Declutter Before Moving
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In approximately 18 months we will move into a home that has an additional 1500 sq feet than what we have now. We already live in a rather large house. I am going to have so much space! Our house will probably look and feel empty for a while because we want to only bring things into our new home that we love. So why am I talking about purging? Why purge when I have more space to fill?
I’m not bringing anything in to my dream home that I don’t love, need, or find useful. I hope you feel the same. If so, this list will help you find ways to declutter your current home and only fill your dream home with things you really love and use.
Which brings me to a goal I have for the next few months: I want to get ride of a trash bag of junk a week. Because I know I have a ridiculous amount of stuff in my house I don’t use or need. It’s cluttered. I refuse to start my new home off as a cluttered mess.
One thing I love about moving (which I’ve done 3 times in the past 4 years and 10 times in 10 years) is purging junk I don’t need. It’s so freeing!
So here’s my list of items to unburden myself with and purge over the next few months
Toss it before you move:
1) Clothes You Don’t Wear
I swear by the hanger trick. I’ve done it every year for the last 3 years and ended up getting rid of 20-40 articles of clothing each year! I still own clothes I owned 10 years ago, but it’s definitely a step forward. I still have the suit I wore to my first job interview, maybe its time to purge that…
If you don’t have time to wait for the hanger trick to work. There’s always options such as the Konmari Method. What tricks do you use to clear out your closet?
2) Old Textbooks
Two years ago I sold some text books and made a couple hundred bucks. I wish I had sold more at the time because now I have about 10 books I can’t make any money on and that I haven’t cracked opened for 2 years. Time to find a place to donate these.
I was… okay I am, a total nerd. I love learning. I’ve had this thought that I would probably need to look something up one day in my textbooks that I’d forgotten and I could save someone’s life or at least wow a colleague. Guess what? I’ve had my masters for 4 years and have not needed them once. Not once!! Take it from me – sell your books while you have the chance. Don’t move them to your dream home – purge them while you have the chance.
I moved an entire tote of magazines 3 times. These included professional journals that I keep for continuing ed purposes, however I don’t need to keep them after I’ve read/used them. New plan: if I don’t use them after 1 year for continue education they get recycled. I’ve already recycled the first batch. But I need to scour my house for more. I’ve seen them lurking on the bookshelf, end tables, and, let’s be honest, the bathroom. Also, in the future I’ll be sticking to electronic subscriptions that way I don’t waste so much paper and I don’t have to continuously purge old magazines from my dream home.
4) Toys Your Kids Have Outgrown
Thankfully my kids are used to this. We do it together. They given away toys to their younger cousins and we donate the rest. With the exception of the amazing rocking horse my mother-in-law made for our oldest; all the baby/toddler toys have been removed. Plus – my kids don’t even play with half of their toys! What about yours? Make it a family affair. Get your kids used to purging items that go unused and unenjoyed.
I had 2 food processors for a while. Does it help that they were 2 different sizes? *insert cheesy grin*. I also had 2 rice cookers for a bit. These got new homes this year. Recently I found that we own 5 calculators… Time to purge them since nowadays we just use our phones for that anyway. I will be keeping my eyes open for other duplicates. Are there any unnecessary duplicates in your house?
6) Old Makeup
I recently went through my makeup drawer. Why did I still have makeup from 2010 in there? Who knows?! I wear 3 things on a daily basis: compact powder, blush, and mascara. Pretty sure I do NOT need 46 types of eye shadow. Even for special occasions I could probably down size to about 10. I might need help with this one. How do I know which ones to keep or which ones to purge? *leaves to go look for makeup guides on pinterest*
7) Old CDs, VHS tapes, and Books
Are you ever going to listen to, watch, or read these again? Be honest. Because I have several I’m not going to use again. I have 2 bookcases to sort through. I need to make room for these collectible book editions on my wish list. Luckily we already purged our VHS tapes and most of our CDs. Most of my books will come from the library (or my mom *wink*) in the future. We use Netflix and Kodi for movies. The internet should suffice all my music needs. Can you do the same?
Before you say “what? I don’t have any trash lying around” hear me out. It’s amazing how much garbage my family accumulates. From receipts, to lidless Tupperware (or if your from the south old sour cream and cool whip containers), to broken crayons, to socks with holes in them, to broken appliances, to, well you get the picture. I walked through my house 2 weeks ago and filled an entire trash bag with random trash I found. Embarrassing but I bet I’m not the only one who could do this. It only took me about an hour – see if you can beat my time!
We are giving my MIL our current bed frame so she can re-purpose the wood. It’s old, broken, and ugly. It has matching night stands and a dresser that will probably end up in our guest room. I have dreams for our new master suite and it doesn’t include our old set (hand me down from MIL initially). Time to make our home more our own style. We re-purpose or reupholster a lot of our furniture but if that’s not possible and it doesn’t fit our style it’s not coming with us.
