My stumbling block

Sixteen months into my declutter mission and thirteen months blogging about it and I still have the odd stumbling block when it comes to decluttering.

  • It isn’t staying away from shopping I mastered that discipline very quickly but then again I was always a bit thrifty.
  • It isn’t obligation clutter because I feel no compulsion to keep things just because someone else thinks I should.
  • It isn’t bringing stuff back into the house that I had already decluttered to its departure point. I don’t think in all this time that I have ever done that.
  • It isn’t I might need it some day clutter. I think I knew from the get go that this is often what gets most people into this mess in the first place so I don’t play that game any more.
  • In isn’t guilt clutter because I have certainly gotten rid of plenty of that.

And yet in a way it is guilt clutter. Not clutter I can’t make a decision on because guilt makes me feel I should keep it. Or like obligation clutter I would feel guilty getting rid of something someone gave me. Not even straight ~ I can’t get rid of this because I paid good money for it and I haven’t used it to it’s full potential. What it is is this..

I spent good money on this item and I would like to recoup some of that money by selling it. Sounds easy and it is, that’s the point. All I have to do is retrive the item from its hiding place take a few photos, write a blurb, choose a selling price or starting bid depending on how I intend to sell it and leave it in the lap of the Gods to decide whether I am successful of not.

I have written similar posts about this at least twice already over the last fifteen months and I still can’t convince myself that this is as easy as it sounds. There are items in my house that have had every intension of decluttering right from the very start that I have done nothing about them simply because I don’t want to deal with the selling process and all that that entails. I think as much as anything else it is the fact that once I have dragged these items out of hiding I have to put up with having them in plain sight until the sales has reached completion and I can send the item on its merry way.

Here are some of the items in question

  • Daughter’s ski jacket ~ I somehow missed this one when I sold all the other ski gear and now is the best selling time again because we are about to go into ski season in Australia. It is just a case of listing it on eBay and even though I am sure it will sell well I am still unenthused. I have actually taken it our of the cupboard and taken the photos already but haven’t listed it yet.
  • Paper craft supplies ~ Granted this one is a little trickier because my intention is to have a sales table at the Air Force base craft group gathering. This happens once a month, I think, and I have never attended so it requires me to get in contact with the people running the group to get the OK to do this. I have to weed out all the items I want to sell, price it all, travel forty minutes to get there, have someone meet me to get me through base security… blah blah blah. But oh the benefits of having an interested captured audience and the freedom of getting rid of the over abundance of supplies cluttering up my office/craft space. I really do need to use the excitement of the end result to spur me on with this task.
  • Daughter’s keyboard ~ I have only just asked her if she wants to keep this even though I have had my eye on it from the very beginning. She has now told me she no longer wants and is keen to reep the extra cash at my inconvenience. It is a bit inconvenient (shipping cost) to sell on eBay but I have other local options which I think would be successful. My only hold up here is the effort dragging it out of her bedroom cupboard and photographing it and come up with a selling price.
  • Son’s Coka Cola collection. Awkward to list, lots of photos involved (already taken, mind you, but I still haven’t done anything about it). Awkward to ship (I think this is my actual stumbling block here) and not sure how well received it will be on eBay. Not sure whether to sell items separately or one job lot… What I really want out of this is a few dollars back in my boy’s pocket which is why this box of items haven’t just been given away already.

As you can see there is more to this than meets the eye but you know what, I have no shortage of stubborn determination. I have hit this wall before and I dare say I will hit it again but in the end my determination wins out and I sell sell sell. Just like when I sold my iRobot cleaners, shelf unit, Kiss dolls and much more. You are probably thinking why not just do yourself a favour and donate these things. Why not indeed? Because like I said every now and again an item comes along that I just want to recoup a little money back on or a want to make a few dollars for the kids and for that I find the will.

What is your decluttering stumbling block or Achilles’ heal when it comes to decluttering? Share it with us by leaving a comment maybe myself or someone out there will have the perfect solution for you or at least some much needed encouragement.

Today’s Declutter Item

If I could just work out why I keep getting holes in my t-shirts I wouldn’t be forced to declutter them. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were old but I only bought this one last August. Not happy. I think it is one of two things ~ my laptop or the seat belts in the car rubbing the t-shirt against the fly of my pants. Either way the solution is simple and I have to ask myself why I haven’t done anything to fix the situation. The think the word I am looking for is Apathy. 😳

