (living space) in Brooklyn. I have been trying to figure out what is not necessary and eliminate it, and I have had the same feelings of “I might need it someday”. But…I haven’t needed in the last 3+ years, so how long am I willing to hold onto it? My latest clean-out item was cassette tapes – they had meaning to our lives in the past, but we don’t even own a cassette player right now and we had THREE shoeboxes full. We saved the half dozen most important and trashed the rest. What a relief!

  7. great post. I haven’t used craigslist but there is a local news station that has free classified listings and I’ve used that to get rid of and buy stuff. there is a local kids consignment shop too but they are rude so I’ve only sold my stuff there once. I hate when people act like they are doing me a favor. I’m lucky because my neighborhood does a spring and fall cleanup every year – they let each household put out up to a trailer full size of stuff. I’ve used that every year to get rid of items I couldn’t otherwise throw out. this year an old broken lawn mower, a shelf, a dresser etc…most years people come and take my stuff before the trash people do. I’m moving and have been packing up non-essentials – papers, out of season clothes. I’m not a huge saver – someone sent me clothes for my son birth to size 2 and I just donated them as he outgrew. my biggest problem is saving clothes for me that I’ve outgrown! :p

    Nina´s last post…miom – sand tray

  8. We have a VERY small house with no garage and very little closet space or other storage. Now that my baby is 20 months old, it seems we have a TON of “stuff to store”—everything from clothes to highchair, bumbo seat to jumparoo and co-sleeper–it’s the big stuff that bugs me. FORTUNATELY, I have a co-worker who has had 2 grandbabies in the past year. She keeps them a great deal, so I have been “storing” my stuff at her house. She gets to use it for free and I don’t have to store it-and I trust her to give it back to me when I need it. (and if anything happens to any of it, I am unattached-there is always Craigslist!) I also have another couple of friends who are pregnant so if they have a girl they can borrow our baby clothes. It’s very liberating to me to be able to share resources with friends and family. It saves us storage space, it saves them money, and these things get well-used. I have also implemented the shoe-box size storage for baby clothes–we are keeping the clothes for the next baby and have the top of a closet full of little boxes-one for each size and differentiated between cold and warm season. Although I have had to use more storage for larger clothes and bulkier winter items–I really enjoyed that post so thanks for the idea.

    I think if people learned to go back to the old ways of community resource sharing and hand me downs, we would all save a lot of money.

    • So true, people used to borrow more, but nowadays everyone feels like they need their own, whether it be tools or fun stuff. Sharing definitely builds community!

      On the other hand, I see that stuff (I’m especially thinking of baby stuff here) isn’t made as well as it used to be, so it’s a bigger risk that it won’t be returned in the same condition. (Of course, there’s no guarantee how it will look when it comes out of storage either!) But like you said, at least it gets well-used, and there is always Craigslist if you need to replace something. Plus more people are willing to share with you when you have a need.

  9. I have some long folding tables and two fans I am having a hard time to part with. They hold memories of the good time I had with my friends and customers scrapbooking when I owned my home biz. I hope to either donate or sell them this summer when our school load is lighter.
    I have been “spring” cleaning my home by minimizing the stuff we have and tackling the way overdue projects we have laying around the house. I only devote two days per week for the tasks. I can see myself doing “summer” cleaning as well as “fall” and “winter” cleaning. :) I have decided this year is the year of parting with my stuff and finishing up all of the delinquent projects. Less is more is my this year’s motto and one bite at a time is my daily house work motto. :)

  10. This fully resonates with me as we just moved a couple weeks ago and are still in the process of getting rid of stuff. I keep having that nagging feeling too, “What if we move in 6 months and I need another tupperware drawer?!” You make a great point – you can always get it again and most likely get it used for a much better price!

    Kait Palmer´s last post…Drinking Wine From a Dixie Cup

  11. I may get to downsize again from 2300 sq feet and 5 acres to 1400 sq ft and 1.33 acres. In the country this can feel small, I know, hard to imagine. I am so ready to purge the big stuff. I have 3 sofas for the love of Mike. I am ready, let the curb raiders commence. Thank you Goodwill, you are next on the recieving list.

