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How to Stop Being a Pack Rat and Save Money in the Process

Sabah Karimi

Whether your kids have finally moved out, you've realized you don't need as much space as you have or you just want to save money, downsizing is a smart move. It can substantially lower your rent or mortgage payments and utility bills. Even if you're not planning to downsize, getting rid of "stuff" you no longer need can help clear clutter and potentially make some extra cash. Plus, summer is an ideal time to sell used items, since yard sale season is in full swing.

However, if you're a pack rat, downsizing can be daunting. Like a gold fish grows to fit the size of its bowl, we often acquire enough items to fill the places where we live. Some of these items, like sentimental gifts, can be difficult to part with. Feeling like you "wasted money" if you get rid of something you barely used, or thinking an item will be useful someday can add further strain.

Here are some easy steps to take to get rid of unnecessary items:

Ask yourself: "When was the last time I used this" and, "When will I use it again?" If you haven't used an item in the last year and can't picture a time when you'll use it again, toss it.

Keep a "get rid of" bin. Make it easier to say goodbye to possessions by designating a bin specifically for getting rid of stuff. That way, when you come across something you don't need anymore, you don't think, "I need to remember I have that when I throw my next yard sale" and risk forgetting the item.

Get a friend to help you sort through items. Having someone who isn't emotionally attached to your possessions can help with downsizing. Invite a friend or family member over to provide a second opinion about whether you should keep certain items.

Take photographs of sentimental items. We often don't want to get rid of things because we don't want to lose the memories attached to them. However, there is a way to overcome this concern. Before unloading sentimental items, take pictures - that way, you can keep the memories without keeping the stuff.

Make a plan for the money you'll make. If you're selling your items, creating a plan for what you'll do with the profit can make parting with possessions easier. For extra motivation consider designating the money to fund something fun and memorable like a vacation.

Keep a mind on gifts. When you're sorting through clutter, think about what you can give away as gifts. For instance, you may give old toys to a niece or nephew or rarely-used kitchen tools to a friend who enjoys baking.

Go through your "keep" pile one more time. Once you've completed a pass through your stuff, consider one more trial of sifting through old items. Since you're in the groove, you may discover you don't feel the need to keep things you previously thought you wanted.

Learn how to de-clutter your life at Sabah Karimi's lifehack and financial blog, Wise Bread.

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