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

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It took relocating from Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska, to understand the true meaning of simplifying.

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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Stacy Johnson

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