I think many of my fellow bloggers can enjoy a knowing chuckle as I re-introduce the second-to-last Decluttering topic- a series that was intended to last one month and is actually scattered across six. These past two topics are focused on remaining free of clutter once you’ve cleared some space: how to bargain shop without hoarding and home improvement for clutter management. Today’s topic is how garage salers (and other bargain hunters) can shop without accumulating clutter.
After decluttering, it’s all too tempting to fill the new vacuum with new piles of things you won’t use. Especially if you’re a deal hunter. I haunt garage sales regularly, so I have a few tips to share about how to resist amazing deals that don’t fit your needs and goals.
1. “Shop your home” before looking for deals.
Often you’ll discover that you have that thing you needed already, whether it’s a forgotten spare shower curtain rod (happened to me this week!), and underutilized lamp, furniture to “up-cycle,” or fabric suitable for a sewing project.
2. Know your needs and goals.
Once you know what you have, decide on what you need and truly want- especially regarding small items like crafts and fabric that sing their siren song, “I hardly take up ANY space- you can easily stash me away for a rainy day.” For instance, possible crafts for the kids are so assorted, I decided not to stash anything unless I have a clear plan of how to use it at least once within the next month. Regarding fabric though, since I have extra space in my storage racks, I sew frequently, and people often sell their whole stash for practically nothing, my policy is “always take a fabric steal” unless it’s a fabric I don’t work with or if it’s on a huge roll like upholstery fabric.
3. Know your market.
Once you’ve been around the garage sale, beg-borrow-buy-sell, and resale circuit a few times, you can recognize what items are in high supply and which are in high demand, so you know when to seize a deal and when you can pass. In my little suburban world, kids toys that take up tons of space but that kids grow out of quickly are in abundant supply every week, practically for free: kitchen sets, sand boxes, play houses, and climbing sets. In high demand are storage and organizational items. There is always a frenzy- digital or physical- surrounding well priced bookcases and dressers. So again, you have to really know your needs before you throw yourself on the chest of drawers, claiming it as your own: does it fit in the space you need? Does it accommodate the size of the items you want to store? About one in five storage piece posts I see on resale sites are from the new owner of an item purchased on the site which didn’t work out in their home.
4. Count the cost before storing.
I’ll just touch on the topic from the decluttering craft supplies post: imagine the amount of time before you would actually use an item, and estimate the difference in cost (if any!) if you were to buy it when you need it versus buy it now and store it. Is the savings worth the hassle of having that item stored in your living space for that amount of time? The calculation is more tangible if you are actually paying for storage of some kind- renting an extra room, closet, garage or storage unit. In this situation, the accumulated cost of the storage unit over time should be compared to the cost of buying it later; you might even find that you’re losing money by storing items. For example, if your storage unit costs $100 per month and you keep it for a year, you would compare the total rental cost ($1200) to the value of the items you’re storing. Oftentimes, the rental cost exceeds the value of the stored items. Even if it doesn’t, you may realize you’d prefer to keep the $1200 rather than the unused belongings.
The decluttering series will hopefully conclude soon with a post on home improvement for clutter control!