Author Topic: Letting go of “stuff”/collections  (Read 2188 times)


  • Bristles
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Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« on: September 15, 2019, 05:21:29 AM »
I’ve gone on a kijiji/ purging binge the last couple months when we brought one more “thing” into the house and realized we can’t really store anymore without having to pack stuff behind other stuff. My philosophy is if there are multiple layers of stuff and I have to rearrange just to get to something then there is a problem and also I ll probably never use that thing again. I’ve had success letting go with more typical items that have no sentimental or collector value whereas before if something worked and was useful In some way I would keep it.  Now I’m getting down to the tough stuff. I always take care of my things and would usually buy or be bought nice things some of them spanning back to when I was 5.

. Part of the problem is that there is guilt that someone else bought these things for me, part of me is afraid I’ll suddenly want to use it again even though it hasn’t been touched in 15 years.  And the last part is that although I have found a buyer for a large part of it when you’re selling items in bulk to a reseller you aren’t going to get near full price something that makes me feel guilty about too lazy to sell thing myself but  - where I live it would take years if ever to unload this stuff one at a time and probably work out to $2-$3 an hour for many hours.

The next question is how do you get rid of the more sentimental stuff? Pictures, random Knick knacks keepsakes etc?


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2019, 06:21:43 AM »
A couple ideas for you:

1.  Did you see the whole tidying up with Marie Kondo phase that happened a few months ago? You pile up all your stuff and only keep the stuff that “sparks joy”.  Basically instead of focusing on the negative you might feel later focus on if the object gives you a positive feeling now.

2.  Keep one or two boxes for keepsakes. That’s your limit. It will make you really think about which ones are sentimental.

3.  Donate some things in bulk. It’s much faster and you’re helping someone else. If it’s only a couple hundred dollars of items think of it as a charitable contribution for the year.

4. Set a year limit for things. For instance I can understand keeping camping equipment if you haven’t used it in a couple years. But things that should be regularly used (clothes) should go if you haven’t worn them in a year.  15 years is too long for anything non-sentimental unless it’s your Cicada hunting gear.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 06:23:45 AM by samsonator54321 »


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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2019, 06:58:45 AM »
Stuff you don't use is just garbage you are paying to store.

Honestly, stuff is just stuff and even if it was a gift, the gift giver already got their joy from giving it to you and has probably never thought of it again.

The more stuff you actually have, the less of your stuff you will actually ever use, and that's what you should feel guilty about, having so much stuff that you literally don't have time to use all of it, or aren't even aware most of the time that you even have it, so never think to use it.

As for selling it, who cares what you get for it, unless you really need the money. Why would selling it for less make you feel guilty? Someone else is going to get to enjoy it for a great price. That's lovely!

Marie Kondo had already been mentioned, and she thanks the item before giving it up. So thank your items for whatever joy they've brought you and then let them go to provide joy for others.

If an item in your home isn't actively being used, it is being wasted. As I said initially, it is essentially no different from garbage.

As for possibly needing or wanting something in the future, well there are friends and stores for that if that unlikely situation occurs.

DH has these juggling balls he bought at a garage sale 17 years ago for 25c that he's never used, but always wanted to learn to juggle. Through 4 rounds of purging from our basement, he kept holding onto the juggling balls "just in case".
-I gave him a 1 year deadline: take up juggling or the balls go. -He asked "what if I'm only inspired to take up juggling in 5 years?"
I replied: "it's been 17 years that we've stored these balls as garbage. Someone else might actually use these balls. If you want juggling balls in 5 years, I will buy you new juggling balls"

There's this powerful fear of getting rid of something only to regret it in the future. Well that's total nonsense.
I've gotten rid of so many things that years down the road I wished I still had, and it's not some tragedy, I just go buy another one. Problem solved.

I would rather donate/sell 100 items and regret one or two down the line, than house the 98 items that are essentially trash as long as I own them.

Once you conceptualize unused items as literal garbage that you are storing in layers in your home, it helps you realize that the stuff you do actually need and use is being hidden in masses of trash. Why would you store your precious/useful things in piles of trash?? Why would you make yourself sift through trash every time you want to find something you actually want to use???

That stuff doesn't have to be trash. When you donate/sell it, you transform it back into a useful item that can enrich someone's life.

