The Cleanout Exercise: Maintaining a Life of Fulfillment Through Minimalism

The year of 2019 was an experience! If I had to sum it up in a few words, I would describe 2019 as laying the foundation. It was the first time in our marriage being debt free and we enjoyed every minute of it!

Now this blog post was actually supposed to be about one of the most important attributes of a debt slayer, which is being goal-oriented. Perfect for the new year, right? We had a full blog post cooking up on goal setting and execution (one of my favorite topics) for January 1st. However, we got distracted by the clutter found in our closets around the holidays. So we decided to do some year-end and early new year cleaning instead of writing the post. 

We cleaned out all of our closets, where most of our meaningless items seem to collect over time. Then we went through all of our sons toys that he has accumulated over the small time he’s been on this planet. Man, was that eye opening! Why do young toddlers who play with everything but toys have so many toys??!! As a result of our full day spent decluttering, we thought this would be a good opportunity to tell you about our “let-go” exercise we do periodically to ensure we only keep possessions that add value to our lives. Despite Tim being born as a minimalist and my neat and tidy personality, we still manage to pick up unnecessary items here and there. There is no better time to declutter than the beginning of a new decade! Well, at least its sounds like the perfect time. 

The good news about this exercise is that you can make a little money, which is always helpful for getting out of debt. Here are the steps we take:

Step 1: Gather 4 bins or boxes you already own and line them up next to each other. Don’t spend any money though, so if you do not have any bins or boxes laying around, good old fashioned piles work well too! 

Step 2: Label bins/boxes/piles:  “Keep, Sell, Intentional Give, and Donate.” (Intentional Give = Giving an item to a friend/family/organization that needs or will appreciate the item vs. donating to Goodwill.)

Step 3: Pull out all questionable items gathered from closets, garage, and maybe even underneath the bed. 

Step 4: Put all questionable items in a central pile.

Step 5: Question each item in the pile and determine if it’s a Keep, Sell, Intentional Give, or Donate. The answers to the following questions below will determine where the item will go.




Does this item add value to my life?



Does this item add value to my life?


Sell, Give Intentionally or Donate

Can I make money to put towards my debt snowball by selling this item?



Can I make money to put towards by debt snowball by selling this item?


Give Intentionally or Donate

Step 6: Place the item in the appropriate bin/box/pile. 

Step 7 (Optional): Document the items in a spreadsheet to keep an inventory of items you are selling and donating.

Step 8: Take action.

  1. Put item back. 
  2. Sell on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, etc.
  3. Call friends and family for the item you would like to give intentionally. 
  4. Donate items to Goodwill, local church, etc.

This time around we donated 39 items and put 9 items for sale on eBay!

Conducting this cleanout exercise periodically has helped us reduce unnecessary clutter in our home. More importantly, it keeps us centered with possessions that matter. This minimalist practice of questioning your items will reduce the amount of distractions and maintenance on junk, leading to more clarity and purpose in your life. Also, you will make a little money as well! 

Cheers to decluttering, 


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