Holey T-shirt

My Gratitude List

  • Something that made be laugh ~ My neighbour was telling me he has his chicken well trained but they only speak Macedonian. We laughed together.
  • Something Awesome ~ Greek Yoghurt ~ there are so many ways you can use it. My hubby has it on his cereal, it is great in and along side a curry, it is delicious mixed with honey with a sprinkling of muesli (granola) on top, as a raising agent in Naan bread, for making tzatziki sauce to have with crumbled fetta and Greek fries…
  • Something to be grateful for ~ That Liam’s motorbike started OK this morning. He had a slight problem in the morning yesterday then flattened the battery in the evening to end the day on a low note. He would have been a very cranky boy had the bike not started this morning as he has a lot on his plate at the moment.
  • Something that made me happy ~ Oddly enough getting to the bottom of a box of tumble dryer sheets made me happy. I don’t believe they make a significant improvement to the softness of my towels and they are most likely bad for the environment on many levels so to me they were wasting space in my laundry cupboard. I am not counting them as a declutter item but I am nevertheless glad to see the back of them.
  • Something I found fascinating ~ My neighbour left Macedonia when he was nineteen be must be in his sixties now but he still speaks Macedonian to the chickens. I thought that was cute. He also told me he has been tempted to put bells around a few of the chicken necks to remind him of the sounds of the home country when he used to herd sheep. He told me it was very hard for him to leave his country and come to Australia all alone so long ago. It makes me wonder about the affect leaving America has had on my children. Even though we moved as a family they still miss what to them had become their home country and I know they miss it greatly. If my neighbour can still feel the pain forty plus years later (though his situation was very different) I imagine the memories will never fade for my children either. Funny how something that made me laugh at first has now made me equally sad but it is fascinating to me to make this comparison which didn’t even occur to me at the time when I was speaking to Jack.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Disposing of this weeks mission yields In a post a couple of weeks ago that asked a range of question about your clutter issues and my blog. One of the readers asked for more information on how to get rid of the clutter that […]
  • Life moves on I received the following comment from Kimberley to one of last week's posts ~ Who Are You Now. Kinberley wrote: "Your post should be titled, “Isn’t this how clutter begins?”  We […]
  • Positive attitude to decluttering Here is a great comment from Kimberley that I didn't want anyone to miss... "Selling vs. Donating….. When we acquire an item, there was an obvious need for us to do so, real or […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. My stumbling block is my scrapbooking & card making supplies. I have a hard time not buying more. Why? Because when I see things I like I feel the need to buy them because I know that in 6 months or so they will no longer be available. These supplies are just like clothes. They only stay in vogue for a short time before the makers want to get more money by making new stuff. I have to tell myself that I will live without it. I really don’t have the money to buy it anyway but will sometimes buy anyway and run us short because of it. I’m once again forcing myself to stop.

    • Deb, the one thing that helped me stop my purchasing was exactly what you just said. The makers are always coming up with something new and tempting! I’ve never once walked into a (fabric) store and didn’t see at least one thing that I didn’t fall in love with. For now, beautiful supplies can live at the store until I’m ready to use them. Trust your creativity! Know that you can make something awesome out of the supplies that are available when you need them.

    • Hi Deb J,
      I also was a chronic scrapbook supply purchaser, and working at Joanns when I was in the US didn’t help that situation. I recovered quite nicely when I came back to Australia and saw the pathetic range and price of product here. I have not done much more than make the yearly supply of birthday and Christmas cards since I came back so the amazing amount of supplies I had has not dwindled much. Like I said in my post though I have a plan to diminish them soon.

      As for buying when you see something with fear that it won’t be available later ~ speaking from experience
      1. There is a good chance something better will be available later on anyway.
      2. You may never get around to doing the project you thought the item may be good for.
      3. You may actually get past the phase where you find scrapbooking enjoyable.
      4. The photos you end up with for an event may not blend well with the paper you thought would be perfect for it after all.

      Trust me I have been there and done that for all four of the points above. It is hard to imagine when you are in the midst of enjoying a hobby so much and think, feel, breath the enjoyment of it for most of your waking hours but it can happen. And it certainly isn’t worth running short for your real needs in life.

    • I’ve finally worked that out with fabric. It might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, but something equally beautiful will be on the shelves before I’ve had time to start making anything with the first beautiful piece. I have a cupboard full of beautiful fabric.

  2. Could you donate it and take the tax write-off?

    • Hi Megan,
      unfortunately that is not an option in Australia. We also can’t right off our home loan interest against our yearly income while they do charge you for any interest you make from the back, go figure.

      • Oh, that is unfortunate. That is how I can get rid of some stuff fairly quickly when I decide it is time for it to go. Otherwise, I sometimes second guess a decision.

  3. Oh and my achilles heel is China. I have so much that were wedding presents, but I don’t want it.

    • My advice Megan, get rid of it. Just because someone gave it to you does not mean you have to keep it. It would be different if you loved it but if it is just there because you feel obliged to keep it then it is not worth the space it is taking up. You could likely sell it and use the money for something nice you would really enjoy. Read this post about my mothers wedding gift story, it always makes me laugh.

  4. Pricing. I live in a semi-urban but isolated area. I have jewelry and art that I would like to sell but can’t get a price as there are no appraisers here to know which jewelry has real value and I have been unable to find similar art online for comparison.

    Otherwise, I’m like you in dreading the work. I wait until I have several things and do them all at once. I do the same with Freecycle, save a lot of stuff and put it up all at once. Then we have a few weeks of buying, selling, giving away, and donating. After that I start a new pile of stuff that is no longer ours.

    • Hi Delores,
      that is a tricky problem, no knowing what price to put on potentially valuable items. I have a couple of these types of things myself but they are small so I am not concerned about dealing with them yet. Here is a funny story about my husband selling an item on ebay that he had no idea had any value but he got a great price for it anyway.

      As for your selling method that is pretty much what I do too. May as well get it all out or the way at once and take a break for a while. I look forward to the day when I am rid of all the things that I want to recoup money on. Donating really is so much easier and even more satisfying.

  5. I too have trouble selling. Knowing that something is “worth money” doesn’t always mean you will GET money for it! The market has to be there. I have several vintage beer mirrors and signs that are “worth money,” but I’ve posted them on Craigslist a couple times and no one comes through on their inquiries. Then again, I posted some tiki items that in my mind weren’t “worth money,” back in November, and made $30 on them! For the most part, I prefer to just give stuff away. I tend to consider selling to be giving away more of my time and attention to an item that didn’t deserve it in the first place.

