4 Steps to Get Rid of Hoarding Habits and Save Money

by Ashley Eneriz · 15 comments

hoarding habits

When my in-laws moved to a different state, the real challenge came when we cleaned out their garage and started minimizing stuff for the move. “Where do you want me to start,” I asked my mother-in-law while looking at her very packed garage.

She thought for a while and spent a good ten minutes telling what not to touch. I couldn’t touch those vintage items because she was going to get appraised. I couldn’t touch those boxes because my father-in-law needed to do through them. Opening up a cedar chest sent her into a huge sidetrack of memories as she looked at her grandmother’s wedding items. She could surely never part with those.

It’s been a few months since that day, and even though my in-laws made the move, the garage still looks the same. They were able to keep their items stored in the garage while renting out the rooms in the home.

Does this scene sound familiar to you? If you’ve ever tried to help someone with a lot of stuff (aka a hoarder), then you know how hard it is to actually get anything done. Everything they own has potential value or sentiment, yet no progress is ever truly made on what items get sold or donated.

If you’re guilty of this, or know someone who is, here are some easy steps to take to overcome your hoarding habits.

The Frugal Side of Being Clutter-Free

I consider myself the opposite of a hoarder. I enjoy having an easy-to-clean home where each space is maximized for living, not storage. I know many people struggle with the battle of clutter, and I’m here to give you some encouragement today. The more clutter and “stuff” you get rid of, the more freedom and money you will have.

Here are a few examples on how shedding your hoarding ways can save you money:

  • You don’t have to pay for extra storage space
  • A clutter-free garage means you can actually park your cars and extend their value (I live in a desert, and the heat and sand damage is tough on my car)
  • It’s easier to find stuff, which saves time and money, because you won’t have to replace items you already have due to misplacing them
  • Your house will sell faster when you show your home without clutter
  • Too much clutter can lead to a lot of dust, which can mean having to pay for more allergy medicine
  • A decreased chance of falling or injury

hoarding habits4 Steps to Ditch Your Hoarding (and Costly) Habits

So how do you keep your hoarding habits at bay, especially with the holidays fast approaching?

1. Keep Life Simple.

Stuff can accumulate over the years, and before you know it, you have multiple dish sets, a closet full of towels, and at least a hundred pieces of clothing and accessories. When I first started cutting down my wardrobe, it was hard to get rid of things. But the truth is that I only wore about 25% of my wardrobe, and my closet was always a mess because there were too many things to keep organized.

Getting rid of items is hard, but when I cut my wardrobe down 60%, life was so much simpler. Now, I spend less time doing laundry, deciding what to wear, and keeping my closet and room clean. Once I purged my husband’s closet too, we decided to have a yard sale. We brought in a couple hundred dollars, but the best part is that cleaning is a lot easier now.

2. Don’t Give Into Guilt.

Many people hang on to items because they don’t want offend the person who gifted it to them. Or perhaps it’s hard to sell something at a yard sale when you paid good money for it a few years before.

If you let this guilt hold you back from getting rid of an item, it will hold you back from getting rid of a closet full of unused and unwanted items. I’m not talking about hurting people’s feelings intentionally, but if something’s not getting used, then it doesn’t belong there.

3. Redirect Bad Gift Givers.

This is a hard subject to talk about because you don’t want to offend family members and friends, but you also don’t want to be stuck with a lot of unnecessary stuff. Personally, I think it’s a bigger insult to stick a gift in a garage unused than to return it for something you will use it.

When family members and friends ask what to get my family for Christmas, I stick with the essentials I know will get used. I also direct individuals to give the gift of their time versus a material gift. For example, I suggest they spend quality time with my daughter and get ice cream together instead of buying her a toy.

4. Don’t Procrastinate on Junk.

I’m good about getting unwanted stuff out of the house and into the garage with the purpose of selling it. However, if I don’t put a deadline on following through with that intention, and then it just clutters up the garage for way too long.