10) Excess Items
We have 100 blankets. Okay, not really, I’m exaggerating to make a point. We actually have 33 if you combine blankets and comforters into 1 category (yes I counted). Still way more than we need or can use. They aren’t all coming with us to our forever home. Granted about 10 of these are for our 5th wheel camper, but still. We don’t need over 30 blankets.
When we moved to AZ from AR I had about 10 scarves. Guess how many times I’ve worn a scarf since? Not 10. Maybe once when we were on vacation to Chicago 3 years ago. I had lots of cold weather gear when we moved. I’ve been slowly purging these down to 1 tote full. I’d toss it all but we actually do camp and visit our family out-of-state both of which means cooler weather. Also, the longer you live in Arizona the colder you become when its 60 degrees out.
11) Things You Haven’t Used in the Past Year
If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it. This might include: appliances like that waffle maker that’s still in the box, that special face cream you got to fight wrinkles and now you have more wrinkles and a still full bottle of face cream but it stinks so you don’t use it, shoes you NEVER wear. Walk around the house and look in drawers and cabinets that hardly get opened, you might be surprised at the things you’ve forgotten you own. If you forgot about it, purge it!
12) Items That Don’t Bring You Joy
I actually own Marie Kondo’s book The Art of Tidying Up. It’s a great read and has a lot of useful advice. It wasn’t 100% applicable to me but I do encourage those trying to downsize or purge to give it a read. I really like her philosophy that everything should have a place. Now if only I could get my kids and husband to read her book…
Please comment with items I’ve forgotten so I can purge them before we move!
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Even if its 2, 5, or even 10 years down the road
*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items from the links I’ll get a small commission at no extra charge to you*
Our frugal beginnings
In 2013 I had just graduated with a master’s degree, I had less than $1,000 to my name and I was 7k in debt with student loans. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I decided to move across the country from Arkansas, where I was born and raised, to the wild west of Arizona. The reason of the move was simple, he needed to be closer to his daughters from his previous marriage and I was ready for an adventure and new beginnings.
We started out by renting a 900 sq. ft. apartment. We weren’t sure where we wanted to live, if this relationship would even work out, and didn’t have the means to fly out more than once to look for houses so for the time being it made sense. It was 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. However, 1 bedroom we used entirely as a storage room. So I often joke we actually only lived in a 700 sq. ft. apartment with a large storage room attached.
Our first home together:700 sq ft of living space
We didn’t want to pay to rent a separate storage building because we were saving money and knew we would only live there for a relatively short period of time.
I had a job offer and plans to start work about 6 weeks after our move. The Hubs (BF at the time) didn’t find a job until the following January, making a whopping $13 per hour as a paramedic (I could go on a rant about how underpaid emergency responders are but that’s not our purpose here). He had had a house in Arkansas that he sold before we moved and I had shared a rental with my sister. We wanted to save as much of the money he made off his house as possible for a down payment on our first home together. He paid for our moving expenses and our first 2 months of rent. Then I became his “sugar momma” for the next year and a half – $20 dollars an hour is a lot compared to $13!
Our combined gross income was $70,000/year our first 2 years in AZ. Yet we were still able to save over $10,000 in our first 18 months and I paid off my 7k student loans in the first 9 months of starting work. How is that possible? Glad you asked. Here are 11 ways we saved:
1. Skip the storage unit
We made do with basically a 1 bedroom apartment because it was cheaper to rent a 2 bedroom for $650/month and use 1 room as storage than to rent a 1 bedroom for $575/month and also rent a storage unit. We could have also sold items before we moved to make a little extra cash and save space but we didn’t know what all we would need in a home and knew we wouldn’t be making enough money to buy new furniture any time soon. However, for many people it makes sense to just get rid of their junk!
We didn’t use much of the items in storage for a whole year – if you haven’t used something in that long, it makes you think twice if you really need it or not! So we ended up purging about half of that storage room when we bought our starter home.
My parents have rented a storage unit for as long as I can remember. With all the money they have spent on storing items they could have bought all the items brand new and still had money leftover. Wasting hundreds of dollars a year on storing items you may never use again or won’t be using within the next few years is just throwing your money away. Skip the storage unit and only keep items you need. Already have a storage unit? Sell items you don’t need and put that money towards saving for your dreams.
2. Stop eating out so much
It’s way cheaper to eat at home. I had a $75/week grocery budget for our first year. I’m a dietitian – we eat healthy. It’s doable on a small budget. We limited eating out to twice a month and even then – we were choosy about where we went and skipped drinks, appetizers, and desserts. This also meant not buying snacks/drinks at gas stations or drive-thrus during the week, skipping the $5 coffees, and putting items back at the grocery store that weren’t on sale that week. All it takes is a little planing ahead. Search pinterest and you can even find pre-made meal plans at whatever your current budget is and for your family size.
