4 Tips for Decluttering During Economic Uncertainty

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A month ago, when the world was a different place, my husband put a new item in the ‘to be donated’ box.

It’s a warm, thick and totally unfrayed Everlast zip-up jumper.

I smiled and thought “that’ll keep someone who needs it warm next winter“. 

My husband (Dave), hasn’t worn it in years. We needed to declutter because the one wardrobe in our small house was getting overwhelmed.

He has loads of other jumpers. It’ll be fine. Or so I thought, a month ago when the world was different.

Then I went on vacation (with my parents and brother to the U.S.A) and when I came back to an entirely new locked-down world, the jumper was still there.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to drop it in the local charity clothing bin on my government-mandated daily walk.

What if we are the ones who need it?

One of the stops on our recent trip was to Bowling Green, Kentucky (which has the cutest town square I’ve ever seen), where a day of rain forced us inside.

After searching online, my brother found a shop selling a magazine he needed for his hunting rifle at a fraction of the price of what he’d pay here in New Zealand.

Off to the hunting shop, we went. 

That was my first taste of what’s to come. The shop was packed to the rafters with people stocking up. 

Now, I have to state that I do not believe the apocalypse is coming, but hard times sure are.

People are losing their jobs and businesses, and anyone lucky enough to hold on to a job might have their hours reduced. The rate in which this has happened is unprecedented.

Belts are being tightened all over the world. 

My husband is queuing for at least 30 minutes for our local grocery store (I can’t go as I’m on self-isolation for 14 days).

All the hardware stores and clothing stores are closed.

We couldn’t get our kids a new pair of shoes even if we wanted to.

Who knows when we’ll be able to buy a new winter jumper if we needed one.

I’m a huge advocate for decluttering your home if it’s causing you stress, BUT (and this is hard to say as a minimalist blogger), I’m actually quite OK with living with a bit of clutter if it makes me feel more secure.

I’m holding on to that Everlast jumper. I’m also selling stuff that I would usually donate. 

BUT I’m not keeping trash and excess paper and things my family cannot use again. 

Because right now we are all at home and our home feels smaller than ever. (I *might* have looked at bigger homes in our neighborhood with envy during my daily walk).

I still need my home to be somewhat tidy and livable so I don’t completely lose my mind.

4 Tips for Decluttering During Economic Uncertainty

1. Differentiate between useful and clutter

There is a difference between useful items and outright clutter.

Things like old college textbooks or the stash of Nokia cellphone chargers from the early noughties are always going to be clutter.

They can go right away. Here are 47 more items you can probably get rid of right away.

2. Could the item be easily repurposed?

Old jeans into a skirt or shorts, torn clothing into cleaning rags, old paperwork into origami squares (my 7yo’s current obsession).

Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’ll become a repurposing ninja overnight, keep it simple and be realistic about your skills.

3. Is the item worth selling?

If you come across something worth selling, it could be a good idea to wait until you are able to sell it before you consign it to the donate pile.

This depends on your government’s rules – right now we are unable to buy or sell used items online due to lockdown.

An extra $2, $5 or $10 might make a big difference to your budget in the coming weeks and months.

4. If not, store it out of the way

The wait and see approach is entirely appropriate right now. We don’t know what’s coming.

For things you’re still unsure of, box them up and put them out of the way. I have some items in the trunk of my car which have sat there for a week.

I’m not stressed about them as they aren’t affecting my everyday life, but I know they are there if I need them.

Bottom line: Be kind to yourself.  

Living in clutter for a while isn’t the end of the world, and if it helps you feel more secure then that’s a tradeoff I’d be willing to make.

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