    My biggest THING though, is journals. I was commenting on Minimalist Packrat about that a couple days ago. Through childhood and young adulthood, I was a prolific journal-writer. And I sort-of enjoy looking through my old journals – I find it really fascinating that I’ve always been searching for the same things, asking myself the same questions – but who/what am I saving them for? Is someone in the future really going to want to sit down and read who I had a crush on? I don’t have children, and I don’t know if I will – and I don’t know if I’d want my theoretical children to read everything I did from the time I was 12-25 hahaha. We recently got rid of enough regular books that all of my journals are on a bookshelf in chronological order! But I don’t know if I want them there being all up in my face; maybe I’ll store them in a box instead.

    • Hi Liina,
      that journal situation is a tricky one and one I don’t like to give advice on. These kinds of items are so personal and so unlike any other potential clutter item that they fall into a category of their own and the only person who can make a decision on them is you. So much emotion is tied up in them. Here is a post I wrote about this subject back on day 204… Day 204 Diaries and journals

      If you type the work Letters or Journal into the search bar on my blog you will find lots of blog mentions and reader comments regarding these two very personal items and alternate ways to store them.

    • Hi Liina. Put all my journals in a box and stored them in my wardrobe. They will be with me till…I don’t know, but they are for me and me alone. I am not keeping them for my children. When I am old, ‘ll put them in a box saying outside: “don’t feel guilty about throwing this in the trash” or “kept for me while I was alive, now i am dead, throw it in a rubbish bin”, so my children won’t feel they have to keep my stuff. So I can keep them guilt free for as long as I like 😀

  6. Colleen, What your neighbor and your kids are (and are mine) are third culture people. This is a real phenomenon and that really is the term. It happens to military kids, missionary kids, embassy kids. They are from country A, but they live in country B most of their growing up years, so they make their own culture C because they don’t really belong in either culture A or B. Do my kids still miss so much of their country B? Yes. That’s why they occasionally return to visit, eat that ethnic food, gravitate to other third culture people as friends.

    About the t shirt: they just aren’t made to last. As my husband’s grandpa used to say, “They’re made to sell.”

    • Hi Willow,
      you are so right about the ABC thing. It is just as well my husband and I plan on travelling when the kids are both left home because there is a good chance we may have to travel to America to see them. They both plan on returning at the first opportunity. Who knows though they may fall in love and live happily ever after right on our door step.

      “They’re made to sell” your hubbies grandpa was so right about that. Redundancy built right in. Why is it that it’s only the things you don’t like that never seen to want to wear out? I am not talking about things I don’t use either, that would be obvious. Some things I keep wearing hoping they will wear out and they just don’t.

    • Wow, Willow, GREAT input on third culture people. You are so right, it is a real phenomenon (we are military). Recently I heard a story about a friends daughter, who is Culture A, grew up in Culture B, and get this, on her college application, to study in her HOME country (Culture A), she was able to list her ‘status’ as a FOREIGN student (Culture B)! I’m not sure of exact details, but that story really woke me up to this ‘third culture’ phenomenon. I look forward to great things from the third culture folks. They are wise beyond their years for what they have seen, lived, and endured!!! Maybe they give the world strong hope for better world peace (getting along, accepting people and beliefs from all walks of life)?

      Now to relate that to decluttering…(sorta got off the subject at hand!), I got SO tired of packing and moving tons of STUFF (as mentioned, we are military family). Got rid of YEARS of old journals, books, inherited Grandma’s china, etc. SERIOUSLY, not only did it lighten our load, it enlightened my heart to accept the past, look forward to the future, and LIVE in the PRESENT (and SAVE a ton of money!). 🙂

      • Here, here Annabelle, I hear ya! lugging at the cra stuff form one posting to another is sheer craziness. I always “decluttered” at posting time but I don’t think I learned enough from it until the last one. next posting will be a different story.

  7. Oh about the Coca Cola bottle collection: do you have Craig’s List or something like it in Australia? Make the deal that the local buyer comes to pick it up.

    • Hi Willow,
      we do and I will probably give that a try the trouble is that the area where I live don’t seem to respond that well. Although we aren’t all that far from Sydney and I am sure someone would be happy to come this far if they were interested enough. Actually that gives me an idea, I could advertise it to Sydney siders and offer for them to pay the $12 train fair for me to meet them and make the exchange at Central Station. That could work, not sure why I didn’t think of this before.

      • Do that Collen, and then come and have a coffee with me! I work just around the corner from Central.

        • Hi Calico ginger,
          I will take you up on that. Now that it only cost less than $6 to go to Sydney I go there more often so I will send you an email in advance when I am down that way without family in tow. We are all going to be in Sydney for the weekend. We are going to the Royal Easter Show for the first time ever and then Steve is marching in the ANZAC parade on Monday. You have inspired me to list that coke collection in the hope that I have an excuse to come and meet you.

  8. I’ve got two boxes of things that are intended for selling rather than donating. I have no idea how to list anything on eBay and am balking at learning how. At this time the stuff is not in the way, I know where it is at, we’ve got the space, etc., so it doesn’t bother me enough to do anything about it. It’s an odd assortment of stuff, including a couple pieces of Capodimonte (sp?) which I guess are collectibles but have no idea what they’re worth.

