Spring Cleaning

by Kerry Firth

Simplify your life by eliminating clutter!

With the world seemingly spinning out of control all around me, I decided to take control of the one thing I could – my own personal space. Time to rid my home of clutter.  It was time for my annual “Spring Cleaning” ritual.  Ok...maybe not annual but I felt it was time none the less.  Quite frankly I wondered if I might as well have tackled balancing the national budget or solving the financial crisis!  Where does one start?
    Never being one to shy away from a challenge, I bravely opened the closet door and looked at the racks of clothes I haven’t worn since I moved into this house seven years ago.  Am I really ever going to get back into a size 6 again (... ok, maybe it was size 10)?  And even if I do, will that article of clothing be in style?    
    So I started piling clothes into three boxes labeled: donate, consign and trash.  The clothing that remained on the racks was then arranged in order of types:  sleeveless tops; long sleeve tops; sweaters; jackets; slacks, etc. Before you knew it, I had a closet that was organized!
      Next I tackled the kitchen.  Those of you who know me know I’m not a master in the kitchen. I probably would have trouble identifying most cooking utensils, much less using them.  That may be true, but at least I can now find the lids to the tupperware containers, and as a bonus I can take comfort in the knowledge that I have a never ending supply of vinegar! Those little unknown stockpiles of canned and bottled goods make great donations for local food drives.
    Maybe I’ll get real inspired next time and take an even bigger step. I have friends who recently remodeled their kitchen and they were able to recycle their old cabinets, sinks and fixtures to the local Habitat for Humanity.  Their old stuff got a new life in another home!  Habitat for Humanity is constantly seeking household and construction donations and will even pick it up free in Indian River County.  
If you really can’t bear to part with the canopy bed that you slept in  as a child, why not store it?

    Ebay says that the average household has used items just taking up space that can be turned into about $3000 in cash. The vast array of consignment stores in the area are happy to help you cash in on items like furniture, but have you considered decluttering your jewelry box? With gold prices at record highs it just makes sense to turn those high school charm bracelets, class rings and discarded wedding bands (oh yeah, the wedding bands) into cash!  Make sure you go to a local, reputable jeweler though who will give you what it’s worth.  My girlfriends and I visited Mike Edmonds at Vero Estate Jewelry where he gave us cash on the spot and good conversation too!  
    Once you’ve sorted through your unused treasures and culled out the significant items to consign or sell for cash, why bother with Ebay or the hassle of a yard sale where you’ll never get the real value of an item? Gently used clothing and housewares can be donated to a number of Treasure Coast charities operating resale outlets.  Places like VNA’s Hidden Treasures in Vero are actively seeking donations because of the strong resale activity they are experiencing. With clothes items a buck or two, and housewares for pennies, savvy shoppers are coming in to buy necessities at a fraction of the retail cost. Your donations can be itemized for a deduction on taxes and proceeds generated by their resale go to offset day to day operating expenses for places like the VNA Hospice House.  
    In the end, I know some of you just can’t bring yourself to part with your “treasures”. There are those of you who are saving furniture for college kids, baby clothes for the next batch of grandchildren, or you just get too sentimental. As noble as that is, are you ready to live with the clutter for decades?  If you really can’t bear to part with the canopy bed that you slept in while you were a little girl, why not store it?  StoreSmart Self Storage in Ft. Pierce has climate controlled bays that will keep your heirlooms safe.  They’ll even pack them up, label them and move them for you if you like!  The point is to create an uncluttered living space for you to enjoy.  Remove the clutter and you’ll immediately simplify your life!
    As I moved from room to room, I decided this spring cleaning, recycling gig was truly an existential experience.  Think about it.  Every time I got rid of something that no longer served its purpose, I was opening up space for something new and better!  It must have to do with Universal Law, not unlike the ebb and flow of financial abundance.  I felt good too!  Maybe by cleaning up our surroundings we clear our mental and emotional bodies as well. I never imagined that cleaning out a closet and releasing the past would enable me to travel along life’s path a little freer!  You will too. So roll up your sleeves, start cleaning, recycling and donating! It’s good for the soul!

Clutter or Keepsake?

If every item in your home seems necessary, it’s time to ask yourself these questions.

When did I last use it?
If you haven’t used something in the last year, chances are you won’t use it in the next.  Purge old items, interest, hobbies, and unfinished projects to make room for the important things in your life.

Am I going to need it on a specific date?
If  you’re entertaining a crowd next month, keep the punch bowl!  If you are saving a hat for your 10 year old’s wedding, free up the space.  If it doesn’t have a definite date of use, the clutter isn’t worth it.

Does it have a legal or tax purpose?
Go through all your papers and keep only those that are really needed.

Can it be easily replaced?
If items are priceless emotionally or historically it is worth keeping.  Get rid of those things that are easily duplicated.

Is it making life any better?
If an item is not making you happier, healthier or better, they are just taking up space and cluttering your life.

In With the New . . . Out with the Old

One surefire way to keep from allowing your clutter to expand is the follow a simple rule.  Every time you buy something new or someone gives you a gift that you want to keep, you must rid yourself of something old.  With clothing this is particularly easy.  If you buy a new pair of jeans, give an old pair to charity.  

If you enforce this rule religiously then you may never have to curb spending impulses.  Knowing beforehand that in order to add that funky purse to your wardrobe means you will sacrifice another handbag will make you re-evaluate the purchase.  If you are not ready to release something then your purchases impulse is put on pause.

Use this simple “in with the new, out with the old” rule for everything in your home and office.  It will arrest your spending and control the clutter!

When you clean out your dresser drawers throw away the unmatched socks!  Their mates aren't coming back!
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