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22 Mar 2014

The Junk Fund, a Decluttering Technique

I have a bad habit of keeping things that are still working, even if they aren't useful to me. In fact, I even keep things that are slightly broken, with the intention of fixing them someday. My wife has a similar aversion to discarding things.

Because of this, we have accumulated a lot of stuff. While we have room for it, as our house has an unfinished basement, the sheer quantity of it is overwhelming. As an example, I have six large bins of miscellaneous computer cables that my family has accumulated over the past twenty years or so. There used to be even more cables, but my father and I went through them and discarded anything that we didn't own a device for. (Such as old SCSI and printer cables.)

Box o' Cables

Recently I've come up with a system that seems to work around the particular neurosis of saving things "just in case we need it someday". The idea is that we take a box of things and give it away or discard it, as appropriate. We then set aside a small amount of money into a special fund called the junk fund. If it ever happens that in the future we need something that was in the box, we use the money to buy a replacement, and if not, money is a lot easier to store than physical objects.

To continue the example, I can trade my six boxes of cables for $100 in the junk fund. $100 should be more than enough to cover me for the rest of my life, especially considering that the cables are slowly going obsolete.

The stuff in the basement currently occupies a 22' by 7' area, stacked on average about four feet tall. I'm hoping to reduce this to be able to fit on two 3' by 2' shelves, which are seven feet tall. In other words, I want to reduce 616 cubic feet of stuff down to 42 cubic feet.