Pay It Forward and Declutter Your Home


Over the past 8 years, I’ve become good at purging, or decluttering, my home. We move twice a year, so I put hands on lots of stuff—and unearth things I forgot about. It gives me a chance to evaluate if I need it, use it or even want it. Or, am I just holding onto something just because?


I’ll admit I have some things that I don’t have any intention of displaying, but they have sentimental value and I’m not ready to get rid of them. I figure that’s okay. If it makes me happy, and it’s not in the way, keep it.


But sometimes that closet becomes overflowing, and you can’t find your clothes because they’re buried in all the stuff you don’t wear. Or, your spare room has become a maze of piles and “stuff” that if left uncontrolled will land you on Hoarders.


Maybe your garage has become storage, and you can’t fit your car even in the dead of winter. If you’re okay with it, fine. But there are many people who can benefit from all the items you don’t use.


Prepare Before You Purge


You don’t want to just throw stuff in piles. You’ll create more work for yourself by going through it again when you have to transport it.


You also want to know what you are getting rid of for tax purposes. List items, and when you drop off, you can get a receipt to attach and save for taxes the following year. Those deductions can add up. Here’s what you need: paper, pens or pencils, garbage bags and boxes or bins. Some things will go right in the trash, while others will go to charity. You can use your storage bins or boxes to transport, and take them home or leave them there. It’s just easier than bags most times.


Where to Start


I know decluttering can be overwhelming, so start small first. I like to start in my closet. I love when it’s all organized and I can find things easily. I have a large walk-in closet I share with my husband, and right now it looks a little crazy due to the packing. However, it can be organized as there’s plenty of room in there.


I set out my box, open a garbage bag so it’s ready and lay out the pen and paper where it’s convenient. I begin by moving all the items on hangers that I’m going to get rid of into one section. Then, I list them out by category: tee, sweater, button down, sweatshirt, etc. I use tick marks for how many of that item I have. Then I grab it, fold it and put it in the box.


I finish the hanging items, then move onto one drawer at a time. This is already folded, so I list the items out in each drawer first (you can cross out what you don’t donate), then tick it off and into the box. Shoes are next, then purses/bags, coats, and accessories.


BAM! My closet is beautiful and I have a great box of donations. Move on one closet, or room, at a time.


What Will They Take?


Each charity is a little different. Places like Goodwill will take just about anything, while others are more specific. This is where being organized helps.


You may have donations for more than one charity. However, charities need a little of everything: furniture, storage solutions, tools, decorations, dishes, silverware, serving items, pet products, exercise equipment, clothing, shoes, bedding, towels, curtains, etc. Look up the charities in your area. Find out what they need, or will take, and if you have to drop off or they’ll come pick up. Some do that, especially for large items like furniture.


Go through your cabinets, and purge your non-perishables as well. If they haven’t passed their date, drop them at the local food pantry. They need items year-round, but we often only think of them at the holidays.


Other Options


I’m going to be honest: I don’t donate everything. I have some things that I was ready to get rid of that were in new or like-new condition, and were expensive.


Don’t get me wrong. I donate a lot! But there’s nothing wrong with selling some of the nicer items. Pawn shops, resale shops, or even online—I’ve gone to them all! If I can’t sell something, I decide: give it away or put it back at home. Sometimes, the stores don’t need those things right now, but in a few weeks is a different story. It’s just another avenue to explore.


I’m leaving one home for another in about two weeks, and I already have a pile to drop off before I go. I expect it might get a little bigger before then.


Spring cleaning can offer you a chance to not only declutter your house, but add something good back into the world by paying it forward. Take an opportunity this season to spread kindness by shedding some of your less-used items. It may just make your spring a little lighter and brighter!



Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.