If the only use you get out of an item is feeling nostalgic when you pick it up and reflect on the fact that you never need it, it's time to let it go and let it transform back into something useful, not refuse stagnating on your shelves.

Don't let stuff become garbage.
That is literally the *only* thing you should feel bad about in this process.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2019, 08:08:08 AM »
When I left the best job of my life after 18 years (lay off), I brought home a small rolling suitcase full of personal files, books from seminars I went to, cheat sheets I used to help me in my job. All kinds of stuff. I brought it home and left it in the garage and never opened it for about 11 or 12 years. I somehow thought the stuff might help me in another job. It did not help me whatsoever but I couldn't let it go till my heart said get rid of it. There was maybe a handful of things I kept but everything else went into the trash. It is hard to see a part of your life, and one that you enjoyed, gone. But once you have decided to purge for the right reasons, it is much easier.

I am glad to read these posts because it helps motivate me back into purging more things I have no need for and that are just clutter. I am really tired of clutter. It is hard to clean when you have to pick up a thousand items to clean around.

I used to watch hoarders and it made me want to grab a box of garbage bags and toss everything I own into them to get rid of stuff. Just think, when you are dead and gone, most likely no one will want your cherished items which those cleaning out will chalk it all up to a junk collection. Give it away now before it ends up in a dumpster.

An aunt of mine was single her whole life and lived in the same place her whole life. Much later in life she became a hoarder and no one knew because she wouldn't allow anyone inside. She ended up in the hospital and one of her relatives took over her personal affairs shortly before she died. She was horrified to find the apartment filled from floor to ceiling with boxes and junk. Some boxes had never been opened. Plus, the whole place was infested with bed bugs. It was a very old apartment building so the whole building probably had the bed bug problem. Almost nothing could be saved and a company had to be hired to throw everything away. It cost thousands of dollars to do this. The workers had to wear protective gear while doing this work.

Do someone a favor and get rid of your own collectibles (junk).


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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2019, 08:15:48 AM »
The next question is how do you get rid of the more sentimental stuff? Pictures, random Knick knacks keepsakes etc?

Pictures, of course, can be digitized, and the technology is such that they can be reproduced to a quality you can't distinguish.  Too much of a hassle to digitize?  Well, maybe they don't mean that much to you, then.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2019, 03:15:15 PM »
Here is a link to a place that will scan your photos:

I have never used them but am considering it. There seems to be a lot of options and add ons. Read the questions and answers as they are helpful in understanding the services provided.

I tried to scan photos and did scan a ton but it is SO time consuming and beyond boring! There are other companies out there too so check what they have to offer.

People have said to take pictures of things you are parting with so you can always 'see' it in the future.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2019, 06:43:30 PM »
There's a thread about decluttering in the gauntlet section. Might help.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2019, 01:29:39 PM »
Part of the problem is that there is guilt that someone else bought these things for me,
Someone bought them for you, yes, but why? For you to use or to give you pleasure, presumably. If the things have done that, they did their job. If they're not doing that now, their job is done, and now they can go do the same job for someone else. There's no need to feel guilt. You can keep feeling gratitude for the giving even after you don't have the gift.
(If the giver bought them for some other reason, such as to make themselves look generous, well, nuts to that! you can toss those gifts guilt-free!)

part of me is afraid I’ll suddenly want to use it again even though it hasn’t been touched in 15 years.
My favorite sentence ever from a decluttering book is "If you think there's a chance you might need this item someday in the future... get rid of it."
If you do want to use it again, you can almost always buy another one. The cost of one new (or secondhand!) item every 15 years is worth the 15 years of extra space acquired by getting rid of it.

  And the last part is that although I have found a buyer for a large part of it when you’re selling items in bulk to a reseller you aren’t going to get near full price something that makes me feel guilty about too lazy to sell thing myself but  - where I live it would take years if ever to unload this stuff one at a time and probably work out to $2-$3 an hour for many hours.
Again, no guilt! Guilt is for bad deeds, not for rational decisions of effort/benefit. Would you apply for a job that paid $2-3 an hour? Wouldn't you rather have the space now and for the years ahead?


