How To Decide What To Keep And What To Throw Away

Some people find it very difficult to part with their belongings even if they have many things they don’t use or need. They put sentimental value on almost everything they own to the extent that instead of throwing useless stuff away, they keep it which causes clutter to accumulate and their lives to be equally cluttered. Everyone has at least one family member who is a pack-rat and won’t part with anything. We may think this behavior is just part of their personality but hoarding is both physically and mentally unhealthy. It is not healthy physically because cluttered homes are hard to clean and therefore can attract a lot of dust and even bugs. It is also not healthy mentally because compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder. Hoarding usually starts with collecting small items like old newspapers and books, but if it progresses can become an uncontrollable habit.

If you are having a hard time deciding whether or not to throw stuff away, then here are a few tips that can help you decide what you should keep and what you should get rid of.


The Value of the Item

The first thing that you have to do is to know the value of the item is question. Make piles of  “valuable,” “not so valuable,” and “not valuable” items. When you are going through your things, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much does this item cost and does it have any real monetary value?
  • Can I sell or pawn these items?
  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Is it a family heirloom that is worth keeping?
  • Will a family member look for it or need it?
  • Can I donate it?

Place the things that have monetary value and can be sold or pawned in the “valuable” pile. As for the things with sentimental value, only place them in the “valuable” pile if they are family heirlooms that shouldn’t be thrown away.

If the item has sentimental value but you know you can live without it, then place it in the second pile, the “not so valuable” pile. You can give these things away to family members who might want them; donate them to shelters, homes, charities etc.; or hold a garage sale to sell them. If you are still having a hard time parting with the item it may help to tell yourself that it is selfish to keep something that you do not need when others who need it but may not be able to afford it do need it. This self-talk may make it easier to give your “not so valuable” items to someone who might find them valuable.

Finally, for things that have no value to anyone, throw them out. Think pot lids when you no longer have the pot or clothes you’ve been meaning to mend that are now out of fashion or don’t fit you. Ask yourself this question, “do I or anyone else have use for this item?” If the answer is no then clearly it needs to be tossed.

The Use of the Item

Clothes, shoes, and accessories such as bags and belts are often hard to get rid of. There is always the thought that you will want to wear them again someday, just not right now. If they are too small you may be thinking that you will wear them once you manage to loose those 10 pounds you’ve been meaning to loose. However, the rule of thumb when it comes to things like these is that if you have not worn them in more than a year, then you probably won’t be wearing them again. So when you are going through your closet, answer this question – when was the last time I wore this item?


While these techniques will help you get rid of stuff you don’t need, it is equally important to maintain your home by not allowing things to be collected again. One golden rule for preventing clutter is when you bring in something new you must get rid of something old. Let’s say you buy a new pair of pants, when you bring them home you need to get rid of another piece of clothing in your closet that you do not wear. While there are other techniques for preventing clutter build-up, this is one of the most basic, helpful and easy maintenance techniques that you can do.


If you still have many things that you want to keep but there is no more room inside your home, then look for a storage facility near you where you can store the items that you don’t need to access regularly but that you don’t want to part with. This way, they will not be cluttering up your home; you’ll be able to find the things you use on a daily basis more easily with less clutter around and you’ll protect your truly valuable belongings for when you want or need to access them.