Keep Your New Year’s Resolution! What To Do With All That Clutter

There is a box inside my front door that has been there since a few days after Christmas.  First, it sat by the Christmas tree.  Then I moved it to a side of the kitchen, where I would be sure to see it every day, thus ensuring that I would deal with it sooner than later.  When that didn’t happen, I scooched it up the hall to where it is now.  And that is where I walk past it every day, not even remembering that it exists.

Sigh.

Do you have a box like this?  Is your house filled with boxes like this, or other things?  I mean, that box is just a symbol for the greater plague of TOO MUCH STUFF.

It’s a common New Year’s resolution:  I’m going to declutter my house and get rid of all this crap.  Right?  I’ve made that resolution many times, attacking corners of my house with renewed purpose at year’s beginning and other days throughout.  This year, I’ve amassed quite a giant pile of items that are too old/small/unused in our house, and now I have to get rid of them somehow.

And just because it’s nearly February doesn’t mean I have to give up on it.  I still consider February the “new” part of the year.

Here some great ways to get rid of your clutter:

Sell It

Craigslist – yes, the concept of hooking up with a stranger to sell something on Craigslist can be kind of weird, but I’ve done it several times and it always worked out in my favor. Someone came to my house, gave cash to me, and then took away the thing I didn’t need anymore but was still in really good condition.  You never know if someone is looking for just that type of old desk or needs a working flatbed scanner.  I suggest starting with Craigslist – Ventura and Craiglist – San Fernando Valley for closer buyers, but you can branch out to other Los Angeles locations if you have a rare item that someone needs so much she would be willing to drive for it.

EBay – With a tiny little bit more effort, you can get more money for your barely or never-used items by auctioning them off on EBay or other auction sites.  I sold a pair of men’s work boots that I couldn’t return but were never worn for more than half their sale price.  The trip to the post office wasn’t really that big of deal.

Yard Sale – this is the most time consuming and arduous way of getting money for your items, but it’s best if you have a lot of stuff, like I do. There is a small-car-sized mound in my garage right now.  It’s organized and ready to go, but I’m dragging my feet with the yard sale because it’s just so much work.  If you do it right, though, it’s worth it.  Here are some observations from a local mom about yard sales in Agoura Hills:

-what are the best areas for yard sales out here?  specific areas, parts of town?   Old Agoura had a few good yard sales, but some of them have been really expensive. The best areas are the tracts that have neighborhood yard sales. You can pretty much walk door to a few doors down and find tons of stuff.

what are some features or things you remember about the sales where you got your best finds or had a really good time, esp. with the kids?  The boys love to find things that they really like. My son bought a big print of a sunflower, because he liked it and it made him happy, for a dollar and it now hangs in our bathroom. He’s very proud of his helping with the decorating. We also love the houses that have an “everything is $.25” bin. They can get a ton of stuff for a couple of bucks and they are happy all day feeling like they really got to pick their own stuff.  ALSO, We bought him a Mongoose bike ($ 140.00) for $40.00 and it was in good condition, it just needed the brakes loosened.

can you share an anecdote about celebrity yard sales?  I remember a story about a Duke of Hazard… That was trippy. It was an Estate Sale for the blond Duke, can’t think of his name right now. It was weird, I felt like we were pawing through a dead man’s stuff even though he’s not dead, just that part of his life…

-if you were to hold a yard sale, what are the most important things you would keep in mind, in light of your experience in our area over the last 2 years? I would keep in mind that I’m getting rid of this stuff, I’m either going to sell it, donate it or give it away, I don’t need to try and get my money’s worth. If I have a big piece I want to sell I’ll do it on craigslist. People go to a garage sale to pay $1.00 for a book not $20.00. Silly people. Overcharging for stuff that they no longer want, need or can repair. Someone once had a bench, like a picnic table bench, for $90.00. You’re kidding me right.

Let people know about your yard sale by posting it on Craig’s List, or even buying a small ad in the Acorn.  Signs are great too, for directing people to your location, but note!  Agoura Hills does not allow you to TAPE signs to existing pole and street signs.  They will come and take them down!  Best bet is to get stand alone signs or lawn stakes, and put them up in the morning, early, on the day of your sale to avoid super early birds, if you don’ t want those.

Recycle It

Discarded materials like electronics, hazardous waste, batteries, lightbulbs, metals, etc. are collected at special events in locations in and around Agoura Hills periodically.  Regular scans of the Acorn’s pages will often reveal a large recycling logo, and there you will find that a collection event is coming soon, usually in the parking lot of the Vons plaza in Calabasas.  I have hauled my electronics all the way up to the Calabasas Landfill at the top of Lost Hills Road.

Donate It

There are a few ways to donate your used possessions, the easiest and most obvious would be the Goodwill or Salvation Army drop-offs.  (As in, that’s what you do with the leftover stuff that is still there after your yard sale.)  Goodwill has donation center/bookstores at the Vons shopping center on Kanan, and in the plaza at Lindero Canyon and Kanan.  Beware of entering those bookstores, though.  You might come out with an armload of low-cost used books that will replace what you just donated!

You can also call one of the many non-profit organizations that will send a truck to pick up your donations.  I often use The Arc of Ventura County, which serves individuals who have developmental disabilities.

Or you can give your stuff away to another person who might be looking for the thing you don’t want to throw away, but you just don’t want it in your house anymore.  Freecycle is the perfect way to do this.  You can also use the free listings on Craigslist, but I like Freecycle because so far in my experience it seems to be used by a community of like-minded individuals.  You can post things you want to give away, and if something catches your eye, by all means you can go receive free things, too.  People give away all kinds of weird things.  But then again, you usually need all kinds of weird things, don’t you?  Especially if you have kids.  Someone has a metric ton of pipe cleaners they want to unload?  Bring them on!  Craft supplies for the next 100 years!

This should not be your closet

Whatever method you choose to get rid of your clutter, the key is to DO IT.  You can’t let it sit around in your space for much longer, collecting dust and cluttering up your brain.  You don’t even know it’s there after a while, but trust me – when you get rid of it, you will feel so much better.  If you simply don’t have the time or the energy to tackle it yourself, there is a wonderful husband and wife service based in Ventura called The Domestic Assistants who will help you with all of it.  They are paid by the hour, so you only pay for as much work as it takes to tackle your mess.

Now excuse me while I make a phone call.  I’ve got to deal with that box before February 1.

Crack Open The Acorn Every Thursday

acornI’ve worked in Agoura Hills on and off for many years, so even before we moved here in June I knew about The Acorn.  It’s a weekly newspaper that is delivered to every household in Agoura Hills – for free – on Thursdays.  Since we canceled our daily subscription to The Los Angeles Times, I look forward to The Acorn delivery with gusto.  Who knows what crimes will be published in “The Blotter” this week?  What locals will be feverishly protesting the Water District’s pay raises in Letters to the Editor?  What photos of cute children at last weekend’s community festival will grace the pages within?  (One week, it was my child.  Of course.)

We have learned about local events, recycling drop-offs, traffic closures, sales, and general news from our immediate community from The Acorn.  This week our copy was soaked through to the very middle pages because our sprinklers went off after it hit our driveway.  I was very sad about this, because reading the newspaper online just isn’t the same.  Fortunately, there are some unoccupied houses in our neighborhood, so I can snag a dry copy from one of them.