The next question is how do you get rid of the more sentimental stuff? Pictures, random Knick knacks keepsakes etc?
The key for me was to realize that keeping the object =/= keeping the memories.  I don't actually need every letter my cousin ever sent me as a child to remember and cherish the closeness those letters built. I don't need every t-shirt from every event to remember the pleasure I got from college competitions. Etc.
So most such things that are usable by others go to the thrift store, and most that aren't go in the trash. I'm not totally unsentimental; I kept some things that I enjoy rereading or looking at. For me the cutoff is not to keep things just for the sake of keeping them.
Good luck! FWIW, I find it gets much easier as I get older.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2019, 06:28:08 AM »
Another idea my friend did for her son was to take a bunch of her son's high school tee shirts when he played sports and have them reconstructed into a throw blanket. She had these boxes of shirts stored away for years. I don't think her son was particularly interested in wearing these shirts ever again but had some sentimental feeling for the shirts. She surprised him with the throw blanket. She sent hers to an on line company to have them do it but if you are creative you can do it yourself. Or you could make throw pillows out of the shirts. Here is one company that does this work. I have never used this company myself and know nothing about them but you can get an idea on how it is done:{creative}&ads_matchtype=e&ads_network=o&ads_targetid=kwd-77515705457145:loc-190&ttv=2&utm_campaign=September%202019&utm_medium=ppc&utm_source=bing&utm_term=blanket%20tshirt&msclkid=1a24977b3bda1d1d94b5caf91a2e7103&utm_content=T-Shirt%20Quilts%20%7C%20Exact


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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2019, 03:43:05 PM »
I have a hard time with sentimental items.  I am the family historian and I ended up with all of the family pictures and knickknacks collected by my grandmother AND my dad.  Plus mine.  There's about 10 tubs of photo albums.

I HIGHLY recommend the Marie Kondo book.  It's a lot of woo-woo, but there's some useful stuff in there.  For pictures, I'm having to make multiple passes.  The more that you have the harder it is to get rid of any (a paradox).  I'm organizing mine by decade and then by event.  I don't need 3 dozen pictures of Christmas 1989.  First I culled it down to 20 pictures, then 10.  I'm hoping to work my way down to 5 or 6.  My goal is to get down to 1 or 2 tubs and then digitize them so I can share with my cousins.

I'm also a book hoarder.  It's taken 18 months and innumerable passes, but I'm down to about 400 books.  I actually have an entirely empty bookcase for the first time since I was 5 years old.  I am only keeping books with a purpose - ones I plan to read again, reference books I can't access online, books my kids will read in a few years, and the books my husband won't let me get rid of.

I'm nowhere close to being a minimalist, but in 18 months we got rid of about 40-50% of all of our stuff.  There are only a handful of things I've gone looking for later.  I'd love to get rid of about half of what's left, but my husband is less than cooperative.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Letting go of “stuff”/collections
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2019, 05:08:57 PM »
You know guys - there are a lot of nuances - your age, your health-can you keep up with it all, whether you actually have valuable collections or basically just junk trinkets overrunning your house, your past-present-future lifestyle and who you are as a person - will influence and in some cases even dictate what one owns.

I find it amusing to see the trend toward tiny houses and minimalism - it's a reaction to/reflection of our current society.
But I'm a huge proponent of paring down at various stages throughout your life.

I hated the popular Marie Kondo book about tidying up. I don't need anyone to tell me to decide whether an item I own "sparks joy" for heaven's sakes - that's just ridiculous.
In real life I might hang onto the bullet that almost ended my life as a reminder to be more cautious and listen to my gut in the next relationship - how's that for joy, Marie - I made it out alive:)

... and for crying out loud - there is the rare item which is indeed irreplaceable for a variety of reasons (not ten items mind you), but to say it's all just stuff is disingenuous. ... and no, I don't want a photo of something I let go - it's gone for a reason and besides, I'm a tactile person who likes to feel and touch.
...and hell yes, I will keep my seven vases - I use them all and I love them all or I wouldn't own them.

Letting go and in some cases preparing for death or retirement or a forced move for financial reasons is not that easy. Yeah well, our kids don't want to be bothered with our stuff, that is difficult to accept at first, but fine.
So you think about it for a while and when you get over the initial feeling of rejection, hell it's not you, it's just that they don't want/need your stuff.
Besides, some people have hellacious tastes:).

