I was having a very grownup conversation with my boyfriend over the phone when he asked about how closet space would be distributed once we moved in together. Well, I explained, I have a lot of clothes and need a lot of space for them. How much?

It took me awhile to answer. There were the two closets I had in my apartment, four clothing bins (two upstairs, two downstairs), two more closets at my parent’s house, three full dressers and five garbage bags in the basement. If you think that sounds absolutely ridiculous, you’re right.

I could almost sense the disapproval coming through his end of the phone so I countered “Well, I’ve been the same size for almost five years.” But I knew that wasn’t an excuse. How did a totally innocent, occasional frugal (bargain sales are my friend) shopping habit result in two houses full of clothes?

I decided that I would get to work immediately getting rid of everything I didn’t need. Lightly-worn clothes would be given away to Salvation Army. I’d have a Shop & Swap party and exchange some of my treasures with fashionable friends. I’d pass the short dresses that I never really wore anymore off to my younger sister. I’d get over the nostalgic significance in my head (“I wore that dress to my college graduation so I have to keep it,” and the like). Done and done.

Then it dawned on me I do this ‘hoarding’ thing in every area of my life. I have more spices in my kitchen then I’ll ever use, even if I cook something new everyday for the rest of my life. I have a cabinet full of half-used fragrances just taking up space. Shoes that haven’t seen the light of day in months.

And before I could chalk it up to our culture of consumerism (when all else fails, blame society!), I realized I hoard mementos too. Cards, letters, notes, you name it, have all been collecting dust in, get this, a trapper keeper I’ve had since my pre-teen years. Do I really need the first love letter I received from my first boyfriend in fourth grade?

And why am I so damn prone to accumulating stuff I don’t need?

Yes, it’s a first world problem, but it is a problem nonetheless. Especially when it comes time to move and you realize all the unnecessary stuff you have as you pack it all.

I learned I need to be more proactive and disciplined about managing my closet, kitchen space, beauty cabinet, etc. The first step? I’m taking inventory of all the things I really use, regularly, during two month’s time. Chances are I can get rid of most everything else.

Come November, I’ll be hosting shop and swap parties, creating donate/sell/trash/keep piles and even having a garage sale. And more importantly, I won’t be replacing the items I give away with new stuff in a matter of months. I’ll already have everything I truly need.

Do you hoard, Clutchettes? If so, how did you stop yourself from hanging onto things you no longer need?

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  • African Mami

    Yes, throwing them out.

  • Justanotheropinion

    The rule of thumb at our house is if you haven’t worn it or used it in the last 6mos (or the last season it belongs to), it’s life in my home is over. Also, when you come across something and exclaim “I forgot I had this? What is this for/from? Why did I save this?” it definitely hits the garbage bin.

    Uncluttered house = uncluttered mindset. You’d be amazed how much weight you take off your shoulders when you de-clutter.

    • Val

      Yep, I agree. Especially about getting rid of stuff you haven’t used for a long period of time. Unless it has sentimental value get rid of it.

    • justanotheropinion

      @Val – sometimes what we initially save for sentimental value, 2 yrs. later (or more) really has NO sentimental value. I tend to argue that if it was that important, you wouldn’t have not known you had it. Pix’s are one thing, but the rest can definitely be argued – and believe me it has in my house!

  • Bekah

    I’m a hoarder too. It’s because my mother hoards. Not that it’s any excuse but the first step is realizing it and why you are the way you are. The next is change. Which is the phase I am in now. I just got rid of a lot of clothing. Admittedly I could have let go of more but I attach them to memories or hold on to them for occasions that never seem to come up in my life. I have a bin full of costumes and halloween is only once a year. But one new rule I’ve acquired is for every new piece, I give/throw away at least two things. I’m hopeful that eventually I’ll be in the habit of always eliminating the unnecessary rather than keeping it.

  • kenzy

    im very sentimental about stuff from my childhood and past, toys, clothes, momentos, i see nothing wrong if its organized. I personally have a fancy box full of old letters,cards etc that i keep and look through from time to time, they make me happy when im feeling down. as for the old clothes, i give them away and the ones that have sentimental value, ive turned into a quilt

    • Reading this article I literally LOL!! Its SOO me! Even though I’ve gotten WAY better over the past couple years, I can still do better. The above comment resonated as well. This is the exact way I’ve de-cluttered my space!

  • LKJ

    I didn’t consider myself to be a hoarder until I read this. This entire article applies to my life from the disapproving loved ones who just don’t understand that I can’t just throw away the certificate that I got for being in 2nd place in the 7th grade science fair, to the closet full of clothes at my parents house. Damn, now that I recognize I have a problem I have to do something about it.