How much is your clutter costing you?

Clutter is easy to accumulate, but for many (maybe even the majority), it’s harder to pare down.

The reason I hear most often for hanging on to things that no longer serve you: I feel guilty getting rid of it. As if letting go of things you don’t want but that are potentially useful is wasteful. That’s excuse #1 from my DH.

But, in reality, hanging on to your clutter is more wasteful than disposing of it. I admit, that does sound counter-intuitive. But bear with me. When actually take a few minutes (set your egg timer for 10) and start to add up just how much money you’ve spent on things that you already had or that you haven’t worn or used, it can be very eye-opening.

In fact, Peter Walsh has an exercise included in his latest book, Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier With Less designed to get you to quickly estimate just how much money you are wasting.

Try going through one room and make a quick estimate of the cost of what you’re not using. For example, look in your bedroom and consider the cost of unworn clothes and shoes, unread books, unworn jewelry, or unused makeup. Consider the unused toys in your den or child’s bedroom. If any particular item you come across tugs at your heart or makes you emotional, then consider that an added cost. Add up the cost of the items-I’m guessing that some of those clothes still have the tags on them so it won’t be that hard- and write down the amount. Is it big? How much of that are you still paying off? This simple exercise should give you a rough estimate of the cost of the clutter in your home.

Even though getting rid of things can seem, “wasteful,” when you look at it through the cold, hard lens of cash, it turns out it’s literally draining your pocketbook in a death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts kind of way.

I did this exercise yesterday and, even though I tend to be more of a minimalist, I was shocked at my waste in both toys and books. I promptly got out our donation box and put it out in the toy room. Our goal: by the end of this weekend, to have cut our toys down to just the ones our boys actually play with and enjoy. Ditto for the books.

Do you struggle with the notion that de-cluttering is wasteful? Have you ever gone through the exercise of calculating what it’s costing you?