Hunt

Mary Hunt

I have a theory that most of us would be more than willing to let go of the stuff that's cluttering our homes if we knew these things would serve a worthwhile cause or help someone else.

Here are those worthwhile causes for your seven biggest clutter problems:

1. Vases, baskets, containers and anything else that held flowers you have received. If they're cracked or broken, no one wants them. Take the ones in like-new condition to the closest flower shop to be recycled.

2. Excess dishes. If you do not use them at least once each year, sell them to an antiques dealer, or give them to a local thrift shop or the annual church rummage sale.

3. Pots and pans. Offer them to family members; take them to the thrift shop; or see whether your church kitchen or camp could use some decent cookware.

4. Clothing. Can't bring yourself to dump your good clothes into a collection bin? Find an organization with specific needs. Crisis pregnancy centers, battered women's shelters and drug rehab centers are just a few of the places that would be so grateful to get gently used clothing that their clients can wear to job interviews. And clothing beyond gently worn? Toss it. Now.

5. Books. If you're keeping them for show, give it up. No one is impressed. Go straight to Cash4Books.net. If you can sell any to the site, print out the prepaid mailing label and get those books into the mail. If not, donate books to your local library. What can't be put on the shelves will help raise funds at the next library book sale.

6. Bibles and church literature. Call a local church or two and ask whether they are wanted. If not, send them to the thrift shop.

7. Furniture. Place an ad in your local paper, or post your items up for sale on Craigslist. If you want to give the stuff away, post on the FreeCycle website. Or call the next fundraiser auction that comes along and ask whether your items could be picked up. If your furniture is really as great as you think, it'll be gone before you know it.

Because clutter and organization is a huge problem for many of us, here are more tips to help with the mess:

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Assign a home for everything you own, and then put things away in their home when you are finished using them. If something doesn't have a home, perhaps it's time to rethink that item.

If you are having trouble parting with something and you want to save the memory of the item, consider taking a photo of it for future reference.

Organize your kitchen pantry. Group like items together so you'll know what you have and what needs to go on the grocery list. You'll be amazed what's lurking on your shelves.

Go through your medicine cabinets twice a year (January and June), and throw away expired medications. Make a list of items you need to replace.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually

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