Declutter by Regifting: Overlooked Retirement Idea

I would like to share some statistics that I recently gave a speech on. These statistics have been collected over the years. Some of them you might have read before and others are new. Increasing data is being collected about homes, our shopping habits and our spending habits. This research just confirms many people’s observations, we own too much stuff and it is robbing us of a peaceful life.

Let’s drive right in!

  • The average size of the American home has nearly doubled in size over the
    50 years (NPR) but today 1 out of every 10 Americans rents offsite storage.
    This has created one of the fastest growing segments of the commercial
    real estate industry in the past 4 decades. (New York Times Magazine)
  • In the United Sates these are upward of 50,000 storage facilities (more than 5 times the number of Starbucks!)
  • 25% of people with two car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and in 32% of the cases only have room for one vehicle (US Department of Energy)
  • Forbes reported that the average American woman owns over 30 outfits, one for everyday of the month. In 1930 that figure was 9 outfits.

Many reports have indicated we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago.

  • Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today)
  • Over the course of our life, we will spend a total of 3680 hours (153 days) searching for misplaced items. The research found we loose up to nine items everyday or 195,000 in a lifetime (Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork are at the top of the list).
  • Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods – items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal)


  • $8 billion is spent on home organization industry, which has more than doubled in size since the early 2000’s and is growing at a staggering rate of 10% each year. We spend $7.7 billion in one year to organize our stuff and another $24 billion to store it. We hire junk companies to haul it away.

This is a shocking picture of excessive consumption and accumulation that is taking place in our society today. The solution is not difficult. You need to find freedom from all of this.

So the question is:

  • Why do people have so much stuff?
  • Why are our homes overloaded?
  • How did I end up with so much stuff I don’t use?

Here is a small picture of how it all started. Back in 1913 there was a comic strip called “Keeping up with the Joneses”. It depicted how one family kept trying to keep up with the neighbors. True fact. It was in the newspapers for 26 years.

Mark Twain also wrote an article in 1901, which wasn’t published until 1923 (Corn Pone Opinions), “The outside influences are always pouring in upon us, and we are always obeying their orders and accepting their verdicts.

Marketeers have figured this out: why people buy and have used it for their profit. Instead of sticking to the things we need, they are able to give us everything we want and make us want everything there is. Their promise: your life will be happier, safer, and more comfortable when you buy!

Gaining stuff so rapidly because we are all taught we will need it one day causes anxiety. The marketeers say if we have all this stuff in our homes, that we might need someday, we will feel in control of our lives and happy. DO WE FEEL IN CONTROL?

We have a responsibility for our homes, families, events, and now STUFF! We develop guilt.
Tidbit: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 80%
of our medical expenditures are now stress related.

Marketeers want you to think everything is special. IS IT? And then we are supposed to believe that what we purchase and keep (keep is the key word) defines our identity – who we are – DOES IT REALLY?

Armed with all these facts, let use our knowledge to talk about how to declutter our homes and our lives, and how re-gifting can be a great key to this solution.

Most of the stuff that is donated is totally reusable. Stats show this. It is amazing that after decades of accumulating stuff it seems we are now obsessed with managing it and getting of it.

One big area where we collect stuff is when you think you have to keep gifts you don’t want, don’t need, or don’t like. You really do not have too.

Dr. Susan Newman PhD and author of the Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say it . She states “Saying yes does not make you a nicer person. It simply adds to your overload. This is true of gifts or anything you are holding on to. It adds to your materially as well as emotionally. Memories and feeling are also associated with items – by letting go of any item, people are afraid they are letting go of the meaning.

Gifts are given to us from friends and family because they want to please you and show how much they care. That should mean more to you than the gift. The expression of love – focus on the gift – doesn’t erase the gesture. The gift was in giving not in having to keep it forever.

Key to the decluttering by using re-gifting is: there are so many people out there that have so little and so many of us that have so much – we should want to share with others what we don’t need or use.

I urge my clients to ask themselves whether the gift giver would want you to keep an item that they have given you if it just creates clutter in your home.

There are three essential goals and/or motivations for you to try when thinking about the decluttering process, of letting go of the excess things.


  • How likely is that?
  • If you let go of it, could you replace it?
  • Keep it, will you be able to find it when you really need it?
  • Could someone else enjoy it – a treasure for them?


  • Does keeping it make you feel any better? It reminds you that you
    paid a lot of money for something you never used.
  • Make yourself feel better by giving it to someone you love.


  • Give it to another family member, a family that could use it, or an
    Organization that can make sure it is used by someone who needs it.

Regifting according to some is tacky! According to the Consumer Reports the answer is a resounding no. You can always give it to someone (not as a gift) but as a found treasure and tell them they are free to pass it on if need be. If the item is brand new, make yourself feel thrifty and resourceful so the item is not going to waste – especially if you now the other person will genuinely love the gift.

To relieve the stress and anxiety levels by looking at all this “stuff”, lets relieve getting our energy sapped by holding on to things. Lets simplify our living space by decluttering but also making a contribution to others.

Visit us next month when we talk about 10 ways to Declutter that will add fun to your life!

Unlike other professional home organizers, the Orange County professional organizers at Nipomo Organizing Solutions try to use the organizing materials that you have on hand before recommending the purchase of new containers.

Let us help you tackle your organizing needs painlessly with our professional Orange County organizer experience and resources! DON’T BE EMBARRASSED. TRUST ME – I HAVE SEEN IT ALL!

Call 949-350-6042 to start your journey to complete home & office organization today!

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Theodore Roosevelt

This entry was posted in New Habits, Organizational Research, Retirement, Senior Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.