Sunday, 12 May 2013

Simple ways to stop hoarding

Today the theme for Blog Every Day in May is collecting. Throughout my teens, whenever I bought new clothes my Mum would always say "Oh I used to have something just like that!" and I'd think "WHAAAAT?! Why did you get rid of it?! That would be vintage now and I wouldn't have just bought this thing instead!!!" And so it began... 

I believed that things should never be thrown away because they would always come in useful at some point. Convinced I should keep clothes I now hated because "fashion always repeats itself" and I'd be able to give things to my someday-kids. I hate waste (still do) and so for years I'd hang on to ill-fitting clothes, books I'd read but would never read again and insane amounts of what could only be described as household tat.

When I started my year without shopping my tendency to hoard only grew stronger. I knew I wouldn't be able to buy things for a year so I became convinced that I needed absolutely everything I owned. I wanted to save money but also find ways to make extra money so I decided to do a carboot sale with my sister. It wasn't hard to find things I didn't mind getting rid of. The (one and only) carboot sale we ran was actually a bit crap. I made £32 but lots of my stuff hadn't sold. I couldn't bear the thought of taking it all home again so we drove to a charity shop and dropped it all off there. I felt great!

From then on everywhere I looked in my home I just saw stuff. The meaning and value of money was becoming clearer to me every day. I'd spent years frittering it away, accumulating things that didn't really make me happier and now suddenly they felt like a burden. And so I sold all the books I'd read and CDs I never listened to on Amazon (I didn't even own a CD player at this point) and made about £500. I eBayed various random items, took clothes to the recycling bank and donated more stuff to charity shops.

Getting rid of things became my new hobby and the more of it I did the more I loved it. Some weekends my sister and I would make a game out of it. LET'S SEE IF WE CAN GET RID OF 100 THINGS we'd say before skipping through the house gleefully pulling tired dresses from the wardrobe and embarrassing DVDs from our bookcase (D.O.A. anyone? Certainly not mine!) Did we really need 25 mugs? 50 pieces of Tupperware? I had one bed but 13 duvet covers! 

Our home became cleaner and tidying took less time. We didn't realise it then but within a couple of years my sister and I would both move away to London and all our decluttering made that process much easier. When I moved I was able to transport ALL OF MY THINGS in one van. Sure, we drove for 8 hours with my sewing machine on my lap, but knowing that was possible felt incredibly freeing.

4 years since the stopping shopping challenge ended I still hate having lots of things and try to have two big clearouts a year. I give books away when I've read them and I'm careful about the new things that I bring into my home. Here are some of my favourite ways to stop hoarding.

Is it beautiful, is it useful?
When you buy anything new ask yourself these two questions. Do you absolutely love it? Does it serve purpose? If you answer yes to either of these then go for it. If both then it's even better!

Have I used/worn this in the past 12 months?
Can you think of a reason you'll use/wear it in the next 12 months? If not, get rid.

Can I make three outfits from this?
When you buy new clothes take a moment to picture three different outfits you can create with it. If I'm struggling then I know it won't get worn often and it stays in the shop.

Hang items in reverse
Go through your wardrobe and move all the hangers to hang from the rear. When you wear, wash and put something away again, hang it from the front. In 6 months you'll have a good picture of what you don't wear often.

Give things away
Trust me, you'll get a lot more pleasure from passing something on to someone who will love it than from keeping it in a cupboard. Take a box of books to work and watch your colleagues faces light up. Give old magazines to your local GP and toiletries and make up to an organisation like Give and Make Up.

Decide what is always a good investment
For me that is board games, cosy throws and winter coats. Think about which purchases you consistently value. Remember these can change. I used to love cookbooks but now almost every new recipe I try is found online.

Question your sentimentality
Why are you really holding onto things? If some of that stuff gives you negative feelings or bad memories, chuck it and move on with your life.

Review anything in storage
Got stuff that you still haven't unpacked from when you moved 3 years ago? What's shoved away under your bed? Chances are you don't need it. If you're paying for storage make it a priority to get rid of it!

Ooh this has got me all fired up for a mini-clearout now. What are your favourite ways to avoid collecting and hoarding?

This post is part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge


  1. I stick to the 'beautiful or useful' rule also. And I have a summer, autumn and winter clean and clear out as well as a spring one. The charity shops love me!

  2. Moving house far too often has always helped me keep my crap to an almost acceptable level.

  3. We haven't moved house for 7 years now, we've still got a couple of boxes in our spare room that were never unpacked.
    Also we have a "cupboard of doom" which contains electronics from 15 years ago and paint from when we moved in.
    I think we could probably do with a huge clearout.

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