Is your clutter worth more than your car?

Cars in front of garage

There’s a suburban estate near where I live that has 24 houses, each with a double garage attached. If you go walking there in the early hours of the morning, you’ll usually find that at least 20 of these properties have cars parked in the driveway rather than in the garage, which means the cars have been left out all night.

Now, I’m willing to concede that some of these owners may prefer to do this in the more clement months of the year because garage entrances (like public car parking spaces) in the UK are generally designed with a gap on either side that is only wide enough for a single-celled amoeba to navigate through. And some drivers may be too tired or lazy to go to the bother of opening and closing the garage door when they arrive home. But if you take a stroll through this same suburb on a Sunday afternoon when some of these doors are open, the true reason for most of the habitual driveway parking is revealed. The garages are too full of clutter for the owners to drive their cars in!

Nor is this unique to the UK. I see this situation wherever I go in the world. In people’s driveways there are cars worth thousands – or sometimes tens of thousands – of dollars, exposed to the elements, year in, year out, while in the cosy shelter of their garage there is clutter that’s usually worth a few hundred dollars at most. It makes no sense at all.

How having clutter in your garage can affect you

You may think that clutter in your garage won’t affect you energetically as much as clutter in your home, but you’d be wrong. If your garage is attached to your home, and especially if it is under the same roof as your home, then it forms an integral part of the bagua of your home, and whichever part of the bagua it is located in, a cluttered garage will clog the energy of that part of your life. The situation’s not quite so dire if your garage is a separate building not attached to your home, but if it’s on the same plot of land then it will still form part of the bagua for the plot of land, and any clutter in it will still affect you to some degree. So it’s really worth giving it some attention.

Fortunately, garage clutter is one of the easiest types to deal with, for the simple reason that most of it is not being used at all so there is less emotional attachment to it than stuff that’s in the home. And if it’s been in the garage a long time, it’s also more likely to have deteriorated beyond the point where it will ever be useful again.

The garage, of course, is a great place to have a garage sale, not just for things you’ve got in your garage but for any other junk you may have in your home. It’s a great way to convert your clutter into cash. I’ve done a few of these sales myself over the years, when selling up to leave one continent and move to another, so have a few tips I can offer.

Tips for having a garage sale

Begin by planning the sale far enough ahead so that you can advertise it in your local paper and/or on free websites. There are many of these in the US, such as TagSellIt and YardSaleSearch, and in other parts of the world you can find them by googling ‘garage sale’ or ‘yard sale’.

Nearer the time, tweet about it, put information on your Facebook page, and get the word out in any way you can. Make some big signs you can stick up on the day to catch the attention of drivers passing by. If you live in a side street, park your car on the main road with a big sign stuck to it announcing the garage sale. Include on the sign a huge arrow pointing in the direction of your home. People tend to follow arrows without thinking!

If you have some expensive items, you may want to try to sell them on eBay first. You’ll probably get more for them that way. But if they don’t sell, don’t hang on to them. Realize they aren’t worth as much as you thought and sell them for whatever you can get in your sale.

Equip yourself with a money belt and a lot of spare change, and enlist the help of family or friends if you can. Be sure to get them to be there early because no matter what time you advertise your sale as starting, there are likely to be professional buyers who will arrive early, hoping for a bargain. Sometimes very early. The last garage sale I did with my husband in Australia was advertised to start at 9.00am and the first buyer got us out of bed by knocking loudly on our door at 5.00am. These people are shameless in pursuit of their goal!

Finally, make plans before the big day for what to do with any stuff that doesn’t sell. You can drive it to a charity shop and donate it, or perhaps you can find a dealer who will take it away for you and possibly even pay you a little for the privilege. Under no circumstances let it back into your house or garage.

And a word of caution. Lock your home during the sale and don’t let people in, not even if they say they are desperate to use the bathroom. This is a well-known ruse used by house robbers to see if there’s anything worth coming back for later. You’re aiming to let go of the things you no longer need, not the things you’re still using!

Some countries don’t do garage sales, of course. In the UK, car boot sales are much more common. But the principle is the same. You drag everything out of your garage, put it in your car, drive it to the car boot sale, open your boot, and sell the lot. Not so good for large items, but great from the standpoint that someone else takes care of all the advertising, and all you have to do is show up.

What is it OK to keep in your garage?

Well, your car obviously. That’s what a garage is designed for. Some neatly organized car accessories and tools are fine too. Some garages are large enough to easily accommodate a work bench or some hobby equipment. The important thing is that whatever you keep in your garage gets used from time to time. Anything you keep “just in case” you need it sometime – and that sometime never comes – is clutter.