My mother started de-cluttering around 75 and did a good job of it. At some point, she asked me rather anxiously if I thought she should get rid of more things, but confided at the same time that she was happy with how it was now.
She rejoiced in still having several crystal vases which she used for the flowers I sent her on the holidays, she hadn't bought new sheets or towels in over a decade because she was using up her "stash" and thought she had enough until she died.
She loved her china and crystal glass collection displayed in china cabinets, but had culled it down and was reluctant to let go of some of the trinkets that were meaningful to her.
Yes, it was still a full household, but she had a big apartment with no visible clutter at all. She's one of those people in whose house you can eat off the floor at 2 am in the morning.

Could more of her stuff have found it's way to the dumpster or donation box - yeah, but she was not adding to it and occasionally gave things away to friends and kept on donating old clothes whenever she bought new.
There is no law that says a 75-year-old can't enjoy a new dress or top, just because she has a closet full of clothes. She always enjoyed fashion and loved it when a new style came out that was favorable for her. So what if she spent money on clothes, it gave her joy. She was diligent in clearing out her closet each season.
A good habit to have in my opinion, because there is always something to be mended, altered or retired and replaced. Besides if you don't do it, you eventually will not find a thing, discover that you have a stain on your dress when you are already in the car ready to go or realize your party dress no longer fits on the night of the party. 

There is nothing wrong with having a few items of sentimental value or things that immediately send your mind back to a time when you were happy and everything was alright with your life.
Still, paring down is not that easy, I've found I have more success if I cut another swath through the room a couple of months later, often a third, by then I realize that I'm not really missing the stuff and that helps. I remember it fondly, but we had our time together, perhaps there is a person out there who would be happy to have it.

I reduced the X-mas stuff by half and may let go of another third the next time around - at the same time I switched from having a tree to displaying a newly purchased carved wooden buck and running some tiny white twinkle lights up its antlers - it's an antique cottage look and takes only minutes to set up on top of a Christmas runner.
Things change - you change.

OP - about letting go of knick-knacks or pictures - here is how I do it:
I'm a different person now who needs and wants to make room in her life for something new - because nothing new can come into your life if you keep holding on to the past too tight.
OR - I'm just happy to have less stuff in my life - no replacement necessary - just having space is nice too. Space to breathe - yes.

OP - on the guilt about things that others have purchased for you:
They served their purpose - you hopefully enjoyed and used them for a while, so you pass them on. Think of it like you got their money's worth out of it.
Besides at some point in your life, you need to become gutsy enough to stand up for yourself and your space and only allow things in that are useful, beautiful ...the junky stuff needs to go!
Be truthful with yourself, you hate or hated that thing all along or it simply needs to leave the premises, because you are over it.
Are you really going to let an object or another person dictate what you should have in your own house?

What worked for me is setting limits that worked for me and then slowly chipping away at those limits when I knew I had kept too much, but hadn't been ready to let go.
Books were my Achilles heel, but I'm down to three bookcases and a one in - one out rule, which has been working well for over a decade. Although of course, one has to be vigilant, bibliophiles like to hide their books even from themselves.
I am ruthless and will donate any fiction book the minute I'm done reading it, magazines do get tossed, I peruse my bookshelves from time to time to see if there are any books that I have lost interest in.

Now that I'm older I tend to do smaller de-cluttering jobs instead of an entire room at once - like one kitchen drawer or one shelf or (gulp) ask for help.
When I wanted to clean up the pantry for the holidays but knew I couldn't deal with the pull out shelving I did one big shelf each Saturday morning with Mr. R. for five weeks.

It is freeing to declutter, but I find minimalism, for instance, puts too many limits on my life. Why should I own only one vase big enough for one flower or branch, often depicted in a picture of a minimalist room, when I can enjoy the abundance of a generous bouquet?
Not to say I don't snip a single rose from my garden and place it on my kitchen window sill to enjoy.

OTOH, I gave away two juicers and an electric Wok Mr. R. had since I never use them. I'm perfectly happy to use a large old fashioned glass juicer for a single orange and press by hand. It takes the same amount of time, the juice will be fresh instead of a large jar stored in the fridge, it is rinsed off in a jiffy, takes up less space, no electricity needed and is a snap to put away.

I haven't bought any clothes or shoes this year, because I splurged on both on vacation last year. Nevertheless, my clothes closet is due for a seasonal revamp and serious decluttering.
That always used to be such fun, grab a bubbly and my mother or my best friend and go to town with some good dancing music in the background - voila.

The wine and music are also sadly lacking from Mrs. Kondo's tidying up ventures:).