De-Cluttering Lessons After a 2,500-Mile Move

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This post originally appeared on Surviving and Thriving.

Just before my recent move from Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska, I wrote an MSN Money piece called “What I learned from de-cluttering.” But that was before I’d finished packing.

What I’ve learned since then? That I didn’t de-clutter enough.

It was shocking to see how many boxes I wound up putting in the moving van. As a result, I have half a dozen suggestions for your own future moves…

  1. Stage a “wear everything challenge in the weeks or months before a planned move. As I folded clothes into a suitcase I wondered whether I’d ever wear some of them in Anchorage. A couple of shirts had never been worn at all – I bought them at an outlet mall while shopping for something to wear to my daughter’s wedding – in 2008.
  2. Ask yourself if you love each item so much that you’d give a stranger cash from your wallet. Because that’s what you’re doing if you hire a mover, or even rent a moving van.
  3. Ask yourself if you’d pay to store each item. Because it could happen, if the closets in your new digs aren’t big enough.
  4. Institute a “one in/one out” rule. Every time you bring a new item home, get rid of something else. This keeps possessions from piling higher and higher. (A friend’s mom has a “one in/two out” rule, and lives a happily uncluttered – but by no means minimalist – life.)
  5. Consider a scanner and a camera. Scan documents like your kid’s drawings and schoolwork. Take pictures of items that you put in the “discard/donate” pile so you can look at them later. You can’t keep everything. (Not that I didn’t try – I’d hung on to 12 years’ worth of my daughter’s report cards and some Christmas ornaments she made out of egg-cartons.)
  6. Give yourself permission to shred. My MSN Money colleague Liz Weston wrote a very useful article called “How to purge your financial clutter.” Read it and heed it. I still had bank paperwork from the early 1980s, for heaven’s sake. Fun fact: I used to pay $45 a week for child care. Those were the days.

Readers: Got any de-cluttering tips to share?

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