I first heard the term "the cost of clutter" used by Don Aslett on a TV show. He explained we pay for clutter in many ways. We need bigger houses because we have too much "stuff" to store. We spend more money than we need because we can't find things when we need them. We buy more clothing than we need because we let clothes sit too long before washing or mending them. (Ouch, I had kids outgrow sizes before I got to some of my mending!)
I was thinking of Aslett's comments as I was going through every box in my sewing/craft/misc. section of my garage storage shelves. I was amazed at what was there, the items I'd needed in the past few years as well as those I hadn't missed. Most of the boxes on these shelves had been stored for years, unopened, until we moved to this house. A few boxes contained items I'd literally "thrown in" there as we were unpacking last January.
Now I can go to the garage and know what is inside every Christmas storage box, every craft/sewing/art supplies box, and the other shelves are all left with only those items deemed necessary even if they are not used often (like my canning supplies that would be too expensive to replace even though I haven't used them in a few years). I didn't realize how much it had grated on me that I did not know what was in those boxes.
I thought of Aslett's comments when my husband and I were deciding some things were silly to use space to keep, like the huge amount of Christmas tins we had accumulated over the years. Yes, they were pretty but we didn't need a huge box filled with them. Also, all the gift boxes and wrapping paper we'd somehow accumulated. We may use only a small amount each year (I've been going to gift bags whenever possible instead) so we didn't need to keep all of them just because we had them.
After throwing away "stuff", taking multiple boxes to Goodwill, giving some items to friends, dividing items into smaller containers, and just generally rearranging...everything fit into a lot less space than it did before. I had enough extra space on the shelves to move some items from closets to make more room there.
It is appropriate that we end 2006 getting rid of the last of our clutter. That was our goal after moving into this place. We had already gone through clothing, dishes, papers, books and household accessories. All that is left is for my husband to continue going through the last of his parent's items. I will be helping our son declutter his room and closet (much prayer required, any and all helpful).