By Candace Braun Davison
Photo: Thinkstock The Paper Jam in Your Junk Drawer
When your blender finally pureed its last kale-apple smoothie, you gave it a proper farewell, but what about the owner's manual and now-expired warranty paperwork that came with it? If you're like us, they're what's crammed in that holds-everything-I-might-someday-need drawer in your kitchen. While you clear out those forgotten papers, financial expert David Bach recommends also checking for a few other clutter culprits: outdated wills, credit-card statements from closed tax years and old annual reports from stocks and mutual funds.
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The Furniture That Has Its Own "But..." Clause
Everybody has a "But..." item. It's that décor item you don't love-or even like-and yet, every time you consider getting rid of it, the "buts" come out. You'll toss the dog-chewed ottoman, but the matching mauve armchair? "But I might need an extra seat the next time company comes over," or "But my Aunt Sylvia got a great deal on it," suddenly spills from your lips, and so it stays. "If you think hard enough, you can come up with a reason to keep anything," says designer and A Place Called Home author Jason Grant. The next time a "but..." comes bubbling up, Grant suggests that you ask why you're really holding onto the item. If you don't love it, and it's not working for your home, it's time to give it a new abode.
The Special Memento You Don't Entirely Want
You didn't waste any time hitting up the customer service desk to return the wedding gifts you didn't have room for; but somehow, the 47 leftover save-the-dates and 195 silver-embossed cocktail napkins have continued to take up valuable space in your closet years after your "I dos." While they might seem too sentimental or too special to toss, you really only need one or two to serve as keepsakes. You could frame the napkin and invitations in a shadowbox, save a set in your wedding album and take photos of both to store on your computer. Any extra napkins can be used at your next party.
The Outdated Gadgets We Don't Know What to Do With
Roughly 68 percent of people hold onto old cell phones, cameras and other tech toys for years after they've stopped using them, according to a 2013 uSell.com survey. Why? Half of us don't know what to do with them. One handy tool for figuring out how-and where-to recycle gadgets that no longer work is the Environmental Protection Agency's website, where you can find out what options manufacturers and retailers offer. If the device still works, you might be surprised what it can net you: A third-generation iPad can fetch up to $250 when sold online, found uSell.com. But, if you don't want to go through the hassle of posting and shipping, you can always donate your unwanted items to the National Cristina Foundation, which matches your used equipment with an organization in need.
The Makeup Must-Have That Lingers in Our Bathrooms a Little Too Long
The Beautyblender and other sponge applicators have skyrocketed in popularity over the past two years for the way they can help you fake a flawless complexion. What most people overlook, though, is that these foamy tools don't have the same lifespan as bristled brushes, which can last for years. Even if you wash the sponge with makeup cleanser between uses, expect to only get about three to four months out of it, says Carol Woodard, chair of the Career Educators Alliance, an initiative of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools.
The Snoozeworthy Characters Who Are Overstaying Their Welcome
When you finish a book that you couldn't put down, it's easy to give it away (or at least loan it) to a friend or family member who shares your literary tastes. The books you can't stand often find their way to a donation box pretty swiftly, too. The mediocre titles, though, are the tricky ones: they lounge on our bookshelves, taking up precious space that our go-to reads should occupy, when we know the chances are slim we'll ever open them again. Two programs-The Children's Book Project and Books for Africa-are great ways to clear out your shelves while providing new reads for people in need.
The Thing You're Going to Fix Really Soon
Let's just be honest with one another: If it's been more than a year and you still haven't glued that handle back on your Disneyland mug and sewed the button back on your old cardigan, it may be time to consider life without them. It's one of expert Peter Walsh's decluttering rules-though we often justify holding onto our broken goods with the expectation that someday, when we have a free Saturday afternoon and (a) we're feeling energetic and, (b) we don't feel like catching up on all those episodes of Homeland trapped on the DVR, we'll fix it. However, once the year-limit is up-or if the mere thought of fixing the item makes you groan with dread-then go ahead, free yourself and get rid of it.
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