Purge Like You’re Moving

posted by Andrea | 07/6/2016

purge like you're moving

Someone recently asked me for my best tip to encourage more purging. Without much hesitation, I responded with this simple phrase…

Purge like you’re moving!

If you were moving across town, would you want to pack and transport your 10 pairs of too-small jeans, your finicky toaster, and your box of extra cords you’re convinced you “might need someday”?

If you were moving across the country, would you waste the time, space, and energy carting your stacks of old magazines, newspapers, and junk mail with you?

If you were moving internationally, would you pay to ship all your holiday decorations, unused wedding gifts from 20 years ago, and every single piece of artwork from your 4 children’s school days?

I suppose some of you might say “yes” to some (maybe even all) of these questions — but I have a feeling the majority would probably say “no”.

When Dave and I moved to our current house 5 years ago, we sold stuff on Craigslist and thoroughly purged every single room and closet in our home because we didn’t want to waste time or energy moving anything we didn’t want, need, use, or love.

Even though we moved into a home that was twice as big as our first home, we still got rid of SO much stuff before we moved — and it felt GREAT!

In fact, almost everyone I know (including many organizing clients whom I guided through the moving process) is likely to purge MORE if they go into it with the mindset that they wouldn’t want to move it to another home or another location.

I know this won’t work for everyone — but if you’re looking for a quick tip to help you purge more, simply ask yourself “would I keep this if we were moving?”

If not, then you know you’re probably safe to put it in the donation pile!

A few other purging resources:

Oh, and if you actually ARE moving, here are 6 tips to simplify moving 🙂

What are YOUR best tips to purge more?

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17 comments

  1. pw

    07/06/2016

    We were caregivers for my husband’s mom/dad and 2 Aunts and Uncles and my mom who lived out of town. As they passed away their households ended up in our house-garage, big shed, basement, attic in our closets. We were essentially moved out and the family members that wanted this stuff never came. After 2 years we cleaned all the furniture out of the garage. No one ever came to pick up what they wanted us to keep until they could find time to get it, although my husband and myself work 12 hr days have our house to take care of, yard work etc. Finally 3 years ago I got everything out of the shed, and purged. Garage sale from shed and garage got us close to a$1,000. The next year we did the attic, dressers, closets, tons of furniture garage sale another $1,000 we decided being in our 70’s but still working we would plan to sell our house in 2 years, move out of IL and stop working. Another huge garage sale over $1,000. Good we did that, one of my husband’s aunt passed away suddenly, we had her condo to sell, and the real estate agent instead sold our house for a huge price, they wait in line to get into our area, and we moved into the condo. Our movers laughed, cost $400 because we had hardly anything in the house. The amount of stuff you accumulate is mind blowing. Living in Chicago we do have to have a lot of bulky boots, coats, hats because we walk to the train and do a lot of other walking. We did rent a storage area, as we only had a month to get out of our house, but thanks to Andrea’s advice for the years I have been following her, she pushed me to de-junk, etc. I did sell some things on Craigslist, a lot of garage sales, sold tools, antiques, things like that. We are slowly going thru our storage area and dumping, be surprised at the amount of stuff u don’t miss while in storage. My husband tends to be a bit of a pack rat, but I told him if he wants it, he can rent a small storage area to store his stuff and pay a monthly fee- or get rid of it. Keep you posted on that issue. In our condo I have a rule “no big containers ” because the senior items were all neatly in huge containers in our house and marked but once they hit the container, they just sat. We donated a lot of nice winter coats, boots, hats gloves, clothes, some hardly used or with tags on them. In the Chicago winters I knew there was someone that could use that nice new winter stuff that could not afford to buy it, so it got donated to churches, halfway houses, homeless shelters. All those years items sat stored in bins, someone could have been using it. But we had to clean out the senior houses, condos etc to get them on the market, for the estate and with our work hrs and doing the estate stuff just got shoved into every nook in our house. Gone now. We purged, we moved, and loving it so far. Lucky for me I follow Andrea and I listen to what she says, thanks Andrea.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow – you guys are amazing!
    I’m so happy you were able to purge (and sell) all the things you didn’t want and that your other relatives didn’t pick up! Yay for extra spending money 🙂

    We actually had a similar situation when my grandma passed away in 2007. We got EVERYTHING anyone didn’t want in our basement because we were the only ones who had room for it all. We sent an email out saying anyone could come take anything before a specified date (of course, no one came…) After that date, we sold everything we didn’t want on Craigslist and made over $1000!

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  2. Debbie

    07/06/2016

    Sadly, I’m one of those who packed lots of things and paid to move them across the country, then rented a storage unit for my furniture. A few years later I ended up selling them off anyway while still in the storage unit. I didn’t want to buy new furniture again once I find an apartment. It turned out that I lived at my parents’ house for longer than I imagined I would and never needed my furniture at all. Now, because of your little advice here and there about purging I’m getting so much better. Clothing wise, I’ve realized that I’m keeping many things even though I don’t like to wear them because it’s still fairly new and I paid a good price for them. They’re needlessly taking space in my drawers and closets. I’m getting rid of them and replacing them with things I WANT to wear. It feels great!

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    Andrea Reply:

    well… you live, you learn 🙂
    And it sounds like you really DID learn and are purging more now! Way to go!

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  3. Karen

    07/06/2016

    Yes! I really struggled with purging until the possibility of moving came up. For the past several months (!) there have been weekly trips to drop off donations of still useful items and the trash is full of the rest. I am also dealing with the accumulations of both my late mother and mother in law, much of which was packed in boxes and brought here, compounding the clutter I had. I’m talking serious, almost overwhelming clutter. Out of three liquor store boxes of old magazines, I pulled an intact 1944 issue of Better Homes and Gardens and recycled the rest. The basement was boxes and bags everywhere when I started, now I am almost ready to start the garage. I’m getting rid of clutter older than I am and the containers it was stored in.

    Not to be morbid, but I also decided that if something should happen to me, I would not want to make someone else go through all my belongings and wonder why on earth I hung on to it all.

    I find my energy level increases as the “stuff” level decreases, and it is so much easier to clean now that I don’t have to move mountains to vacuum the corners. Another benefit is that I think twice about what I bring into the house because I do NOT want to do this again.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I don’t think that’s morbid at all — it’s just life. We will all die at some point, and when we do, someone else will need to take care of all our stuff. I’ve even thought about this at only 30 years old — and I want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to take care of my kids, my house, our things so everything is easy to find and I try to purge as much as possible ALL the time!

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  4. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    07/06/2016

    It’s funny you posted this today because I have been doing this! We might be moving at some point this year (not for sure at all). I decided to participate in our city-wide garage sale weekend in a few weeks and I’m decluttering like we are moving, just in case! It’s big motivation. If we do actually end up moving, I’ll still want to get rid of some extra furniture and yard tools, but this is one of my biggest purges yet. I love it!

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    Andrea Reply:

    how exciting that you MIGHT move! I always loved thinking about moving — until we actually moved, and now I’m glad we have no plans to move any time soon!
    Happy purging!

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  5. Brooke

    07/06/2016

    I ask myself “If I were in a store today, would I buy this at full price?” If the answer is no, it usually needs to find a new home. Having just moved (to a smaller house), I wholeheartedly agree with thinking like you are moving when purging. I got rid of SO much stuff before we moved. I was paying mu movers by the hour. I wasn’t going to pay them to move stuff we didn’t need or want.

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    Andrea Reply:

    this is another great question — Thanks for sharing Brooke!

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  6. Avia

    07/06/2016

    Great advise. I’ll remember this during my next purge. And mention it to my husband when he “cleans” out his garage. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes… just casually send him this post link via email for him to read before garage cleaning day 🙂

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  7. Heart and Haven

    07/06/2016

    Great tip!
    I’ve done pretty good inside the house with decluttering most of the house (including we don’t even have a “junk drawer” anymore!) Many of the items we no longer used got sold or donated, but some things I was hesitant to get rid of went into the garage.
    I’ve now set a goal that we want to turn our garage into a multi-purpose “extra living space” to include a tween hangout (with tv, video game system, foos ball table, etc.) on one side, and a home gym on the other (for our elliptical, trx, and some free weights). Our laundry room is also in our garage and we still need storage for items like Christmas decorations, camping & outdoor items, garden & tools, etc. I’m really hoping this new goal will be the push I need to get rid of the rest of the excess items I’ve been storing!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — we don’t have a junk drawer either! it feels great!

    Good luck with the garage project — that sounds like a fabulous space your whole family will enjoy!

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    Sun Reply:

    I love your garage idea! Do you live in a great climate or have any tips for keeping the garage comfy for working out and relaxing? I’m in an area that is very hot much of the year (it’s in the 100’s this week) and down to freezing in the winter. I think I could handle working out in the cold, but not relaxing in this heat! Will you have climate control?

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    Heart and Haven Reply:

    It does get pretty warm here during the day, but I figured it would give the kids a reprieve in the shade to hang-out with their friends during the summer months in the heat of the day, instead of being cooped up inside. We can also run box fans for air movement.

    As far as working-out, it would be most comfortable during the early morning hours (ie. 5-6 am), or evenings. This would provide time to work-out while the kids were asleep as well. We’ve had an elliptical machine in the garage for several years now, so we just want to expand the equip. for cross training & strength training.

    I’m considering upgrading our garage door to one that is insulated, which should help keep out the heat & cold as well for the extreme temperature days.

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    Sun Reply:

    Thank you for the great reply! I hadn’t thought of our old garage door being part of the issue.

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