    • Hi Meg,
      this is exactly why I have not been in a hurry to deal with my stuff either. Although I have had plenty of experience sell on ebay I have only committed to decluttering one thing a day and I haven’t run out of other things to donate yet so there is no hurry. Every now and again though I get tired of knowing there items are there begging to be set free and that is when I decide to get of my butt and do something about it. Steve on the other hand has been going gangbusters lately selling books and bits and pieces both on eBay and through the classified site at his work. His paypal account must be adding up nicely. With all his enthusiasm I harding need to declutter anything and I am still ahead of schedule.

  9. Liina – I decided that the journals were for me. They do take up a shelf. I am enjoying re-reading them and as I go I tear out the few pages that have something I want to keep. I am thinking I will have a file or notebook when I am finished. Way smaller than all the little books. Sometimes I save a page and sometimes it is several pages in a large chunk. I suspect if I save the resulting notebook and re-read it in a few years there will be more that I will be willing to let go and new items from current journals to add. For now it seems manageable to me.

    • Sometimes writing about a problem is a way to analyse the problem so that a solution can be found 😉

      • You are on a roll here today Nurchamiel, this is also good advice. I do this all the time when I am answering post comments. In an attempt to respond to or solve someone else’s issue I come up with solutions to my own.

  10. My problem is all my quilt fabric/supplies. When I was younger I couldn’t buy it fast enough. All of my friends had a “stash” so the volume I was creating didn’t seem unreasonable. Fast forward to one year ago when the visual clutter and the guilt over the spending money that I could have put into savings got to be too much. With the best of intentions, I put most of it into storage. It didn’t seem costly at $40 a month and I promised myself I would deal with all of it, one way or another, within three months.

    Guess you can figure out where this story is going…
    Now, not only do I have guilt about buying too much initially, but have compounded the mistake by adding nearly $500 spent in storage fees! 🙁

    I’ve been watching the ebay market for quilt fabric and see that it has virtually dried up. I would be lucky to make pennies on the dollar. The only options I see are put as much in my car trunk as I can at a time and list it as a big lot on ebay and see if it sells. If not, immediately after the auction ends, call some friends of mine who do charity quilting and give the fabric away.

    I have about 10 large tubs that I estimate to contain approximately 1000 yards of fabric that I probably spend about $6000 on over the course of of 10 years.

    At this point, I think I’m prepared to consider the expense as my tuition for an education about the pitfalls of buying for “someday” future use.

    How would you deal with this? (The rest of my home is nearly clutter free though I do still find items to remove with the weekly missions. 🙂 I’ve only bought fabric that I needed to finish a project I was working on for the last two years so I feel that I’ve learned my lesson and not doomed to repeat it. I’ve never had any other shopping/spending problem.)

    • Hi Pat,
      I think you have truly learned your lesson here and like you say you may just have to consider it being a $6000 lesson well learned. Trust me I am sure the are people out there for which that lesson cost a whole lot more and also some who have spent a whole lot more and still not learned the lesson. Think yourself lucky.

      I would consider a few other options too being as I have a friend who owns a quilt shop and have had experience with a little of this. Here are a couple of options…
      1. consider approaching a small locally owned quilt store in your area who may be interested in buying your fabric from you. These store are usually bound to buy at least half a bolt of fabric at a time and may be happy to purchase your pieces in order to increase their selection (even if they are only off-cut or fat quarters) without eating too much into their purchase budget.

      2. Consider having a stall at a local craft market. I bet you would do really well with this as you would likely have a captive audience from the other stall owners alone.

      3. Check out on line if there are any quilting groups in your area who would be more than happy for you to bring your fabrics and have a sale day with their group.

      I am sure you would fine one of these options would work for you. Please let me know what you think and also let me know the outcome if you give one of these options a try.

      • Hi Pat, I’m also a quilter with a stash (though thankfully, not an overwhelmingly huge one). I have offloaded fabric from time to time when I realize I just don’t like the pattern anymore and will never use it.

        I have given fabric to elementary school teachers and preschool teachers, as it seems they always have projects during the year that require cutting up fabrics and it’s nice for them to have a wide variety. Schools that make quilts and place-mats for their fundraising auctions would also love some free fabrics to cut costs on making the auction items.

        I’ve also given to this place in San Francisco called SCRAP, which is a clearinghouse for “stuff” — everything you can imagine that people can use to make things with — fabric, paper, scrap wood, beads, yarns, three-ring binders, old ceramic tiles, you name it. They sell it or give it away to the public, with special discounts for teachers. Also I’ve given to the Goodwill; I notice they already sell lengths of fabric so I knew it was OK to give there.

        One thing I’ve thought of but haven’t done yet is to donate to places that give sewing classes to young people, like recreation centers, middle schools — they could really use the fabric as well. Actually, another good place would be the community college where I first learned to quilt — I remember that many folks in the class didn’t have enough money to buy a lot of fabric — what a bonanza they’d have if we donated some of our stash to them!

        I know it’s depressing when we think of how much money has gone toward these fabrics, but I like the idea that I am “treating” someone to some free fabric (so they can grow up and be compulsive fabric buyers like us! Just kidding. ).

