General chatter - Decluttering

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10-23-2008, 02:51 PM
I've lived in my house for seven years and am just getting to the basement. My husband and I bought this house from my parents, so I think my dad assumes that since we got such a good deal on the house he should get free storage. But I think 7 years is long enough. My mom took her stuff out as soon as we moved in (mom and dad are divorced), but now I'm stuck going through 30 years of paperwork. Seriously, I found tax paperwork from 1978.

Not all of it is my father's, of course. My husband and I were both in the military and there are boxes of stuff that we never unpacked from years and years ago. How do we accumulate so much junk? My husband used to be stationed in Japan and has about a dozen bottles and cans of Coca-Cola with Japanese writing on them. Who carries that stuff around for 15 years?

The absolute worst part, though, is that my dad parked two old VW's on the property that he was going to fix up and filled a barn full of VW parts. He can't find the title for either car, so I can't even scrap them. In the other barn is an enormous crate filled with a piece of equipment that is going to be impossible to get rid of. It's technology that no longer exists and the company is no longer in business.

Does anyone have any idea what I can do about the cars? Does anyone have any horror stories they want to share?

The good thing is that I'm getting a lot of exercise doing this.

Strength-carrying heavy boxes
Cardio-Running up and down the stairs
Plyometrics-Jumping a foot in the air every time I touch a spiderweb
Balance-trying to avoid stepping on the cat, while my arms are full of stuff (he loves to race me up the stairs and then just stop)

10-23-2008, 02:57 PM
Plyometrics-Jumping a foot in the air every time I touch a spiderweb
Balance-trying to avoid stepping on the cat, while my arms are full of stuff (he loves to race me up the stairs and then just stop)

good luck!! for the car there are lots of agencies that will take them off your hands. and you get tax credit! :)

10-23-2008, 03:16 PM
I know exactly what you mean! We recently moved and it felt so good to get rid of so much stuff!

about the vehicles, there are a lot of VW owners out there who I'm sure would be happy to take them off of your hands for parts only. You should also be able to call the state the car was titled in and get a copy.

You sound like you really have a job on your hands....good luck!

10-23-2008, 07:34 PM
Oy, what a job. Don't feel bad about throwing out stuff that really is trash (your dad's ancient tax returns). You just can't keep that stuff.

10-23-2008, 10:25 PM
I'm doing the exact same thing at my house (basement). We decided to finish the basement and have to go thru all the stuff we put down there the last 6 years. It's going well, we've gotted rid of a lot of old papers, toys, other "stuff". I've found things I've had since highschool (1985!).

Viking Girl
10-23-2008, 10:36 PM
By getting rid of the clutter you might find you have the added bonus of extra weight loss. I've been reading "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Big" and it talks about how clutter negatively affects your life and prevents you from being healthy. Some of the heaviest people I know are also the worst packrats. They hold on to both physical and emotional stuff and the weight builds up. I have been purging my place and life is so much better.

Good luck with the junk removal.

10-23-2008, 10:44 PM
By getting rid of the clutter you might find you have the added bonus of extra weight loss.

I've heard that before! Wouldn't that be awesome?!? I'll look at decluttering in a more positive way now, instead of the chore that it is!

10-23-2008, 10:52 PM
With re: the cars: You can petition the title office to have new titles issued ... they can look them up via the VIN and reprint the original titles and then you can do a transfer. If they're old enough (like if we're talking 30 year old vehicles) you can petition for ownership by possession and have them issue new titles to you.

Then contact a VW club - again, esp if they're older vehicles and if you have the tons of parts. Someone will come get them. V-dub owners and hobbiests are some of the most passionate about that kind of stuff! :) (Not that I know any of them ... nooooo! :) ).


10-24-2008, 12:30 AM
Post on craigslist for your area, under the "free" section, all the junk you want to get rid of. There's lots of people out there who LOVE to collect free junk and try to resell it or whatever. People collect scrap metal and stuff.

I think the rule is... tax stuff over 10 years old can be gotten rid of.

When I'm decluttering (about once a year) I go by: If I don't love it, I get rid of it. It makes it easier if I think if maybe someone else can use it more than me, and give it to charity.

No, I'm not clutter free, but you shoulda seen me 5 years ago! YIKES!

10-24-2008, 10:22 AM
according to our CPA, tax reports and statements older than 7 years should be destroyed.

Make sure to shred all the information. It will take a long time, but will protect you in the long run. If you can't shred it all - burn it.

10-24-2008, 10:57 AM
Thanks everyone for your advice! Especially the car stuff. I guess I need to go down and find the VIN numbers before the cars are covered in snow. Hopefully I can get the paperwork taken care of and get rid of them next spring.

I have TONS of burning to do this winter. Not only our stuff, but years of my dad's stuff. I did find two big boxes of old paperwork that belongs to my dad that I'm going to give to him to deal with when he comes up for a visit. The rest of it I'll take care of.

As far as the basement goes, I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!! Soon my basement will be as Zen as the rest of my house!

10-24-2008, 09:38 PM
Make sure you get a cross-cut (confetti) shredder, not a strip shredder. Too easy to put paperwork back together.

I've been decluttering, too. Amazing what you hold onto.

10-24-2008, 11:05 PM
About the tax stuff--be sure to keep any papers that have to do with the purchase of the house or improvements made to it. You could need these many years down the road. And if you own any stocks or bonds, make sure you keep records of the original purchase price and date. Some records do need to be kept until the assets are sold.

You'll be very glad when you get it all cleared out! Just don't be too hasty about it. Many times I've gone on a cleaning tear, only to discover some months later that I got rid of something I ought to have kept. (Coca-Cola from Japan would not be in this category! :lol:)


10-25-2008, 12:32 AM
One of the things that I'm doing this year is something I read on the Unclutterer website ( I have set myself a 100 Things challenge - to remove 100 things from my house by the end of the year. So far I'm up to 38. It's really good for me to think about my belongings and whether or not they're meaningful to me.