What to Do with Gifts You Don’t Want
The end of the year is an especially good time to de-clutter your living and office space.
“The start of a new year is a wonderful time of transition,” says Chapel Hill-based organizing consultant Holly Bourne. “After the holiday festivities come to a close, we often feel ready for a fresh slate. We find ourselves with renewed energy to put our home in order and clear out what we no longer need.”
No wonder getting organized is always one of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions.
But actually parting with items can be difficult.
One reason is the Endowment Effect, which Bourne explains this way: “people ascribe more value to things simply because they own them. We sometimes hold onto stuff due to worry about the future or holding onto the past. We think we might need it ‘some day’, or possibly feel guilt because it was a gift. We can even feel societal pressure to own certain belongings. These are all external forces that can lead us to holding on too tightly, often to our detriment.”
How to Declutter Your Life
Instead of falling prey to those bad feelings, take back control. Changing the way we feel about things empowers us to decide for ourselves – not based on guilt or societal pressures.
“Only you should decide what to surround yourself with – it’s your life and your home,” Bourne asserts. Guilt about discarding or regifting unused belongings will keep you feeling stuck and weighed down. Confidently let go and celebrate the fact that others will gain when you do.”
The best way to figure out what to let go of is to ask two questions:
- Does this item bring me joy and serve my current purpose? If yes, by all means keep it.
- If I no longer love or use this item, might someone else be happy to have it? If yes, donate or regift it.
“Consider what you might gain by letting go,” she counsels. “Holding on to things that are obsolete just adds more visual and mental clutter to our lives. There are things in your home that might be treasures for others! Clear them out to make space for what you do love.”
Maybe you’ve got a friend who would love that vase someone gave you years ago that you’ve never really liked. Regift it!
Or perhaps there’s someone shopping a thrift store for a gently-worn winter coat. Donate yours!
“We experience immense energy and clarity when we intentionally put our things in order,” Bourne concludes. “With less around us, we can better see what we really love in our home, and in our life.”
How to Get Help with Organizing and Decluttering
It’s OK if the process is too difficult to do alone. There are plenty of organizing and decluttering services ready to lend a hand.
For instance, Bourne helps people experience dramatic change through the simple act of organizing. “As North Carolina’s first Certified KonMari consultant, I support clients through a home and lifestyle transformation resulting in more confidence, more calm, and greater joy.” KonMari is based on the values of mindfulness and gratitude and helps us make space for what we love. Learn more about working with her on the web or Facebook.
Once you’ve decided what you can do without, separate it into items that don’t work, those you want to regift and those you want to donate. Orange County Solid Waste has convenience centers around the county where you can dispose of items properly. Then call the PTA Thrift Shop or to pick up the rest: (919) 417-0553. Donations help us serve Chapel Hill-Carrboro teachers, school social workers and students and their families.
Pro tips from a Chapel Hill CPA
We can get so focused on figuring out what we want to give the good folks on our holiday lists that we lose track of the financial impact. That can result in a big lump of coal in your bank account.
“I personally enjoy giving and this time of year people get generous, and often to a fault,” says Chapel Hill CPA Joel Levy. “Yet most of us have limited funds and can’t afford to spend wildly on any elective expenditures.”
It’s easy to overspend when we don’t pay in cash.
“We’ll oftentimes use credit cards and not think about what we’re spending or how we’ll end up paying it back, especially since interest will accrue and it will end up costing more than the cash price,” adds Levy, who also serves on the Thrift Shop board of directors.
4 Ways to Plan Holiday Spending
How can we give generously without getting into financial trouble?
1. Make a realistic budget. “It will do no good if it’s not prepared properly and on a ‘real’ basis,” Levy notes. Use reasonable estimates, not low ball guesses. Price information is readily available on the web, so you can build your budget without having to leave your eggnog alone by the fire.
2. Create a holiday gift account. Online banking makes it easy –and in some cases automatic – to stash a little bit of cash each month into a special account just for seasonal giving. (This is a great idea for a New Year’s resolution!)
3. Look for sales, discounts and other deals. Why wait to make your list till late in the year? Jot down the names of people you know you want to give to, then scope out merchandise year-round. You may find a screaming deal on cashmere gloves in April, or a bulk discount on something cool during a Christmas in July sale. Many retailers offer e-coupons and digital-only deals that can help you shop even smarter.
4. Shop smart. Discount retailers, consignment, resale and charity stores like the PTA Thrift Shop in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have high-quality items at a lower price, so your dollars go farther.
Use these tips to get more for your holiday spending.