Home Finding Happiness 5 Ways to Declutter Without Guilt

5 Ways to Declutter Without Guilt

by Ali Wenzke

My top tip for happy moving? Get rid of everything you own. Fine, maybe that’s not realistic, but it’s something to aim for. One problem many of us face is that we feel guilty about decluttering. We feel guilty that we bought this stuff in the first place or that a friend gave it to us for the anniversary of our 29th birthday. If you want to declutter, but something is holding you back, here are some tips to help you declutter without guilt.


Think of the good things first.

Others will benefit. Your coat or shoes can help someone else. Here in Chicago there’s a place called Bernie’s Book Bank. They’ve provided more than 11 million books to at-risk kids since 2009. That’s a lot of donated books. When you purge your stuff, it can go to someone who needs it or wants it.

Your home is cleaner. I have yet to meet someone who is unhappy about the way their decluttered home looks after a decluttering session. Seriously, your place is going to look amazing.

Fill your home with things you love while helping others and making money.

Your house will be filled with the things you love. Decluttering isn’t about choosing what to throw away, it’s about choosing what to keep. What do you want to keep that makes you happy? When you fill your home with clutter, it’s hard to see what’s really important.

You can make money. Sell the item on eBay, craigslist, a virtual yard sale or a garage sale. Another option is to make a charitable deduction. Just remember to keep a detailed account of your donations for tax purposes.


Declutter without guilt: money spent

To lessen the guilt, amortize the cost of the item. Let’s say you got a promotion a couple years ago and spent $365 on a Coach purse to celebrate.  You just bought a Kate Spade purse, so your old purse is relegated to the closet. If you used that Coach purse every day for one year, it cost you $1.00 a day to rent. If you used the purse for two years, it only cost you $0.50 a day. Not bad for something that brought you so much joy. Plus, if you sell it or donate it, you can bring down your costs even more.

5 Ways to Declutter without Guilt. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Figure out the cost per use and you won’t feel so guilty.

Declutter without guilt: gifts received

Remember when you brought your friend a potted plant as a housewarming gift? You wanted to make her smile and to show her you cared. Did you expect to see that pot prominently displayed five years later? Probably not. If it’s hard for you to donate a gifted item that you no longer use, think of why your friend gave it to you in the first place. It brought you joy at that moment in time. Mission accomplished. She wouldn’t want to burden you with it now. It’s okay to give it away.

5 Ways to Declutter without Guilt. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Your friend gave you a gift so you could enjoy it at that moment, not to save it forever.


Declutter without guilt: other people’s stuff

No, you can’t really do that. You shouldn’t be getting rid of other people’s things without their consent. First of all, you probably have enough of your own things to declutter, so begin there.  You can lead by example for those who live with you. But, let’s say you have grown children who have filled your basement with their junk or aging parents who need to downsize. For your adult children, give them a deadline to get their stuff out. If they don’t comply, remember that it’s your home and you’ve given them fair warning. When you work with your aging parents, listen to their stories about their things and help them through the decluttering process.

5 Ways to Declutter without Guilt. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Time to give your kids a deadline to get their stuff.


Declutter without guilt: items you might use some day

When you find yourself keeping an item because you think it may be useful one day, take a look at your life five years from now.  Do you really need to keep your winter coats after moving to Florida or your unused dumbbells for your future triathlon-training body? Even after countless moves, I kept my suits in my closet because I thought I might use them again. I left the corporate world over twelve years ago. It was time to let go and I finally did. It felt great to purge and to focus on the person I am now. Live for the life you have at the moment. Worst case scenario, if you decide to train for that triathlon in the future, you can always rebuy some new weights. In the meantime, you’ve reclaimed your space and filled it with the things that make you happy right now.


5 Ways to Declutter without Guilt. The Art of Happy Moving. www.artofhappymoving.com

Live for your life at THIS moment.

You may also like

1 comment

Janice September 11, 2018 - 10:39 am

My mom used to do that, the warning thing. My brother and I sometimes wouldn’t listen and a few days later, our stuff was no more!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.