Repeat After Me — Crap out of the House, Money In

by Katy on April 15, 2010 · 20 comments

Bye-bye crap!

I have been slowly, but steadily working to declutter my house, and as always, if I can combine an activity with income revenue, all the better.

I had sold a few big tickets on Craigslist (snowboard equipment, dress ups and a twin bed) over the past few weeks, which brought in $240. I’d also taken two laundry baskets full of kid books to Powell’s bookstore, which earned $10 for each of my sons. (They bought about a third of them.)

So today, I drank an extra shot of liquid courage, (Red Rose tea) and attacked the boys’ closets. My 14-year-old son has a huge closet in his room, which means that it doesn’t need to be gleaned all that often. This also means it can fill up with clothes he would not wear in a million years, which makes it hard for him to find the clothes he actually likes.

I pulled everything out from the closet and laid it across the bed. This included all the empty toddler size hangers as well as the hand me downs my son would rather die than be caught wearing, (Land’s End wide wale courduroy elastic waisted pants with extra fabric across the knees.) I decided which color hanger we had the most of (dark green) and set aside all the rest. I then ruthlessly culled the clothes that, while perfectly good, and often in like-new condition, would never get worn. This was at least 75% of the content of his closet.

I chatted with my Seattle sister while decluttering, and she begged and pleaded with me to set all the pants aside, (her ten-year-old son is not picky about clothes) but my goal here was to get this stuff out of the house. Out. Out! Not set aside — Out!

I then pulled all the clothes from my 11-year-old son’s closet and went through the same routine, (he got the blue hangers!)

I organized the clothes into bins for the consignment shop and Goodwill and even grabbed a few extra items like child size Harry Potter sleeping bags, the toddler size hangers, some toys from cleaning out my younger son’s room and the laundry basket of kid books that Powell’s had rejected.

I am excited (and frankly, surprised) to announce that the children’s consignment shop took almost all the clothes, all the hangers, about half of the books as well as the sleeping bags! I won’t realize any profit until the stuff sells, but I’m in no hurry.

And really, I have met my goal of Crap out of the house, money in!

And not to toot my own horn, but I batched a few errands since I was driving across town, and bought tons of yummy food at the Grocery Outlet, (including beautifully packaged salmon and organic chai chocolate bars for the Japanese host families) and hormone free milk at Trader Joe’s. I hung two loads of laundry to dry, and will be taking my older son to pick up his glasses, which are finally ready.

And Jennifer H. who won her own copy of The Happiness Project? Your book is on its way.

I will sleep well tonight.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

WilliamB April 15, 2010 at 6:47 am

Was your sister willing to *store* the stuff she wanted from you?


Katy April 15, 2010 at 6:55 am

No. She wanted me to hold onto it until she either came down to Portland or someone else went up to Seattle.

I have the space to store it, I was simply being mean, pure and simple.



WilliamB April 15, 2010 at 8:45 am

I think you’re being a little hard on yourself. You are not your family’s attic. (If you can convince your family of that, please tell me how so I can convince mine.)


BLG April 15, 2010 at 7:17 am

Hi Katy –

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, but this is my first time commenting. I have a very different lifestyle compared to yours (no kids, work full time, etc.), so I’m not able to do everything the same way you do (nor do I have as many obligations!), but I value your great ideas and encouragement to simplify and save money.

However, I do find myself wondering about divisions of labor in the Wolk-Stanley house. I don’t mean to pry or judge, but I’m just curious about how much the other family members do around the place. I suppose you probably only write about things you do directly (it’s *your* life, after all!), but it seems like you’re carrying a lot of the load as well as working part-time. It’s certainly clear that everyone in the family benefits directly from your work at home.

How have you guys found a system that works for everyone? I would value your perspective on how you’ve arranged to divide labor so that everyone feels like they are doing their part, etc.

Many thanks,


Katy April 15, 2010 at 8:05 am


My husband works 44 hours per week, often starting at 4:00 A.M., which means that he’s utterly exhausted on his work days. (And still tired on his days off.) He coaches soccer teams for both our sons, as well a having a very strong presence on the non-profit soccer board. (This can take hours per day.)

I work two days per week, and sometimes just one. My husband cooks on days that I work and maybe one extra day per week.

My sons are responsible for keeping their own rooms clean, which means that they are pretty much messy at all times. I try to stay out of this, although I am helping my younger son to declutter, which should make the task a bit easier for him.

I do all the gardening, because I really enjoy that, although my husband reseeded the lawn the other day due to my very bad back.

I do almost all the grocery shopping, as I have somehow turned it into a very complicated endeavor. He has a tendency to load up on goodies at Trader Joe’s on my work days.

I do all the laundry, (again — I’ve turned it into a complicated matter.) Although, I not-so-secretly enjoy this task.

In terms of general clean up, none of us is really in charge, which might explain the general mild messiness. My husband is more apt to scrub down the bathroom than I am, and he’s pretty much in charge of house related maintenance. I’ll do the dishes on days that my husband works, but we kind of split the task otherwise.

