Today a catalog arrived in the mail. It was filled with nostalgic items for people of a certain age…like me. When I got to the page where you can buy all sorts of candy that was available when I was a child, the color photos of the different packages of candy brought back good memories.
And that reminded me of what I did when we downsized and gave up so many of our belongings: I took photos of the items I loved but couldn’t keep. When I look at those photos, all the memories linked to those items come flooding back, and it’s lovely.
So if you dread decluttering because you have a hard time letting go of sentimental items, remember you can just whip out your phone and take a photo of each beloved item. You don’t have to hold something in your hand to bring back memories: a photo will do, and it takes up a lot less room.
This jumped out at me from among the hundreds of photos used to advertise a local estate sale online.
I subscribe to emails from a few local estate sale agents because I love to go to estate sales. I try not to buy anything that will clutter up our little house, but there are certain things I need or want and I find that older items are often much better made than modern ones. For instance, I buy almost all of our linens and towels at estate sales, because I love getting vintage linens and towels, often still in the package, at a fraction of the price of modern linens and towels. They hold up forever!
That said, I wanted this specific toy grocery cart because there is a certain adorable little girl who is just learning to walk, and I want her to have this toy to play with. Many years ago, we bought a grocery cart just like this one for her mother’s first birthday. We got rid of it after our youngest child outgrew it.
My husband doesn’t like the rare occasions when I buy something we used to own. His logical thought is, “Why did we get rid of it in the first place if we were just going to buy another one?”
My response is, would you have preferred to trip over it all these years, or have it take up valuable storage space, say in a storage unit where it would pick up that funky odor that outdoor storage units seem to create on stored items?
One of the advantages of the Internet is that you can find just about anything you might want to buy, even if it’s old or dated. So you can get rid of most things knowing that if you do ever need them again, you can buy them online. In the meantime, your surroundings remain uncluttered. Works for me!
Imagine spending your retirement on a cruise ship. No cleaning or cooking, just relaxing and dancing every day, if that’s your thing. Sounds great! Of course, not everyone can afford to spend over $150,000 a year doing this, but if you don’t require such a fancy stateroom, and you have enough retirement money saved up, you might get to enjoy the good life, too.
I think this goes to show that you can have a good time without a house full of possessions to weigh you down. This lady sold her house and car before embarking on her life on the seas. Even if you can’t afford to retire to a cruise ship, living lightly is absolutely doable.
I thought I had a hard time giving up souvenirs and precious items when I downsized; imagine what it was like for Ringo Starr to pass along the treasures he picked up in his many adventures as part of the world’s most famous musical group. How cool that the proceeds went to charity!
When I get rid of clutter, I want to be rid of it, to not see it again, sometimes because I’m afraid I’ll change my mind, and other times because I just want to consider my decluttering effort a job that’s done and can be checked off my list.
But I did invest in all those things at one point, and I can see why it would be wise to sell some of the things I’ve decided to give up instead of just donating them wherever. This article about turning clutter into cash has some great ideas. Will I do it next time? We’ll see! How about you? Have you done this before, and was it worth the effort?
Years ago, there was a very wealthy man named Percy Ross who decided to devote the rest of his life to giving away his money. With some secretarial help, he read letters he received from people who wanted some of his cash, and decided whose situations were most worth supporting financially.
Those letters were part of a syndicated column that I used to read. One of the things I remember him saying repeatedly was “He who gives while he lives, knows where it goes.”
This isn’t just true of cash; it’s also true of stuff. We all have treasured possessions, our own or inherited from people who were special to us, that we just can’t give up. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but what will happen to those items after we pass away? What if our heirs drop those items off at the Goodwill, or worse, hurriedly toss them in a dumpster because our house needs to be emptied and sold by a certain date?
The answer to this dilemma, of course, is to give those items to people we care about before we die. Rather than let things remain stored away or just collect dust, we can give them to people who might actually use them.
Yes, it’s hard to part with such items. But you can always take photos of them so you can look at them when you wish; meanwhile the actual items might go on to have a little longer useful life and become valuable to someone else. Sure beats having your treasures wind up in a landfill.
It takes some thinking to make a small space work. In this article on Bob Vila’s site (where I was quoted!), you can learn some of those strategies.