Declutter and Purge Your Household Goods Before a PCS Move

woman folding clothes

Post from MilitaryByOwner

If you aren’t naturally inclined to take account of and shed your belongings from time to time, then you’re probably thinking Ugh, is a purge before moving even necessary? The answer is yes. Aside from satisfying the obsessively compulsive “neat freak” in some of us, there are some good reasons to go through your stuff before a PCS move.

Why purge your household goods?

  • It cuts down on the weight of your household goods. The military puts a weight limit on what they will pay to move. Anything that exceeds that set amount is paid for by you. So don’t hold onto things that you probably don’t need and won’t miss that might cause you to pay out-of-pocket.
  • It helps you downsize. BAH and house sizes fluctuate depending on where you live. If your next duty station requires you to downsize, it’s even more important to sort through your things before you go. Instead of storing your excess household goods in long-term storage, consider getting rid of what you don’t need.
  • It frees up space. If you clear out that closet or the extra room, you can redesign it and give it purpose.
  • It helps you stage your home. Clutter causes your space to look small, which makes it more difficult for buyers to envision their lives there. Use this opportunity to declutter and purge what you don’t need instead of hiding it during showings, if you’re selling or renting your home.

4 Tips for Purging Your Belongings Before a PCS Move

Where do you start? Going through your stuff can feel overwhelming. Even for someone who does it a lot, it can be difficult to go about purging the right way.

1) Pinpoint specific areas. Don’t look at your house and think that everything must go! There are two extremes: complete minimalism where you have very few belongings, and hoarding, where you have far too many. Your goal shouldn’t be to move from one extreme to the other — it’s to find a balance.

Start with the areas that feel cluttered. Countertops, closets, and cupboards are all spaces that we tend to overwhelm with stuff. Make a list and tackle each space start to finish before moving on to the next.

2) Look at it objectively. To avoid hanging onto things that need to go, ask yourself these four essential questions when you’re going through your stuff:

  1. Does it serve a purpose? Nearly everything you own should serve a purpose. Your bed obviously serves as a place to rest your head at night. But the old magazines piled in the corner no longer do — they served their purpose, and are now outdated and forgotten.
  2. Is it being used? Even if something serves a purpose you need to follow up with the question, is it being used? Think about items like clothing, coffee mugs, DVDs, etc. If you aren’t reaching for that mug that’s formed a layer of dust or a sweater that hasn’t seen the light of day for several winters, then it doesn’t need to consume precious space in your home.
  3. Are there multiples? It might sound ridiculous to own two of the same thing, but how many of us do? Right now, I have an instant pot and a crockpot sitting in my pantry. I use one all the time. But the other one — not so much. It’s because their purpose overlaps, and when I’m cooking a hands-off recipe, I go for my favorite and forget the other one.
  4. Does it bring joy? If it doesn’t draw an emotional response and it doesn’t serve a purpose, it needs to go. Keepsakes don’t often serve a purpose, but they do keep memories alive and create emotion. Those things are worth hanging on to.

3) Put it in a box right away. When you’re sorting through your stuff (and asking the four essential questions), sort it into boxes right away. If you designate something for donation, put it in the “donation” box. If you need to think about it, put it in the “sleep on it” box. But don’t, under any circumstances, leave it piled on the floor. Purging is a messy process. Simplify and organize as you go, or you risk feeling overwhelmed and throwing in the towel when it starts to get good.

4) Get it out of the house. Ready for the most rewarding step? Get rid of it! Everything you found that doesn’t serve a purpose, isn’t used, and doesn’t bring joy, take it to the curb, sell, give, or donate. Not only will it feel incredibly good to gift your unused (but perfectly good) stuff to those who will show it love, but it will feel like a breath of fresh air when you walk back into your home. The bare countertops, spacious closets, and organized cupboards will set you up for a much smoother PCS move.

The idea of purging your belongings before you PCS might not sound thrilling. I get it, so here’s a little tip to help motivate you. Reward yourself after you complete a target area. Do you like ice-cold beer? Crack a cold one. Do you love chocolate? Treat yourself. Use your favorite indulgences as an incentive to keep going. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even find your groove. One thing’s for sure, your future self—the one who gets to unpack—will thank you!

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