        • Hi Eve,
          I love the sound of the SCRAP place. There was one of those in Seattle but I never got around to going there when I lived there. I wish there was one around here, what a great way to get the most out of every little off cut, unwanted stuff and items that otherwise would just go to waste.

          While reading your comment I could feel the great vibes you must have received from donating your fabrics the way you did. That is often a far better feeling then just making a few dollars.

  11. Colleen: love your blog! Have heard great things about LLBean t-shirts but not from personal experience.

    My stumbling block is my own “monkey mind” which loves to jump around the the internet
    then PRINT various articles which end up as filed (those black hole files) or piled.

    Here in the US my husband who sells a lot on eBay prefers to donate and get a tax deduction if the item is worth less than $100. Go Megan! You could keep track of that tax deduction and put that in the bank/consider it “cash.” He has recently enjoyed the “Buy it now” option so the stuff isn’t hanging around (he gives 30 days to buy) and he saves time dealing with eBay.

    Delores: Thanks for help with journals. I too have been a journal keeper and have just recently been feeling burdened by them. I don’t want others to see them but they are much more accurate than my hazy memories of those times. Would love to hear how others have dealt with journals/diaries.

    • hi Margo C,
      thank you for leaving your comment and welcome to 365lessthings.
      We don’t have LLBean here in Australia and as I am a tactile person I prefer to touch and try before buying so this isn’t an option for me. Some times I find the less money you spend on clothing items the better the are rather than the other way around. Plus it is not so much of a loss if they don’t last.

      As for your printed articles you would be better to save them to a file on your computer. There is much less space taken up that way and you save a tree or two.

      My hubby likes the buy it now and the best offer option on ebay too. Although some people get confused and don’t really understand how these work.

      There are so many great comments from reader on my blog about the journal/diary/letters subject just try searching each of those words with the search bar and you should come up with a whole range of ideas and opinions.

  12. I know, it is hard. But always, I have the feeling that after I had hit a stumbling block, I always feel so relieved! I use the rule: “Do what you need to do in one month, otherwise it will be donated”. The rule makes me very, very ruthless.

    BTW, I also love the one minute rule, it makes little decluttering so much easier!

    • hi Nurchamiel,
      good advice. Deal with or get over it is pretty much what you are saying here and I agree. I am dealing with it as we speak.

  13. My achilles heel is a combo of it was given to me/I might need it/I paid good money clutter. No doubt there’s a little bit of the others as well depending on the item in question. But I’ve tried hard to focus on one place at a time. If for some reason I can’t make a decision, I move on to something else. In a day or two clarity prevails and I can go back and make a decision. Sometimes its all about framing the question about the item. For me, there’s no one set of questions – do I like/need/want/use, that works. It has to be more specific. Like with some clothing items, if I had to get dressed to go somewheres where this outfit would be appropriate, would I wear it, something else in my closet, or go buy a new outfit?
    I don’t bother with the selling. While it would be great to recoup, the reality is that I don’t want to fool with it and it will just cause the clutter to hang on if I pretend like I might do it!

    • Hi Dee,
      thank you from dropping in to leave a comment and welcome to 365lessthings. I hope you are finding my blog interesting and helpful.
      I like that you have worked out a strategy for decision making ~ walk away if it is too hard for now and come back later. I do exactly the same thing and there is always something else to declutter in the meantime. That is the thing I love the most about decluttering slowly and deliberately, there is no hurry to make rash decisions that cause regrets.
      As for the selling, I complain about it periodically but in the end my greed outweighs my need. That is my greed for the extra cash outweighs my need to get rid of things quickly and I take on the sale anyway. I am usually satisfied with the result so I really ought to quit bitchin’ and just ger on with it.

  14. Hi Colleen! On this subject we are at odds. I don’t ever sell anything. It’s too big a hassle. Instead I give it away, donate to less fortunate, whatever happens first. I am kind of traumatized with the story of selling stuff. Remember my decluttering story: well one of the reasons the house was so cluttered was because my husband would give nothing away because HE WOULD SELL IT ALL! As you could read, that NEVER happened 🙁 . But things stayed on the house, always changing places, going from one room to another, because he was going to sell the stuff, and I was not to get rid of anything. That irkes me today. I don’t use it, I don’t like, even if I payed good money for it, it is going to someone else’s house. I really admire your patience, and especially the fact that you just don’t intend to sell, you actually do sell the stuff. So don’t stumble because you are doing it, and when you see you will have sold all of the items. You already maped out exactly what you are going to do, so, just do it 😀 😀

    • Hi Andréia,
      I can see why you aren’t into the selling thing. That history would put me off the idea forever too. Thanks for your faith in me though and I will let you know the outcome for sure.

  15. I think your children must miss America, but they are seeing new things, in a place were they, at least in theory, belong. I lived in 3 places in my life, they are very far apart, and as a child and a teenager, lived very far from my actual home. I came back here, where I live now, as a young adult, and made my adult life away from everything I had known as a child and as a teen. So you never now where life might lead you. One thing I can tell you: we miss our home country the most when we know we can never go back, but your neighbour, for what I could gather, misses his past that is well and truly gone.

    • Hi Andréia,
      I consider myself more of a citizen of the world rather than belonging to one place or another. Moving around even within my own country has shortened my roots enough that I can feel at home anywhere so long as I have someone that I love with me. I think my daughter at least feels much the same but my son is still very attached to the USA but then he was the one most attached to Australia when we left so that must just be part of his personality I guess.

