It’s gone. Just like that. What’s left, but a large, dead plant to dispose of, lights and decorations to put away and a budget that enjoyed more merriment than it could handle? The holiday blues are setting in…
How do we counter the holiday blues? Well, last year, one of my neighbors kept his Christmas tree up… until March! I suppose that’s one way to process the emotional downward spiral, but it seems that denial will only get us so far. I offer, then, a recommendation that can 1) improve your life, 2) give you a lasting infusion of holiday spirit AND 3) potentially put some of those dollars you spent throughout the holidays back in your pocket.
The recommendation: Purge & Give. How? Meander throughout your house and analyze what you haven’t used in the past year and then… give it away to someone who’d likely find it a treasure.
There certainly are exceptions to the one-year-rule. Camping gear or tools, for instance, are things that you may not use for a year but fully intend to use in the future and should keep on hand. The most effective place to start vetting is often your closet. If you haven’t worn an article of clothing or pair of shoes in over a year, the chances are very good that you don’t need to hold on to it (or them). Then inventory your basement, garage, shed, desk, wallet, purse and car.
If you’re the parent of younger children, as I am, the purge-and-give process is a great one to eliminate surplus former holiday and birthday presents AND to teach your kids the benefits of these worthy pursuits at a young age. Don’t do it when they’re asleep, hoping they’ll never miss anything, but instead involve them in the process.
How, then, might this process deliver on the aforementioned benefits?
- Simply put, a simpler life is a better life. Margin—personally, spatially and financially—is our friend.
- ‘Tis better to give than receive? You may not feel that way about your brother-in-law, but try giving to someone really in need or an organization devoted to helping those who may not have received ANY presents this time of year. Doctors tell us we get a wave of endorphins from giving—the more direct, the better—and an endorphin rush is just what the doctor ordered for the holiday blues.
- Assuming you itemize when doing your taxes, you should be able to deduct your charitable contributions—even for in-kind items. You may be surprised, but if you haven't purged for several years, your contributions to charity could add hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to your personal balance sheet. (Talk to your CPA about your specific situation.)
You still have time in 2010 to receive these benefits. Take a walk around the house and head to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill donation center or homeless shelter. They’ll be better for it… and so will you.
And, as long as you promise not to use this only to provide solace for a lack of action on your part, this short video of “The Collector’s Collector” on the show, “Hoarders,” will help you put your situation at home in perspective: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvBGNXi1gXs&feature=fvst.
Have a blessed—and simpler—New Year!