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Sunk Costs of Clutter – Everybody Pays

The sunk costs of clutter lie in storing things and hoarding things nobody wants. Erroneous buys to impress somebody you don’t like are the sunk costs of clutter. 

Today on Ask a House Cleaner we get tips on clutter you paid a lot of money for and are never going to get the money back. 

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru says the sunk costs of clutter are having to hire a maid service to get rid of your stuff. You’ll need a savvy cleaner to organize, declutter and clean your space. Can you afford the expense of clutter?

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Listen: Sunk Costs of Clutter – Everybody Pays


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Watch: Sunk Costs of Clutter – Everybody Pays

Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.

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Question: Sunk Costs of Clutter – Everybody Pays

 Today’s question comes from a housekeeper who works for the same client every day. She is not a live-in housekeeper but shows up every day to clean the house. Every day she sorts through, manages and organizes clutter. She says, “These people that I am working for have a whole bunch of stuff that they never use. They don’t need it. They don’t want it, yet, it’s there. Is there any way to get rid of all the clutter?”

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Answer: Sunk Costs of Clutter – Everybody Pays

Well, the first rule to getting rid of all the clutter is to understand the sunk costs of clutter. This brings us to Finance 101 where we learn about investing and saving. We also learn what happens when you buy something that you don’t need and can’t afford.

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My Old Shoes

Everybody has purchased something that didn’t work out. For whatever reason, it just didn’t.  Or you purchased something and then it got old or worn out. And for whatever reason, you haven’t thrown it away yet.

I have this pair of shoes. It’s a pair of tennis shoes and I love them. They’re comfortable and I wear them when I work out in my yard. They have holes in the toes but they’re so comfortable that I keep them but they’re kind of like garbage shoes. I should have gotten rid of them a long time ago. If you came in my house, you would just see this as clutter because they’re just old shoes. I have better shoes I could wear out in the yard but I have these old shoes that I can’t let go of. 

The Sunk Costs of Clutter

Sunk costs of clutter starting with old clothes

The sunk cost of clutter is this. You have stuff that no longer serves you well. You would be better off to have something newer, but you still keep the old. 

One of the sunk costs of clutter is we hang on to things because we paid a lot of money for them. I understand that. That’s one of the causes of hoarding so what you have to do right up front is admit what you’re hanging on to is a sunk cost. 

 Sunk Costs of Clutter is Inevitable

At some point, whatever it is that you have, it’s a sunk cost. You’re never going to get your money back out of it. Especially if it’s an item you know you’re never going to use again.

If it’s not serving you anymore, it’s clutter. 

Keeping Up With the Joneses

sunk costs of clutter keeping up with the Jonses

There are a lot of times we try to “keep up with the Joneses.” We buy things to impress our neighbors. We think that if we drive by in our big, fancy car, they will be impressed. Well, then we pull into our garages and close the door. Our neighbors are no longer impressed because they didn’t see our car for that long. The truth is your neighbors don’t care about your car. They just don’t.

We live in a society where everybody’s glued to their cell phone. They might not even see you at all. They’re just looking down at their phone. Then, if they do see you, guess what? They’re so consumed with their own version of “keeping up with the Joneses.” 

They don’t care about your things. They’re not the ones that are making the payments on those fancy cars. Let it go! 

Before You Buy, Ask Yourself…

Ask yourself some questions when you are purchasing something. First, do you need the item? Number two, can you afford it? Number three, why on earth are you buying it? Is it for you or is it to impress someone that you don’t like? Number four, are you ever going to use it?

The Expense of Clutter

Sunk costs of clutter, storage units for your junk

Now, the expense of clutter is another sunk cost. Are you paying for bigger better storage containers to store your clutter? Did you buy a bigger home or hire a professional organizer? These things allow us to hold onto our junk (clutter). 

The reality is that is a sunk cost. You do not need to incur an expense to hang on to junk you no longer need or want.  

House Cleaning and Sunk Costs of Clutter

Sunk costs of clutter, keeping broken toys

If you are working in someone’s house every day and there is a whole bunch of clutter, you will see what they are using and what is stuff that is never touched. 

The homeowner may have you organizing things that the kids have outgrown. Maybe it’s stuff they just don’t use or play with anymore. What are the reasons the homeowner is hanging on to these items? Once you find out, you can help them remove some of those items. Storing and hoarding of items you never use and no longer want are the sunk costs of clutter. 

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How to Handle Sunk Costs of Clutter as a House Cleaner

It becomes important to pay attention and say, “Hey, are we ever going to use this item again? Is it okay if I send it on its way?” If you say send it on its way, it’s a kind way of saying, “Can I toss this or throw it out?” Because the reality is, a lot of people don’t want to throw things out. That means it’s gone forever and we’ll never get it back, right?

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Helping Customers Let it Go! 

If you send it on its way, that’s kind of a graceful way of sending it out into the universe and letting go of it. As you let go of it, maybe it can find a new home, or maybe it can find a new landfill. Who knows where it’s going and who cares but it’s the sunk cost of clutter. 

Prized Possession or Clutter? 

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There is a sunk cost to everything we buy unless it is something that serves you or it is something you are dying to have. If that’s the case, then you’ll take care of it and it’s not clutter. It’s a prized possession. So you have prized possessions and you have clutter. The sunk cost of clutter is when you treat your clutter like a prized possession and it’s not.

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My Challenge For You

My challenge for you is this. Help people that you live with or work for. Help them to understand the difference between prized possessions and clutter. Also, help them to understand the sunk cost of clutter. Teach them that it is costing them more money, energy, time and resources to hang on to something. They could be free of these things if they sent it on its way. 

All right, so that’s my two cents for today and until we meet again. Leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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During the shows we recommend services, sites, and products to help you improve your cleaning and grow your cleaning business. We have partnerships with these companies to provide you with discounts, and savings. By clicking on and buying from the links in the show notes, we may receive a commission which helps pay for the production costs of the show.

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About the Show

Learn how the show came to be, interesting facts about the show host, and other frequently asked questions about the show.

Resources For This Episode

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing –

Clutter’s Last Stand: It’s Time to De-junk Your Life!  –

Weekend Makeover –

For Packrats Only: How to Clean Up, Clear Out, and Dejunk Your Life Forever –

Clutter-Free –

Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity –

Decide and Conquer: The Ultimate Guide for Improving Your Decision Making –

Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics –

Economics for Dummies –

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