Sharing the Idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”

I had the privilege of speaking to a wonderful group in Merillville, IN last night about downsizing.

We covered a lot in our 60 minutes together: clearing clutter, determining the value of our stuff, how long to keep certain types of papers.  One idea that I shared with the group was the idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”.  A couple of people made a point to tell me that they really liked the idea, so I thought I would share.

I wish I could say that this genius idea was my own, but I can’t!  The idea comes from The Minimalists, in their essay, Getting Rid of Just-In-Case Items: 20 Minutes, 20 Dollars.   The premise is that if you are debating whether to keep or get rid of an item, remind yourself that almost anything can be replaced within $20 minutes or for $20 dollars.  And because we can easily replace most things, we don’t have to keep a million items for JUST IN CASE!

For Example:

20 Minutes:  
At last night’s presentation, I referenced the set of siblings that I’ve organized, each with a full set of chafing dishes.  Awesome but big, awkward, and only occasionally useful chafing dishes.  Apparently, these siblings had a very nice Great Aunt Somebody who always bought newlyweds a set of chafing dishes.  Here’s the thing – surely these siblings could SHARE a set, and just move the set around from family event to family event, instead of each of them having to keep their full set.  As they were all trying to de-clutter, it seemed that a quick phone call to each other and a 20 minute errand to pick up the shared set was more reasonable than keeping all the sets.

20 Minutes:
Last summer a friend hosted a big group of teens at her home for a weekend.  Instead of buying 20 air mattresses, she asked Facebook friends if she could borrow air mattresses.  In 20 minutes, she had dozens of offers for what she needed.

20 Dollars:
You know that box of cords?  Yes, THAT box.  The one that drives you crazy?  Most of us have at least one.  The black spaghetti mess of unmatched, unlabeled and unclaimed charging cords from ancient phones or digital cameras gone by?  Look around.  If what you use regularly already has a cord attached, you could probably purge all of those unclaimed cords and spend $20 someday on a replacement in the very remote chance you actually needed one of those random cords.  Clear up a whole lot of space, and bank on the fact you don’t need what is in that THAT box!

20 Minutes and 20 Dollars:
Sombreros (or similar items, you get the idea!).  Sombreros are big.  Awkward to store.  Not a commonly used items, let’s face it.  If you EVER had a need for a sombrero – party, costume, school presentation – you could either spend the $20 to buy one at a party store or on-line, or better yet, ask 10 friends if anyone has a sombrero, and I bet someone does!

This week, look around your house and at your clutter.  Ask yourself if you are keeping things for JUST IN CASE that could easily be replaced for $20 and / or within 20 minutes!  If so, let it go!

Four Reasons to Conquer Closet Clutter

Fifth in the Lenten Clutter Challenge.  This time of March brings us Clutter Awareness Week and Clean Out Your Closet Week, so today we look at the spirituality of clothing clutter in our closets. 

     I was packing  for vacation last week.  Packing for travel is a great opportunity to realize which items are my favorites, and conversely, which items I can probably let go of.    

     Why are there things in our closet that we will never wear? Clutter is anything you Don’t Need, Use or Love.   Here are some reasons Why We Keep clutter, and What To Do About It.

We keep our clothing clutter because of a skewed sense of frugality:  “I spent money on that item!”  or “That item is worth money!”

  1. Yes, that item is worth money, perhaps a lot!  But is it worth enough to keep it around even when it is no longer useful, becomes a nuisance, wastes our mental energy, or causes negative feelings or disruption?
  2. The biggest waste of your money is the storage, upkeep and maintenance of Clutter.
  3. Do not move clutter around your closet perpetually, just because you spent money on it once.
  4. Sometimes clothes are Just Wrong.  Wrong fit, feel, smell or color.  These characteristic will not change, Let the clutter GO!
  5. What is Peace of Mind worth?  Put a value, a dollar amount on being organized.  Eliminate clutter and stress, increase the appeal and enjoyment of your home.   

We keep clutter because we are Sentimental, or would feel guilty getting rid of something. 

  1. Perhaps our stuff represents a loved one or a certain time in our life.  But what if our closet is full of such items?
  2. What if we get frustrated because there are too many sentimental items, and our attachment to them decreases because of sheer numbers?
  3. I have things that I treasure, but I have lots of people in my life that I treasure even more.  We can let go of an item that has become Clutter without letting the loved one or their memories go.  Honest.  It’s okay.
  4. Treat your treasure as treasure.  If you are keeping clothing items from your old life, with no intention of wearing them again, they are now keepsakes, not clothing.  And they do not belong in your closet.  Box up a few to keep, or frame them on the wall, then let the rest go and get on with living your life. 

We Should-a, We Could-a, We Would-a….  Our clutter represents opportunities, taken or missed.  So we don’t want to let go of the opportunity, the possibility the item represents. 

  1. Someday:  My hubby bought a t-shirt on vacation.  It reads “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.  See?  There is no SomeDay”.
  2. Wouldn’t you rather live better today, this day, than save things for SomeDay that ruin today and get in the way?
  3. Did you stumble over things that you keep for SomeDay as you tried to get ready for work/class today?  Let the clutter GO!

We keep things for Just In Case, but there are Opportunity Costs from Just in case.  Any time we choose to buy or keep something, it eliminates the opportunity for something else.

  1. Space dedicated to clutter can not be dedicated to something else. 
  2. Someone else is not benefiting from the stuff that is weighing us down.
  3. Be honest.  Often a client will cling to old or grungy clothing items by calling them workout clothes or cleaning clothes, saving them for just-in-case.  When there are 20 grungy t-shirts in a drawer for “working out”, you are deluding your self.  Keep 5, toss the rest.  Then use your now cleaned-out drawer for something else that you use every day. 
  4. Don’t let Just In Case get in the way of Today.

So, as you read these 4 reasons, which one strikes a chord in you?  Which description do you read with a wince, because you know there are things in your closet that fall into that category, and that you just need to let go of?  Here is the permission you’ve waited for, I give you permission to get rid of that closet clutter.  Feel Better?  Great!  Now go clean that closet!!

Here are some other blogs I have written about Closet Organizing: