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Here’s how to make space for the new stuff this holiday

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We are a society built on stuff.  Many of us are lured by the call of the wild “SALE! SALE! SALE!” Some of us are fashionistas and must have the latest trends. Others are techno junkies and need the latest and greatest gadgets. Some of us simply can’t remember where we put things. So, we bring more stuff into our homes — stuffing our closets and drawers. 

“Decluttering and staying organized is similar to losing weight and keeping the weight off,” said declutter coach and professional organizer, Rachel Winter, founder and owner, Happy Home Organizers, LLCIt’s all about healthy habits and lifestyle.  You can put in all of the hard work with exercising and eating well, but if you don’t maintain your efforts after you have reached your goal weight, the pounds will slowly begin to creep back, and you’ll be back where you started. 

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The One In, One Out Rule will help keep your home organized. It’s one of the Golden Rules professional organizers live by. Every time a new item comes into your home, a similar item must leave. For example, for every new shirt that comes in, an old one comes out. New purse? Bag an old one. New pair of shoes? Give a pair their walking papers.

“Organizing is one giant puzzle. Each item is a puzzle piece,” Winter said. “The one in, one out rule is basically ‘stuff equilibrium’.”

Winter organized the home of Leza, whose story and Tucson house were profiled on an episode of A&E’s Hoarders, Season 9, episode 3. She teachers her clients to live by “3 Golden Rules” in staying organized:

Rule 1. Home for Every Item
Rule 2. Like with Like
Rule 3. One In, One Out

“My organizing-ism is your stuff has to fit your space,” she said. “It’s okay to bring in something new. But where is it going to live? If you are already tripping over things, where is the new stuff going fit?”

Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase “a place for everything and everything in its place.” That is the goal, the mantra of professional organizers. That is why people hire them to create a system of order.

When looking at your stuff, ask yourself, do you use it, wear it, love it? If not, why are you keeping it? It can be a struggle to get rid of things, especially if they hold sentimental value.

Among the items Winter tends to see a lot of that generally do not have sentimental value is batteries scattered throughout her clients’ homes. “This is an impulse buy. One of those things people forget they have . . . because they don’t know where they are.”

One of her clients had 34 nail clippers!

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Breaking the One Thing In, One Thing Out Into Categories of “Stuff.”

Clothes, Shoes and Accessories – We all need new clothes and shoes every now and then. With most garments, if you haven’t worn it in a year, donate it.

Makeup and Toiletries – Use them up and throw away expired make up and perfume/cologne that has turned. As for the free make-up bags, use them to store. . . batteries.

Magazines & Books –Read and recycle. Better yet, subscribe to the digital versions.

CDs & Videos – Do you even have a VCR anymore? A lot of folks have ditched their DVD and CD players for streaming. Clean out the entertainment center and take the videos and CDs to a resale shop. At least you can get a few bucks for them.

Linens – January White Sale! Skip it. If you have plenty of good linens and towels, donate the worn-out ones to an animal shelter.

Candles – Unless you live off the grid, are a dozen partially used candles necessary? Melt and consolidate them. Take the wick out when the wax is melted down to liquid. Add it to another jar if it’s not completely burned to the end. Clean and recycle the empty jars.

Food & Spices – Bulk buying can be tempting. Be creative with recipes and use what you have.

Drinkware – Have a mug from every city you visit? More tumblers from sporting events than there are athletes? Stop traveling and going out (just kidding). Donate.

Dishes – Unless these have sentimental value, such as your grandmother’s china set or you entertain a lot for very large groups of people, you probably don’t need three, four or five sets of dinnerware.

Cookware – Invest in pull-out shelves so you can easily see what you have.

Tools & Extra Materials – Keep your garage and workshop organized so you don’t have to run to the hardware store for another special hammer, drill bit or screws because you can’t find what you already have. Donate tools, extra lumber, or other materials to high schools that have a construction Continuing Education Program (CTE). You may even get a tax donation letter. Call 1-800-352-4558 to find a school in your area.

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When you ignore the rule, it just becomes one thing in, one thing in … and it becomes overwhelming. The bottom line, according to Winter, is that you can keep whatever you want – as long as it fits in the house and it has a devoted home.

Abide by the rule. Keep clutter under control and stop wasting your money on say, nail clippers and batteries.

Call Happy Home Organizers, mention “Rosie” and get $50 off a minimum of five hours of home organization.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 7 to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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