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5 reasons to declutter your collections + 7 questions that make it possible

Do you find yourself acquiring a lot of one type of item?

Adding another item to your collection might feel like a valid reason for adding more stuff to your home, but those collections and collectibles have the uncanny ability to spill out into the home’s living space, creating a big source of clutter!

Here are our best tips for how to declutter collections.

how to declutter collections

Types of Collections

Books, shoes, action figures, dolls, coins…

A collection is basically a group of similar collectibles (or items a person loves or finds valuable), and that can be anything. Popular collections over the years have been stamps, dolls (like Beanie Babies), and artwork.

There are generally two different ways to create a collection.

  1. You might be a bit obsessed with rabbits and therefore find yourself collecting any item that has a rabbit on it.
  2. Or, you might be obsessed with a particular item, like shot glasses from different Hard Rock Cafes, and have a collection of just those.

Either way you build up a collection doesn’t matter. They can still end up acting as clutter.

READ: Is it a collection or clutter? Spot the difference

how to declutter your doll collection
A doll collection can cause household clutter and be a pain to clean.

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5 Reasons to Declutter Collections

1. They have a tendency to accumulate like wildfire.

When you are the person who is known for loving shot glasses from all the Hard Rock Cafes around the world, it can feel like a huge justification for buying and accumulating them on a whim. You almost have to.

You not only thoughtlessly purchase them for yourself, but they are probably also gifted from friends and family.

How can a loved one be anywhere near a Hard Rock Cafe while on vacation and not think of you and adding to your collection?

Sure, birthday and holiday gifts from friends have never been easier, but at what cost?

When a collection becomes something you are associated with, it can quickly grow from taking up a single shelf in your living room to multiple bookshelves in several rooms!

Perhaps an Amazon gift card would have been the better gift after all.

2. They can easily start to impact your physical space.

Small shot glasses and coins are one thing; think about things with more space like shoes, teapots, or large dolls.

Where do they go when your bedroom closet or kitchen cabinets are full?

Do you have a room that you can’t use because it’s now a collection storage space? Are your kitchen counters too cluttered with your teapot collection to make an actual cup of tea?

When your collections impact your physical living space and your capability to live to the best of your ability, you might want to think about decluttering them ASAP.

3. They can be a major source of stress.

Visual clutter is a real thing, and it really stresses you out.

Imagine a fridge completely full and cluttered with magnets from your travels around the world. There’s a lot going on there, and your brain recognizes that subconsciously.

Beyond the visual aspect of clutter, there’s the whole trying to live life when dodging and working around collections thing, too.

  • Do you have 20 dolls on your bed that you have to move every single night and morning, every single day?
  • Do you have to spend an extra 30 minutes dusting each and every shot glass on the shelf?

4. They can become less special with size.

Quality over quantity we say!

While it might be impressive to have a massive collection of Beanie Babies, closer inspection may reveal that the quality of each item detracts from the specialness of the whole.

Think about it.

A collection full of duplicates or items in terrible condition feels a little less special than a smaller collection of perfect quality and unique collectibles.

It might be helpful to niche down here as well. Your initial response, along with everyone else’s, may be to collect every Beanie Babies doll under the sun.

So how unique is your collection at the end of the day?

Instead, you could build a collection of green Beanie Babies only, and that would feel a lot more special and unique.

Related: 15 Rules to Help You Declutter (hint: no duplicates!)

5. They can be costing you money!

In so many ways!

First off, there’s the actual monetary cost of purchasing items for your collections. There comes a point where adding to a collection almost seems like an obligation that you are fulfilling, so the actual money going out the door is easily overlooked.

Then, there’s the cost of taking care of them – both time and money.

  • Do you require special cases for your coins or stamps?
  • Do you need a dehumidifier to keep your dolls in tip-top condition?

And do they need to be dusted, cleaned, sorted, moved, or anything else that requires your precious, valuable time?

Finally, depending on how big your collection (or collections) is, it could be costing you in rent or storage fees.

  • Do you require a storage unit because of your collections?
  • Could you potentially live in a smaller, cheaper home if it weren’t for your collections?

a cluttered collection can cause stress

How to Declutter Collections: 7 Questions to Ask

So, how do we get our beloved collection of products decluttered and under control?

This list of questions can help! You can ask them for each individual item or of the entire collection as a whole.

1. Do I love this?

If you’ve spent time collecting this collection over the years, this could seem like a silly question. However, we find it important to reassess from time to time. Life changes. What we care about changes.

What once brought us joy may not be as joyful today.

