Cleaning Out the Garage

November 23, 2009

Our garage hasn’t been this clean and organized since we moved into our house! Since we’re debating selling our house my wife is on a de-cluttering mission so we spent the whole weekend cleaning out our garage.

Organization Saves Money

One thing I was reminded of as we worked is how you can save money by staying organized.  Over the years we’ve bought duplicates of the same item since we didn’t know that we already had one.  Of course, it can also save you time since you don’t have to waste effort searching through your garage for something you need.

Donation Records

I made several trips to the Salvation Army with car loads of items to donate. I kept a list of all the items that we donated, a description, the number of items, and their value.  I also got out my Flip video camera and filmed them to help me remember come tax time what we donated.

Buying What You Need

Getting rid of all those things was a good reminder to only buy what we need.  Why spend our hard earned money on something we might be getting rid of in a few years?  Cleaning out the garage and hauling away loads of stuff made me want to never buy anything again : )

Keeping What You Have

Of course one question that’s an ongoing struggle is how long do you keep things that you think you might need in the future. I’m in the “keep everything” and my wife is in the “get rid of everything” camp so we clashed all weekend about what to keep and what to get rid of.  What’s your take, how do you decide whether or how long to keep something that you “might” need at some point in the future?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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6 Responses to Cleaning Out the Garage

  • Leslie

    As far as knowing what to keep and what to get rid of, I have a special system. My husband is very handy, so we also like to keep some misc items that he may need or can even make in to a part to work on something. We try to limit this stuff to one storage cabinet. If we’re unsure if we may need an item later, we ask “Is this something we can buy at our local Walmart for less in $10 if we ever did need it again?”. If so, we let it go. If you keep too much, you can never find anything. Sure, we may have to spend $10 – $30 a year to replace something we let go, but this is a small price to pay for being able to find everything else!

  • Jon

    With respect to the question you asked about how long to keep things…one good rule is that if it’s a part or component of something you no longer own, you can usually part with it without regrets.
    I do nearly all maintenance and repairs on my vehicles, power tools and house, so I tend to save a ton of parts. I have boxes and bins full of things in the garage, “just in case”. Sometimes, they come in handy for totally unanticipated needs.
    There is a certain satisfaction in clearing the clutter from our lives, though. We all have differing priorities about what should be saved, and my wife and I have had a number of “discussions” about what we hang on to.
    We kept about a half pickup-load of boxes of things for our daughter from the time she moved out to attend college, until she and her husband bought their first house this fall, then hauled it all down to her along with some furniture. When she came to visit a couple of weeks ago, it turned out most of it got donated to the GoodWill. I could have saved a lot of time and mileage if my opinion had prevailed a while back.

  • Ben

    Jon, I agree. It’s hard to find the right balance between what to get rid of and what to keep.

    I’m sure I’ll go looking for something I need in the garage over the next 6-12 months and find out that we got rid of it.

  • Jon

    The only problem with doing a really thorough garage cleanout is that I just might need something that I’ve been hanging onto, at some point. I just found some rubber feet for an improvised sink-top cutting board (also found in the garage and adapted), that had been in the box with my surround sound system when I bought it seven years ago, and stored since then…in the garage.
    Organizing things so I can find them quickly, and not buy duplicate items…priceless.


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