Feeling Poor? Get Rid Of Clutter

If your empty wallet makes you feel the same, one way to boost your spirits is to get rid of crap around your house you don’t need, writes Debt-Proof Living.

2. CURB THE CLUTTER. I don’t care how clean your house may be, if you have clutter it’s pulling you down. Clear your closets, drawers, cupboards, garage and counters of everything that you do not need or brings beauty to your life. Clean open spaces, tranquility and simplicity chase away feelings of poverty. Clutter invites chaos which leads to depression and feelings of deprivation.

Toss it, garage sale it, give it away, burn it. Unnecessary objects steal energy and attention. Freeing up physical space frees up psychic space and boosts your mood, maybe even giving you enough energy to tackle a project that will more directly impact your bottom line, like figuring out a way to make more money, or reducing expenses.

How to Not Feel Poor [Debt-Proof Living via Frugal For Life]

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  1. Best. Feeling. In. The. Universe.

    Also when you conquer clutter you stop buying things you already own, like office supplies and headphones. Because you know where the ones you already own ARE. (Not that I’m speaking from experience as the kind of person who found 4 dozen legal pads and scores of post-it pads when she finally cleaned and organized her office or anything.)

  2. joebloe says:

    Yes, I do it all the time. It’s called ‘feng shui’.

  3. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    You are so right. One time I cleaned out my pantry and found FOUR jars of ground cinnamon. FOUR!

  4. ahwannabe says:

    *sigh* I wish my husband would subscribe to this way of thinking, but unfortunately he belongs to the the-poorer-you-are-the-more-junk-you-must-save-in-case-you-need-it-someday school of thought.

  5. bohemian says:

    I think it is a compulsion of people who feel poor to hoard stuff (in some cases).

  6. b612markt says:

    Cleaning out closets, pantries and cupboards is one of my favorite things to do. To get rid of the stuff that I don’t need, but isn’t trash – I’m a big fan of the Dumpster Exchange. I just put it alongside or on top of the dumpster and it’s usually gone in SECONDS.

    My other big thing is getting rid of the old when I buy something new. I just got new pots & pans (stunning copper ones) and immediately handed down my older set. Sure, I could have kept a few of the old ones, but I didn’t NEED them anymore and now I have less clutter (and someone else has new-to-them pots!)

  7. rmz says:

    @joebloe: Clearing clutter for a variety of reasons is one thing, but please don’t confuse this with the superstituous garbage that is “feng shui.”

  8. etinterrapax says:

    I adore clearing out clutter. I wish our complex supported a dumpster exchange. Instead, we get bitching in the condo newsletter about how much it costs to come and have a hauling company clean out whatever people leave in the enclosure. I can see how it would get out of hand, but it still annoys me that they don’t support that kind of exchange. When we moved out of our city apartment, we got a lot of hassle from my suburban MIL about “throwing away” a couch that she said still had life in it. I told her to wait five minutes and it would have a good home. Sure enough, someone came along just as my husband was putting it out in the alley.

    Without the exchange option, we use the Salvation Army. If you call them ahead, they’ll send a truck to your house to bring anything that’s too big for the drop box. It’s very convenient.

  9. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    How dare you diss fung shui? Don’t you know pointing your couch toward the setting sun and making sure your bed is a certain distance from your dresser will completely change your life? Fung shui is just good design aesthetics wrapped in Chinese mumbo jumbo. So there.

  10. EvilTapioca says:

    Yes it’s a very nice feeling to know that you aren’t surrounded by crap you never use. Last time I moved I ended up giving away 3 car loads of stuff to neighbors and throwing away at least 10 bags of junk. Moving wasn’t much of a hassle after getting rid of all that stuff. :)

  11. Sudonum says:

    @rmz: @stanfrombrooklyn:
    Call it what you like, but let tell you a story about Feng Shui.

    I worked for a large hotel company. There was a large (1300 room) under performing hotel that we managed (private owners with our sign on it). It was in operation for around 7 years, losing money every year. It went bankrupt and the bank foreclosed on it. The bank ran it for about a year and a half, loosing money all along. The bank then sold it to another private owners group. This one from Taiwan. The new owners came in with the “priest” and did the Feng Shui survey. They then spent $30 million reconfiguring the hotel as per the “priests” recommendations. Even removing escalators so the only way to the meeting rooms on the second floor was using the stairs or the elevators (unheard of for a large convention hotel). The hotel started making money. Same management team except for the owners. When I left the company it was one of the top performers. You can attribute it to a variety of factors if you like, however, until they made those changes that the Feng Shui Master recommended the hotel was a dog.

  12. FLConsumer says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: The only way I’ve conquered the re-buying issue is to keep a small notepad on the kitchen counter of things I need to buy, by store. When it comes to office supplies, spices, canned goods, etc, I only work off that. If I see something in the store I want but can’t remember if I have it at home, I’ll put it on the list and check when I get home.

    I hear you on the multiple items ‘though.

  13. LivSimpl says:

    Simplifying your environment/life is a great stress reducer too. I’ve got a whole site dedicated to the topic – http://www.LivSimpl.com – for anyone who’s interested.