  12. Great reminder! We don’t have a storage unit, but we would need one if we didn’t have so many outbuildings. We moved over 3 years ago and were not deliberate about what we moved and kept or where we put it. Now, we are spring cleaning and purging and it feels so good and makes it so much easier to keep things tidy. We started with the garage, basement, and porch/laundry and will do the kitchen and bedrooms, too. There are so many silly little things, like grocery bags, nails, etc. that have multiple homes in our house and are taking up 3 times more space than they need to be – it’s silly!

  13. We just got rid of a perfectly good TV through donation, just bc we’d upgraded and it didn’t make sense to keep it in the garage, but, I’d dithered over getting rid of it for a while.

    What if we needed it? It was perfectly good. Well, now that we donated it, I feel much better. We can use all the space we can get in our tiny house.

    Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists´s last post…Stop Doing Your Laundry and Here’s Why

  14. I am working to become one of those people who gets rid of something once they replace it with something else. It’s been hard, but I’ve been putting things on Craigslist that are free. It’s also been oddly liberating. As far as kids clothes-I’m taking a page out of your book and am making quilts out of them. They will be lovely to have when my boys leave to start their own lives, and I’m feeling sad.
    :-)

    Amanda G@Simple Day. Simple Life.´s last post…Link Love | Gardening

  15. This has always been my weakness: keeping things because I may need it one day. Who needs a ratty old comforter? I’ve been working hard over the last few years to reduce my compulsion to keep things for “what if” and clean out a few things every month.

    I plan to tackle my craft/storage room on the second floor next week (after we all recover from the flu!).

    Jenn´s last post…My Secret Obsession & Finger Paint

  16. We downsized a few years ago and gave a lot of things away – but there was the inevitable pile of things that we didn’t have room for and were not ready to part with. So we rented a storage unit “for a little while”. That “little while” turned into 4 years and we’d go there maybe once or twice a year to retrieve Christmas decorations and then put them back.

    One of my new year’s resolutions in 2009 was to get rid of the storage unit. When we cleaned it out, I was so mad at myself when I saw what we had been storing! Lots of things that held memories, but have no place in our daily lives – as evidenced by us not missing them even once in 4 years. Some of the “precious” stuff had been packed away from moves made years ago and never opened. I pared down the Christmas decorations, got rid of the “stuff” and then calculated what we had spent for storing things we didn’t even want.

    I could have paid for my beautiful new fancy front loading washer and dryer for what we spent. What a lesson! Now anytime that I think I’m running out of room – I look for something to purge.

  17. Great post! I purged tons of stuff before our last move and continually comforted myself after each Craig’s List transaction with “It’s easier to move this money that ________”. :) In the same vein, we saved so much of the move b/c we could move our small stuff inside our vehicles and didn’t have the rent a U-haul type truck…then we just scoured Craig’s List in our new city and re-bought what we needed to replace. We truly made/saved money coming and going.

    • Oh yes, I’m always thinking about moving, and cash is so much easier to carry than a huge old TV.

  18. i have a hard time letting go, but i have been forced to do so in the last couple moves we made. and about 95% of the stuff i dont’ miss at all. i did have to sell some family antiques and i do miss those, but i keep reminding myself they were just stuff! now with another move on the horizon, maybe out of state, i’m looking at downsizing again, just cuz it ain’t worth the cost of moving it.

    we are using a storage unit to pack boxes in since our apt is so tiny. and i’m hoping to sell some stuff on craigs list, tho i’m not much of a salesperson.

    good post!

    • I used a storage unit for about six weeks last year when we were packing for our move. It was so handy! We didn’t have room to climb around boxes in our apartment, so as I packed them, Doug would carry out one or two a day to the storage unit until moving day.

      It made the move much less stressful to not have to live around all those boxes.