  16. Colleen, I love your blog!

    The Achilles’ heal in my neck of the woods (which is sunny AGAIN today; wowsa!), is that I never should have purchased the item(s) to begin with (it gave me a ‘high’); I knew when I was buying the item(s) that I didn’t need the item(s); the cost of the some of the item(s) caused a bit of a rif between me and the OH (that gave me a major ‘low’, aka: buyers remorse!). What to do with the STUFF now? Most of it I’m trying to sell to recoup maybe a FRACTION of the initial cost (selling is a pain in the arse, but I’m doing it anyway) and the rest is being donated. Most importantly, I’ve LEARNED my lesson and I’m actively, daily, NOT SHOPPING (either in person at mall/store or via Internet! “Hello, my name is Annabelle and I’m a RECOVERING ‘shop-a-holic’.”

    • Hi Annabelle,
      knowing what the problem is can be half the cure. There are plenty of people out there that haven’t advance to this point in their lives so be proud of how far you have come. Good for you Annabelle and I wish you success in your resistance.

  17. Oh, Colleen, the jeans I recently purchased while on vacation, well, I love them, they fit perfektly. I’m going to wear them and take good care of them till they are threads, and I’m NOT allowing myself to purchase ANY MORE jeans for at least ONE entire year, maybe even longer.

    You can hold me to this!!!! I’ll check in with you on 21 APRIL 2012.
    Annabelle 🙂

    • Hi Annabelle,
      I am going to write that date up in my google calendar right now so I will be checking in with you then. I think there is a good chance that you won’t need another pair before then I am still wear some Calvin klein jeans I bought in 2003 US$25 from Costco.

  18. I have the biggest challenge with my art supplies. I do a lot of collage and mixed media, and have a lot of books, papers, misc. supplies that I’ve collected. I’ve switched to doing mainly digital art now, and haven’t touched my cut-and-paste collage supplies in awhile, but I can’t seem to get rid of them “just in case”.

    The only reason this is a problem is because we share our house with my brother, and he lives in the space that used to be my art/craft studio. I had to move all my supplies upstairs when he moved in, and now everything is all in this room where my computer is. The room is small, and all this misc. stuff added to it makes me feel claustrophobic sometimes.

    My other problem is saving clothes that are too small for my husband and me, and this has only become a problem since the economy has gotten so bad. In years past, I would have donated the clothes, and gotten more when needed. Now, I hesitate.

    I checked once, and found that I’ve been saving TEN DIFFERENT SIZES of clothing for me, and several for my husband. We both keep hoping that we’ll lose a lot of weight, and when we do, we’ll be able to fit into our smaller clothes.

    We haven’t lost the weight yet, and I don’t know if we ever will, but I hold onto the clothes “just in case”.

    Somebody told me once that the best way to lose weight is to get rid of all the small clothes you’ve been saving.

    I think there’s a bit of “scarcity mentality” at work here too, because what if I get rid of the small clothes, lose weight, then can’t afford more? That has never been the case, but the thought sticks in the back of my mind anyway.

    • Hi Becky, I had a similar problem with clothing for myself. I used to be a little twig and now I’m not, but I have every size in between. After a number of years of hanging onto some very expensive clothing and some cheaper but favourite things, I realized a lot of it was outdated in looks and I would never wear it again no matter how much weight I lost (think front-pleated pants!!). I was then able to let a lot of it go. I now buy most clothing second-hand because I love to rummage and find a bargain and because I have specific figure problems that make it hard to buy off the rack. I didn’t purge the clothing all at once. I did a bagful, then another bagful later, etc. Once I got rid of the first stuff, every bag since that has been easier. I still have a few classic pieces I am keeping, although chances are they won’t fit properly even if I lose weight because I am probably a different shape now. Good luck, hope some of this helps a bit – it’s all things I’ve learned here, but tried and tested and summarized in this one comment 😉

    • Hi Becky! Don’t save the clothes. I did just that, so I wouldn’t have to buy more if we lost weight. Well we didn’t loose the extra kilos and the clothes just stayed there, taking up space. If you loose weight you can always make your bigger clothes into smaller ones (where I live it’s a lot cheaper than buying new clothes), it’s the other way around that doesn’t work. So don’t save clothes that don’t fit. Believe me, we wil not wake one day and have lost ALL of our extra weight, so you will have plenty of time to buy new clothes while you use up what you have 😀 .

    • Hi Becky,
      I think when it comes to the art supplies you would still find a way to work with them if you really wanted to. It is possible that they have just become guilt clutter but you haven’t recognised them as that yet. I went through this period with my craft clutter as well, now I know that if I really had the passion to use them I would be using them. Having collected so much of it in the first place instead of buying as I went was the real problem. Lesson learned there for me. I would start by getting rid of the pieces you like the least first and then you may find the emotional freedom gained by that will spur you on to remove more.

      As for the clothes, they have become aspirational clutter and I can understand why you would want to hang on to them as they would be very expensive to replace should you find the will to lose the unwanted weight. The trouble with that is if you do lose the weight will you then keep the bigger sizes just in case you fall off the healthy eating wagon and need the larger clothes again. When you are having to hold the purse strings tight it is difficult to make the choice to part with things like this. My advice right now is to
      1. Keep the clothing within a few sizes of where you are right now.
      2. Keep only every second size that way should you lose weight you would have periods of having clothes a little loose or tight but be able to get away with wearing them until you reached your goal weight. Then treat yourself to some new things that fit well.
      3. Donate it all to charity and buy only second hand during the period when you do start to lose weight. That will keep the expense down during the transition and then only buy new clothes when you reach your goal weight.
      4. Keep it all. I don’t like this choice because although economically it makes sense emotionally and spatially it doesn’t.

