A couple of years after I graduated from college, I bought a house. I was the epitome of house poor. I couldn’t even fill up all the rooms with basic furniture when I moved in. My dining room remained empty for a good year because I couldn’t afford anything. People would come into the house, and their footsteps would echo from the lack of furniture.
Soon after I got a new job, things started looking up for me. The additional income allowed me to slowly start buying stuff, and I bought tons of it– stuff, that is. Craigslist was my best friend, and I went wild. My roommates and I hooked up multiple televisions so that we could watch sports while playing video games. We had a kegerator, a pool table, a ping pong table and stereo equipment. We were living the life as bachelors.
So Much Stuff
Slowly over time, my roommates would move out and some would leave stuff behind that they no longer wanted. I had a variety of mismatched plates, glasses and way too many sets of tools. I’m not saying that my house was a cluttered mess, but it was about ten years away from becoming a hoarder’s paradise. Thankfully my need for roommates ended after I married my wife and so ended the residual junk accumulation from those roommates.
While I joke about it, this is actually a serious matter as 2-5% of the adult population are compulsive hoarders, and most of the time, this is evident even in childhood. Those struggling with compulsive hoarding can be treated through Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Just because someone has this tendency, does not mean they have to live that way.
I think I had some childhood hoarding tendencies. If my parents didn’t move houses when I was in college when I wasn’t able to salvage my stuff, I probably would have had a ton more junk to add to my roommates’ collections. But I realize for others, it may be a much more deep-seated issue.
No More Hoarding
When I got married, my wife put an end to my hoarding. My wife hates useless stuff. After her mother passed away, she was responsible for sorting through her mother’s clothes and other items and then figuring out what to do with everything. It took her a few years to finally complete that project. It was definitely a stressful endeavor. Needless to say, my wife has said countless times that she doesn’t want our kids to have to go through all that work. Hence, her dislike of too much “stuff”.
After my wife finished taking care of her mother’s things, her next project was to begin decluttering our home. She started with my closets and quickly found where I had hidden my hoarding tendencies. She would grab an item and say when was the last time that you used this? If I didn’t answer quick enough because I was thinking, she would put it in the give away bag. Needless to say, she has greatly reduced the amount of junk that I had accumulated over the years.
In fact, this past weekend she participated in the community yard sale to get rid of stuff that we don’t need or use. Her plan was anything that she didn’t sell, she would donate to the Salvation Army. With that said, she made $150, which isn’t too shabby for the two hours of work that she put in
She tries to participate in our community’s sale twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. This allows us to declutter a couple times a year which makes my wife’s heart swoon. It’s only an added perk to get some additional cash in her pocket!
Thwarting Expensive Impulse Buys
In order to decrease the amount of clutter in the house, my wife and I decided that it would be beneficial to discuss purchases over $100 with each other before we pull the trigger. This forces us to have conversations about whether the stuff we want is actually a good idea versus a silly impulse.
We decided on the $100 figure because neither one of us really buys small nicknack type items. Normally the items that we want are usually over the $100 figure, which is why we chose that number.
I’ve read on other blogs that couples are provided a certain percentage of their budget to spend however they want to, and the other spouse has no say. My wife and I discussed doing something along these lines as well, but since I know my tendency to buy junk that I will later regret, we decided against it.
Here’s looking at you, nicer tv in the basement that gets used once every other month. I had these amazing plans that we would watch lots of movies and football down there. It would be an awesome man cave for me. But it’s so much more convenient to stay on the first floor to watch tv and not go down a flight of stairs. And we tend to forget it’s even down there.
So, I asked her to start holding me accountable so that I wouldn’t frivolously spend money. I think we would both agree that accountability is really important when it comes to finances.
For us, it has worked out really well. I have been able to avoid impulse purchases that I would later regret. My wife has also been able to also find the same things that she wanted on sale at a later date when she has had time to really think about it.
With that said, how do you keep your house decluttered? Or are you at peace with the clutter? Do you and your spouse have a purchase limit on items before you discuss? Share your thoughts below.