Is our division of labor ideal? Probably not, but I find that I’m actually much better and faster at housework than he is. I do try and set up systems so the house pretty much can stay tidy on its own, although THAT is an entirely different matter. We both do the tasks we enjoy more than the other person, and also both do tasks we hate.

Clear as mud? Good, then my task is completed.


-Katy Wolk-Stanley


Katy April 15, 2010 at 8:08 am

Also, my current decluttering fanaticism is mostly based on having a home that is easier to keep clean.

My house is BIG and unfortunately can hold a lot of stuff before it seems like there’s too much stuff. And guess what? There’s too much!



BLG April 15, 2010 at 8:33 am

Thanks, Katy. I can definitely understand the whole doing something your self because you’ve turned it into a “very complicated endeavor”. I do this myself with some things!


Katy April 15, 2010 at 8:47 am

Yer welcome.


Kate April 15, 2010 at 7:18 am

Eh. Mean is just another word for telling people things they don’t want to hear.


Rachel April 15, 2010 at 8:15 am

Reading about all of your decluttering & making money has me inspired to go back through my home again!! In February I was able to sell over $150 worth of our unwanted junk on Craigslist…fabulous getting money for stuff we don’t use! I have more I need to list and I will soon!

And I completely agree about the clothes…when I had more clothes in my closet I always felt like I had nothing to wear! Once I pared down to only items I love to wear it made picking out clothes much easier!!


Laura April 15, 2010 at 10:11 am

This post is timely for me. With my oldest gone for the next week and a half, this would be a good time to go through her closet and thin things out to take to resale. I never thought of taking the small toddler hangers; she has a couple of dozen just sitting in her closet. And the resale shop we use is near a Grocery Outlet, so I could combine errands!

I’m with you on turning chores into “complicated endeavors” so that I have to do them. I secretly love to do laundry as well (although I get my kids to help as much as possible so that when they’re on their own they’ll know how to do it).


Karen April 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Laura, good point about showing your kids how to do these domestic tasks. Like BLG’s question, I too often wonder if women are carrying the majority of the frugal/green movements, in terms of all the “complicated” tasks. It may just be the blogs I read and the women I talk to.

I have a daughter and a son who are now all grown up, but when they were little I honestly think I worked harder to make sure my son grasped all the household chores that are endless. With my daughter, she grasped more by watching me run around, and seemed to imitate me naturally, and as an adult is very orderly in her living space.

My husband is great for some tasks such as dishes and laundry but does not seem to notice (or care?!) about the big picture of home upkeep: windows, bathrooms, the porch etc. I kind of overlooked these flaws because he was great with our kids as they were growing up. As far as my son, he so far is very unstructured as far as how clean he needs stuff to be. He is far more cluttered about the floor and clothes etc in his grown up life than my daughter. I just had to let it go, but am still glad I really did try hard to impress on him that order is a great goal in all areas of life, including the home!


tammy April 16, 2010 at 7:14 am

Katy I’m working to declutter the plants in the yard! I’ve been dividing and selling hosta plants and am happy to report I’ve made $50 so far! The work is a bit back breaking BUT I love being outside and if I can be outside and creating another revenue stream then I am a happy girl!
Now if I could just get Boyfriend to go through all the Star Trek stuff *argh*


Katy April 16, 2010 at 7:30 am


How are you selling them? Through Craigslist or something else?



Julia April 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Tammy, I hear you on the Star Trek stuff. My husband has a box of Star Trek Hallmark Christmas ornaments which we have been dragging around since 1993 and we have moved 7 TIMES since then. And we are Jewish, so these things have never even seen a Christmas tree. Sigh. He says he’ll sell them on Ebay but I’m not holding my breath.


Kayla K April 16, 2010 at 7:15 am

I’m trying the stuff-out, money in idea, but my first foray into Ebay is ending badly. My Gap cargo pants and Levi jeans are going for $.99… and the auction ends this afternoon. Bummer!


Katy April 16, 2010 at 7:29 am

Did you check “Completed Listings” on your items before listing them?

I guess you could chalk it up to lesson learned, although most eBay listings don’t get bid on until the last minute because buyers don’t want to bid the price up.

Crossing my fingers for you.



Donna Korzun April 16, 2010 at 7:53 am

I have been de-junking my house as well except most of my items have went to a local charity thrift shop that helps women with addictions reconnect with society and family. I have had 3 rounds of purging and am still going for round 4! Thanks for the inspiring article. I think round 4 will be today. lol


Jane in Seattle April 4, 2015 at 10:37 am

I have been trying to sell things on craigs list. All I get is people asking numerous questions and then not buying. Got any secrets you want to share? LOL. We share housework. I do what I can with my limitations and he picks up some of the slack. I’m still working on teaching 3yo to pick up after herself.


Katy April 4, 2015 at 11:06 am

I make sure to include multiple photos and measurements, as well as any information that I know abut whatever it is I’m selling. Cuts down on buyers needing to ask questions.


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