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Home > What's wrong with this picture? - Part I

What's wrong with this picture? - Part I

June 28th, 2005 at 06:43 am

I just keep shaking my head lately over all the stuff I've thrown away and given away in the name of "decluttering." Things I could have sold and probably gotten hundreds of dollars for.

I'm not a naturally organized person. So I've been reading housekeeping and organizing advice for years, trying to get on top of things in our house. A couple of years ago things had gotten really bad, and I started decluttering big time, following advice in books and on websites like Flylady.net.

There was something strange about all that advice that never occurred to me. But now that I'm looking high and low for ways to generate extra cash, it's pretty obvious. Virtually all of those organizing gurus seem to discourage you from actually selling things and would rather have you throw or give things away.

In The Messies Manual, by Sandra Felton, "As you move from one spot to another, take with you three boxes: a give-away box, a throw-away box, and a storage box." (No box for things to sell.)

In Conquering Chronic Disorganization, by Judith Kolberg you divide your belongings into Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers, then--"Identify the Strangers and throw them away immediately. Determine a very personal charity, and donate your Acquaintances." Regarding an overabundance of books, "He can buy as many books as we wants, but for each one he buys, one must be donated, given to friends, or discarded." (Again, no suggestion that anything could or should be sold--not even something relatively easy to sell like books.)

In the Organizing Sourcebook, by Kathy Waddill, "Once you decide to let go of things, get them out of your way as soon as possible...Take items to your nearest charity, get a receipt, and deduct the value of your donation from your tax return." (What if you don't itemize your deductions?)

She gives an example given of how to clear out a basement that not only didn't generate any cash, it actually cost money!

"They rented a dumpster, bought some pizza and a few cases of beer, and invited friends and family to help them out. In less than a day, they had a big, empty, clean basement that the whole family could use. As soon as they made up their minds to tackle the problem, they made it disappear."

Flylady says we are to declutter for 15 minutes a day, using 27-Fling Boogies. "Take a garbage bag and walk through your home and throw away 27 items. Do not stop until you have collected all 27 items. Then close the garbage bag and pitch it. DO NOT LOOK IN IT!!! Just do it. Next, take an empty box and go through your home collecting 27 items to give away." "Do not save your clutter for a yard or garage sale, you will be blessed by giving it away."

Elsewhere on her website, Flylady encourages finding ways to economize, get money into savings, and paying off your debt. We are supposed to do things like cut down on air conditioning to save money--after we've thrown or given away 1680 items over the course of a month that might have brought in more than enough to keep the house comfortable. There is some kind of disconnect here...

I've got a lot of thoughts rolling around in my head on this, but for the sake of not making this too long, I'll post Part II tomorrow.

4 Responses to “What's wrong with this picture? - Part I”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I think you're making a really good (and often overlooked) point!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I think the idea is that people hold on to things in the name of selling them, but then they don't, and so the clutter never leaves their home. That's been my take on it, anyway. Personally, I hold onto decent books that I am reasonably sure will sell at half.com. It's easy to put them in a paper bag and store them.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Depends if you are the type of person who is sentimental about their clutter and really needs a sharp, quick shock to get rid of it. I tend to follow the five stages when I get rid of my stuff - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Selling it only works during bargaining and acceptance. Smile

  4. Tightwad Kitty Says:

    I like my clutter and I have the storage rooms to keep it too! If I say that it's trash, it's GONE that day. I am now downsizing my house a little but I do have a box for TO SELL that I know that is valuable if I sold it later. Stuff that is not valuable or is taking up to much room or I am just keeping it for someone elses on 'may be I will use it later' pile and I will never use it, is going into the give away or thrift shop piles. If its somewhat valuable then, they have 28 days to move it or lose it rule applies.

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