Sunday, 30 January 2011

dare you do an inventory?

Following our original de-cluttering efforts a few years ago, I got into the habit of doing an inventory at New Year.
I would spend a happy day making a list of every single thing we owned.
It was amazing. 
The first thing I realised was that we could see exactly where all the money went
There was this pile of stuff that had all been bought and seemed worth the money at the time.  But it was now worth very little.  I came to thinking about why something is worth so much less second hand. 
The only difference is often that it does not have a nice box or any of the marketing hype, sales talk or advertising.  In other words the second hand value is actually the real value of the thing.
That’s why it often seems like something great in the shop (or online store) and rather ho-hum when you get it home.
In other words, you slave at a job you don’t really like in order to spend the money on something you don’t really want.

 The second thing that I realised is that we had more than one of some things because we couldn’t find the first one or had forgotten we had it.  For instance I had bought a ruler thinking the original one had disappeared forever – yet there it was when I did the inventory.
Never happened to you?  Yeah, I believe you…maybe.
The same thing was in a different room or in the garage and we never even knew it was there.  Only one or two things but WOW what a revelation.  We had so much stuff we didn’t know we had it.
Books in waiting - these are listed on Amazon and will hopefully sell, clear my shelves and earn a bit of the money back.  listing is a lot easier than E Bay and you don't need  a Paypal account.

The third thing I realised is that I really didn’t know what we owned until I did this.  Post-inventory I now had a mental picture of my belongings.  And how awesome is it that you could put in an insurance claim and say casually ‘oh, here’s an inventory of everything we own, we update it every year.’ 
I have an ex work colleague who was burgled once.  At least she thought she had been – it took her a couple of days to notice, because the thieves had only rifled a few drawers and left them in a state of disarray.  One of the drawers was where she kept her purse, but all her old purses were in there too, and she couldn’t really be sure it had been there and not been mislaid somewhere else. 

When she finally realised a window had been forced (they had carefully shut it behind them on the way out so it wasn’t immediately obvious) and the Police asked her what had been taken she couldn’t tell them for sure.  Sounds incredible?  Could you tell exactly what had been taken if you were burgled?  I doubt many of us could actually.

After the first inventory it is much easier to do subsequent ones as you are updating an existing list. 
I have been lazy about it for the last couple of years and probably should update it.  Here is an easier way to do it:  inventory one drawer at a time.  Do one drawer a day or week.  Start by just noticing the contents of the drawers each time you open them.  It is quite likely you will see things you had forgotten or that you no longer need.  They can be weeded out and by the time you do the inventory there will be less to go on the list anyway.
Keep a box or basket in a handy place – ours is in the porch – and put anything you no longer need into it.  Then when you next go out it can be picked up and taken to the charity shop.
If you don’t do this it becomes increasingly difficult to clear out because each clear out leaves a pile of homeless stuff kicking about.  By the time you have decided what to do with it half of it will be back in the cupboards as you/family members will have seen it and ‘rescued’ it in case it comes in handy after all.
Our charity box in the porch.  visitors often find things they want in it and go home with a freebie!

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