Set a note in your calendar to list an item for sale or have a garage sale by a certain date. Otherwise arrange for a donation truck to pick up your items. I would much rather make a little bit of money off of my unwanted stuff, but if the items are taking up space in the garage, they’re better off being donated and not taking up room in my to-do list and thoughts.

Don’t wait for spring to declutter your life and get rid of your hoarding ways. Clearing out your closets and shelves is the perfect thing to do before the holidays. It’s really freeing to decorate a home that’s not overflowing with stuff.

Confession time; do you tend to hoard unnecessary items or do you enjoy a clutter-free living?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Lindsey Madden says:

    Being the oldest living thing in the family, I had inherited lots of stuff. I had gotten rid of many things over several years. I’ve found that it really helps if I can think of a new concept to move me along. So, last December, I decided to get rid of 100 things in the new year.
    A bag of books would count as one, a bag of clothing would count as one.
    1-50 were easy. I donated to a church auction, I droped things off
    at a nearby charitable thrift store or Goodwill, I gave neighborhood children small intriguing things, I sent interesting family things to sister, nieces, nephew and their children, I gave a dish set to someone who had just moved into a new apartment, I gave clothing to a homeless shelter,
    then…came Christmas and I regifted other interesting books, paintings and things that nieces and nephew would enjoy. It felt so good to be wracking up numbers. 50-75 were more difficult, I had to think more. Am now at 81 things removed and the apartment looks and feels better.

  • DNN says:

    I need to cut down on spending. Just stocked up on lots of Jordans and cologne. L 😛 L

  • Tim says:


    For people with hoarding issues it is sometimes very difficult to get them to agree to have items removed. You may want to consider looking into hiring a professional organizer that has experience working with hoarders.

  • sela says:

    My husband is the one who is hoarding stuff and I would like to know how I can get rid of this stuff with out him getting mad or saying smart remarks.. Help

  • Caleb says:

    I am a hoarder and didn’t even realize it. Breaking the habit has been a little more difficult then I thought but the process has started.

  • Anita says:

    I have some after-thoughts since my reply. Many of the people that are labeled as ‘hoarders’ are certainly in need of someone’s help. Because one has more possessions than room to keep them, does not automatically equal ‘hoarding’. I feel so strongly about this point because I’m a ‘hoarder’ in my family’s opinion. Even though it’s known I need money and have lots of saleable items. There are always willing ‘takers’ (with happy, open arms) of items I want to get rid of. I am now living with far too much stuff than I want or need. It’s impossible to clean regularly or properly. This is my dilemma. Should I just ship the stuff to the dump and forget about obtaining some needed cash? If I had help with selling these items and/or assistance in getting the word out of the sale of good items for a fraction of their worth…I would joyously pare down my living space to the starkness of a monk’s chamber. (What sane adult doesn’t want to live in a simplistic, uncluttered home?) I’d love to live in a ‘really’ clean home (only possible without the clutter) and it would be much healthier. It is a paradox. Inability to perform this ‘solution’ on my own relegates me to live in a filthy environment and people call me a ‘hoarder’. I would like to suggest caution, before intellectualizing about an individuals mental status after perusing a crowded, living environment and dismissing the situation with a shrug and a “hoarder’s-label”. Perhaps, that ‘hoarder’ is at a loss for the best solution for THEM, because they are unable to do it ALONE. Of course, if efforts to help are met with the complication of an owner’s inability to ‘let go’ of their stuff. That’s tough to deal with and accept. It’s a given, there are countless solutions to many challenges one faces, when others become involved in the process. Obviously the ‘power of many’ outweighs the effectiveness of the ‘power of one’. But a single offer or attempt to help is just as useless as no offer at all. If people sincerely desire to help, such assistance and the resulting positives offers much satisfaction to both sides of the equation. I am living in a situation I created but cannot correct on my own and not because I haven’t tried. Quality of life under these cluttered conditions is depressing and demoralizing. Day after day the issue weighs on one’s mind, compiled with all of the frustrations, limitations, and potential danger living like ‘a hoarder’ provides.

