Dealing with Stuff

By: Victor Normand
Published: January 2015

Sometimes the spring market for homes sales begins in February. If there is no snow on the ground and the sun is out, so are the buyers. Even if spring waits for the calendar, it’s not too soon for sellers to start getting ready. Preparing a home for market involves everything from dealing with deferred maintenance items, updating mechanical systems, remodeling in minor or major ways and considering the use of staging. All in all it can be a daunting but necessary undertaking. The first step however, which is often the least expensive but arguably the hardest to do, is getting rid of stuff.

Houses are bigger today by more than a factor of two since the middle of the last century and we have all taken advantage of that added space to accumulate stuff. Today the weight of household items for a typical four bedroom home is about 11,000 pounds compared to 2,500 pounds in 1950. Someday, someone will eventually deal with all of our stuff if we don’t take care of it. Moving to a new house, even if the new house is the same size as the old house is a good time to shed a few pounds.

Consider this; the cost to move one pound of stuff from Acton to Raleigh, N.C., a distance of about 600 miles, is about 75 cents. Getting rid of 10 percent of our stuff could save over $800 in shipping costs. And who doesn’t believe that we couldn’t lose that 10 percent without missing any of it and actually feel GOOD about living with a bit less clutter? Some experts say that most of us actually use only about 20% of all the stuff that we own. The de-cluttering concept is sound but the execution is difficult.

Here are a few ideas to get you over the hump and on your way toward minimalism:

• Get in the right frame of mind. Imagine your surviving family members going through your stuff and wondering why Grandpa would keep something like this? You don’t want to embarrass yourself posthumously; get angry and get going.
• Start at the end. Clean out the basement by just moving everything into the garage. See how great the basement looks? Now you are motivated.
• Get a sponsor. If it works for AA, it can work for de-cluttering. Find a friend to work beside you who is not connected emotionally to that old rocking chair with the broken seat. You don’t have to face this alone.
• Go with your inner self. If you are hyper-sensitive about parting with your belongings, focus on re-cycling if you can’t bear the thought of your stuff ending up in a dumpster. Hire a clean out company who promises to re-cycle “most” of the items they take away, and there’s always eBay, and the Virtual Garage Sale on Facebook where your “friends” get first dibs on your stuff.
(See the list below for some other options for re-purposing things)

Advanced Electronics Recycling
43 Broad St.
Hudson, MA 01749
Phone: 978-568-3444
Takes: Old computers, miscellaneous electronics, CRT monitors and TV’s.

145 Great Rd.
Acton, MA 01720
Phone: 978-263-6150
Takes: Desktops and all in one computers, laptops, tablets, ereaders, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners, faxes, shredders, UPS/battery backup devices, mice, keyboards, modems, routers, computer speakers, mobile phones, MP3 players/iPods, calculators, GPS devices, digital camera, camcorders, cordless phones, digital projectors, CD/DVD/Blu-ray players, gaming devices, A/V receivers, video streaming devices, cable/satellite receivers, external hard drives and small servers, rechargeable batteries (11 pounds or less)
Will NOT take: TV’s, floor model copiers and printers, appliances, large servers, large speakers or speaker systems, alkaline or lithium batteries, lamp and bulbs.

530 Main St
Acton, MA 01720
Phone: 978-635-1710
Donation Hours: Tues, Thurs & Sat: 9am-Noon
Takes: Metal bed frames, mattresses & box springs, dressers & bureaus, nightstands, kitchen and dining room tables & chairs, sofas &loveseats, sofa beds & recliners, coffee & end tables, dishes, glassware, pots & pans, flatware, cooking utensils, baking pans & casserole dishes, toasters & toaster ovens, coffee makers, mixers, blenders, countertop microwaves, sheet sets, blankets, comforters & towels, new or like new bed pillows, area rugs, framed prints, mirrors, fans, space heaters, vacuum cleaners, TV’s (10 yrs or newer, radios, irons & ironing boards, shower curtain liners, brooms & dustpans, small trash cans.
Will NOT take: Clothing or food

The Salvation Army
Phone: 1-800-728-7825
Takes: Appliances, automobiles, men’s, women’s & children’s clothing, furniture, household goods, miscellaneous items
The Salvation Army provides receipts for tax deductions

Phone: 877-545-4113
Takes: Old or second refrigerator & freezers. Must be between 10 and 30 cubic feet using inside measurements, cannot be your primary refrigerator or freezer, clean, empty and in good working order, accessible with a clear path for removal. You MUST be an NStar customer. Offers Rebate.

Mass Save
Phone: 877-545-4113
Takes: Old or second refrigerator & freezers. Must be between 10 and 30 cubic feet using inside measurements, cannot be your primary refrigerator or freezer, clean, empty and in good working order, accessible with a clear path for removal. Offers Rebate.

Kars 4 Kids
Phone: 1-877-527-7454
Takes: Cars, boats and water craft, motorcycles and dirt bikes, RV’s, campers, and trailers

Boston Building Resources
100 Terrace St
Boston, MA 02120
Phone: 617-442-2262
Takes: Cabinets, countertops, sinks & faucets, appliances (showroom condition, less than 5 yrs old), vanities, tubs & enclosures, low-flow toilets, ceramic tiles, accessories (towel racks, etc.), lead paint free windows (vinyl & wood replacement, insulated double hung units, awning & hopper), lead paint free doors (interior minimum width 30”, exterior, storm doors with frame & hardware, locks, knobs , hinges), dimensional lumber (6’ min. length, no scraps), moldings, plywood (half sheets or larger), drywall (half sheets or larger), exterior house shutters (wood, no lead paint), carpeting & carpet tiles, ceramic & vinyl tile, sheet vinyl, wood flooring, residential surface-mounted light fixtures, paddle fans, latex paint (full containers, cans must be clean and paint in good condition)
Call for items they will NOT take

Books: Can be donated to the library, Salvation Army, HGRM, or any of the book drop off boxes that are located throughout town.

For many, the task may appear difficult at the beginning, but as they progress, the process of tossing out stuff can feel exhilarating. I feared the roller coaster as a kid, but I kept getting on and soon began to crave the thrill of being momentarily weightless.

And then there is the joy that comes with starting over. I knew a man who was only able to save a few family albums when his house burned to the ground. Afterwards when a reporter asked him what it was like to lose everything he thought for a moment and simply said “liberating, in a way.”

So, consult with a Resident Expertsm on everything you need to do to prepare your house for the spring market, even if it’s the spring market next year. Start off by not purchasing anything new, even if it is on sale, and then digging in to that collection of stuff. You will feel so good when it’s done!