How de-cluttering our house is helping us to reach our goals

In the middle of September, I decided to make a goal to change my life. I had just gotten married to my best friend on the 12th (see my post here about how to hold a DIY wedding on a budget!) and was in the honeymoon phase, but then we decided to take a look at our finances.

It wasn’t a pretty sight. My wife and I, together with student loans, car debt, and credit card debt, owed a grand total of $192,453.40

I won’t spend a long time going into detail about how this changed our world and freakin’ terrified us. Or about how I spent hours looking at debt calculators to find out how long it would take to pay it off (answer: you can’t). Or about how I wish I could have started out with nothing rather than $192,453.40 less than nothing. But you can read all about that here if you wish (click here).

Anyway, we made the decision to become debt free and live a simpler, happier life and since then we have taken many steps to make this decision / goal a reality. I’m sure that I will be going over many of these steps as we keep moving forward with DIY Jahn, but the one that I want to focus on today is de-cluttering our house – and how life-changing it can truly be.

How cleaning our house helped us to pay off our debt…

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First of all, we had to make a plan. Our plan of attack began by looking at our indoor storage area. We went through each and every bin – one item at a time – and decided if each of these items sparked joy in us (it works!). Why did we do it this way? Because I read a fantastic book that changed my life and changed the way I look at cleaning forever. You can read about it and check it out here:

We stopped keeping things just because we felt obligated. Little trinkets and gifts that had been given to us – we gave them away. The way we looked at it: It had served its purpose. The gift had sparked joy in us when it had been given to us, but now it was kept merely because we felt obligated to keep it. But let me ask you this, do you really think that we were truly enjoying those gifts in boxes stored away in a room in our house? Not really.

So what we did was simple: we took a picture of the item (so that we could remember it later if we wanted to) and then we gave it away so that somebody else could be sparked with the joy of it.

It’s not to say that we gave away all of the gifts we have ever been given, but ones that were years upon years old that we have not used in a long time: it was time for them to be given to someone else who will enjoy them too. And we will always have the memories of them.

The hardest part was the memorabilia section of our storage units – boxes of papers, letters, photos, crafts, cards, etc. We decided to save this until later and still have not decided how we want to minimize the storage on these items without giving up things that we have a deep-seated emotional connection to. I’m sure we’ll get there. One step at a time.

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After the storage area was clean, we began cleaning rooms one at a time – different storage shelves that had gotten cramped. My philosophy as we went was as follows: if we need to buy items to store what we own in, we probably own too many things. Our goal was to buy nothing, but get rid of as much as we possibly could.

We got rid of boxes upon boxes and bags stacked atop bags of clothes that we either didn’t wear any more or wore, but didn’t enjoy. Any small hole, stain, or worn down item was thrown into the give away pile because nobody wears all of the clothes they own. We got rid of 2/3rds of the clothing items that we had and we probably could get rid of more still, but that is still to come!

As we finished more and more shelves becoming clear, more space becoming available, and more light entering our clean home, we realized something. This experience was more rewarding than it seems on the surface. It was more than clearing up space for more junk. It was more than a simple cleaning.

It was life-changing.

We took all of the old stuff away and found ourselves in a large house that was…. simple. We felt relieved at how simple the house felt. How a room could be comforting and calm and not need anything in it. We also noticed how happy we felt when we could look around and notice that every single item in the room was kept because it sparked joy in us.

We also noticed that we had to spend less money because our house wasn’t as cluttered. How? You might ask. Simple.

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  • We found coins and dollars that had been tucked away that we didn’t know we had. All of these we put toward debt or our coin jar.
  • We sold items that we didn’t need – especially larger furniture items. We would have had a yard sale as well (we had plenty of stuff for 3 or 4 yard sales, even), but we live at a camp so we couldn’t have. However, we probably would have made a few hundred dollars if we had had the chance to have a yard sale.
  • We decided to de-clutter our kitchen cabinets which meant eating more of the food we already had.
  • We felt happier about our simple life and didn’t want to buy more things to re-clutter it so we stopped spending as much.
  • It was easier to cook, so we spent less on going out to eat.
  • Things were packed away better so that Sofi, our puppy, couldn’t get into them – which saved us having to replace items that she ate.

Most importantly, we were happier. And even if we have debt and are suffocated by it and feel like we can’t go anywhere, at least when we enter our home – filled with air, space, light – we can be comfortable and happy. Content, if you will.

And that’s good enough for now.


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23 Replies to “How de-cluttering our house is helping us to reach our goals”

  1. You just inspired me. Someone else told me to read this book. I am so into the minimalist thing now, and love how it feels to clean and purge things that are just “taking up space”. I, too have the same goals of getting out of debt. Thank you for this post!

    1. That’s wonderful, Wendie! I’m so glad that I could help to inspire you to get out of clutter and get out of debt!!! 🙂 I hope that your cleaning goes well, but I’d love to hear more of your story if you would like to share 🙂 Thank you for your comment

    1. Clutter can so easily take over and it’s easy to think that it doesn’t make a difference in the long run, but it most certainly does! I hope your efforts go smoothly, Caroline. Let us know how it goes! Thanks for the comment 🙂

    1. It definitely does, Krista. It’s amazing what decluttering can do for your lifestyle. Let me know if you try it or if you just want to share your story! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. I love a good declutter! We went nuts when we moved last year and got rid of soooo much junk we had built up over the years. It is such a weight off your shoulders!

    1. It really is! It seems like clutter, even if it’s hidden away, can weigh on you so heavily. It’s constantly in the back of your mind and it makes it harder to think about anything else. Clearing your house is effectively clearing your mind as well. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  3. I have a jar with around 500 in it. I sold on a local facebook goup a part of what I declutter ( some items sold with 10% from its initial value), some in garbage, a lot donated (freecycle.org). Definitely I spent more than 4000 to buy all these items.
    As a life after declutter, another advantage is: less time to clean the dust and my health is improved. Less money spent to chemicals to clean the house. More air in the house. In plus, looking at this jar, I think 2 times before to buy an item that will not be used just 2-3 times.

    Now I have around 20 items in my closet. It is enough, I am buying a new one only if the previous goes away.
    What I didn’t touch is our books: we have more than 500, and we love all…. and I didn’t start to declutter my kitchen 😀 but it is in my plan …

    1. Thanks for sharing! I think your jar is a great idea. We’re working on selling off our items still in a facebook group – like you did. We have a couple for our local area so we are posting on those. 🙂 When we get our money back from them, we hope to put it toward our debt and savings accounts. It definitely makes you think twice before making a purchase though – you’re absolutely right!

      I love your idea for clothing – get rid of something old every time you buy something new!

      Books and kitchen stuff are definitely the most difficult to go through, but it all makes a difference and is worth it in the end! You’ve got this!! 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed this article. Thank you. This is truly inspiring me to want to clean up, organize, and create not only more space, but less clutter. Clutter around the house and even in the car makes your mind feel cluttered. I love the fact that you mentioned how giving old things that were just sitting around gathering dust, to people that would appreciate them. That can be beneficial for both people. Great article!

    1. Thank you, Anne! I am so glad that you enjoyed it and also that it inspired you – that’s seriously one of my biggest goals with DIY Jahn. If you do get organized, leave a comment here and let us know how it changes your life! 🙂 I’d love to hear. I’m really happy that this article spoke to you and I hope that you find things that don’t spark joy with you anymore that may spark joy for somebody else. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

    1. It makes such a big difference, Angie, that’s for sure! Let me know how it goes when you get organized – I’d love to hear how it changes your perspective, I’m sure it will. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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