Jan 4, 2014

Getting Rid of Stuff (Stamps, Cars, Styrofoam, Ornaments, Your Kid's 5th Grade Masterpiece)

You can get rid of anything.  All it takes is courage, determination, and a husband who hates clutter.

Kathy asked me below if I had advice on how to get rid of stamps.  Why yes I do.  If I have become the master of anything, it is how to get rid of stuff.

But first a story.

My husband hates clutter.  He saves nothing (except my cards).  He buys nothing.  He eyes my trail of crap like a tiger after a bunny.  He is too busy running and eating non fat plain yogurt to shop online.  If I wasn't so lazy I would have divorced him years ago.

His penchant for throwing out things butted up against my Mom's anxiety about holding on to her stuff all the time.  The coup de grace was when my Mom left her "bridge" (that's a piece of false teeth) walled up in a kleenex on the kitchen counter.   And, yes he tossed it in the trash.  Score one for the son-in-law who owned that kitchen counter.  Score one for my mom, who found it and then spent years not so gently hinting that he was responsible for tossing everything she could not find.  (Yes, Mom we did toss the 7 BAGS of YARN and fabric scraps that were in the basement for 17 years.  We lied about that.  In fact, we lied about a lot of stuff.  If you have the power in heaven to get back at us, go for it.)

But enough about that.

Ten Steps to Get Rid of Stuff:

1.  Develop the desire to get rid of the stamps, the whatever.  This is the hard part.  You want to get to the point where you feel like the tiger eyeing the bunny....

2.  Let go of the concept that "it is a waste of money to get rid of stuff."  It is a waste of money, time, space, and karma to keep stuff you don't want.  Period.

3.  Decide if you want to make money off the stuff.  If you want to sell stamps, it is work, so factor that in.  There's ebay, your blog, Splitcoast or other forum, or yard sale.  You can also pair up with another stamper and trade.  "I'll take one Valentine's clear set, a birthday background and give you my vintage Owl and Cupcake sets."  Then do it.    If you sell to strangers over the internet, get the money up front through paypal, be honest about the condition, don't be greedy, mail it right away, and hope you aren't dealing with a nut case.  If it gets lost in the mail, who bears the risk?  I DO NOT KNOW.  You are supposed to negotiate that at the beginning.  The post office actually does an amazing job so I'd just hope for the best.

4.  Or, if you are willing to donate the stuff, do it.  Look around.  There are stampers out of work, suffering through cancer, or just plain nice.  Give the stuff to them.  That's what I did.  But first I sold a block of stuff (several bins) to one stamper who lived nearby.  She picked up the stuff and gave me $200.  Win win.  I then gave away about 7 large plastic tubs of stuff (I'm crying as I type) to a wonderful stamper who also came by and picked up the stuff.  Turns out she then gave away a ton of it to a bunch of other stampers (there was a LOT of stuff) and all those folks got together and gave me several hundred dollars worth of gift certificates to stores near our new house.  It was a wonderful moment of connectedness.

5.  Or you can find a nursing home, day care center, women's shelter, etc who might like the stuff.  Google.

6.  Throw out the crap.  It isn't worth the time or money to give away little pieces of paper, the 3 orange brads you found at the bottom of a box, or the pound of ribbons and twine, each of which is no longer than 3 inches.  Re read #2 and LET IT GO.

7.  If you made cards and never sent them (shocker), take a hard look at them. I deconstructed about 200 cards that I hated, salvaged the embellishments and the card stock and tossed the rest.  I had fun making them.   It's a hobby.  Good bye.

8.  Look at the empty space you've created.  The space in your house and your brain.  Freedom!  Resist the urge (and it will be there) to fill up the space with MORE crap.  Take your time.  Rearrange the space.  Feel superior to hoarders.  Enjoy and be proud.

9.  Don't look back.  Sure, I gave away some stuff that I regretted giving away.  But I didn't have to pay to store it or move it (twice).  And that was then.  Regret over this stuff is a sin.

10.  Don't gloat.  The desire for more stuff will slowly creep back and you may find yourself needing to start over.


Susan Raihala said...

You are a genius! "Regret over this stuff is a sin."

I don't even need to clean up/organize my area...but your post makes me want to!

Joan B said...

move something an inch. you'll feel better!

~amy~ said...

chuckling about:

He is too busy running and eating non fat plain yogurt to shop online
"bridge" story

I've garage sale'd/SCS'd/gave away/donated and still have a ton of stuff...I'm getting there...very slowly.

Susan Raihala said...


diana said...

Thanks for this experience-based advice.
After cleaning out and donating the easy stuff (no tough decisions needed), I am working on getting over the hurdle of # 1 & 2 with the harder stuff. I will keep # 9 in front of me as I continue one step at a time. ;-)

Jackie Parkins said...

That's pretty much where I am this year, wanting to declutter and clear out a lot of stuff. I'd like to sell a lot of the craft things, but it's taking me a while to convince myself it's worth the trouble. My husband is the one that won't throw anything away. Maybe your husband needs to have a long talk with him.

Joan B said...

you are a tiger!

Nancy said...