      • When we sold our condo a few years ago this is what we did too. It helped make the place look bigger to potential buyers and gave us a head start on the actual move. Now we are getting ready to move again and will do it all over. The rule is that moving day – everything gets cleared out and we are done with the storage unit! I am also trying to minimize what actually gets sent in the first place!

        • We did the same thing. When we were getting ready to sell our house three years ago when the market had just started it’s downturn, we packed up everything and put it in a storage unit (except everyday essentials).

          We moved all of our “larger” pieces of furniture into storage to make rooms look bigger. We left only the essential pieces and staged the house like they do on “Sell this house”. We painted every room the same neutral color, had the carpets cleaned, put out fresh flowers and plants, we painted the front porch, put new door knobs and a new kickplate on the front door. Total fix up cost including the storage fee was 645 dollars. We sold the house in 15 days! When most of the houses in our neighborhood were taking at least 180 days. I credit the use of the storage facility for helping us to clean out and sell our house so quickly.

  19. Jacobsmom says:

    Great article. I’m inspired to get rid of my swing that I’m saving for baby number two. It was a hand-me down anyway and I’m sure I can find another one just as quickly- and maybe cuter. :-)
    I do wish I knew how to find smaller organizations that needed things I can probably donate. Especially for those old electronics. Must look up.

    Btw, what is the “commentLuv” box?

    • The commentLuv box is a tool for people with blogs. You can see when some people comment it shows a link to their last blog post… the commentLuv box is what puts that link there.

  20. mary mendez says:

    Green Demolitions in the NY NJ CT area will pick up your nicer bigger pieces as a donation and supply you with a receipt for tax purposes. They resell the items and the proceeds go to charity.
    This is a nice option to Craigslist for things like Grandma’s cherry breakfront that weighs 700 pounds or that new-in-box wall oven that no one wants to buy. 888-887-5211.

  21. I was wondering — anyone know of a good internet site to *easily* sell off books? I have a lot of nearly new books that I simply do not need.

    • Most books don’t hold much resell value, so it can be tedious to sell them one at a time.

      Powell’s will give you an online offer for all your books. If you like the offer then you ship your books to the Powell’s warehouse in Portland, and they pay you via PayPal.

      You can sell them one by one on sites like Amazon or Half.com.

      You can swap them for other books using sites like PaperbackSwap.com

      You can take them to a Half Price Books store to get a cash offer for all of them at the same time.

      You can list a collection of books on Craigslist.

      You can donate them to Goodwill and take a tax deduction.

      Does anyone else have ideas for books?

      • most public libraries have regular “friends of the library” book sales…we try to take books there. (i’ve never had a library turn down shopping bags full of books, DVDs, tapes…)

        the bonus is, not only do you get to free up your own space, come sale time, you can score OTHER books for, usually, a quarter each. aaaand then whenever you get around to reading them…back to the library, and you’re only out a quarter.

        heather´s last post…What I Did On My Easter Vacation, Plus Housekeeping

      • With paperbackswap you have the advantage of creating a wishlist of the books you really want. Over the past three years I have received almost every book I have wished for. It is a bit of work on the send side but it is delightful to receive the books you really want for free.

      • Thank you all SO MUCH for all the help! My husband and I are total bookworms/academics who when we married joined together boxes and boxes of books. I think I’ll check out the paperback swap for fun!

        I love having a literal book, but I wonder if maybe I will eventually get a book reader (i.e., Kindle, Nook, etc.) so that I can still read a lot of books without the heavy boxes of books.

        We have an apartment and no real plans of owning a home anytime soon (who needs yardwork?) so it makes some sense.

        Anyone else contemplating shedding book pounds in favor of the electronic book readers?

        • I use an e-reader now and also read “real” books. I use paperbackswap.com for actual books since some of the books I want aren’t available in e-reader form yet. Also, my library allows check-out of e-reader books. My solution works well for me and I’ve now been at it for over a year. I estimate that I’ve avoided buying 150 actual books in that time frame.

  22. I. am. a. purger. I love to get rid of stuff. I’m also sentimental, so I also keep things. But I have specified places where I keep that sentimental stuff. Like my cedar chest. ANd a small trunk in the attic. I also love keeping my children’s artwork…however, it piles up so quickly that I have started to take pictures of it all and will make a yearly book of their artwork. BTW> I really love your site!!