      I think at this point it is more important to work on the reasons for the weight issues rather than the external issues it generates. Unhealthy eating habits and the related physical ailments that manifest because of it are far more insidious than a little clutter around your home. One can declutter weight by making small incremental changes to their diet just the same way one can declutter their possessions buy removing one item at a time. Small progress is better than no progress. My husband has recently removed cardohydrates from his diet (using advice from Tim Ferriss’s new book The Four Hour Body) and has lost 20 pounds. He has one day a week where he can indulge himself and eat whatever he likes (and boy does he enjoy that) but the rest of the week he eats a more healthy and sensible diet.
      He often says how surprised he is at how easy it was and how he doesn’t feel like he has deprived himself at all. We used to eat lots of pasta and rice because we like Italian and Indian food now I just put a whole lot more vegetables into the the dishes and he doesn’t have the rice of pasta. He still gets to enjoy the same food only it is tweaked to suit the new lifestyle. He is looking pretty good too I must say. 😉

      Good luck Becky. I hope some advice here will help you on your way.

      • Thanks, Colleen – these are helpful for me too. I like the idea of keeping every second size of clothing (I can clean out a few more things now!), and the tip about using vegetables instead of rice or pasta. Another tip for losing weight incrementally is just to walk a little every day. I’m not a gym or class person, but I love to get outside. Having a walking buddy is helpful too – keeps you going even on the days you might otherwise stay in.

        • Hi Jo,
          my husband and I try to walk together every day. It is getting a little tricky lately because it is getting dark earlier but we go anyway unless it is raining. There have been a lot of other interruptions too of late but we try to make up for it with longer walks at other times. A nice walk at the beach today would me nice I think.

  19. My mom and I are convinced that our jeans are putting holes in our t-shirts. Ours look exactly like yours. I don’t think it’s related to seat belts though because many days, I never go in the car but the shirts continue to get holes. An experiment could be done where t-shirts are worn with only elastic waist items….skirts, shorts, pants…and then the next week, the shirts are worn with jeans with snaps or buttons. See which week produces holey shirts. Since the holes are right at the place where my jeans fasten, I’m sure the jeans are the culprit. I could blame the problem on poorly made shirts, thin material, etc., but this problem has happened with very expensive brands (bought at the thrift store), with heavier weight fabrics, and with new shirts that haven’t been previously worn. Recently, I had It’s maddening regardless of the cause!

    • Hi Lisa,
      like you I am sure it has something to do with the fastenings on my pants, I have no doubt about that. I felt the pressure from my laptop and the car seatbelt in this area was only making the situation worse. I have found it is mostly the tighter fitted t-shirt that are the main victims but I have a couple of loose fitting T’s suffering the same fate. The thing is is that this Phenomenon only started after I moved back to Australia. At first I thought it was my new washing machine until it happened more than twice and I realised it is only happening in the same place, only on t-shirts and only to my clothes. Weird!

  20. Colleen, about the stumbling block….maybe your subconscious doesn’t really want to go through hassles your children should be sharing. If it’s their excess stuff that needs to be sold, and the proceeds will go to them, then get them off their butts to do it, or at least assist you, or be there participating! Seriously, why not have a learning session where they learn how to sell online, it’s a skill they may need to stay uncluttered as adults. And it would be more fun to do the photography and stuff together.

    • Hi Pat,
      I hadn’t thought of it that way but I don’t think that is the problem because it is only recently that I have been selling the kids’ stuff but I have felt this way about my own stuff all along. I know it is a combination of things,
      1. The hassel involved
      2. Hoping there won’t be any hitches eg. Undercutting postage, unsatisfied customers etc
      3. The chance that it wasn’t worth the hassel and the item sells low and I have gone to all that bother for nothing.
      4. The wait.
      The silly thing is that aside from the odd sale that hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped I really have had great success with selling so you think I would be enthusiastic about it by now. Oh well, like I said my lack of enthusiasm is more than matched by my dogged determination so I will soldier on. Thanks for the advice though I know I have that issue with other things involving the kids so it did hit home and has got me thinking.

  21. The only thing that gets in my way is every now and then I need/want something I’ve gotten rid of. It makes me doubt my resolve from time to time. I loved this post!!


    • Hi Bobbi,
      after reading your post the other day I am not surprised this is a problem for you. Your situation is a little unique to most people reading here though. Look on the bright side though, what a beautiful place you are living in. Like I always say to my daughter ~ need want need want ~ there is a difference. I think she is finally getting it too or at least she is realising that she can’t afford both the small gratification items (unnecessary clothes, trinkets, make-up etc) and still be able to afford the big rewards (trips to America and moving out of Grandma’s house).

  22. A very thought provokng post Colleen.

  23. I’ve sold a lot of unwanted stuff on Ebay, and have a box of stuff to list now, but finding the time with small children isn’t always easy!

    I just listed a heap of books on Fishpond last week, after I discovered that they have a selling feature.

