Everything Must Go! How to de-clutter your home for good

clutterThere are many benefits to de-cluttering your home. You create more space because you’re ridding yourself of extra stuff. You can make other people happy by donating unwanted clothes, shoes and books. You can help the planet by recycling furniture, boxes, plastic containers, piles of paper and a whole lot of other stuff. Probably the best thing about de-cluttering your home is you can make a little money on the side selling the stuff no one close to you wants or stuff that you think still holds value for some people willing to pay for it.

But the actual art of de-cluttering is hard, especially if you’ve been building your war chest of stuff and keeping it for years. Back in Montreal, I’ll admit I was a bit of a hoarder. I used to keep all the books I read in my small library; I kept all my beat up toys, hoping they’d be vintage one day. I still kept my old phones, computers and tablets, even their boxes and manuals! My clothes numbered in the hundreds; my shoes more than a dozen. My solution was to keep everything in storage because I didn’t want to sift through all of it.

Say NO to Storage

Now, before you call in Montreal movers to haul all your gear into storage, consider the fact that the whole lot of it is just going to sit there, unused, for a long, long time. By the time you see your rented storage space on reality TV, your old stuff would probably be worthless. Don’t make the same mistake I did. It’s time to de-clutter your home, and this time, for good. Forget storage! Get rid of the stuff you don’t need, simplify and make your life as uncomplicated as possible.

The Four Box Method

When I moved to Toronto, I used this method to de-clutter. Get four boxes and label them recycle, donate, keep and sell. The recycle box is for the items you want to discard. These go straight to the dump or to the recycling plants to be re-purposed for something else.

The donate box is for the stuff that still has a little bit of value, like a sweater you used six times, or a used pair of perfectly serviceable steel toed shoes. Redundant gifts and old toys also go into this box. Underwear is optional.

The keep box is pretty obvious, but before stuffing it silly with all your stuff, ask yourself if that particular item brings you joy and happiness. If you’re still excited to be holding it in your hands, chances are you still need it and will use it. But if you have no emotional attachment to it whatsoever, it’s time to let it go.

The sell box also doubles as your maybe box, but only for a time. Place items here you want to sell, or if you’re undecided if you should discard or keep an item, keep It here for the time being. Actively seek buyers or post in online! Don’t be lazy and just store it. Shop it around and look for buyers. When a buyer comes along with cold hard cash, you’ll forget you ever needed the item in the first place.

Be Ruthless

You have to be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of your old stuff. It doesn’t matter how attached you are to the inanimate objects in your life. It doesn’t matter if you hurt their feelings ala Toy Story. If they have to go, if they serve no other purpose except take up space and contribute to upkeep, then it’s time to go. Always remember that emotional attachment to an object is kind of silly when you think about it.

Yes, I’ll admit some things in life aren’t meant to be discarded, like a family heirloom, or a Patek you got from dad. These are keepers, just like so many others in your life. But the old college shirts, the old plates, old toys, old chair, 80’s magazines, extra hammers, I mean, would you be using them anytime soon? If not, bid them farewell, and in the box they go.

Don’t Look Back

Don’t give in to the temptation of looking back inside the boxes to see if you made a mistake. You got four chances already to decide what you want to do with an item. You really don’t need a fifth. Looking back will only stall your progress and hinder you efforts to de-clutter. Place the items in the box and forget about it.

Going, Gone

I hope these few tips can help you de-clutter your homes to make more space and help you start your journey into living a simple, uncomplicated life. Personally, I’m looking forward to the day I can really drop most everything and live in an all minimalist home, with all my books in my Kindle and everything else in the cloud.

 

 

 

 

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5 Cheaper Ways to Go to College

Despite rising tuition costs, an overwhelming percentage of college graduates in the U.S. – 83 percent – say that their college education was a good personal investment. On average, college graduates make more money than people who have only a high school education. People with bachelor’s degrees have median earnings of $45,500 while people with only high school diplomas have median earnings of just $28,000 per year. According to some estimates, over a lifetime, college actually costs a negative $500,000. In other words, not going to college means a financial loss of half a million dollars.

Despite its obvious long-term benefits, a college education is a big upfront investment. Many students and their parents worry about racking up large student debts. Fortunately, you can cut your college costs so that you leave with less loan debt. Here are five strategies for making college more affordable.

1. Choose a Public Service Career

Some schools offer reduced tuition for degrees related to public service. Getting a degree in criminal justice or public safety administration, for example, could cost significantly less than another major. Also, students who go on to careers in public service may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. To be eligible, you would have to meet the following requirements:

    1. Have a Federal Direct Loan. PSLF forgives direct loans, not Perkins Loans or Federal Family Education Loans. Your Direct Loan can be either subsidized or unsubsidized.
    2. You must make 120 full, on-time, scheduled monthly loan payments. Your record of good faith payments has to start on October 1, 2007, or later. To maximize your benefit, enroll in an income-based repayment program as soon as your payoff period begins.

 

  • You must have a full-time job in a public service organization. You can work for a federal, state, or local government agency, or you can work for a tax-exempt 501©(3) not-for-profit organization. You’ll need to work at least 30 hours per week to qualify for loan forgiveness.

 

2. Take Accelerated Classes

Many schools offer accelerated classes, which means that classes last six to eight weeks instead of a full semester. Taking accelerated classes gives you two big advantages: You’ll graduate earlier, and you’ll likely pay lower tuition.

Accelerated classes can be intense, so you need to make sure that you have good study habits and a solid academic foundation before signing up. Also, if your accelerated classes have an online component, make sure that you have the computer equipment and the self-discipline to be an online student.

3. Start at Community College

Community college courses typically cost a lot less than courses at a four-year institution. Many community colleges also have transfer arrangements with four-year schools in the same state. As long as you have a good GPA in the right community college classes, you can transfer your credits to a four-year school and start as a junior in a bachelor’s degree program.

4. Try Tuition-Free or Locked-In Tuition Programs

Certain colleges waive tuition in exchange for students who work 10 to 15 hours per week. These tuition-free programs usually place students in on-campus jobs related to their majors. Locked-in tuition programs guarantee that the rate you pay as a freshman is the rate you’ll pay every year that you attend school. Some schools charge a fee to lock in tuition rates, so make sure to ask how much guaranteed tuition will cost you.

5. Offset the Costs

If you can find ways to offset your college costs, you can take out smaller loans. Here are some common ways that people offset the cost of going to college:

  • Scholarships. Many universities and private organizations provide scholarships for students of all ages. Legitimate scholarships will never require an application fee, and you won’t have to go to a paid workshop to learn more about them.
  • Employer tuition reimbursement. Many employers will reimburse a percentage of your tuition costs if your classes are relevant to the company and prepare you for a future with that company. Contact someone in HR, or speak to your manager to find out more.

It Can Be Done

The long-term benefits of a college education usually offset the upfront costs. However, you can find smart ways to make those upfront costs much easier to bear.