When you’re working on decluttering your home, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and feel the need to get rid of everything. Yes...that happens! And while there are no real “rules" to getting organized, there are general guidelines that are helpful to keep in mind when you are deciding what should stay and what can go. If there are items or categories that you don’t use or need any longer, that’s usually an indicator that you can and should part with those items. But, there are a few categories that—despite their lack of use—should be the exception to the “rules”. Check out my recommendations below for seven things that I suggest you not throw away while decluttering (or at least take a second look and pause before you do).
7 THINGS TO AVOID THROWING AWAY
- Specialty Items. There are items that don’t get a ton of use, but are handy to keep because of the “just in case” moments. These are the things that are nice to have on hand for the sake of convenience, to save yourself from running out and trying to find a replacement when the time comes. So for things that would be difficult to replace (like a unique decorative spare button for your coat), or that you know you will need eventually (like chandelier light bulbs), don’t be so quick to toss them out.
- Taxes and Important Documents. The rule of thumb is to keep taxes that date back 7 years from the filing date. There are other important documents, like insurance paperwork and vehicle titles, that should be held onto for longer, and records (i.e. Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, Military Service Records, Will, etc.) that should never be parted with.
- Family Heirlooms. While your grandmother’s china and great-aunt’s table linens may be collecting dust in your cabinets, check it’s value before letting it go. Whether that means having an estate company determine its worth or seeing if another family wants to have it passed down to them, do your research.
- Photos and Videos. These items are irreplaceable memories, which is why I never recommend getting rid of items in this category. Instead of tossing out the old photos that haven’t seen the light of day for the last decade, consider having your printed memories and old VHS tapes converted to a digital format so that the footprint is reduced. Plus, the digital format may make you more inclined to review the contents and will make it easy to pass along to family members as you see fit.
- Storage Bins. Before you let go of the empty storage bins sitting in your garage and storage room, think outside of the box to determine if they can be used somewhere else in the house. After an item has been used in a particular area of the house (or for a specific purpose), it can be difficult to see it as an option for anywhere/anything else. But, Tupperware containers that have lost their lid mate can serve as great drawer inserts for smaller categories (junk drawers, water bottles, snacks, etc.). And a storage bin for the garage is just as helpful for storing seasonal clothing, holiday decor, and bulk household items. Get creative before tossing (and later spending money to replace the item!).
- Event-Related Disposable Items. Sure, you might not need your kids’ old party-themed paper cups, plates, napkins, and cutlery, but they are still perfectly usable. Instead of trashing and recycling these items right away, get some use out of them! Swap them for your normal cutlery and dishware or consider bringing them to the office for the team to use. After all, a napkin with superheroes on it is still a napkin!
- Electronics. Before you toss that old computer or flip phone in the trash, make sure that you’ve taken the necessary steps in advance. These items have personal information stored inside, so either wipe the contents (a simple Google search can walk you through the steps), or take it to an electronics center to have a professional complete the task for you. Then, once all is clear, dispose of the items at either an electronics collection spot (whether it’s a school, fire department, or electronics company, or recycling center).