QuickFix Junk > Blog > How To Tell If You Might Be A Hoarder

How To Tell If You Might Be A Hoarder

October 06, 2015 by Ricky Bruni

hoarding at home
Are you at risk of becoming a hoarder?

The following questions are typically used as a baseline for a person’s likelihood of becoming a hoarder:

  • Do you have difficulty getting rid of rarely used or broken belongings?
  • Are you surrounded by things with no place to store them?
  • Do you set things aside and rarely get around to putting them away – or are you using them at all?
  • Do you dump things in places where they don’t belong and then shuffle them around later?
  • Do you stress about tossing items you think “might” be used at some time in the future?
  • Do you save stuff “just because” with no plan for future use?
  • Do you often keep things you purchase for other people, such as gifts, remembrances, etc.?
  • Do you have unopened boxes of stuff from previous moves – and no idea what is actually in them?
  • Do you succumb to the pressure of buying something because it is “a great buy” – even though you don’t really need it?
  • Do you automatically pick up “freebies," such as hotel soaps, restaurant condiments, that never get used?

So, if you are like me, you answered “yes" to most of the questions. The good news is – at least from what I have read – this does not make you a “hoarder.” I make my living helping people get rid of their clutter and junk. In most cases, it is less of a hoarding issue, as much as life events and putting it off till later. Common situations include children that have recently left home and are starting their own lives; People recently divorced, or remarried and working through combining households; And lastly, inheriting things you can't part with or need to keep until final decisions can be made.

Clean-out Tip: Bookworms and beetle larvae live very nicely off old paper and binding glue.

I’ll use my humble household as a case study. I am not a hoarder - at least I don’t think I am. We do have a lot of stuff. Things we don’t use often, duplicates, and we store things that aren’t even ours. These are also the typical situations I run across when customers hire QuickFix Junk.

Storing your kid’s treasures for them:

closet clutter or hoardingDon’t do it. My children’s closets are loaded with text books, stuffed animals, photo albums, jewelry and goodness knows what else. Then there is the under the bed cache. They are young adults (one is married with her own house) and we are stuck with their “stuff.” What I have learned via my business is that in almost every case, when the children are given the ultimatum of “come get your stuff or it will be thrown away,” they say, “Just toss it. I don’t want it.”

Storing old clothes:

Don’t do it. I am always amazed at the quantity of clothes that we remove and donate to local charities. I don’t know about you, but I never wear old clothes – typically because they no longer fit. So why store them? Please go through your closets regularly and donate usable items to the charity of your choice. Chances are you won’t use them anyway and definitely won’t miss them. After all, it frees up space to buy more – just kidding. And don’t get me started on shoes. I take barrels of shoes to the Jimmie Hale Mission and I have no idea how many get used once they are sorted. No one wants worn out shoes. Get rid of them.

Saving old papers, user manuals, and magazines:

Almost every household has a multi-purpose printer that will scan documents, or children who will do it for you. Shred all documents with sensitive personal information, such as DOB and Social Security numbers. Most companies redact that information these days, but most documents 10 years or older are a treasure trove for identity thieves.

We recently went through an over-crowded drawer where we store appliance user manuals. I was shocked that only four were for appliances still in use. The rest were long ago put to pasture.

How often do you go back and re-read a magazine? How would you find that Southern Living article from three years ago – even if you wanted too? I can’t tell you how many complete National Geographic collections I have taken to recycling. Your children and grandchildren will likely never go back to them. If they need something they will get it online. Magazines are heavy, bulky and a waste of space. Plus, we’ve found bugs can live very nicely off the old paper and binding glue.

Multiple/Duplicate items:

Do we really need nine hammers, seven different-sized levels and four twenty-ton bottle jacks? (Well, yeah.) Unless they are being used regularly, consider selling or giving to your children, friends or a like minded hobbyist. Don’t even get me started on women’s need for twelve pairs of what appear to be identical pairs of flats, but what does the typical male know? Almost every clean out job includes tossing tons of old pillows, sheets and towels. These eat up a lot of space and are evidently never used.

We might hoard, but we're improving:

So, am I a hoarder? At times, yes. My wife and I have made efforts to purge and control the buildup of “stuff.” It is easier today. We use social media to sell some things – Craigslist, Vestavia Trading, Birmingham Salvage, Varage Sale – and promote yard/estate sales. There are numerous charitable organizations hungry for gently used items and many will come by and pick up donations. We even get calls every few months letting us know that a collections truck will be on the street on a particular day. Just leave the bags on the front porch and they will pick up.

If you are ready to de-clutter, but are overwhelmed with the process, please consider calling QuickFix Junk. We are different from our competition. Everything that goes on our truck is sorted as useable, recyclable, or trash. Useable items are donated to local charities and the donation receipt sent to you for your tax records. Recyclable items are taken to the appropriate vendors and junk is legally disposed of in the local landfill.

Having hoarding tendencies is very different from being a clinically diagnosed hoarder. True hoarders have genuine psychological issues and need to be professionally treated. No matter how well intentioned you may be, do not take it upon yourself to clean out a hoarders space without seeking appropriate care for the person beforehand. It could cause severe psychological damage and only serve as Band-Aid before they start over again.

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