    Katie´s last post…This kid…

    • I have a one year old who has yet to start creating things, but I have been wondering how to tackle this once the pieces of artwork start coming home. The yearly book of artwork is a GREAT idea and one I will incorperate from the beginning. Thank you!

  23. I just sold two sets of antique glassware dishes. I’ve been holding on to them, not using them and they became a burden. Feels great to have the extra cash and space!

  24. I work for a company that owns several mini storage facilities. I’m amazed by the number of people who have units there for years and never even get into them. Don’t get me wrong, storage facilities can be useful. We used onefor a few months last year while we were selling our house. It helped our house show better and we felt that it was worth the investment for a few months to help our house sell.

    Buffie´s last post…Working on That Elusive Balance

  25. We just recently had to face the prospect of moving — at no other time is the amount of STUFF that we own more crucial, thought inducing or overwhelming. The apartment we could have moved into, for slightly less than what we’re paying now, had only a few downsides: less storage space.

    We’ve decided to stay put, but this weekend went through most of our closets, boxes, bags, nooks and crannies and cleaned out the clutter. Part of me actually WANTED to move into the smaller space so we’d be forced to part with some things! Instead, we now just have more wiggle room in our current place. And it feels SO good.

    Karen´s last post…Tips From Dad

  26. Another thought: I hit on the solution of giving away old clothes and getting a benefit: a tax deuction. As we were sorting and deciding what to give away, we would lay it on the bed and take a photo with the digital camera, then put it in the bag. At the same time we opened up an excel sheet on the laptop, wrote a two-three word description of the item and an estimated value. Took a bit longer but not much. Once we were done, gave it all away, then at tax time add up the excel sheet and deduct the total value. If we’re ever audited, we have the photos uploaded in order, so we could easily show how we got to that number. A bit more cumbersome, but worth it, because I tihnk we tend to undervalue if it’s all in bags. Plus I’ve floated this idea with a couple accountants and they said it was great and would not definitely withstand an audit.
    Brenda
    p.s. we did this on December 31 – a good family activity during the holiday break, and that way we got the deduction for last tax year!

  27. I’ve never used a storage unit before and wonder if most people ever pick up their stuff. My sister used one for maybe a couple months or so (when evicted from her appartment) and owed $500! Hard for me to see when she’ll ever have that money to get her stuff back – especially as the amount owing will continue to climb.

  28. My personality is of the pack-rat variety, sprinkled with sentimentality and double-dipped in nostalgia. (So is my husband’s!) We’ve somehow justified keeping T-shirts from old concerts and backpacks from high school “just in case” they come in handy.

    Fortunately I met a friend who is immensely more practical — she can tell at first glance whether a gift or acquired item will be useful in the future. If it isn’t, and it’s a gift, she’ll take a photo of it and “pass it on.”

    After being inspired by her, we came back home and did a little photo shoot with all our old things and finally laid them to rest!

    • I’ve heard of places that will make quilts out of old t-shirts. I’m going to research that and see about doing that with my old college shirts!

    • Amy,

      I had a pile of old concert t-shirts that I just couldn’t get rid of and a pile of hardrock t-shirts that I had bought the kids when we travel. I used http://www.tshirtquilt.com. They were wonderful, I used the 16 square pattern with sashing. It came back absolutely beautiful.

      It now takes up less space in my house. The quilt is very functional, I use it frequently all year long and it is a conversation started when people see it. I still have my t-shirts and I still have the memories but in a “new” functional item for the house.
      There are also websites that make your old t-shirts into pillows. I’ve seen pictures-they are very cute. I plan on having the children’s hardrock t-shirts made into a quilt for them to take to college with them.