Related articles
Why most garages aren’t what they seem

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2011


About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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4 Responses to Is your clutter worth more than your car?

  1. Our detached hybrid two car garage/shed/carport was built diamond shaped with corners pointing to the house and the road :(…and is on the Knowledge, Wisdom, Self-Improvemnt corner & The Journey, Career, Life Path of the house block Ba Gua. A little history: Sweetie still works with great results but great inefficiencies, greater messes and would prefer to take ten minutes to look for something than ten seconds to put it back where it lives…I am retired but my calling is to organise, create simple, apply kaizen, and create welcoming spaces.

    Short story long I ask Sweetie Not to clutter where I park my car because I am aware of the clutter- Ba Gua connection but he does, sigh, clutter creep happens and when I get that lack of ease feeling, that ready to blow up in his face thing, I just get out there and use the energy to put the creeping clutter ‘wherever’ if I am mad enough, or if I catch myself before explosion I tidy ‘his stuff’ as well as my space and yes, he gets mad but I calmly tell him this side is a clutter free zone. His choice to run around like a headless chook looking for stuff…my choice to calmly place my hand on whatever I need at that point in time and take time to return things and tidy as I go. I offer to help when he is ready to do his purge…we are due for another one.

    BTW: a few years ago I got jack of the mess in the built-in three door tool cupboard…Sweetie is a spatially aware piler/spreader…ooh! here’s a space I’ll put ‘it’ here,…and I am a filer/categoriser/labeller…a category for everything and everything in it’s place…so I put in shelves, hooks large and small, repurposed plastic drawers from a big house declutter and labeled my little heart out…oh! what fun I had. I factored in a bench height work station for me…yep you guessed it…it became a storage solution so I added another shelf and set of drawers and re-purposed the old computer desk keyboard drawer as a pull out clear space for me that he just can’t clutter. Win Win…

    Sweetie is less impressed than I am by the end result, but secretly grateful…even laughed at my labelling system…but when he asks where something is I just tell him “Read the labels.” The thing is he ‘knows’ where to find it but when I go to get it sometime down the track…I have to ask “Where is it?” because he didn’t put it back. So every now and then I do a tidy up which is much quicker that it used to be.

    And that’s my story…

  2. So if my 6 ft by 10ft shed (I do not have a garage) is located on the back south side of my back yard which I need to clean out…it will effect my Fame section of life ..correct??….I store some seasonal clothes out there …..because I have one closet in my home. I am decluttering out there today…

    ..I have not bought your new revised book yet …it is on my Christmas list…..

    1. Clutter stored anywhere on your property will affect you, according to where in the feng shui bagua it is located. Anything stored in the Fame area can affect your reputation and the way people see you.

      However, seasonal clothes are not really clutter, as long as they are stored tidily and you do actually wear them all at some time during the year. Just have an annual purge to keep them current with who you are.

  3. Great article and so true about the expensive cars parked in driveways. That is evident in my neighborhood, for certain.

    I have had several yard sales, and get smarter with each one. A few additional pointers:

    – Just a few signs posted are not enough. I found that the more signs I put up, especially at the major intersections a few miles from my house, the more people came. Also, I notice people have small signs with small writing — remember that people need to be able to read it while zipping by in their cars.

    – Last year we had 2 shoplifters! Can you believe it? One lady we caught redhanded and asked her to leave. The other we missed, but we figured out it was a family with several adults, teenagers and young kids. They sort of swarmed all over the place and asked us lots of questions. They were picking up everything and putting it back. It was distracting. Meanwhile, apparently, one of them swiped several pieces of jewelry. They bought a couple of things, but left with more that they didn’t pay for. We just laughed it off as being “inexperienced retailers,” and figured we were trying to get rid of the stuff anyway… but it still felt kind of eerie to be “taken” like that. Heck, if one of the kids liked a bracelet, I probably would have just given it to her!

    – It’s a ton of work, so plan to be there all day long. Some friends of mine had a sale from 8am – noon and then wanted to go to a party that afternoon. They regretted it because customers were still coming while they were closing up and they missed out on some income.

    – Make it fun! It’s actually a great way to meet neighbors… and even your postal mail carrier (ours hopped out of his truck and bought something for his wife!). 99% of the shoppers are friendly, interesting, good people and it’s fun to enjoy the interactions.

    I’m thinking of having another sale this Fall… so you have inspired me, Karen!!

    Thanks,
    Martha

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