Lesson In What Comes In Must Go Out

This week I worked with a client who had 3 days to clear every single thing out of their house because of a pending natural disaster. During those 3 sleepless days things were thrown in boxes and decisions were made. What to keep for the family’s immediate needs and what could go in boxes until they are settled in a new home. It is now a year later, and what they discovered after a year was that they really didn’t miss anything that was still in boxes. They had learned to make due with less. But now they were faced with how to properly get rid of everything that was still in the boxes. For this family it was decided to have a huge garage sale and then whatever didn’t sell would be donated to charity. A daunting task….not for the faint of heart.

It got me thinking about if I had three days, what would I box up and what would I take with me? We are all not fortunate to even get 3 days. Some natural disasters give you minutes or seconds. But what if we suddenly became more mindful of what we buy in the first place so that things have a natural entrance and exit from our homes.

When we are in the heat of the moment buying something we rarely take a moment to see what the lasting impact may be. Most often we are only concerned with the upfront cost of the item, but rarely anything else. But there are other things to think about, such as any special care or where are you going to store it, do you need to purchase insurance, is there any cost of upkeep. But have you ever thought about how the items are going to leave your house.

For me it starts right when I decide to purchase something, here are some of my rules before making purchases and how I have things leave my house:

1.       If I buy a new pair of shoes or a new clothing item, something needs to leave my closet. I call it the one in one out rule. This is a system I have in place. What this enables me to do is to have plenty of space in my closet without having to cram anything in.

2.       Before I buy something I must know exactly where in my home it is going to be housed at. If I don’t have an idea….I don’t buy it.

3.       I keep a donation box in my garage that we put the items that we no longer use. My entire family knows what this box is. If something is too small or they know they won’t use it along with any other member of the family, in the box it goes. When the box is full, my husband takes it in to our donation drop site.

Here are some other things to think about when considering how things leave your house:

1.       If you are saving it “someday” for your children, make sure they will actually want it. Do they want the items you are storing for them? Have the conversation and ask.

2.       If you are saving it thinking “someday” I will use it, think again. Often those items that we think we are going to use “someday” are placed in an out of sight out of mind location. What if you gave yourself a limited amount of time and if you didn’t use it, then it could leave your house. Put a post-it note on it with a date in the future, and when the time comes if you have not used it, be OK with it leaving your home.

3.       If you are a person who has garage sales, have them frequently to get the items out of your house. Don’t save things for the every five year garage sale. Maybe a friend is having one and you can take your items over there.


3.       Don’t hold onto things because someone you loved gave them to you. If you don’t like that sweater aunt Edith gave you, get it out of your house. Guilt seems to be a hard thing for my clients. I remind them that if they gave someone a gift that they didn’t like, would they want them to keep it forever? Chances are they would want them to either return it to the store or donate it. So why not treat yourself with the same concept?

4.       Don’t hold onto something for so long that when you decide to get rid of it, it is no longer functional. Those of you with encyclopedia sets in your basement, I am talking to you.

So my challenge to you is that when you are purchasing something, no longer think instant gratification, and think long term. You might surprise yourself and change your shopping habits and save some money.


To Joyful, Simplified Living,


MS. Simplicity


MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at http://www.mssimplicity.com/

2 Responses

  1. MIKI

    I watch the “hoarding” shows on TV and they are a great inspiration to me! I am so tired of all the “stuff” we have. So, I have been going through things, pitching a good amount in the garbage and finding new homes for other things…if I can’t use it/don’t want it, I find someone who can/will. It’s always a relief when something goes out the door!

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