Guest Post – Can you put a price on clutter?

Some of us like to say that we don’t have junk: “But I only keep the things I use and need!” You may not want to label any of your belongings ‘junk’, but it’s time to dust off any negative connotations of the word and accept that you probably don’t use or need everything at home or at work. Let’s call it ‘clutter’–even if it’s not rubbish, it’s still taking up space.

Have you ever considered how much clutter may be costing you by keeping it around? Let’s look at 5 common situations where we’re spending more by having more:

1. Unused items
Do you have any clothes with the tags still on? Did you buy yourself a new blender because you’re waiting for your old one to break? Add up the total value of what you paid for these items and the amount may surprise you.

2. Doubling up on items
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you might end up unnecessarily replacing things. Paying to ‘replace’ items when in reality they’re just hiding in the garage or attic means a higher cost and more clutter.

3. Unused space*
Take the value of your home and divide it by the square meterage to get the value per square metre. Can you figure out how much of that space is currently occupied by clutter? Once you’ve done the simple math you’ll see the value of the area that’s being wasted. If you’re a homeowner, we suspect you want to get what you paid for!

*Credit to professional organiser Peter Walsh, from his book Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier With Less (2010).

4. Storage
If you rent a storage locker because there isn’t enough room in the house for ‘extra stuff’, consider this the first sign that you should consider letting go. Whether it’s due to an emotional attachment or a hobby that takes up more space than you can afford, reconsider what storage means for you. If it costs you $200 a month to keep a locker, that’s $2400 a year that you could be saving or spending on something useful instead of protecting unused possessions.

5. Moving
The more stuff you have to move, the longer the move will take and the more the process may cost you. Taking time to get rid of clutter while preparing to relocate will save you effort and money in the long run (not to mention giving you one less thing to worry about on moving day).

There’s also a hidden cost of clutter:

6. Stress
Think about the emotional price we pay by holding on to clutter. Do you have a junk drawer that gives you stress every time you open it? Do you trip daily over the extra chair in the dining room? Do you keep putting off driving the broken TV to the recycling facility? Clutter creates worry. Get rid of it now!

Sam Landa works for 1800-GOT-JUNK?, a rubbish removal company in Sydney that has seen firsthand how much time and money clutter can cost. They divert most of what they remove away from the tip and give back to the community as much as possible.

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