Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Declutter Stuff Furniture eBay Image Credit: Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Declutter Stuff Furniture eBay Image Credit: Kiplinger's Personal Finance

The Joy Of Decluttering

Don’t let these common but misguided notions derail your goal to declutter and lighten up.

Patricia Mertz Esswein

We spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff and the latter half trying to get rid of it, says Barry Izsak, a professional organizer in Austin, Texas. If you’re in the second phase, we’ll help you make the tough decisions about what to toss and offer suggestions on where to sell your stuff. Still too daunting? We also tell you when it’s time to call in the pros. But first, you need to get over these often-untrue truisms.

I just need to get organized.

That’s probably a good bet, but first you need to figure out what to toss. And many baby boomers face a special dilemma: After decades of accumulating their own possessions, they want to simplify their lives even as their parents are dying and leaving behind a tidal wave of stuff, says Julie Hall, director of the American Society of Estate Liquidators. At the same time, their millennial kids are leaving home and leaving behind many of their possessions. The solution? Dispose of as much as you can, then organize what’s left.

Think of the disposal process as “right-sizing” your stuff, meaning you should have the right amount of stuff at the right time in your life, says Izsak. He advises clients to keep only what they find useful or beautiful and to sell, donate or toss the rest.

The kids may need it someday.

“News flash! Your kids grew up with too much stuff and don’


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