    I’m getting over my weakness of not keeping things for ‘just in case’ and now I’m working on not buying things in the first place so that I don’t have to worry about the ‘how much it cost’ guilt!

    • Well done Susan,
      I must admit I started with the not buying stuff in the first place so that I would be constantly back at square one. I found the a surprisingly easy thing to master.

      • Yes, I’m amazed how easy it has been to find myself putting things back at the shops because I don’t need them, and it is so easy to not even go in the first place!

  24. My decluttering stumbling block is my mother….it’s so difficult to convince her to declutter anything!!! For example this morning she was after the some documents and decided she could throw away some of them…then she stumbled on a purchase receipt with my father’s signature (he died in 1999) and she didn’t want to toss it!!!!!!!!! I’ma always a little rutless with her I know, but what freaks me (and frightens me) most is that if she doesn’t cope with her stuff, I will someday have to do it, and I don’t know I’ll manage…

    • Hi Paola,
      other peoples clutter is often the worse type to have to deal with and we humans aren’t good at communicating our feelings to others when we think it will be confronting to the receiver. Sometimes it is less confronting and amazingly penetrating of thought to make suggestion in general conversation about the matter you are concerned about. I pop little anecdotes and suggestion into general conversation in regards to clutter to people close to me whose clutter affects me now or may do in the future. It is amazing how those thoughts can sometimes take root and then next thing I know I see results. This may not work for you but it is worth a try. The only other thing to do is to confront her about it in the gentlest way you know how and let her know how concerned you are about it.

  25. Hi Colleen!
    I tried to do as you suggest and it works…at least sometimes, for small things, little by little, it’s working…but it’so frustrating…
    Yesterday I was helping her emptying a closet to clean it, and I found a tool to clean the windows which was covered in dust… I asked her if she ever used it and she answered a vague “Yes, sometimes I use it…” and I replied “But exactly…how often? Because if it’s once or twice a year, it’s no use keeping it…”: she didn’t answer, but today the tool is in the trash bin… 🙂

    • Hi Paola,
      I can understand how frustrating it must be making such small progress. Maybe you should step it up a notch.
      Maybe you should broach a conversation about how terrible it would be to deal with the sadness of her loss and having to clear out her home all at the same time if she were to passed on. The more stuff there is the longer that would prolong such a heartbreaking occasion. I know this sounds harsh but if you go about it as tactfully as you can she may not take offence.
      It is never easy to broach these sorts of issues and for the most part we would rather avoid them which is sad because we should all be able to express how we feel without being condemned for it.
      On the other hand maybe your mother hadn’t thought of this slant on her clutter before and it may just be an ah ha moment for her and things could chance for the better for both of you.
      Good luck and I hope you start making faster progress.

      • She always says “When I’m dead, you can throw everything away”.
        Which to me means “I don’t want to declutter this stuff, I’m not able to make tough decisions about lifetime memories and family stuff, I don’t feel the need to downsize my possessions and change my lifestyle. It is MY home, MY stuff: I make the rules”.
        I’ve already told her that for me it would be heartbreaking and overwhelming, but she didn’t answer…maybe she’s thinking about it….I hope…. 🙁

        • Hi Paola,
          I hope she is thinking about it, but there is a good chance you were right in your first assumption, she just doesn’t want to deal with it. I think sometimes that once a person gets to a certain age it all seem too hard to deal with. I am glad that I have learned my lesson now while I still have the energy and will to disconnect from my clutter. I think once the generation above you dies out the memories connected to the clutter become too strong and the ability to part with it becomes weaker.

          Paola, I wish you luck. The only other thing I can suggest is to make a special date with her each week to go through a small section of the house. Maybe she will be glad enough of the extra time spent with you that she will cooperate with the declutter process.

          • Great idea Colleen!!!! It might work….she always complains that I don’t spend enough time with her… I’m definitely going to try this and then I’ll let you know if it works! 🙂

            • Hi Paola,
              I am so glad you think my idea may help. Please keep me informed of your progress and I wish you the best of luck.

  26. My stumbling block is definately being sentimentally attatched to items! My husband and I moved into a new house 2 years ago and still have ~10 boxes we haven’t unpacked, full of memories, sentimental items etc. yet we have never opened those boxes in 2 years! I always tell my friends “if you haven’t needed something in that box in (blank) years, you obviously don’t need it!” but I have a hard time taking my own advice!

    • Hi Amy,
      thank you for joining us here at 365 Less Things and may I extend to you a hearty welcome. I went over and took a look at your blog. I like what you are doing there and if I can get hold of some cranberries I am going to make one of those loaves. Yummmm!

      As for those ten boxes, I would suggest you aim on just opening one. Get your ~ Keep ✥ Donate ✥ Sell ~ sorting boxes ready and vow to tackle just that box. Maybe next month you could do another perhaps then you will get some momentum and start moving a little quicker on the task. It really is time you got started though, lets face it how precious can the items be if you haven’t laid eyes on them for two years. Have the memories faded that those hidden objects represent, I bet not. So give it a try and if you find you aren’t ready at least one box of memories will be out where you can see them.

      • these are excellent tips!! i am definately going to try and tackle this next weekend (sorry for my delayed response!! (hope you found some cranberries! ;))

        • No I didn’t find the cranberries and I haven’t done anything about the ski jacket or the coke collection. I have had the craft supply sale and advertised the keyboard.