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No matter how frugal you are, the chances are good that belongings have piled up in your home over time. A lot of us find it difficult to let go of our possessions even when we no longer use them. If left unchecked, that tendency can turn into a serious clutter problem.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to tackle the issue head-on and get rid of some things that you no longer use.

One Room at a Time

The first thing to do is to break down your downsizing tasks into manageable pieces. If you make a resolution to declutter your entire home, it might be difficult even to get started. It feels like too much and you might end up putting it off.

Instead, try to do one room per month. Start with a small room that won’t take long. Completing it will give you a sense of accomplishment and fuel your efforts for the rest of the year.

Sorting Tips

When you begin to downsize, the first thing you need to do is sort your belongings into piles. For example, you might want to make a pile of things to donate, one for items you want to sell, and a third for storage. Putting boxes in the middle of the room to make sorting easy can help you get started. You can use the boxes to transport and/or store items as you fill them.

Donation and Selling Options

As you decide which items you want to downsize, you need to figure out what to do with them. Research charities and non-profits in your area to determine who can take donations. Your local library might take books and DVDs, and you could also consider donating those items to a senior center or hospital. Homeless shelters and other charitable organizations often take clothing donations, and community centers may be willing to take used electronics.

When it comes to selling, you have two basic options. The first is to sell items yourself using sites like eBay or Craig’s List, or simply by having a garage sale. The second is to find a consignment shop in your area and let them sell your items in return for keeping a percentage of the sales price. Be aware that selling online may mean that you are responsible for dealing with shipping and returns. If you don’t mind doing those things, it can be an easy option to help you downsize.

Managing Sentimentality

It can be very difficult to get rid of items that have sentimental value for you, but it’s important to try to pare those things down – particularly if you’re the type of person whose tendency is to keep everything. It may help to take a minute to look at and hold the item in question, and then ask yourself when you last used it. If you can’t remember, it might be time to give it away. If that’s still a problem, then try setting a deadline for yourself. Put items that you can’t bear to downsize in a box and label them with a date three months or six months in the future. Promise yourself that if you haven’t needed anything in the box by that time, you’ll get rid of it.

Downsizing can be a chore, but it’s something that can have a positive impact on how you feel about yourself and your living space. Following these steps can help you pare down your possessions, declutter and ensure that everything that remains is something you truly need and love.

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