Monday, June 1, 2015

Decluttering & Spending Less Part One

About a month ago, I bought a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I first saw it on the audible listen list (I follow them on instagram) and after reading the reviews I just couldn't get it out of my mind.

What I found most enticing was the statement in the product description on amazon which said, "...if you simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again." We are in the process of buying a new house and so are coming up on a move. The idea of organizing things once and for all and not bringing old messes into a new house is very alluring to me. So I ordered it.

By the time the book came, I had been counting the minutes until the postman made his drop-off.

I immediately set to devouring it. Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant who has her own special method for simplifying, organizing and storing things.

What I love:

First she asks you to imagine the life that you want for yourself. Imagine the home that you want and you have to be specific about it. She points out that essentially the reason you want these things is because you want to be happy. It is all about happiness. "The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want once your house has been put in order".

The first step is decluttering. You do this in categories (as opposed to rooms) starting with clothes, then books, etc.. You pick up each piece and ask, "Does this bring me joy?" In my case I paraphrased, "Does this item contribute to the life I want for myself or am I just holding onto it out of guilt or sentimentality?"

I also learned that in her method, decluttering and tidying up isn't something you do a little of each day. It is something that is done as an event and when it is done, you shouldn't have to do it again. Doing a little tidying each day turns it into a never-ending drudgery and you don't get the immediate reward of a decluttered space and so it doesn't feel worthwhile enough to work on it every day. So you wind up putting it off. When you do it as an event, you are resetting your life.

I tried to read the book and do the steps at the same time without reading too far ahead.

So I went through my dresser and closet and all of the stuff that I had been holding onto for years. Things that I had when I was still in or shortly after I left the Church, when I was still trying to be someone I wasn't because I didn't actually know who I was.

Shoes that I had never even worn, pants that were unflattering, clothes that I wore to events that I held onto because I had paid good money for them and it felt like a waste to get rid of them. I put it all in a giant pile. I thought it would be hard, but the book actually prepared me for this mentally.

The more I put in the pile, the more excited I became. Because underneath all of the clothes that I never wore, that never flattered me or that were itchy or uncomfortable, emerged a closet full of curated items that I love, that make me happy to look at and to wear. A closet that was a window to who I am and who I want to be.

It wound up being thrilling and somehow a relief. Decluttering my space felt like decluttering my mind.

Next, I went into the kids drawers. Every day I open Winnie's drawers to get her an outfit and have to sort through everything that no longer fits and all of the "interesting" clothes her grandmas (I'm not saying which one) bought her, to scrounge for the ones I want her to wear. Her dresser is always so full yet it seems like there's never anything to wear!

As I cleaned out their drawers, I found that underneath the clutter there were clothes I hadn't seen for months and also an emerging picture of what they actually need more of that I had been neglecting.

As therapeutic as it was to cut out the junk, one thing did bother me. The thought of how much money I waste on buying them clothes that they'll no longer fit into in just a couple of months. There had to be a better way to do this!

I've visited local children's consignment shops in the past, but often felt like hauling everything there and then back home again just didn't seem worth the trouble. Plus, many such stores only allowed me store credit in exchange for my items which I didn't really want. It was all a bit of a process that isn't very convenient.

That was when I found Thredup. It's an online service that will ship you a clean-out bag for free. You fill it up with your discarded items (they take jewelry and handbags as well) and put it on your porch. You can schedule a free USPS pick-up or just drop it off at FedEx, and the bag ships back to them (no shipping costs for you).  They then process your bag and buy what they can resell and they give you cash for (or store credit-of the same value- if you so choose).  Anything they can't use, they will donate or if you prefer they'll send it back for a small shipping fee.

In addition to buying, they sell gently-used, name-brand clothes and accessories for women and kids at up to 80% off of the retail prices.

I was pretty excited about this because I could actually use the money I get for their old clothes to buy them new clothes!

But I was wary and wanted to do a test run to make sure everything worked as they claimed, their items were quality and that they actually paid out.

These are three of the five bags I sent in. I asked for them to donate anything they couldn't use.

They received it and processed it quickly.

I got my first credit and I ordered some clothes for Winnie. A few days later the package was on my doorstep.

I was so impressed with the packaging and the quality of the items was outstanding as well. Everything here is from Baby Gap and each item was about $7. If I bought these items new, they'd be at least $30 each.


Aren't they cute?!

Their little booklet I thought had some wonderful points, that were well made, which made me feel like I was doing something good.

However, Thred up doesn't accept some of the Target brand kids clothes and so I found a local Thrift Shop called "Once Upon a Child" that evaluates your items on the spot and gives you cash that you walk out of the store with.

So I brought in all of my Target brand clothes and traded them in for cash. I then used this cash to buy Win these new Saltwater Sandals. She only had two shoes that fit her at this point which I hadn't realized before the clean-out. Not only did I not have to put any money out of pocket to buy her these shoes that I love (and she loves), but I know that I can also resell them when I am done with them!

What this store didn't buy, I brought to another store literally across the street and they bought several items and gave me a store credit. For $2 above my store credit I bought these items.

Baby Gap, Target and Old Navy. All are like-new items but I have the satisfaction of a good deal, no buyers remorse and knowledge that my items will be loved once again. Anything that was not bought, I then donated to Goodwill.

When I'm not on such a roll, I could just send everything to Thredup and avoid running between the various shops. However I might make a routine of doing all the rounds. It is a great way to spend less!

I am on a roll! Stay tuned for Part Two later this week!


  1. For me, cleaning out the house is not only about getting rid of things, but recognizing the habits I have that made such a mess in the first place. Fixing those bad habits (like hanging on to ill fitting clothes till I'm a "proper" weight), will go a long way in making sure that decluttering 'sticks'.

    Thanks for the info about ThredUp. I haven't heard of them before. I'm off to check them out now!

    Looking forward to part two.

    1. So true! You are so welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I am going to check out that book aND thread up. I need to streamline things.