Sentimental items are not usually of great value to anyone but the person who holds the memory surrounding them; cars, jewelry, art and couture clothing being some of the exceptions. The average mementos are often roadblocks when decluttering. If you get stuck when considering items of the sentimental kind, take the following quiz to help you figure out if they rate a stay, store or go.
1. Do you want to look at it every day? If the answer is yes, go to the next question. If no, go to question #5.
2. Is it in good condition? If yes, go to the next question. If no, go to question #4.
3. Is it easy to maintain or are you willing to properly maintain the item? If yes, congratulations, you may proudly display your keepsake. If no, go to question #5.
4. If the item is not in good condition, do you have the budget or desire to refurbish it? If yes, congratulations, you may now proceed towards refurbishment of your object and eventual displaying, wearing or using of same. If no, go to the next question.
5. Is it valuable, and by that I mean, can you really get someone to pay you what it’s worth? Example: Your mother’s Hermes Kelly bag is probably a “yes,” if it is in excellent condition. Your father’s record collection might be a “no,” even though some of the albums might be rare. Each case is unique and requires some research. If the answer is yes, go to the next question. If no, go to question #7.
6. In the current economy (I hope I can stop repeating that phrase someday soon!) any sale is a difficult sale, unless it is something rare and famous, like Eduard Munch’s painting, The Scream, which recently sold for $120 million. It takes time and effort to get a good price for most used items. Are you willing to do the work necessary to get the best price for the item? If yes, congratulations, you may proceed to work away at eBay, CraigsList or your personal network. If no, go to the next question.
7. Are you willing to let the item go, either through donation or simple consignment? If yes, congratulations, you may proceed to the nearest appropriate facility to do so. If no, go on to the next question.
8. If you want to keep the item but don’t want to look at it everyday, is it something that needs to be packed away? If yes, go to question #10. If no, go to the next question.
9. Is it something that could be filed? Like a letter, a photograph, or other paper-based items? If yes, decide what you want to call it, make a label, and file it properly.
10. If you pack it away, on what occasion would you unpack it? If the answer is “often,” it might be an item like a scrapbook that you would like to have fairly handy to share with people. If the answer is “rarely,” a plastic bin in the attic or garage or other storage space is a good bet. If the answer is never, then it becomes something for your heirs to eventually inherit and deal with, which brings us to the next question:
11. Will it mean something or be of value to your heirs/children? If yes, by all means, pack it away for them or, better yet, pass it on immediately and let them enjoy it now. If no, do some deep thinking and start again at the top. If you don’t want to display it, wear it, drive it or ever otherwise reference it; and if it is of no interest or value to your heirs, then you should reconsider selling, donating or otherwise finding a home that will welcome the item.
12. It is a good rule of thumb to remember that the longer something sits around unused and uncared for, the more quickly its value drops. A crocodile handbag that has not been conditioned in years, a silk kimono left in a trunk and moth-eaten, a vintage Pontiac Tempest rusting in a barn—all of these things might have served their owners better by being parted with sooner. Ask yourself the above questions and you might find making decisions about your sentimental possessions a bit easier.