Purging and decluttering your home can feel so good that it can be hard to know when to stop. Sometimes you just get on a roll and toss more items into the garbage and giveaway piles than the keep pile! While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it has been known to cause a modicum of regret later on down the road. Here’s how to avoid purging past the point of no return and keep declutterer’s remorse at bay when scaling back your collection of “stuff.”

Carefully Examine Personal Paperwork

It’s a nice feeling to take a big stack of cluttery papers and just dump them into the recycle bin or garbage can. But trust us: you don’t want to take the easy way out on this one. It might be a relief to just rid yourself of all those papers at once, but that relief could quickly turn to panic when you can’t find an important document later on. Instead, take your pile of papers, sit down with your shredder, recycle bin, and a good movie or some music (and maybe a good glass of wine), and take the time to sort through the stack carefully. Shred documents that have personal information on them; toss the junk in the recycle bin; and immediately file or find another home for anything that could be important or useful later.

Don’t Throw Away Imperfect Photos

Okay, so you lost seventy pounds, got a better haircut, or ditched the grunge look and don’t really want a reminder of how you looked way back when. Listen to us when we say that you do want those reminders.  Photos that feature you at your heaviest can be motivating later on if you start to put weight back on. Pics that show your previous tastes in clothes, makeup, and even friends can be sentimental to you in your later years. Hey, they might even score you cool points when those cringeworthy styles come back into fashion when your kids are older. But most importantly, those photos might have other people in them that you’ll want to remember when they’re not around anymore.

Hang on to Iconic Clothing

Speaking of certain styles coming back into vogue, you might want to hang on to the more trendy, iconic, and designer items hanging in your closet. An article of clothing or accessory that represents a certain era or trend can be an extremely cool treasure in years to come. (What we wouldn’t give to have Grandma’s poodle skirts, or those amazing glitzy pumps and jumpsuits from Mom’s disco phase, right?) Instead of just tossing anything you don’t wear anymore, get rid of stuff that’s torn or otherwise damaged, anything that doesn’t fit or just never fit well, anything cheap that won’t hold up over time, etc.

Keep Real Jewelry or Collectible Accessories

When you’re purging your accessory collection, make sure you aren’t getting rid of anything important or valuable. Getting rid of costume jewelry is one thing, but be certain that the real stuff doesn’t accidentally get mixed in. You’d be devastated if you accidentally tossed your grandma’s heirloom brooch in with the collection of pins you gave away. It’s also okay to keep any accessories that were on the expensive side, like designer bags and sunglasses. They almost always come back into style after a few decades (vintage Chanel bag, anyone?).

Rethink Giving Away Useful Items

Things like small household appliances and tools fall victim to decluttering all the time. But you should really think about whether or not an item has an actual, albeit occasional, use before you get rid of it. You might not use your blender very often, but what happens when you discover that it’s the perfect tool for making your aunt’s amazing salsa? You’ll have to run out and buy a new one, right? It’s okay to keep any household items that serve an actual purpose, no matter how occasional it might be, unless they’re broken or otherwise in need of replacement.

Store Those Things You Love But Don’t Have Room For

If you love something but don’t have a spot for it in your current space, don’t get rid of it. We’re told to keep things that “spark joy” in our lives. Listen to your emotional side rather than your practical side on this one. You might not use or have room for grandma’s hand-me-down set of silverware or china now, but you might be sad when you don’t have it in a few years. Store the item somewhere until you have the perfect spot for it. It might not fit in your space now, stylewise or spacewise, but you never know how perfect it might be when you change things up or move to a new home.

Don’t Toss Anything You Might Appreciate Having When You’re Older

When you’re young, life can seem endless and full of possibilities. It’s hard to imagine that you might want to keep your goofy scrapbook full of high school and college photos and ticket stubs. You might not appreciate it now, but one day you’ll crave those memories and the mementos that spark them. So go ahead; we give you full permission to keep that shoebox full of love letters from your first boyfriend. No matter how much they might make you cringe now, they’ll make you smile when you’re older and remembering how young and carefree you once were. Your kids and grandkids will get a kick out of it too!


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