Monday, May 26, 2008

The Cost of Clutter

Many times I have read self help information aimed at getting me to cut my clutter. Oftentimes they claim that de-cluttering will save time and money. Saving time I can sure understand. But money? I never have made the connection as to how my clutter, innocently piled up at the bottom of my closet, is costing me anything...that is, until today.

Recently I found that I could no longer close my closet door due to the large pile of miscellaneous stuff that has been growing there. With an extra day off to kill and no gas money to go anywhere I decided to attack the pile. Armed with garbage bags and a gritty determination to NOT save anything for a garage sale, I began my quest.

Pulling out piles of clothes and sorting through them I began to see a few things about myself. One thing I realized is I see value in everything. That's a good quality for a tightwad, but it can be over done.

The poorest person in America can have a wealth of free clothing just for asking - do I really need to save my super worn out, holey and stained T-shirt for charity? And yes, I already have enough cleaning rags. I tossed the T-shirt.

I also realized that because I see value in everything, I am reluctant to let anything go without getting some compensation. That dooms me to piles of clothes in my closet that will someday go to my big garage sale where I will make a million dollars from selling my valuable, super worn out, holey and stained T-shirts. It made sense until I thought about it.

The final thing I realized is that I am so busy seeing the value in holey T-shirts that I miss real money issues. For example, I just went out this week and spent $10 on a pair of denim shorts because it has been very hot and I wanted them that afternoon.

This afternoon I uncovered a stack of at least 10 pairs of nice denim shorts in my closet. Suddenly I remembered someone giving them to me last Fall. They have spent the winter languishing under piles of clutter until I forgot they existed. I had just spent $10 for nothing. My firsthand lesson in how clutter costs.

I also recently bought a pair of sport shorts so that I could ride my bicycle more. There in my closet was the exact same pair of shorts purchased last year. I wanted to scream with frustration; not only did I waste more money due to a cluttered closet but I realized I must be pretty boring to buy the exact same pair of shorts a year later.

Losing money always wakes me up, and I took the lessons to heart. I pulled seven bags out of two closets to give away, with even more going straight to the garbage. I quit on the mythical garage sale and the thought that someday we might need half a dozen T-shirt rags.

As a reward I now have a nice clean closet with everything in clear view. Shorts, capris and shirts are stacked in efficient rows. Gift bags (free from CVS, of course;), my emergency present box and my change pot are all within reach. Tomorrow I will shave 20 minutes off my getting ready time because I won't have to look for socks.

Organization feels good, looks good and is good for my wallet. Now if only I can keep it that way! How do you handle clutter? Leave a comment!

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