The Cost of Keeping Stuff

By Janine Adams

I gave a talk this week called Letting Go of the Tough Stuff. One of the points I made in that talk is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Many clients don’t like to part with items they don’t use or love because those items cost a lot to buy. Or they feel the item is worth something and they can’t just give it away, but selling it feels too complicated or labor-intenstive, so it gets put off.

When I’m working with a client with a big clutter problem they’re trying to resolve, I like to point out that there’s a cost associated with keeping those items. When you’re dealing with a lot of clutter, keeping stuff you don’t use or love can have the following costs:

  • physical cost. If you can’t dust because of the clutter, it can affect your health. If you can’t let in a repair person or get to the furnace to service it, your house might be paying a physical cost as well.
  • monetary cost. If you’re paying your bills late because you can’t find them amidst the paper, you’re probably paying higher interest rates on top of late fees. If you’re buying duplicates of things because you can’t find the ones you have, that’s costing you money. And if you’re paying for storage? That’s a quite literal example of how keeping your stuff can have a monetary cost.
  • An emotional cost. For many people, major clutter leads to guilt, shame and self-recrimination. Every time you look around you feel bad. If you’re hanging on to items that remind you of a bad time in your life (relics of a divorce for example), there’s an emotional cost as well.

Next time you’re tempted to keep something because it cost a lot, think about the costs of keeping it. Letting go of items you don’t use or love can be very freeing!

You can get more advice on letting go by purchasing my Organizing Guide,Saying Goodbye to the Stuff that’s Holding You Back.

Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. She specializes in working with chronically disorganized client, primarily in their homes, helping them create the order they crave. She blogs regularly at her website and offers concise, downloadable Organizing Guides for purchase. With life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she also offers a 28-day e-course called Declutter Happy Hour.


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