Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clearing out the Clutter

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal... (Matt. 6:19)

(Not my closet, but you get the picture)
Photo by Chris Scott @ stock.xchng
Well, I’m not sure about “treasures on earth”, but one of our biggest household problems is clutter.  The problem with clutter is that it’s hard to find the good stuff amid all the other stuff.

One of the things we used to do annually in the library was weed the collection.  Studies have shown that discarding books that aren’t circulating (or are out of date) helps improve the use of the rest of the collection.  Who knew?

During the past couple of months I’ve been weeding our house.  Not only have I cleared out some stuff we’re not using, I’ve found some things that we needed: a padded laptop case,  winter accessories, CD storage cases.  Now,  my house is cleaner and I didn’t need to repurchase these items at the store.

Here are some of our family tips for what we’ve been weeding so far:

Toys:  I start right after school begins in the fall (while the kids are at school).  I pull out the toys that don’t get played with and separate them into piles for consignment, donation, trash.  Last fall I made some cash for Christmas shopping by consigning toys and DVDs that they’ve outgrown.  I gave educational toys to the preschool.  So far, nobody has missed anything and between birthdays and Christmas, they have new stuff anyway.

Clothes:  Kids clothes are easy.  Once they’ve been outgrown, handed-down, and outgrown again, most of them are ready for the trash bin.  Good condition children’s clothes go to charity.  I’d already given ours away to Goodwill when I heard about Clothes To Kids and their need for warm clothes this winter.  

Likewise, my husband gathered up some good condition sweaters for the Red Cross warm clothing drive.  Clothes in poor condition went into the trash.  I did a serious weeding of my closet last year, but it’s time once again.  Good stuff to charity; bad stuff to the trashbin.

Documents:  Since I don’t like to use my shredder when the kids are around (3 guesses why),  I haven’t shredded tax documents and personal papers in many years.  Good Housekeeping recommends keeping 3 years of personal or 6 years of supporting business documents for tax returns.  The IRS has an interesting article on how long to keep tax returns.   This article provides a list of what basic records to keep.

Here are a couple good clutter-clearing websites:

25 Ideas from Good Housekeeping

Organized Home

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