Are Americans Over-Stuffed?

Overloaded DeskNo this isn't a commentary on waist lines but instead on the amount of stuff we seem to accumulate.  Over the last few years I have become acutely aware of the clean up and throw out process.  It started with empting my parent's home of 45 years with a double walk-up attic, then I downsized myself and finally ended up combining two households into one.  Along the way I became friends with the folks at the Fairfax County Dump, Salvation Army, 1-800-Junk, PODS and more  We are coming up on the first anniversary of the last purge and have made a pact that anything in a box, except holiday decorations and true family heirlooms, must be tossed.  If we didn't need it for a year then we can live without it forever.

With this deadline looming I started noticing the number of climate controlled mega storage facility all around the area.  Within shouting distance of my office in Burke there are three.  Every time I drive down another industrial road I see at least another two.  So where has the need come for all of us to hoard so much stuff?

When my parents were growing up during the depression everything had a use and reuse.  So for the most part I understood their desire to hold on to things that could some day be put to another use.  We had a family joke about the never ending supply of boxes, bags and twist ties that could be found at our house.  In fact there is still one small gift box that has been passed from family member to family member at Christmas for 25 years.  We all anxiously await our turn to receive it and guard it carefully until the following year.  But I digress.

In today's "throw away" society it seems a bit odd that there should be so much of a need for storage facilities.  What is lurking behind all of those locked containers?   Is it stuff we really need or is it easier just to tuck it away instead of dealing with it?  How much money is being spent every year to store things that really should be headed to the dump or donated to a favorite charity?  Could you have a vacation with the money instead?

Need some help getting started on the de-cluttering?  It is over-whelming I can admit it!  So here are a few ideas that helped get me started on the stuff purging:

  • Pick a room-doesn't matter where you start
  • Set a timeframe-only work on the room a couple of hours at a time
  • Sort through it-look at it once and decide if it is a keep, toss or donate
  • Don't reminisce-high school is long over, the faded corsages have got to go
  • Keep the space organized-have trash bags and plastic bins handy so that you aren't surrounded by piles
  • Repeat the process on the next room-move on the next day or next weekend to another space.
  • Reward yourself-trust me after you have made a run to the dump you want a rewardDump

So take a look around and decide what you really need and what is ready to go.  You might be surprised how good it feels to not have all of the stuff cluttering up your life.  And don't try to pass it off on your kids.  It will only come back to you when they decide to move! 

                                   Real People*Real Lives*Real Estate

If you are interested in learning more about the Northern Virginia Real Estate market including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William Counties give Cindy Jones and Integrity Real Estate Group a call at 703-346-2213.

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Comment balloon 5 commentsCindy Jones • August 17 2007 07:30PM


Do i hear Garage sale anywhere?
Posted by John Nazareno (John Nazareno) almost 12 years ago
John-we made a garage sale rule too.  if it went outside for a garage sale it could not come back into the house.  It either went to the curb or immediately in the car to the Salvation Army. 
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 12 years ago

When all else fails, hire a professional organizer. :-)

A few years ago, I hired one for 8 hours, and she helped me to change the way I started thinking about my stuff. So often, there is emotional attachment to certain things, and she helped me to figure out what to keep and what to toss or donate. Clearing the clutter is so freeing!

My organizer's Website contains useful articles on everything from clearing a cluttered head to closet organization. Check it out at: http://www.organizingsolutions.biz/articles/articlestart.html

Posted by Darleen McCullen, Broker - Raleigh, NC Real Estate almost 12 years ago


Today, one of my clients, surrounded by a gazillion boxes in her new home, told me about a New Yorker cartoon that her husband is having framed.  It pictures an old guy on his death bed saying: "My only regret is that I did not accumulate more stuff."

I love this post! 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

Cindy, good article. I'm guilty of reminiscing. But there's no point in trying to maintain a museum, so I will get rid of a lot of it in the near future. It's becoming overwhelming.


Posted by Leon Austin, Colorado Springs Mobile Notary (Mobile Notary Services) almost 12 years ago

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