Purging is good for the soul. Getting rid of stuff during the annual spring cleaning ritual makes us feel lighter, freer. Here are eight things anyone over 50 likely has and can be rid of.
1. Your parents' stuff.
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and that at some point you will clean out your parents' home. Very often, their possessions become our possessions -- and that's not always such a good thing. It's tough saying goodbye to the reminders from the past and of the people we love. But taking photos and writing down your memories are much more efficient -- and clutter free -- ways to preserve them. Plus you are only deluding yourself if you think your daughter will want your mom's old dresser in her first apartment. Call a charity thrift store and see if they'll pick it up.
2. Plastic storage containers.
Tupperware lids have a way of disappearing much the same as socks put in the dryer. If it doesn't have a lid, get rid of it. And how many plastic storage containers do you actually need anyway? Do you rinse and save the container every time you bring home wonton soup? Does a pile fall out when you open the cabinet door?
It's time to toss the ones you don't use, the ones that partially melted in the microwave and the ones without lids.
3. Old towels.
Even if you live near the beach, nobody needs as many towels as you probably have. By the time you reach midlife, you've likely moved around a fair amount. And since a fair amount of redecorating occurs each time we move, chances are you have towels in multiple colors to match all those bathrooms in all those places you lived. Toss them. You will never run out of towels even if you skim off the bottom 20 percent of the pile.
4. Old medicines.
Here's a simple rule: If the expiration date has past, dump it. Old prescription drugs can actually be harmful to you. Many drugs lose their potency. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that the active ingredient in a drug must be present in at least 90 percent of the amount indicated on the label. Tablets and capsules have the longest shelf life and may even linger on pharmacy shelves for up to five years. Liquids and injectables, like insulin, lose their potency much faster. Hence, the danger out-of-date drugs pose. If your medications are critical to managing your disease, don't mess around and just dispose of the old med.
Be careful how you do this. You don't want an animal to get into your garbage. For more information on how to dispose of old medicines, go here.
5. Odd socks and old underwear.
Missing socks do not return from the dead. And there are few of life's annoyances that can be resolved as cheaply and quickly as tossing out stretched out bras and panties and just buying new ones. A six-pack of socks will save you hours of looking for a matching pair. And dumping the mismatched sock drawer into the garbage is pure awesomeness. No, you really won't need them for sock puppets.
6. Books you loved but won't ever reread.
There is something remarkable about having a home library. But the truth is, most avid readers just have book cases that are overflowing. If you are stacking books sideways on top of others, it's time to figure out which ones you expect to re-read. We know: Books are like friends and when we make new ones, we don't just discard the old ones. Consider re-homing them: The library may take them off your hands and if not, they are a thrift store favorite. Also, ever heard of Kindle?
7. Special occasion stuff.
Here's a hard truth: Apply the "I have three minutes to evacuate, what am I taking with me?" rule. We can pretty much guarantee that the box in the basement with your grandma's chipped china won't be rushed out to the car. In fact, when did you even last look at it, let alone use it. Decluttering your life of unused possessions feels better than hanging on to stuff that you have a remote emotional attachment to.
8. Bratz dolls, Barbies, and baseball gloves from Little League.
Yes, your kids have grown up. Check eBay and you'll see what your kids' old toys are really worth now.