20 Great Reasons to Get Rid of Clutter — A Guest Post From Naomi Seldin of “Simpler Living”

by Katy on May 6, 2010 · 11 comments

The following is a guest post from the insightful and inspiring Naomi Seldin, who writes the blog Simpler Living for Albany’s Times-Union website. A big thank you to Naomi, for sharing her list, which I thought was perfect for Non-Consumer Advocate readers.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

20 Great reason to Get Rid of Clutter

Every so often, I realize how much downsizing improved my perspective. So I took a break from editing last night, picked up my journal and started listing reasons I’m glad I did it:

1. You’ll lose hundreds of pounds without having to take a single trip to the gym.

2. If you ever need to move somewhere smaller, you’ll be able to do it with confidence.

3. Your next move will also be less stressful and less expensive.

4. You’ll gain living space without having to move to a bigger house or apartment.

5. You’ll never have to run out and buy something because you can’t find the original.

6. You won’t be fooled into thinking something’s a bargain just because it’s on a sale rack.

7. When you’re bored, you won’t automatically go shopping. Instead, you’ll go hiking, or meet a friend for coffee, or start gardening or volunteering.

8. You’ll learn to say no to people who want you to buy something from them.

9. You’ll think twice about paying someone else to store stuff you don’t use.

10. Taking inventory of your stuff can be a really good wake-up call. When you discover you own 10 pairs of jeans and three hammers, you’ll realize you don’t need more of either.

11. Instead of buying stuff you don’t need, you’ll be able to pay off debt, go on a trip or invest in something more important.

12. Getting rid of clutter is like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it gets. You’ll also get less attached to stuff in general, and become a stronger and smarter consumer.

13. “Enough,” “want” and “need” will take on new meanings.

14. Dusting is easier when you have fewer knick-knacks.

15. People will give you wine and chocolate-covered bacon as gifts instead of knick-knacks.

16. Coming home will be relaxing instead of stressful.

17. You’ll spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your space.

18. Your children (or other loved ones) will have less to worry about when the time comes.

19. When you open your closet door, nothing there will make you feel guilty. That pair of jeans taunting you since you lost your college waistline? Those heels that hurt your feet too much to wear but cost too much to donate? Gone. Instead, you’ll have a wardrobe that fits you.

20. You’ll appreciate what you do have that much more.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

CC May 6, 2010 at 7:45 am

“4. You’ll gain living space without having to move to a bigger house or apartment.” – We live in what some call a starter home. It was our starter and will be the ending one. The way this worked was to got rid of stuff not needed. It took years for us to get to the point we are now. If we had moved we wouldn’t have learned to live simple and enjoy it so well I think.

“6. You won’t be fooled into thinking something’s a bargain just because it’s on a sale rack.” – I like to craft and can see all kind of projects in things. Going to a craft store used to be hard because of all the items they sell for all the future projects I could do. Many years ago I started crafting with recycled items. This has been a large savings not only in money but it supplies that I just had to buy. Now I can get the craft bug go find some supplies and do a fun project all without leaving the house. Its great also when shopping because I always think about what is at home and how I don’t need to bring anything else in.


Angela May 6, 2010 at 8:41 am

Great list. I especially love #15: bring on the wine and chocolate!


karen May 6, 2010 at 9:18 am

chocolate covered bacon? seriously? I hope that was a joke 🙂 I agree with CC –> as an artist you see potential in everything. My studio overfloweth with abundance of ideas & supplies which makes self discipline in that area hard for me. I have to remind myself that even if I live to be 100, I would never have the time/energy to complete all of these projects in waiting, lol. At least by having crafty friends, I know I can always send things on to a good home to be used, instead of kicking my self for stock piling too much ‘potential’. It’s like a trip to Micheal’s in box, delivered to their door, lol & usually earns me a cup of coffee & some good conversation in exchange.


Shannon May 6, 2010 at 10:03 am

🙂 about chocolate covered bacon—don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!


Rebecca May 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm



Shannon May 6, 2010 at 10:01 am

“18. Your children (or other loved ones) will have less to worry about when the time comes.”

Oh boy. That made me a little sad to read it. My mom was a packrat, and we always joked that I’d have to clean out her basement when she died. Well, when it happened that I lost both parents in about a year, I was stuck with little help from my siblings, and two babies in tow, trying to dig out a big 4 bedroom house. I did absolutely as much as I could by way of giving things to relatives and friends, donated several pickup truckloads to the local charity thrift, but in the end I basically had to hire a junk guy come in and finish clearing out the house and hauling it away in a gigantic dump truck. It made me sick because I knew there was still tons of usable stuff among that load, but I was exhausted and heartbroken, and had to get the house on the market because every month that ticked by was another month of mortgage and utilities. Keep your house lean & clean is my motto now!


Marie-Josée May 6, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Shannon, I really feel for you. I had to go through that process, but my Granny is alive. She is upset that I didn’t keep some of her stuff, such as crafts that she made. I did keep the items that she had given me over the years, but when she had to leave her home for a nursing home, I had downsized from a house to an apartment and my space was limited. I kept her photo albums and mementos, such as cards from her children etc, but she is still hurt. It’s hard when you’re the only sibling dealing with all of that. Thank God my husband was there to help me; I could never have done that alone.


Rebecca May 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I am dreading the day my hub an I “inherit” the family FARM. Yep, not just a house, but building after building of 3 generations of CRAP. I may seriously just pour a ring of gasoline around the thing and walk away rather than deal with it. I wish . . .


Katy May 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I donated four big bins of stuff to Goodwill today, and that was after taking things to the consignment shop and then letting my sister and step-mother look though it all. It is so incredibly cathartic to have some elbow room and that potential space in my life again.

Ahhh . . . .



Naomi Seldin May 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

@Karen: The chocolate-covered bacon is a true story, although I don’t recommend it for vegans or vegetarians. 🙂 My fiance and I had an informal engagement party, and one of our friends made the bacon. It was actually pretty tasty. She also brought a bottle of wine that she’d been saving for a special occasion (I’d written about that topic on my blog). I was really honored that she chose to share it with us.

@Shannon: I’m so sorry you had to go through that, especially without support from your siblings. I’ve had to do that twice now, and it’s been hard both times. After my stepfather died, I remember standing in line at the grocery store to pay for a box of Hefty trash bags. We needed them to pack up most of his clothing to donate to Goodwill. And I remember thinking, “This is so horrible.” And it was. But we just couldn’t keep everything. It’s an overwhelming feeling.

I’m nowhere close to the age where I should start worrying about that — I don’t even have children yet — but having to do that for him and my grandmother was one of the things that’s kept me motivated to get rid of clutter.



greenstrivings October 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Just in case there are other people out there reading old posts as I like to do, I wanted to comment on the problem of cleaning out someone’s house after a death. The solution is to get in a firm that does estate sales. They do EVERYTHING. They organize all the stuff and price it; they have expensive items appraised; they bring in dealers for a day; then they open the house to the public, who buy everything from furniture to cans of food to half-used cleaning supplies (yes, really!). Then the estate sale firm packs everything up and either sends it to auction or to charity. They usually keep 25%-30% of the proceeds. You get a check for the rest and the pleasure of not having to do all that work when you’re grief-stricken, alone (except for small, unhelpful children) and exhausted.

No, I don’t work for an estate sale firm! A relative recently downsized from a large 4-br house to a 1-br apt. and used this process, and was thrilled with the results.


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