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January 2024 Newsletter



Happy New Year Friends, we have a lot of new folks here, so welcome! Lets get right into it!

 

Newsletter Topic of the Month

Do you need a bigger house?

For the last 36 years, I have worked as a custom home builder and remodeler.  Like clockwork, every year the first week of January, well, most of the month to be honest, the phone rings off the hook.  Loads of calls from folks who want to build or remodel because they need a bigger home. 

I’m asked on occasion how my book came to be, and I have credited all the folks I have met who don’t want to part with any possessions, they just want a bigger home.  Here is how it really came to pass.

In the spring of 2022, we met a lovely couple, let’s call them Lisa and Mary.  Lisa was a college professor and Mary a professional photographer who worked for a large company.  Both had recently retired and moved the contents of their careers and offices home.  They lived in a cute 2 story home over a basement, on the water on a narrow lot, about 2500 feet, plenty of space for them and two cats.   They did not have any room to expand the footprint of the home due to setbacks, so that left only options of working with what they had, or adding to the second floor area.  This is a costly endeavor, and they had a VERY limited budget. 

Their goal was a space they could rent out as an apartment or have a caregiver or relative live with them.  The basement was a great space, easily 800 square feet with a laundry room and rough “bath” area.  It already even had a private entrance.

Every inch of Mary and Lisa’s home had stuff.  Not hoarders by any means, but every horizontal surface was covered.  They had lots of cool stuff, and a lot of stuff they admittedly “saved from the dumpster”.  We got a plan of attack in order that aligned with their budget. Tightly. There would be no room for changes or additions to the plan.

The basement was an easy conversion, but it was filled to the ceiling with a little trail around it with all the stuff from their professional lives.  I counted at one point more than 300 empty large 3 ring binders.  Stuff like that.  Lots of academic lesson plans they wanted to share with others, to which I suggested scanning so they could be easily shared, they did not like that idea.   I asked about paring some of it down, as this was hardly my first rodeo.  They seemed aghast that I would be so bold as to suggest that.  I ventured on…”there are lots of organizations that would love to receive the ones you can’t use”.  Nothing.

As we progressed with the scope of work, I saw a pattern emerge that always is a red flag.  Each time I would come back with a range of costs based on the scope of work, and meet the budget, they would ask for MORE.  A lot more.  I would let them know that could add $20k to the budget and they would say don’t worry, but then the price would go up and they didn’t like that.  Eventually, I cut ties with them, and they were incredibly unhappy with me.  They exhibited too many signs that they would be hard to work with.  I avoid that, like the plague. 

The entire time I worked with them I thought “there is a business model here”.  A hybrid of helping folks pare down to improve their space.  To create more space, in their current home, without the pricey remodel.  The book idea was born. 

I have had several folks tell me they think that I wrote my book as a message to them.  A lovely idea, but no.  It was none of them.  It was in fact Lisa and Mary, my runaway scope of work clients.  That I fired. I have often thought I should send them a copy of my book, and let them know what they inspired.  I don’t think that would appreciate that, but I truly did enjoy them and wanted to work with them.  Maybe one day.

So here is the magic in this month’s message.  If you think you need a bit more space, your house is too tight, I am here to tell you…you CAN create more space, a lot of it, simply by managing the shit you own.  That’s right, decluttering is the BEST way to make more space in your house. And you can make a lot of it!

When the closets, drawers, cabinets are stuffed full, your stuff will overflow.  Where?  The countertops, the dining room table, the island, so many places.  The floor even! I always say crowded countertops are the #1 symptom of too much stuff.

I’ve lived in my “real persons” tiny home for 7 years this Christmas.  At 1131 square feet, it’s tight, but last year we completed a detached garage with some storage space, and that has been great. But, after 7 years, I am declaring a CLUTTER WAR. I’m creating a calendar that I will share with you soon, for year round decluttering in about 15 minutes a day.  If you have more time, yay!  If not, this will keep you inspired.

15 minutes a day doesn’t sound like a lot.  But the other day I tackled our spice drawer, timed it and it was just about 15 minutes to sort, toss, clean out and put back. I can do that.  I can’t spend days on end  doing a massive purge, but I can do this!

The busiest room in the house is the kitchen, so I am starting there.  I counted that I have 30 spaces if I look at each drawer, cabinet, refer, freezer, and beverage fridge.  So, 15 minutes a day (ish) and my kitchen will be living large. 

Each day, anything I am not keeping, I will deposit it into one of three boxes. 

1.     Gift – this could be Buy Nothing pages on Facebook, freecycle, or charity.  I will take this box out WEEKLY, if not daily, which I prefer, and make sure it is empty.  Caveat – gifting items slows down the process so know yourself!!  For some it is better to donate everything, and some others just have to toss things.
2.     Goes somewhere else – maybe it belongs to a friend or relative, a different room, etc.  Put it in there and make a plan to get all the stuff where it goes, daily if possible, but weekly at a minimum.
3.     Sell – this is another category that can slow some up.  It needs to be worthy of selling.  A bunch of $10 or $20 items on Facebook Marketplace is a waste of your time.  Sell only items of value, and do it now, or don’t do it!  You have to store it, list it, pack it and ship it….it’s a pain. Or, maybe you want to have a garage/yard sale.  Fine!  Designate a storage area, box it up, seal it and store it.  Set the date of the sale NOW, and work towards that.
 
Let’s start making more space in your house.  I’m going to go room by room this year, and if you get done early, feel free to work ahead! 

Have a topic idea? Area of struggle? A fun tip? Send it in and I may make it the topic of the month. Email me at hello@judygranleegates.com


 

Product(s) of the Month:


When you are decluttering, it is helpful to put all the like items back in the same location. You don’t want to look in three locations for spatulas.  I love bins and organizers in the kitchen, here is a link to my favorites! Small things especially are good for bins, but many things are just nice to have in a bin and grab the whole thing, like your meds/vitamins, snacks, coffee pods, the list is endless.





Direct product links in the guide.
 

News & Upcoming Events


I’ve been on a bit of a break from podcasts and events because of personal reasons, but I am working on many in the new year. I’ll update and as always, post on social.


 

Other Stuff


Do you have a group or event that would like to hear about decluttering, living smaller, or parting with sentimental items? Let me know, I love to speak to people about all things decluttering and resizing!


Are you in a book club? I would love to do a virtual book club over 4 weeks with you, just get in touch.

If you have read the book and want to leave a review Here are the links. This is the biggest compliment you can give an indie author! You can leave reviews at; Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads

And lastly, if you need a copy of my book, grab one here. And remember my holiday special offer, three books, signed, ribbon wrapped, with a bookmark, shipped to you for 37.98, (plus tax) a $57.00 value. You also get the gift guide, AND you get a set of print at home Gift Certificates that you can fill in the experience or clutter free gift you are giving. Fits in a standard business letter envelope. This is while supplies last, and I will ship until 12/23, but of course cannot promise delivery in time for the holiday.

 


Until next month, thanks for the support and keep it COZY!
xo
Judy



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