I have been helping people declutter and get organized for 10 years now and am always learning new things. I also hear new excuses all the time. I have to admit, some can be hard to argue with but most are just fears. The fear of needing it in the future, fear it will come back in style and you will wish you had it, fear that someone will judge you for letting it go, fear it will be worth millions someday. Let’s get real for a moment and talk about the mysterious junk drawer. We all have one and it will vary from household to household but let’s review some of the common items found in there. Some things worth hanging on to…tape, tools, stamps, current phone charger, money, calculator. Awesome! Easy! Things not worth hanging on to…stale candy, loose batteries, lip gloss that has been in there who knows how long, loose nails, old phone charger, roll of film, keys you are really not sure what they go to but you should probably find out but you are most likely going to put back in the drawer and forget about until the next time. Do you see where I am going with this? Fear can hold us back from making decisions that sound so simple and easy when we say them out loud but that fear can literally stop us from the physical follow through of letting go. Maybe you will need the old phone charger someday but what is the cost of buying one at the drugstore? $3? $5? What is the emotional cost of you having to store it, move it from place to place every time you come in contact with it? Too much if you ask me.
I know what you’re thinking, we all have a junk drawer why is she so worried about that. Because talking about a junk drawer is a smaller easier version to cope with than a closet, garage, storage room, guest room, attic, basement, shed or heaven forbid a storage unit. Did you know that the average home costs between $100 and $150 per square foot? Let’s pretend we have a 2,000 square foot home and we bought it on the low end of $100 per square foot, that’s $200,000. If we use only 100 square feet of our home on storage, we are spending $10,000 on area just for storing our stuff.
I recently held an estate sale for a client. She had a modest home but was getting older and decided to move into senior housing and needed to downsize. During our initial interview I was made aware she also had items in storage. She struggled with the decision on whether to include the items in the sale or not. After a bit of back and forth I talked her in to having all items brought to her home so that we could sort through it. Most of the items were from a lake home she sold nearly 20 years earlier. As we went through boxes, we found clothes that were outdated or the elastic was rotted and didn’t work any longer. We found toiletries and food that were expired. We found plastic cups and paper plates, knickknacks she didn’t remember and pastel furniture. We filled two laundry baskets full of pictures and items she wanted to keep. She received her final monthly bill of $250 and the termination of her storage agreement start date of 2002. In her 17 years of storing her items she spent $51,000 and all she kept were four large photo books, a lamp, three antique perfume bottles, a pillow and blanket her mother made and a couple other memory items that fit into two laundry baskets. She stressed over the decision to have the storage items brought out. She cancelled the delivery four times. FOUR TIMES! I kid you not when I tell you we worked for weeks on the set up of the sale and her storage items arrived the day before it began. The delivery overflowed her garage. My team and I blasted through the storage items with the homeowner and she saved two laundry baskets. TWO LAUDRY BASKETS OF STUFF! 17 Years! $51,000! I am not going to ask how many of you have storage units or spaces full of stuff but I do want you to ask yourself…is it worth it?