Toss, Donate, Sell or Keep?

How many times have you asked yourself this question? Over the past year, I’ve asked it more times than I want to even think about. Going through several BIG moves will do that to you. My husband and I moved, my Papaw moved, and my parents moved ALL in less than six months’ time. If that makes your head spin just thinking about it, you aren’t alone. Both my Papaw and my parents were making moves from homes they had each lived in for over 20 years. The amount of stuff you accumulate over 20 years… well, it’s a lot. Lots of things that have sentimental value, lots of things that get pushed into drawers or cabinets or attics or basements that you didn’t realize you even had, lots and lots and lots of stuff of all shapes, sizes and value. Now don’t get me wrong, neither my Papaw nor my parents are hoarders. But they would all agree they did have a lot of things accumulate in their homes over 20 years. So now the big question… what to DO with all of this stuff? Toss, donate, sell or keep?

In my family, I am (lovingly?) known as the one who gets rid of everything. Thankfully my husband is the same way or else I’m not sure our marriage would work out (kidding!… sort of…). I don’t put a lot of sentimental value on things; my sentimental values are more on relationships and experiences.

I read an article a few weeks ago called “Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff.” It was by Richard Eisenberg, a Next Avenue Blogger. The article was all about how different (my) generation is from my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Many of us simply don’t want our parents’ and grandparents’ antique furniture, sets of china, artwork, etc. The article went on to say how challenging it is to find homes for these things! Millennials are more mobile, and generally much more minimal. While I do agree with a lot of the points made in the article, I will say there are exceptions. I was thrilled to receive an absolutely gorgeous, timeless set of china from my mom during the big move. It’s one thing I hope to pass down to my future children (only if they want it, of course).

Whether you are planning to downsize in a few weeks or a few years, I’ve put together a few tips for cleaning out your (or a family member’s) home.

#1: Do you frequently use it? If so, then by all means, keep it! If not…move to #2.

#2: Does it have a story? I’m not totally heartless. If you have a sentimental craft that your grandchild made for you or a piece of jewelry that was given to you by a special friend… please don’t get rid of it! Things that have a great story to go along with them are meant to be kept. However, you don’t want to fill your entire house up with things like this. Keep only the things that have the best stories and bring you the best memories.

#3: Does it make you happy? Do you smile when you look at it? This can apply to clothing, décor, or even larger items like furniture. Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is all about this. If items don’t bring you joy, she argues that you should get rid of it. I haven’t read this book in its entirety yet, but it is on my must-read list. Over 2 million copies have been sold, and it’s been on the NY Times best-seller list. It’s supposed to be a life-changing read!

#4: Is it a duplicate? Mom and dad, I’m calling you both out! You don’t need multiple pairs of tweezers or 29 bottles of partially used lotion or shampoo. You also don’t need three (yes, three) crock-pots. One will be just fine. Consolidate and eliminate. There is no reason to have duplicates of anything really—other than perhaps socks and underwear.

#5: Last, but certainly not least, could you replace it for $20 or less? My husband and I are guilty of tossing (or donating) things and turning around a couple of months later and realizing, “Oops! We should’ve kept that!” But you know what? 99% of the time it’s something that can be replaced for $20 or less, so it’s not a huge deal. You should think twice about donating or tossing anything that has a super high value and cannot be easily replaced. But, don’t think too hard about it. No matter the monetary value, if it doesn’t bring you joy, how much value does it really have anyway?