Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter
There's Gold in That Thar' Garage (well, maybe)
I'm eagerly awaiting the Baltimore weather to get just a wee bit warmer so I can clean out my garage. You see, during the winter, I amassed quite a collection of treasures that are waiting patiently to be delivered to their new homes with area charities. Many of those items came from my organizing clients. They no longer needed them and were OK with letting them go … as long as I promised that I would get them to good new homes. I'll keep my promises to them (when the weather warms up).
I know what's going to happen, though. When I can finally open up my garage and sort those "treasures" in the harsh light of day, some of them will turn out to be, ahem, not exactly the kinds of things most charities will be delighted to receive.
We make ourselves feel better about letting go of our things by convincing ourselves that it is OK to get rid of things as long as we do so "properly". For some people, that means that they must recoup their financial investment in them by reselling them. For others, their things are "free, to a good home", such as a charity. People are increasingly becoming so environmentally conscious that they simply can't bear the thought of throwing something away unless it is recycled or reused in some way. Each of those beliefs certainly has merit. We should be financially responsible. We should share with others who are less fortunate. We should protect the environment to the extent that we are able.
Some problems arise, however, when we carry these beliefs to the extreme:
Our houses become full of stuff that we fully intend to sell in a yard sale or post on E-bay – someday. (When IS Someday
? There are only seven days in the week, and one of them isn't called Someday!) The truth is that, for many of us, Someday never comes, and the stuff just piles up. Are we really
being financially responsible when that happens? Are we sharing with others? No, we're not.
Instead of helping charities with our donations of items that are in poor condition, we actually cost them money
. That's right! They have to pay to have our unusable donations hauled away. That certainly wasn't the outcome you intended, but that is what happens. Also, that tax deduction you thought you could take for those items? The IRS only allows you to take a tax deduction for items in good or excellent condition.
The road to a house-that-resembles-a-landfill is paved with good intentions. I will probably offend some of you by saying this, but this is my experience as a professional organizer. I have seen MANY good, decent people's houses be turned into virtual landfills because, for whatever reasons, those dear people were holding onto mountains of useless stuff because they didn't want to hurt "the environment". This stuff was literally garbage – of no use to anyone. And their aversion to waste and pollution was ruining their lives.
Now, I know that these were extreme situations. But my point remains: If something has served its purpose, let it move on to its next life. Warm weather is right around the corner.
posted on: 4/6/2008 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
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Minimizing Financial Clutter
by Katherine Trezise
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Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.