15 Practical Tips for Decluttering before Your Move
Moving may be a difficult task, but decluttering before you move often makes the process seem even more complicated. Nevertheless, decluttering is a critical part of the moving process, as it can help you reduce your moving expenses, create an organized existence in your new home and shorten the unpacking process significantly. These incentives alone should be enough to make you tackle the clutter head-on... but if you're still feeling apprehensive about getting rid of your things, here is a bit of permission and inspiration to help you start the cleaning process:
- Discard all newspapers that are more than a week old. If you saved them for a specific article, cut out the article that interests you and place it into an album or memory book.
- Get rid of clothing that you haven't worn in since last season. People tend to save clothing just in case it comes back in style (or they magically decide to like it again), but in reality, this type of saving is useless. Why spend money to move bulky clothing that you'll probably never wear again?
- Keep only your 5 favorite stuffed animals. If you're like most parents, you've probably amassed a small army of stuffed animals and dolls that your children never play with or are too old to play with. Even if you're saving them for the grandchildren, I'm relatively certain that you won't need an entire platoon of fuzzy bears for the occasional visit. Save your five favorite dolls and donate the rest to children in need. They'll be happy, you'll feel good about it, and it will be a win-win situation.
- Take the opportunity to file your stray documents. If you have old tax forms, receipts and bank statements lying around, now is the time to get your papers in order. Take an extra hour (or two) to go through your homeless paperwork, and see which is important and which can be shredded. If you feel the urge to keep everything (just in case), make sure it's all filed by date so that you'll find it easily after you move.
- Scan documents whenever possible. If you've got old documents that you may need (but probably won't), scan them into digital files and get rid of the paper trail.
- Ask yourself "do I really need this?' This question is a great way to determine the value of keeping a specific item. Keep in mind that needing something is different than wanting it. Allow yourself to keep ten things that you want, but aren't necessities. Don't pack these ten things immediately – you may find that you don't really want all of them by the time you're done moving.
- Don't take food items with you. The cost of moving a $1 can of corn hardly seems worthwhile compared to the cost of replacing it with a fresh one. Try to plan a menu for your last several weeks at home that uses as many items from the pantry as possible. If this isn't possible, donate your extra canned goods and dry foods to your local food pantry or homeless shelter.
- Try decluttering a bit at a time. Approaching the process slowly but steadily is a surefire way to stay calm and in control, instead of letting the clutter shake you to the core of your sanity.
- Use the "1 in, 3 out rule." When you decide to keep something, make sure to counterbalance your decision by throwing away at least 3 things. That way, at the end of the day, you should own only 1/3 of your previous belongings, i.e., only the most important things.
- Keep your eye on the goal. Decluttering for the purpose of moving is quite different that decluttering for the purpose of simplifying your life.
- Get a tax deduction for all items donated to charity. Why not profit a bit from getting rid of your things?
- Hold a yard sale to get rid of unwanted items. You'll feel better knowing that your things are going to good homes, and you'll appreciate having extra money in your pocket to defray moving expenses.
- Sell your items online. Sites like eBay and Craigslist are great places to dump unwanted items – let strangers bid on your rejects!
- Give away your things as gifts. Have jewelry that you don't wear or books that you've already read? Why not give them away to friends and family members that you know will enjoy them. It may not be as profitable as selling your things, but you'll feel good about the results.
- Remember to declutter upon arrival as well as departure. If you can't seem to part with all of your belongings before the move, remember that you can still get rid of them after you've unpacked... especially when you realize that you don't have space for everything from your old home.