  29. i have to disagree that there is no shortage of used dvds because i have been looking for used disney dvds for over a year!!!!!!!!!!! ive looked at yardsales, on craigslist, in places that sell used movies and i cant find zip. i can find them on ebay and places like that but they basically want you to pay full price for a new one after shipping! ugh ok rant over lol

    • @Lauren, my experience with trying to sell Disney movies to Half Price Books may shed some light on the shortage of used children’s dvds. HPB explained that it’s an issue of supply & demand. They receive so many children’s dvds (including disney) & books that they don’t offer much for them. So, people may decide not to sell them or people are buying them up as fast as they are put on the shelf.

      I’ve brought in children’s books and movies to sell & was offered so little that I didn’t accept their offer. I just donated them to my church or Goodwill or gave them away instead. This is also true of extremely popular books that are trendy like the ones that are raved about on talk shows (i.e., RealAbe Makeover, He Just Not That Into You, ) … people buy them like crazy as gifts or too many are published

  30. I used to sell a few times on craigslist in past, but lately, many people are flaking and bargaining so much, it is just easier to donate or give it away items. I am so impressed that you can do this with 2 little ones. Good for you!

    Having kids (specially when they are little) can cause so much clutter. Now preschooler, has so many crafts and drawing papers, we are not sure, which master pieces to keep and what to share with grandparents :-)

    Zengirl: Heart and Mind´s last post…8 ways to live a happy and content life

  31. Love, love, love this post! I just moved. I got rid of a ton before I moved and continue to get rid of more. My motto is: If I don’t love it, I don’t want it. It is amazing how great it feels to pare down.

    Jenni´s last post…Mementos

  32. First off want to say that i love your blog. i stumbled on it a while ago and added it right away to my feed.

    I hate storage units as well. My grandma and her sister both have one (each) and live in retirement homes. My great aunt is starting to long process of cleaning hers out. I’m in college so she wants to give a lot of this stuff to me. It’s hard to say “No thanks” when there’s a family story. So now when i come home i have to navigate around the boxes of china and depression glass that have taken residency. I hate to store the stuff but eventually i will have my own place and will want it.

    On the plus side I’m really only home for 3 or 4 months but I’m running out of room and want a place that feels like home when i’m home, not a storage closet.

    Can you suggest a solution other than it living in my bedroom?

    • I tell my Grandma, “I might want something, but not yet.” She knows I have an apartment and not a house. So she hangs on to it for a while longer and gives other stuff to other people. Or maybe she would give some stuff to my mom to keep for me.

      When I’ve moved and packed dishes, I notice that they take up a lot more space packed in boxes with all the cushioning to withstand moving. You could unpack them to save space, and stack them in a small cabinet.

      • I’ve had some of these conversations lately. Whenever we go to visit my grandma, she wants to give things to us. She saw some family members of hers get nasty when separating out a relative’s possessions and doesn’t want there to be any drama when she goes. She also likes purging things, in general.

        My mom keeps saying, “Don’t say no. Just take what she offers you.” And a lot of the stuff I really like, some of them things she thought of specifically for me. But I don’t have room for all of these boxes and dishes, either. I want these things, but not yet. Now my mom, who has plenty of space in her house, is wanting to store these things in a storage unit rather than the basement!

        For me, the storage unit is a slippery slope – once things go in, they may not ever come out. But I’m also trying to honor my mom’s clutter tolerance, which is constantly getting lower and starting to mirror her own mother’s.

        Sometimes stuff can be so complicated.
        Emily´s last post…Paper purchases

  33. A few years ago, we rented a storage space while getting our first home ready for showing. Not only did I not miss the stuff we kept in there, I also realized how pleasant the minimalist style is.

    Last year, we moved to a way smaller home, by choice. Not much storage space, but we have a whole basement to keep unwanted stuff. So that’s my next project.

    My challenge right now is BOOKS. We homeschool, love to read, and we have lots of good books. I still want to let go of some, but have a hard time deciding on which ones! I also have a toddler who’s into pulling books from the shelves, so most of them stay in boxes in the basement. They are sorted in kinds/time periods, and I’m thinking to just turn part of the basement into a library.