  • Anita says:

    I am in a 2 bedroom condo after a 4 bedroom house. I gave away a lot before moving, with little remorse. I hated throwing something away I knew I would be able to use in my new home. (I buckled under older sibling pressure and quietly replaced items when necessary.) I admit I wasn’t initially ready to give up Everything I could have. Throughout the past 6 years since moving, I continue to give away to family, friends, neighbors, charities. Consigning some items was great, but hated having to go back for items not sold. I sent items to an auction house but they were collectible items. I consulted my extended family members and friends about their interest in items, first. If they found something they wanted I gave it to them. However, now I’m in the place where I have more items to get rid of and am in need of extra cash. So I would like to sell them for a fraction of actual worth. Even though there is craigslist, ebay, etc., etc., these are too complicated to ensue or perhaps dangerous, since I live alone– having strangers come into my home isn’t safe. I have been all over the internet for additional ideas and/or suggestions. I’ve determined the only way for me to successfully sell items would require the help of family. I’m unmarried and have no children, so I can’t play that card. I do have several much older siblings whom have many children, grandchildren and now their great grandchildren whom are practically the age to express interests in items I have to get rid of. I have been chronically ill for many years and ‘friends’ have evaporated over the years. I’m in need of a simple, safe way to get the info out that I have items to sell for minimal prices compared to actual worth. More importantly I have to be able to perform necessary transactions alone. I just turned 60 so I’m not that ancient and far from feeble, and/or unaware of today’s costs for items. Any suggestions how I might safely get rid of these items without the help of any outside parties–as I can’t pay for the help?

    • Tena says:

      I too am a border, you might consider an auction, they are not just for after you die. Most auction companies will come out and put stuff you want to go together and provide the tables and displays. They charge a nominal fee for this depending on the area in which you live. Advertising costs and they charge a fee or percentage of what the ultimate intake is after the sale.
      Problem is that you can’t always get what things are really worth or sometimes not even close. Though some auction places allow you to set a minimum bid to the item does not sell.
      So being too close to your possessions can be a problem.

  • Lisa says:

    I recently lost a friend to cancer. She was a hoarder and suffered through a foreclosure while on chemo. She had to move three stories of “treasures” from her home to storage facilities, friends’ basements and a small apartment. The end of her life was about getting rid of stuff, not enjoying what time she had left. She just could not let go and so the majority of the work is still ongoing. This is how she is remembered. I refuse to let this happen to me and am purging this winter before we move in April.

  • caroline says:

    I am dreading the day my in-laws house will need to be emptied. It is a big, rambling family home, very lovely garden. Full to the brim with literal rubbish. Years of deep sentimentality and a man who flatly refuses ever to throw away anything under any circumstances whatsoever and a woman who has enabled and indulged and who lies to herself that she’ll get round to it ”soon” equals a tip of a house. It’s sad, but there it is. Husband and I have the idea that when the time comes we will have a sweep through, extract the items of value and worth (of course there are those things) and literally throw the rest out and onto a tip.

  • JD says:

    Sad to say but I have been on this mission for a while now. Our home does not appear cluttered but I know what lurks inside closets and drawers. This year we have taken approximately 10 SUV loads to charity. Trust me, there is more that will leave. Too much stuff. Sad.

    • Ashley says:

      You’ve made progress though! That is something 🙂 Even though I didn’t think I had anything else to purge, I still found about 100 small items today that need to be purged.

    • lana says:


      I feel your pain. I look at the stuff I’m donating and know it will be sold for about 2% of what what I paid, if that.

      I too have been purging. I now think more about current purchases and evaluate more closely if I want that item in my home/life.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says:

    I’d like to have less clutter and I’m working on it. My storage room and garage, well, they make me look like a bit of a hoarder I guess!

    For me the problem is #4, I know I don’t need something, I set it aside, then it gets back in the house and I have to sort it again and again. It was easier when garbage was weekly (we’re every other week now)

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