3. Do-it-yourself more
I colored and cut my own hair for a year. My husband is pretty handy with car repairs and home projects. I’ve made a lot of handmade Christmas gifts over the past few years. I rarely painted my nails, but when I did – I didn’t go to the salon. My mother-in-law happens to be handy with reupholstery and DIY’ed our old couch set from this to this:
Old pattern on love seat. New pattern on chair
Now I have plans to DIY for items I want in my dream home such as one of these murphy beds from Your Modern Family for our guest room or this head board from Home Made by Carmona for our master bed (I just found these links searching pinterest – these bloggers don’t know me!). The possibilities are endless. We washed our own cars, cleaned our own home, did not wear things that needed dry cleaning, etc.
4. Pay cash for cars
I cannot express how important this is, for several reasons. a) No car payment = lower monthly bills = more money to save. b) Debt to income ratio matters when you are trying to qualify for your new home loan! c) When you buy a new car you lose anywhere from 3-10k as soon as you drive it off the lot. It’s called depreciation.
We eventually bought a new-to-us USED car for my husband’s business needs 2 years after we moved, but up until that point we paid cash for all our cars and drove “clunkers”. I still drive a 2006 ford Taurus that cost us under 3k. I’d rather have a nice home than a nice car.
5. Get rid of cable
And other non-essential bills. We haven’t paid for cable since we moved to AZ 4 years ago. There are so many options now-a-days that are way cheaper! Netflix or Fire TV | Streaming Media Player and more! You could have 3-4 different options and still pay less than cable TV cost.
I’ve been tempted many times to buy subscription boxes or sign up for cheap magazine sales – but skip those too! At least for now when you are in saving mode. Not only do they cost $$ they also add clutter that you will have to either get rid of or move into your dream home one day. I could go on – give your bills a good look – what are you paying for that is non-essential?
6. Combine bills where possible
We moved our cell phone plan to my dad’s. That whole add a line for $9.99 really pays off (by the way, I love puns!). We pay my dad each month instead of the phone company and it has been saving us more than $50 a month, or $600 a year!
Another option is to combine all your insurance plans into as few plans as possible. Find a company that will give discounts for auto, home, life, etc. wrapped into one policy.
7. Pay off your debt
If you are paying interest on anything you are paying more than the item is worth. Thankfully we didn’t come into our relationship with a ton of debt. My husband had a clean slate but I had 7k in student loans. I realize compared to most, we had a very small amount of debt. However, the same philosophies and tips can apply to all debt.
The second goal here would also be to create less debt! Now is NOT the time to start financing items if you are saving for your dream home. Remember that debt-to-income ratio I mentioned earlier? Check out this post on how it can effect your ability to purchase your dream home.
8. Live below your means
We searched for a moderately priced apartment that had all of the essentials but none of the bling on purpose. We paid $650 a month in rent instead of $950 because we CHOSE to live with less; saving us over a thousand dollars by the end of the year just by choosing a lower end apartment. Yes we could have had bigger rooms or a kitchen that more than 1 person could be in at a time but we didn’t NEED those things to be happy or healthy. I shopped at Wal-Mart instead of Target and Ross instead of Nordstrom. We did with less so we could have better in the future. Here’s another post on living below your means and why I buy low cost clothing to save money.
9. Consider roommates
My sister and brother-in-law lived with us for a year. We bought a bigger house (that we plan to flip for more $$) which meant a bigger mortgage payment but both families ended up saving money. It worked well for us and our situation but I could see why this wouldn’t always work for everyone.
10. Try a spending freeze
Don’t spend anything outside of the necessary bills for a month. You might be surprised at how much extra you have at the end of the month and how hard this actually is to accomplish. When we first moved to AZ and I hadn’t started my job yet and he hadn’t even found a job yet, we had several spending freezes out of necessity. We found free community events and spent a lot of time at the library checking out new books and movies for free! Saving always seems easier when you’re broke. If you’re interested on my pinterest search yield: Here is additional info about spending freezes.
11. Make a budget
… and follow it! When we first moved we opened a joint account for all of our essentials and bills. Then we tried to be a frugal as possible for 3 months. At that point we went through our bank account and created a budget. We could tell the average amount we were spending on gas, food, bills, etc. each week and used this as a starting point for our new monthly budget. It also gave us realistic savings goals.
Our joint budget was about $1500/month for bills and necessities.
$650 for rent. $150 for utilities. $300 for food/home supplies. $300 for gas. ~$100 for fun or unexpected expenses. We also hoped to save about $500/month in our joint account for our future home. Some months this worked well – Some we were buying new tires or plane tickets to visit family. We both put $1000/month in our joint account and anything leftover went into our personal accounts. This worked well for us but might be different for you depending on your circumstances.
I would love to hear your tips for saving money and living frugally. Please add your suggestions in the comments.