    I just want to say that I love reading posts like this! It’s encouraging and empowering at the same time. And I’m pretty sure inspiring, as the previous comments can attest.

    Flo´s last post…of a1iyah

  34. I love having a clean, un-cluttered house but I am VERY sentimental. I bought one big rubbermaid bin for my personal keepsakes (letters, journals, old gifts), and I only allow myself to keep as much as I can fit in the one bin (sitting on the lid to close it counts).

    One thing that has saved me from my packrattish tendencies is that we’ve never lived in a house with an attic. Everything I stash has to be in someone’s closet or out in the open!

  35. I had a base full of stuff from pre-marriage and stuff an old roommate left behind. I made it a mission one winter to go through one box and mark stuff for a yard sale and reorganize the stuff I wanted to keep. It was a little like Christmas because I refound some treasures. A few things were on my To Get list – I saved some cash! when summer came I had everything marked & ready to put out in the sale. What didn’t sell I donated. After I was done I felt like I had _more stuff_ not less!. I could find and use the nice things I had, like kitchen dish towels, because I got rid of or repurposed the worn out towels.

    Condo Blues´s last post…Telephone Book Wreath

  36. Thank you, thank you! I recently sold our awesome baby swing on Craigslist for more than what I paid for it. I was feeling twinges of regret for getting rid of it when I still might have another baby, but your post reinforced the fact that I can always get another one.

    Besides, my last baby didn’t even like the swing, so who knows if the next baby would even need it!

    marybeth @ http://www.babygoodbuys.com´s last post…http://www.babygoodbuys.com´s

  37. This was so good, as usual Rachel. I am learning to de-attach from things. You’re right, they are just things and most of them can be re-bought in the future if necessary.

  38. Point well said, Rachel. Isn’t it funny that a generation or two ago no one would have shopped the way we do now, or had as much clutter because of it? No wonder life seemed simpler then – it was! Six channels instead of 600, no stores open for shopping on Sundays…

    As for our house, we had a yard sale in the fall. Whatever was taken out of the house was NOT allowed back in – either it was sold, donated, or left with a big “FREE” sign on it on the sidewalk (and all of the free stuff was gone in the morning!). I do have a few pieces of furniture left in the garage that I’m putting out this weekend during a neighborhood yard sale.

    Beyond that, my clutter is mostly paper and kids’ outgrown clothes and toys. The paper is being gone through with a VERY objective eye and most is being recycled, while the kids’ stuff is bagged for the consignment shop – what they don’t take gets donated.

    WorkingMom´s last post…T.G.I.F.

  39. Hello Rachel, i’ve been a regular reader of your blog since i first found it online… I was amazed how you make it so simple. Like your article about the freedom of routines… so true!!!
    Thanks!!!
    P.S: I’m portuguese. Sorry if any words are incorrect…

    Paula´s last post…Corrida Sempre Mulher 2010

  40. I’ve been in major purge mode this year. The idea of throwing money away on a storage unit just makes my skin crawl! I dated a guy who had a storage unit. To my knowledge he never went to it – that stuff just sat there – but he still paid for it. Glad he’s in the past!

    Juice´s last post…The Highlight Of My Weekend Might Be A Rice Cooker

  41. Yes. So many things. I do donate a lot but there are the things that I save for “someday” You have inspired me to give Craig’s List another try. I’ve never had any luck selling or buying on there.

    mama k´s last post…Inspired!

  42. I’m having this problem with my husband. He wants to hold on to everything for some reason or another. I finally talked him into letting me have a garage sale…but he has squawked at almost everything I put in it. His latest gripe? The first leather chair he bought in his first house. It has been shredded by the cat, and the springs are so saggy but for some reason, he will not let it go easily. *sigh* at least he IS letting it go and we’re not ending up on Clean Sweep.

    lindsey´s last post…Frozen Fruit Cups

  43. We do have storage that comes with our apartment. But because of this post, it has motivated me to get rid of our tv. We have been cableless for 4 years, so it won’t be so hard to get rid of the tv. :) We can always watch our movies online through netflix.

    Tanya´s last post…When I was Small