Thanks largely to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, it seems like minimalism was everywhere we turned last year. Even Emily Gilmore got in on the trend in Netflix’s Gilmore Girls reboot. Watching the queen of Hartford herself ask, “Does this bring me joy?” of every item in her opulent home was quite possibly the highlight of the season. Still, we had to wonder if there are other criteria to consider when deciding whether or not to let go of an item we’ve been holding onto for a long time.
We spoke with Jacquie Denny, co-founder and chief development officer for Everything But The House (EBTH), an online full-service marketplace that allows users to auction off items ranging from couture and collectibles to home decor, all starting at — wait for it — $1. Denny has over 20 years of experience in the estate sale business, so if anyone can help us sort through our prized possessions and decide what to keep, it’s her! Keep reading to learn 10 signs it might be time to say goodbye to an item.
10 signs it’s time to get rid of it
1. You’re thinking about buying new storage space or systems to accommodate it. If your scarf collection has grown so large that you’re considering a brand-new set of under-the-bed storage bins to accommodate a new pashmina, or the only way you’ll be able to hang onto that old bike is by renting a storage unit, it might be time to part with some things. Don’t let your stuff — however special it may be — control you, your home, or your relationship with your home.
2. You haven’t worn it in a year. Ah, the dreaded closet clean-out. When is it time to let go of those dresses stuffed in the back? If you haven’t worn an item — and especially if you haven’t thought about an item — in a year or more, consider saying buh-bye. There are so many wonderful organizations out there who would be happy to take your gently used clothing off your hands and give it to people who would gladly wear it regularly, freeing up space in your closet or dresser in the process.
3. You won’t be able to wear it unless you change your size. Our relationships with our bodies are difficult enough without having too-small clothes staring us down day in and day out. Stop promising yourself that you’ll fit into those old jeans someday. Instead, start loving your body as it is now, and buy a pair that’s flattering today.
4. It’s taking up valuable space in your garage or basement. The minute your stuff is inconveniencing you by limiting your ability to easily park in your garage or move freely in your basement laundry room, you need to consider offloading it. It’s great to have spaces in your home that are intended for storage, but those areas should never be overrun or cramped.
5. You haven’t looked at it closely in a few years. It’s a tale as old as time — you box up collectibles from your childhood or tuck a stack of old VHS tapes under the bed, thinking they’ll be fun to look at down the road… and then you completely forget about them. If those items are a huge surprise to you when you find them next, it might be time to get rid of them. Don’t wait another five years to stumble upon them again. You’ll simply delay the inevitable and create more work for yourself in the future.
6. You’ve gone through a major life transition and no longer need it. A move, a breakup, a graduation, a wedding, a new baby… each of these major milestones is a great occasion to take stock of the material items you’ve been hanging onto and to decide just how necessary they’ll be in the next exciting chapter of your life. Don’t weigh yourself down by staying overly attached to stuff that no longer serves you.
7. Real talk: You need to generate some extra cash. Sometimes, it’s really this simple. There’s no shame in taking control of your finances by earning cash from things you don’t need to pay for things you do. “When you’re struggling with finances in one area and yet, you have a houseful of things that have value, it’s time to let go and liquidate some of them,” Denny says. Selling the items you don’t need anymore is a great way to facilitate fun experiences, as well. “For me, it’s always time to let go of something when I’m thinking of planning my summer vacation,” Denny reveals. “Spring cleaning brings summer vacation cash.”
8. You no longer feel the emotional connection to it. Family heirlooms or gifts from lost loved ones are among the most challenging things to part with — and we totally get it! That being said, if the painting from your grandmother or clock from your uncle no longer makes you think of the special person who gave it to you, it may be time to reconsider its place in your daily life.
9. You aren’t actually using it enough to feel its sentimental value. Again, we know parting with family heirlooms can be tough. But, as Denny says, “Once you’re putting things in closets and drawers and never interacting with them, it’s time to let go.” Instead, she suggests creating a memory book. Put photos of sentimental items that you no longer use or own into a single book so you can more proactively page through and admire them when you need a nostalgia fix.
10. You find that you’re waiting to incorporate it into your next house or apartment. Resist the urge to stockpile furniture or other home decor items that may or may not work better in your future home. In the meantime, that stuff is just taking up space in your current place, and by the time you move, you may not even like it anymore!
Don’t forget: When you decide to take the leap and offload the items that fall into any of these categories, it doesn’t mean you have to throw them away. “Letting go can either be selling them or donating them,” Denny says. “There’s a time and a season for each. Usually, right around tax time is when I think about donating, because I need a tax write-off.” Seems like spring cleaning is great for multiple reasons.
When do you let go of something you’ve been hanging onto for a long time? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Brit + Co)