  14. ltlbbynthn says:

    reading the whole article, it also says you should keep your car spotless and clean no matter how crappy it is… I can totally see that working for me. One of my cars has so much body damage I can’t afford to fix, but I’m sure I wouldn’t feel so much like people were judging me if it was perfectly clean and well-maintained otherwise. My ex detailed the interior for me once and it was wonderful!!

  15. rg says:

    I usually take stuff like this to the local Retarded Citizens association. It makes me feel good to get rid of clutter, and even better to help others out. My partner, however, is not so good about de-cluttering. I got so tired of moving boxes sitting around a year after our last move that I did something about it. I bought plastic bins to more permanently store stuff in. I went through each box and took out the stuff I knew should be kept. I tossed the crap…old receipts, the car note booklet from his ’84 Olds (come on!!) trash, etc. The questionable stuff, or at least what I knew he would consider questionable stayed in the moving box. Then I stacked all the moving boxes to where they would be in the way and hard to get around (in the garage) and he was forced to go through at least that stuff. Later he got the bug and started going through the storage bins. He agreed to one bin a month, I can live with that. So I guess what i’m saying is if someone is not wanting to deal with clutter, make it easier for them to go through, and put in a place where they have to deal with it instead of just storing it out of the way.

  16. jesirose says:

    That was a neat article but I was disappointed when I got to #3 and that was it…did anyone else think it was going to be a 10 item list? *sniff*

    Now I feel list deprived.

  17. @ahwannabe: “I wish my husband would subscribe to this way of thinking”

    My husband is a pack-rat too (I used to be until I married a worse one!), and what I’ve found to be very successful is to say, “You can keep as many childhood toys/random pieces of paper/back issues of magazines as you want, but it all has to fit in this tupperware tub/file box/bookshelf.”

    This serves three purposes. First, we DO have too much stuff, and he WILL get rid of SOME of it as long as I give him a reasonable space in which to store the rest of it to keep. Second, it’s all consolidated into one place where I either can ignore it or where I can MOVE it and stack it in a corner of the basement. Third, sometimes after it’s been sitting in a box for two years or so, he’ll agree that I was right and he doesn’t actually need it. (But not that often.)

    He’s pretty good about once he’s agreed to a space, sticking to it. I frequently have to remind him six or eight times that his periodicals bookshelf has vomited all over my living room floor, but he DOES eventually clean it out so it all fits again.

    The other thing I do is suggest that we take the BEST part of the collection of whatever and display that and get rid of the rest. Like wouldn’t he much more enjoy having his favorite old T-shirts made into a quilt and the rest given to goodwill? Or the most meaningful cards/letters/ticket stubs from childhood put in a scrapbook and the rest thrown away? It’s always like pulling teeth to get him to agree to this but he’s always much happier once it’s done and he can actually enjoy the sentimental value of whatever it is.

  18. HungryGrrl says:

    This IS good advice. When one doesn’t have a lot of money it can be very tempting to buy a lot of stupid cheap junk at the closeout store and such. It adds up, though, and you end up with closets full of cheap shoddy things you don’t use, and drawers full of old clothes. In preparation for a move, I’ve been trying to get rid of my clutter, and it definitely is liberating.

    I’ve put a lot of books and cds that I know I’ll never use again on Amazon.com and it’s a good little bit of extra income. All my magazine back issues, unneeded computer equipment, and vintage clothes I’ll never actually wear, I sold on Ebay. Anything that has little possible resale value goes to the Salvation Army.

  19. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Psh yeah, when I cleaned out my room before moving across the country to college, I dumped out so much crap that the garbage bin was full for the next three weeks.

  20. zolielo says:

    Want to feel rich(er) throw some change in the corners of your rooms. Looking down and seeing money on the floor generates some kind of psychological feeling of wealth.

  21. the_wiggle says:

    @bohemian: yes it can be. when one has little or nothing, it can become profoundly difficult to get rid of broken, obsolete, useless junk still less to organize it.

    being a pack rat from a family of pack rats, i make it a point to clean out the clutter annually at minimum :)

  22. csdiego says:

    That article was great, except for the suggestion about carrying a hundred-dollar bill in your wallet to help you feel rich. The trouble is, I would actually spend the money, on one of my bigger grocery trips, because I am cash-obsessed and hate using my debit card.

    Anyway, I don’t have that much of a problem with feeling poor. My in-laws, on the other hand… I wish I could send them this article without offending them mortally. They brought DH up very much with a fear of poverty (at times it was not just a fear, but a reality), and it’s contributed to his annoying tendency to buy stuff we don’t need just because it’s such a bargain we can’t afford not to buy it. I think it soothes him to feel surrounded by stuff he owns, even if it is all junk. When I see the in-laws buying the contents of entire storage sheds, sight unseen, at estate auctions, I can see where he gets it. *shudder*

  23. Mary says:

    If you need help de-cluttering, I recommend the book “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh. I had always TALKED a good game about getting rid of stuff, and then I read that book.

    He brings up the same point about how de-cluttering can not only help you feel less poor, but it can also affect your finances. My favorite line was “You’re throwing good space after bad money.”

    I’m still learning, and still working at it, but carloads of stuff later and I’m starting to really love living this way. It does make me feel better about myself. I don’t know if it makes me feel “richer” but as a whole, I just breathe easier and like my home a lot better.

    Plus, I made a decent chunk of change on eBay. Which reminds me to go back and sell some more stuff.