I have a theory that most of us would be more than willing to let go of the stuff that's cluttering our homes if we knew these things would serve a worthwhile cause or help someone else.
Here are those worthwhile causes for your seven biggest clutter problems:
1. Vases, baskets, containers and anything else that held flowers you have received. If they're cracked or broken, no one wants them. For the rest, take those in like-new condition to the closest flower shop to be recycled.
2. Excess dishes. If you do not use them at least once each year, sell them to an antique dealer or give them to a local thrift shop or the church's annual rummage sale.
3. Pots and pans. Offer them to family members, take them to the thrift shop or see if your church kitchen or camp could use some decent cookware.
4. Clothing. Can't bring yourself to dump your good clothes into a collection bin? Find an organization with specific needs. Crisis pregnancy homes, battered women's shelters and drug rehab centers are just a few of the places that will be so grateful to get gently used clothing that their clients can wear to job interviews. Beyond gently worn? Toss them. Now.
5. Books. If you're keeping them for show, give it up. No one is impressed. Go straight to Cash4Books.net. If they'll buy any, print out the prepaid mailing label and get those books into the mail. If not, donate books to your local
6. Bibles and church literature. Call a local church or two and ask if they want them. If not, send them to the thrift shop.
7. Furniture. Place an ad in your local paper or post your items on craigslist.com to sell them. If you want to give the stuff away, post on the website FreeCycle.org. Or call up the next fundraiser auction that comes along and ask if they will pick up your items. If your furniture is really as great as you think, it'll be gone before you know it.
Because clutter and organization are huge problems for many of us, here are more tips to help with the mess.
-- Assign a "home" for everything you own, then put things away when you are finished using them. If something doesn't have a home, perhaps it's time to rethink that item.
-- If you are having trouble parting with something and you want to save the memory of the item, consider taking a photo of it for future reference.
-- Organize your kitchen pantry. Group like items together so you'll know what you have and what needs to go on the grocery list. You'll be amazed what's lurking on your shelves.
-- Go through your medicine cabinets twice a year (January and June) and throw away expired medications. Make a list of items you need to replace.
Write to mary@everydaycheap skate.com or Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.