The “Thrift Store” Tip That Forever Changed the Way I Declutter

published Feb 14, 2018
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(Image credit: Viv Yapp)

Years ago, I read an article about a woman who viewed the thrift shop as her “pay-per-use” storage unit. The idea was that she was free to get rid of things she didn’t need in her daily life, and if she needed something, she could pick it up for a few dollars at the thrift shop.

Since then, I’ve had an easier time letting go of stuff I might need “just in case.” The pleasure of a perpetually less-cluttered house is worth the possibility that I might need to buy something again, someday.

Are you a just-in-caser? Here are some things you can get rid of, too.

Old textbooks

You are not going to read them again. You’ve already gone back to grad school — in another subject. While Theory of the Novel might not ever go out of date like your Photoshop for Dummies from 2003, is it worth the shelf space, the dusting, the reminder that you shelled out 35 college-student dollars for a book your professor never even had you crack open? And take a look at the font size; if you don’t need reading glasses yet, trying to read that book will put you on the fast train to spectacles.

Credit: Lana Kenney

Extra curtain rods (and other decor)

Planning to grow new windows? Thought not. Unless you have naked windows that you will dress this weekend with those curtain rods, they need to get the boot. Same goes for throw pillows you aren’t throwing around, candle holders that aren’t holding candles, and picture frames that aren’t framing anything.

The bread maker (and other appliances)

Tell me three possible occurrences that will transform you into a bread-maker within the next six months and I’ll let you in on a little secret: If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not going to. It’s okay to let that Little House on the Prairie dream go (side note: If you’re going homesteader, remember that they didn’t have bread makers; they used their own bare hands). This advice also broadly applies to any kitchen appliance you haven’t used in a year, but think you might someday. So Seamless addicts: you should feel good about saying goodbye to the crockpot from your mother-in-law that’s been collecting dust in the garage for twelve years.

Incandescent light bulbs

You switched to LEDs six years ago. Do you remember how long those puppies last? Used 8 hours a day, each LED bulb should last about 17 years! Also, you are fully stocked on backup LEDs. There is no “in case” for those incandescents.

Extra kitchen utensils “for camping.”

If you’re a camper, I bet you have your camping gear all set. If you have an actual campsite reserved for this year, you can stockpile one set of bare-bones kitchen gear (you’re “roughing it,” remember?) in a plastic bin. The rest go straight to the donation box.

More than one set of clothes for painting

Tell me, how many yous do you have to clothe when you’re painting? Keeping one set of bespattered clothes is legitimate. Anything else is extra and extra paint clothes are not worth the space they take.

Now let’s play a game: What are you hanging on to “just in case”? Share your problem items in the comments and let’s have a group therapy session to help us all learn to let go.

This post was last updated on 5.26.19 — TW