So ask yourself if this collection is something you still really love, or perhaps if it’s worth letting go.

On an individual level, keeping that ugly rabbit statue that you definitely do not love in your rabbit collection doesn’t make sense. As mentioned above, the specialness of a collection is as good as each individual item in it.

2. Is this item in good condition?

Is this collection or item worthy enough of holding onto and allowing to take up your physical and mental space?

For those holding onto things because they are collectibles worth money, this question is especially important to assess. Keeping a collection/collectible in poor condition may not be worth it at all.

3. Does it make me happy?

When you look at it, do you actually smile? Does it spark joy as Marie Kondo would say?

Be honest with yourself here. Just because it once made us happy doesn’t mean it still does.

When that collection accumulates and the clutter sets in, chances are stress might be your initial response to your collection.

4. Do I display this?

You should enjoy your collections and collectibles. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of having them in the first place?

If you don’t display your collections for you and the world to see, is there another valid reason for keeping them stored away?

Fragile and truly valuable items, or even sentimental items, would be the exceptions here.

5. How much is it worth?

Be honest!

A wise woman once said that something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. (Yeah, that was Sarah Mueller in this live video training on how to declutter something you love.)

So even if you spent $1000 on the collection, or that Beanie Babies doll is worth $100, it doesn’t mean anything if no one else is willing to fork out the cash.

6. What does keeping this item cost me?

Evaluate in both time and money costs.

There’s also the cost of the freedom you could have without needing to build, manage and maintain a collection.

7. Do I have the space?

Number 7 is probably one of the most important questions to ask!

Another Potential Question:

You could also go as far as asking, “Do I use this?” Chances are that you probably don’t use every piece of a collection.

However, this would be a really great question to help when decluttering certain types of collections, such as a book collection, shoe collection, makeup collection, or coffee mug collection.

Related: These 3 clever strategies keep your smaller home organized

decluttering your collections owl statues
Declutter your collection in order to curate something meaningful and special.

Tactics for Keeping Your Collections Decluttered

In addition to asking yourself the above questions on a regular basis, the key to keeping your collection decluttered in the long run comes down to incorporating the following:

Boundaries

We love the idea of allowing your collections to only take up a specified amount of space.

The space will depend on the type of collectible at hand. Perhaps you allow only what fits into 3 storage tubs.

Or, your collection can only grow until it fills the top shelf in a single bookcase.

You might even say that your collection can never go above 50 single items.

Creating boundaries helps you keep your collection in check while also helping you to curate a collection with only the best of the best.

Smart Organizing Solutions

If you simply can’t fathom getting rid of items in your collections, utilizing smart organizing solutions can help your home to not feel as cluttered.

Some great shelving units or display cases can organize your collections in meaningful ways that also free up some floor and counter space.

A nice shoe rack looks way better than just a pile of shoes shoved into the closet.

Thoughtful Acquisition

Train yourself to pause before buying or accepting another item into your collection.

Take the time to evaluate if the item is worthy of your collection, and whether or not it’s worth the money.

You could also tell friends and family that you would only accept gifts for your collection that meet certain criteria.

>> Having trouble with overshopping? Check out our course, Stop Overshopping!

 

How to Say Goodbye to Pieces of Your Collections

Getting rid of beloved collectibles is never an easy part of the decluttering journey. Here are a few methods of making the goodbyes a little less painful.

Create a photobook

Even if you don’t physically have every item in your collection today, it could be fun to have an archive of all the collectibles you once had in your possession.

This photobook method sort of shows how your collection has evolved over the years while adding to the specialness of each single item you keep.

Sell for $$$

There’s nothing like a little payday to make things a little less painful. If you can sell your collectibles, you may be able to invest in better quality pieces of your collection or better display methods.

On that note…

Can I sell my Beanie Babies collection?

We’ve heard this question many times in our community! Yes, of course you can sell your Beanie Babies collections, but please remember that it might not be easy to do so. It might not yield you the money you are hoping for either.

An item is only worth as much as other people will pay. So hanging on to your collections forever because they are/were valuable is not going to help you declutter your home now.

Gift to someone who loves it more

I don’t know about you, but knowing that something I loved could be enjoyed more in someone else’s possession makes it a lot easier to let go.

Related: 26 more decluttering questions

If you want more help and guidance on decluttering your collections, check out the Step-by-Step Decluttering FREE print book!

step-by-step decluttering print book

Request a free copy, and we’ll rush it to your door (yes it’s a real print book!). You only pay shipping and handling. Grab it here.

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Welcome. I’m Sarah!

Sarah

I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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