When I arrived at the airport to start a new life in a new country, I had one suitcase, hand luggage and a laptop. For many years we haven’t moved practically anything from Poland. We handed over the household appliances because they did not fit the English plugs. The books were also given away because initially, we only rented a room, and every free corner was worth its weight in gold. Then, as we got back on our feet in the new conditions and enlarged our living space, my wife and I started to accumulate things … things that we had to get rid of. But how to do it? How to declutter your house in one day?
We are collectors 🥸
Let’s be honest – we, people, are collectors. Especially if you are aware that you are in a foreign land, everything can be useful. New things cost money. And as my family’s proverb says: “it is better to carry than to race” (hint: it’s about an umbrella that you carry with you so that you are not racing with the rain).
I came to the UK with a tiny suitcase. However, when we moved house a few years later, the essential things I wanted to move in my car took all three seats in my VW Polo. Obviously, not-so-important stuff followed us in a huge “man and van” lorry. Then, when we settled down for good, the avalanche of collecting started for good.
But the day of repentance has come. It was right after we discovered that we would have our first offspring. You just had to make room for children’s things. We started looking through wardrobes, shelves for gadgets, and any other corners and ask ourselves: How to declutter our house? There were only a handful of things we used daily quite often. The rest of the stuff was there and took place.
Why is it worth getting rid of things? 👐
Everyone supposedly has a finite number of “decision units” per day. Each decision made during the day reduces our account by one unit. We get up in the morning and wonder what to wear. There are 35 shirts and 50 T-shirts in the wardrobe.
Then the decision on what to do for breakfast. Open a new can of fish or finish hummus. Before we start working and want to plug into our creative energy, we are essentially burned out. Not to mention how we feel at the end of the day.
That’s why Steve Jobs only had one cut-off shirt and one type of trousers. The same “suit” every day, without making choices or burning unnecessary decision units.
Note – information for folks reading this post. Before making a decision and throwing away half of the content of your house – consult with your significant other and get confirmation in writing or three times verbally!
Give away for free 👏
This is the easiest and fastest method. Of course, in today’s world, people try to convince us that we need new things non-stop. As a result, we always buy new items while stocking the old ones in wardrobes and trunks.
We need to break the trend that prevails in our consumer world. There is nothing wrong with obtaining second-hand things. Let’s be bold and learn to give and receive the used things. Just because someone is taking back used items does not mean they are “poor”. It is just recycling.
Good deeds always come back. Be it family, neighbours or strangers through portals on the Internet. Let’s learn to give away.
Support your favourite charity 🤲
Regarding giving, it is worth mentioning the top-rated charities in the UK. No one knows precisely how many of them there are, but it is estimated that there are as many as 400,000. Most have charity shops in virtually every town on the main street.
All you need to do is to come and give away the previously packed things. Some charities accept only clothes, others mainly books, but in the larger ones, you can deposit anything.
Give as a gift at the parish bazaar 💒
Another idea for recycling unnecessary things is bazaars organised in parishes, usually once a year, around Christmas.
They will serve as lottery prizes. If the item is precious, it could be one of the main prizes. It is an excellent opportunity to share unnecessary or unwanted gifts with others.
Car boot sales 🚗
Another way is the so-called “boot sales”. You can sell anything here. And that’s everything a buyer can find, from old coins to home furnishings and clothes. We can even try to sell broken things, indicating that they need to be fixed.
Sell on the Internet ☁️
This is a huge topic by itself. I will describe just some of the alternatives I have tried myself at least once.
eBay, Allegro 🛍️
You need to create an account, enter your details, and we can start selling. Auction services usually charge a fee for each transaction that ends with a sale. It is worth trying with a few “parameters” if we sell more often. For example, the day and time the auction ends and whether it is worth using the “buy now” option.
Local sales groups on Facebook 🔵
I discovered this method relatively recently. We upload a photo, a short description and a region where we can arrange the delivery of the items for sale. Usually, the buyer comes to pick it up in person, so we save extra on shipping and/or transport costs. Things can be both new and used. You can also donate for free. It is a great way to rotate toys for our kids.
CD, DVD, BlueRay: MusicMagpie 📀
When we decided to have children, there was an issue with the TV and audio-video equipment. Even though I am an audiophile, and with time I installed substantial equipment for playing and watching, we consciously decided to sell everything. This is a topic for a separate post or an episode of a podcast. Here I will focus on only one aspect.
I found a buyer for a TV set, amplifier and audio system relatively fast. However, I was left with dozens of DVDs, BlueRay and CDs. I started selling them on eBay, but the system needed to be more profitable and scalable. So when I began to look deeper into the topic, a friend who had previously used musicMagpie came to my aid. The principle of operation is simple:
- We register on the site
- We download the application on the phone
- We scan barcodes from plates
- The system shows how much we can get for a given item
- The minimum amount is £5
- The maximum number of items to be shipped is 400 at one time
- Any package is enough to pack the plates
- After the service has approved our transaction, the courier will come to pick up the package
- After the system confirms compliance with the previously declared content of the shipment
- We receive a transfer to the account
The prices are not always overwhelming. In my case, I got an average of £0.30 for each album, but for me, it was most important:
- Comprehensive service – I got rid of everything at once
- Easy insertion of plates (application with scanner)
- Free pickup
Cash in your old phone 📴
Finally, I will mention one more website that I used several times. It is an old telephone recycling service on the O2 network. Initially, I tried selling my old phones on auction sites, but nobody wanted to buy them. Being a user of the O2 network at that time, I received an advertisement for the recycling service and decided to check it out. The principle of operation is just as simple:
- We register on the site
- We start by entering the type and manufacturer at https://www.o2recycle.co.uk
- Then we confirm the order.
- O2 sends us a prepaid envelope to send our phone (and recently also tablets) without a power adapter
- After the shipment is verified, the payment is made to us.
A small note – the price given for the first time may change while estimating how much our gadget is worth. This happens when someone estimates that a given phone is, for example, in a worse condition. It occurred to me once. We then can withdraw from the transaction, and the phone will be returned to us at O2’s expense.
Get rid of it wisely ♻️
Of course, only some things can be sold or even given away. Some things have to be thrown away. But throw it away wisely. There is a somewhat developed recycling “industry” in Great Britain, and it is worth finding a centre closest to our residence.
Link to check: https://www.gov.uk/recycling-collections
On this occasion, the sorting rules are also very restrictive regarding ordinary litter bins. The thing we want to throw into the home bin may not be accepted. Another thing worth repeating anytime and anywhere is that you cannot throw away the batteries in a regular container.
Let’s not go crazy 😅
I hope you find the above post helpful. The most important thing is to avoid getting caught up in the machine of consumerism and limit the things we buy, including those we buy as new. And, it the end, avoid the question: how to declutter your house, at all.
There is one good exercise we can do to avoid impulsive purchases.
I read about it in the latest book by Tim Ferriss, Tools of titans.
- You find something new and shining and want to buy it here and now.
- Stop! Make a note, copy a link, and add it to your ToDo app or calendar. Enmark it to check in 30 days.
- Come back in 30 days and check if the purchase is still justifiable.
- If not, save some money, space in the house and… time and ideas to get rid of them in a while.
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