January 20

The Monthly Purge and Why You Need It

Decluttering

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messy closet, the monthly purge and why you need it

What is a Monthly Purge?

A monthly purge sounds a little gross, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. It’s really a good thing. Basically once a month you go through an area of your home – more if you’re ambitious – and clear out anything that you no longer need.

Maybe it’s clothing you no longer wear or things the kids have outgrown. Perhaps (like me) you’ve decided that you don’t want to do so much holiday decorating anymore and you have things that could find a better home.

My husband and I recently tackled our basement storage room and the crawl space (yes, we have both) and we got rid of a ton of stuff! It was nice to be able to donate some items and even nicer to just get rid of others.

The best part? Well, I guess there are two. First, I have seven bins that are completely empty that I have no intention of filling again. Seven! And the other best part? I can find what I want when I want it.

storage bins, monthly purge

The other day my oldest asked me what time she was born. Well I had three kids, and I have a good idea of when they were born time-wise, but not an exact time. I was able to go right to the spot where her baby book was (she’s 36!) and tell her.

Where Do You Begin?

Most of us have plenty to work with when it comes to a monthly purge. We could probably keep ourselves busy for quite a while.

There are plenty of places for you to begin. You might want to start with something simple, like your bedroom closet. You can choose to do this as you would a cleaning and organization – which is ideally the best way – but it does take some extra time and effort.

donate box, monthly purge

You know the drill:

  • Go through everything in the area
  • Toss anything unusable
  • Decide which items to donate
  • Neatly arrange the things you decide to keep

However, if you just want to purge now and organize later, it can be a fairly quick and simple process. That’s how I did my closet.

Just get a box or a bag of some kind and go through your closet, pulling anything that you no longer want or wear. As long as it’s in good condition, it’s perfect for donating to a worthy charity. If you have a few extra minutes, it’s easy to pull the things that need to get thrown away as well.

By the way, if you start looking, there are lots of places that have drop off bins in their parking lots. Around us, several churches have them as well as a few grocery stores. Some are designated for certain items and some are not. Don’t forget to check the back if that’s where the parking lot is located.

Where Do You Find the Time?

Some jobs, like clearing out your closet, may only take 30 minutes or so. I guess it depends on your closet. Other jobs, such as our basement and crawl space cleanout, took probably a couple of weeks’ time altogether.

planner, pen, monthly purge

In order to find the time, I would start with a list. Just write down all of the areas of your home that you would like to clear out. You don’t need any order at this point, just write them down. I would use something that you can find whenever you need it: a note on your phone or in your planner is a good idea.

Once you have your list, you can go through it in one of two ways – or use both methods. First, make a note of which jobs will be quick and which ones might take longer. It’s up to you to decide what time lengths you want to use.

For us, we knew that the basement would be a big one, so we knew when we started that it would take some time. Since the holiday decorations were stored in the basement storage area, I started with that, sorting as I got out first the fall decor, then Halloween, and finally Christmas.

Once you have an idea of how long each area might take, you might want to prioritize them. You could do the quick easy ones first, or start with something bigger.

Put it on Your Schedule

Doing a monthly purge is extra work, above and beyond your normal schedule, but it needs to fit in there somehow.

calendar, pencil, monthly purge

The beauty of a monthly purge is twofold:

  • You spend some time each month purging your home of unwanted items. At some point, your home will be nearly free of such things.
  • You are also designating a time each month to do some good for someone else, by donating what you no longer need.

Scheduling a monthly purge will need at least two dates on your calendar:

  • The day (or days) you will be sorting through your possessions
  • The day you decide to take it to your local charity (Karianne from Thistlewood Farms has a great article on decluttering and donating)

If you noticed, when we did our basement, I spent several weeks here and there getting it done. I mean, I started in September and finished in January. So for those four or five months, we really had no donations; just cleaning and sorting. But we made up for it when we were done.

By the way, I wouldn’t put everything on the calendar just yet. You never know what might come up or how long things will take. Just use whatever note-taking method you decided on and add some tentative dates there.

Make It A Regular Practice

Imagine getting to the point where a monthly purge is no big deal – or maybe not even necessary! That would mean that everything in your home is something you need and use regularly. No extra stuff!

You can get there if you keep up with the monthly purge habit. Once you finish one clear out and take it to the donation center, consult your list and schedule the next one. It’s OK to take some time in between as a break, as long as you don’t wait too long.

And, like my example, it’s OK if it takes you a while too, as long as you keep at it! Remember – the more you do it, the better you will be at getting it done.

The Bottom Line

money monthly purge

Donations to charity are tax-deductible so you might as well take credit for your generosity and claim what you’ve given. Here are a couple of resources that you might find useful:

  • IRS information on how to value what you donate plus the information that you might need. I usually keep a piece of paper with the kinds of items written on it and then just add a tick mark each time I put one in the bag.
  • And in case you’re wondering if your donations are going to a worthwhile cause, you can check this site (which mainly covers monetary donations) or this one for an overall view. Finally, here are the best places for donations of clothing and other items.

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