I've done it myself, Joan, and you are right on target with everything. Pretty much my experience minus the bridge ;) !

My husband is a keeper and I'm a declutterer, so at least this is one area of the household where I have complete control and I exercise it regularly.

I have done the customer "garage sale" at an LSS three or four times now and made a bundle - what a relief. The last batch sits under my desk and I'm thinking about going through it and doing some tossing and donating this time around. Some of that stuff has been at the LSS three times already - odds of selling it are quite slim.

Great advice - keep up the resolve! A couple of tricks for not going down that slippery slope ever again is to shop less, make more, and don't put anything back in if you don't want to take something out.

Love the blog, Joan :) . Best of everything to you in 2014.

Nancy said...

Hanging my head.... grammar error above :( . That's what I get for editing one word and not reading the rest of the sentence!

Cheryl said...

#4 was such a wonderful experience! I love when goodness prevails--it just multiplies.

Suzanne said...

Joan, I think of you often as I have days where I too just want to get rid of all of it and start over, perhaps not even with stamping at times. In the last year, I've gotten rid of a ton and have found ebay to be a pretty great medium for that, basically because of their rules and coordination for the seller. What has helped me from buying more is realizing that as much as we love this hobby, the stamps and paper cannot love you back.

P.S. I agree with Cheryl on #4!

Mary said...

Your second paragraph of your blog post made me laugh. You and Mike balance one another out s well. You were dead on all 10 points and suggestions. I am now back at # 10 and hear I am 3 years later cleaning out again because I have way too much stuff yet again. I hope this will be the last time. Good ideas Joan, I do like Mike's way of life as well. Yogurt and running. I can no longer run but I can walk and eat yogurt both of which I love and are good for the body. ;)


Anonymous said...

Wow you are SUCH a talented writer! I laughed and laughed and wished I lived near you so we could set up a Stamp Lending Library between us.

Happy 2014,
Bahb (No talent, no Blog)

Kathy D said...

Joan, thank you for such a detailed answer to my question! I have tried Splitcoast. I keep eyeing ebay (and I even have an account), but I have never put anything up for sale there. The fall yard sale in the neighborhood (we live way in the back) yielded 3 passing cars, no stops! I need to just take the photos and try.

Joan B said...

Try a couple of sets on ebay and see if it is worth it. I've noticed that there doesn't seem to be much of a demand on used sets as there used to be. Send me your list. Maybe I'll buy some of them!!

Starla said...

SPOOOOOKY!! I woke up this morning determined that this week I get my corner of the room under control. When I had to quickly downsize from an entire craft room to a corner in my bedroom, I admit emotions of being extremely overwhelmed, depression, anger and such. I got a lot thrown out, donated a bunch to our little church school, have two boxes in another corner just waiting for me to get rid of.

And now your list. Yep.....time to tackle this mess with a mean, lean attitude!!

Joan B said...

a corner!!! Ugh. it does feel good to let stuff go, but parts of it are hard too. Hang in there.

Kathy D said...

Oh, no! I am not gonna clutter up your space!! :-) The last time I tried Splitcoast, the stuff I had was not selling. I should just suck it up & google someplace to donate the boxes.

Leslie Miller said...

Joan, I thought you quit posting because I no longer received your emails (through my subscription to your blog). Just look at what I've missed! I did a quick scroll through to see how much I missed and it goes way back. Tsk, tsk. I must correct that by putting you on Bloglovin'. I'm on a purge, organize, focus and use kick right now. I'm ruthless when it comes to clearing out the rest of the house, but the stamp room approximately once a year. Glad I came over here today. It's a good time for me to read this post.

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to reduce my piles of craft stuff, but have stopped repeatedly because I feel so overwhelmed. I think my trouble is a combo of #2 and #3. I have so much stuff I *could* use that is in perfect shape despite being years old. And lots of it I still like. But because I don't have a easy way to recoup any of the money I spent (no more LSS, and no blog / ebay / facebook), the idea of getting rid of so much stuff makes me feel really guilty. But then so does seeing it all sitting there.
Am bookmarking your post. #2 and #4 may be what I need.

Erica said...

No need to add a comment. It's all been said above.

Princess Judy Palmer said...

I just discovered this post. I am slowly clearing my crafting stuff out. I find I go better if I go slowly and do a little at a time. It keeps me on task. I don't get emotional over it a little bit at a time. Every month I take stuff to my stamp club to either sell or give away. At first the ladies loved it and told me how they should do the same (but none of them ever did). Now they badger me over it. I'm always having to justify myself to them. I think they think I'm trying to make them look bad so they have to trash me. Their attitude has really put a damper on my long-term project. I felt good knowing my stuff was going to another stamper's home. Your post really helped me to re-see my goal which is to feel good about my home. If my stuff ends up in the trash because I can't put up with the attitude of ungrateful women, then hey, at least it's not in my home! The stuff has no feelings, it doesn't care where it ends up.

Aunt Min said...

Re: Step 1. Can it be a chocolate bunny? Preferably dark chocolate? (I'm a picky "hoarder.") If so, I might can make this work for me.