What I didn't mention is that I'm also in the throes of my own spring cleaning. You see, the Sailor and I are moving in a few short weeks... and while we have lived a number of places both as singles and as a couple, this is the first time we're moving together, quite far, with STUFF.
I don't think we have more than the average American by any means, but we've still got some stuff (my craft stuff alone seems to have multiplied when I wasn't looking). And even though we're moving to a slightly larger apartment, I don't want to haul ALL of the stuff stashed in here with us.
So I've been purging.
I have a few general rules about material purges. And since my life seems to consist of lists lately (hence all of the blogging lists of late!) I thought I'd also share these purging guidelines with you. (Notice I said guidelines, not rules. Exceptions, of course can be made.)
1. If you haven't worn an item of clothing for a year -- get rid of it.
EXCEPTIONS: One or two special items -- like your wedding gear, or that sassy red dress you bought on clearance that you haven't had occasion to wear yet. However, if you have a closet full of the equivalent of sassy red dresses that you haven't worn yet, get rid of a few.
TIPS: Some people suggest putting the hanger backwards in the closet at the start of the year (or your purge), and then when you wear the item, put the hanger the right way. At the end of the year, you can quickly see what you haven't worn. And by all means, only keep clothing that you love. If you wear something and think, 'I can't stand this' -- then get rid of it.
SIDE NOTE: If you are waiting to lose weight to fit back into something (we're not talking about those times during the month when things fit more snug than usual -- I'm talking at least a size difference), I suggest you get rid of it. The times in my life when I have reached my heaviest, I looked at my skinny jeans and wanted to cry. Rather than motivating me to lose the weight, the skinny jeans simply reminded me of how fat I got. Likewise, when I lost the weight, I got rid of the fat jeans. I didn't need a reminder of that time period in my life -- and I certainly didn't want to keep something in expectation that I may gain weight again.
2. If you buy something new, get rid of something equivalent in your closet or cabinet.
EXCEPTIONS: Things you didn't have in the first place -- you can't get rid of the old blender if this is the first one you've ever purchased! Just be sure to actually use the blender.
TIPS: Just because it's cheap at the thrifts, it doesn't mean you should buy more. Thrifted items still count as 'new' even if they're old. Ask yourself: 'If money wasn't an object, do I love this item enough to pay full price for it, or am I simply buying it because it's cheap?' If you're only buying it because it costs a buck, hang it back on the rack.
SIDE NOTE: I still bought stuff even after we knew we were moving. I know I have a Pyrex problem -- let's just get that out of the way. In my defense, I made sure I got rid of something of equal value if I bought anything. For instance, I found this Butterfly Gold loaf pan and my mom became the proud new owner of my old glass pan.
3. Try to imagine the benefit someone else may get out of your stuff.
EXCEPTIONS: Um. None.
TIPS: Ask yourself: 'Can someone else can use this stuff more than I do at the moment?' Think of it as a good deed for the day.
SIDE NOTE: We didn't have a lot of money growing up. We never once went 'school shopping' for new clothes. I lived in hand-me-downs until I got to college and even then, I still thrifted my way through my 20s. I remember how excited I was on the days we came home from church with a garbage bag full of clothes given to us by another family. It was like Christmas to me -- I felt like a princess. In turn, when I outgrew the stuff, my mom had me box things up and give them to the next family in line, or we donated items to Goodwill.
An added bonus is that many thrift stores aren't out to make a profit -- your donations to them support various charities and people who may otherwise not have a job.
If you prefer to make some extra cash with yard sales, eBay, or Craigslist, consider donating a portion of your sales to a charity or non-profit involved in the recovery of the recent horrific tornadoes in Oklahoma. It's not always easy to box up your clothing and ship it to someone who may need it (and the people of Oklahoma need many things right now), but plenty of charities are able to offer support thanks to monetary donations.
Here are a few of my favorites:
The Red Cross: In times of disaster, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental services to help families and communities get back on their feet.
The Salvation Army: These unsung heroes are often the first at a disaster site with mobile food canteens. (Bonus, they have thrift stores! Donate your goods directly to them.)
Hope Force International: I have personally worked with and for this organization and can vouch for the excellent emotional and spiritual care they offer to people in disaster situations.
What's in your closet?