Clutter Stole Her Life

by Pam Magouirk

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I have a story that might seem to be a bit different than most of the ones you have here. I have always been a budget stretcher out of necessity. And for the past 30 years or so I have been what I always liked to call 'a saver'.

I saved everything and found good and frugal ways to reuse everything from toilet paper rolls to pieces of furniture I found in someone's trash.

Then about 10 years ago I started saving plants that were doomed to be trashed at the garden center that I worked at. I saved any one that had any bit of green on it. And also saved the empty pots and the soil. I nursed them back to health and then gave them away, and sold a few.

But after a while it was overwhelming me. I am a single parent of three. I hold two jobs and I would come home to a yard full of sick plants and a house full of various other things I saved "in case I needed them".

I enjoyed it less and less. I became sick, and always tired, and never had time for my family. I had all this 'stuff' to deal with.

It came on so gradually that I didn't even realize how much of a problem it had become for me and for my family. I couldn't mow my grass, couldn't even see it . I could hardly walk through my house because I had stuff everywhere.

And when I wanted to find something it was impossible. I constantly had to pay late fees on my bills because I would lose them or forget them, in other words, my stuff had taken over my life.

Of course I had thought for years that 'one of these days I will get organized' and thought that would be the solution. But what I didn't realize until I read a book by Mike Nelson, called Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life: Discover Why You Clutter and How You Can Stop was that I was a clutterer. And that it was not a problem of organizing my stuff, but the way I felt about my stuff that was causing so many problems for me.

I thought I was being so smart to buy lots of things when they were on sale, and saving all the plants to give away, and reusing everything I could think of, saving old clothes in case I needed a zipper or a button. But it had in fact caused me to be much poorer than I needed to be.

I was always late for work(reducing my hours that I was paid for and preventing possible raises), because I had too much clutter to deal with: lost keys, can't find my shoes, etc. I was getting worse and worse about paying my bills on time, hence late fees. I had to rebuy things I already had because I couldn't find the first one. I had to let broken things go unrepaired because I didn't want to let anyone see the mess I was in. So I had leaky faucets and who knows what else.

But the point I need to make is that there is help for us clutterers, and it is not in organization, but a change in our attitude and our feelings towards our stuff. Once we break that emotional attachment with our stuff and see what it is really doing to us, we can take back control of our lives.

I don't know if any of your readers have this same problem as I have had, but I can imagine that they might. Some people just need to get organized but for some of us it is more serious than that and there are groups to help. I am well on my way now, thanks to the book and the support I have gotten from the website

I would recommend anyone to look at the site, ask themselves if they might be a clutterer and know that there is help. And that we can be thrifty in ways that don't ruin our lives.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to

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