Do musical instruments count as clutter? I’m asking for a friend.
One of my sisters can’t seem to stop bringing home animals while we can’t seem to stop turning our house into a musical instrument sanctuary. Some of them get used regularly and some rarely get touched. I’m just as guilty as anyone for bringing them in.
I have an electric guitar and amplifier that I haven’t touched in months. It turns out the guitar is much harder to learn than I ever imagined.
I’m also the one who spotted the 1950’s Hammond Organ on the curb and suggested we bring it home. That turned out to be much heavier than I ever imagined.
After some oil it worked beautifully for our kids to practice their piano lessons. Eventually though, their teacher suggested they get a real piano to practice on so now we have a full size upright piano as well. I’m not allowed to get rid of the organ because my son insists that he plays it. I think he just moves the bench occasionally to make it look like someone has used it.
Did I mention that he also plays the viola? We have two of those. He plays percussion in the high school band so we have the standard percussion kit of bells and drum pad. We even broke down and bought a full drum set since I did all that work to clear out the family room.
Now that my daughter is in middle school, she started playing saxophone in the school band. Occasionally, she even breaks out her old recorder from 4th grade too.
Honestly, I don’t mind all of these instruments, as long as they get used. Similar to wasted talent, a musical instrument is a terrible thing to waste by having it sit around collecting dust. All musical instruments require at least some maintenance, even if it’s just dusting. The organ requires occasional oiling, the piano requires tuning a couple times a year, the drum set needs to be cleaned and tuned, the saxophone needs reeds, and the viola needs rosin and strings.
But are they clutter? I guess I would say NO - as long as they are being enjoyed and properly cared for. In my case, I would like to get rid of the organ because it takes a lot of space and collects dust. I also should just get rid of my guitar because I never play it. It’s left-handed so no one else in the family is going to either.
I love hearing my kids play the piano, viola, saxophone, and even the drum set. I hope that my kids continue to play for the rest of their lives but at the same time I know that we should reduce the number of musical instruments we have sitting around. I know it will save us space and money but they’re proving as difficult to part with as books. That guitar I’ve been meaning to learn how to play is a lot like those books I’m going to read someday.
I found a good quote about someday by author Jacqueline Woodson:
Somewhere there is another person who would like to read that book or play that old Hammond organ. So whether it’s a musical instrument, a book, or whatever it is you’ve been meaning to do SOMEDAY, I think NOW is the time to either start taking it seriously and do it, or just pass it along to someone else.
As I just wrote that, another quote came to mind that I think sums it up nicely. It’s one of my favorites that I heard many times growing up:
It feels good to exercise our willpower muscle. I think it’s like our other muscles in that we have to exercise it once in a while to strengthen it. Otherwise our willpower gets weak. I’m happy to say I’m the proud non-owner of a few things lately.
I recently bought a new pair of shoes so I got rid of two pair. I loved the new ones so much that I when I got an email that they were having a sale, I thought I should probably get another pair. I even had them in my online cart but finally decided against it. If they had a sale once, they’ll have it again sometime. When these are getting worn out, I’ll think about buying another pair.
You may have noticed that have written multiple posts about books. I have a weakness for them and have difficulty resisting cheap or free ones. That makes it difficult when I’m at the local library and they have shelf after shelf filled with used books for sale at 50 cents each. A few months ago I bought an organizing book there hoping for some new ideas and inspiration. So far, it’s been a little disappointing but I’m still hopeful. However, I have resisted buying several other books that caught my eye so that must count for something.
The biggest and most expensive thing I’ve managed not to own lately though was a camper. I keep thinking that it would be fun to take trips in an RV or a camper. I guess I have visions of the kids lounging on the couch or bed in an RV rather than buckled into the backseat of our SUV. I picture having all of our stuff packed in drawers and closets so that when we arrive somewhere it’s all available, rather than me making 14 trips to the car to carry in all the suitcases, backpacks, and sleeping bags.
Then, reality sets in and I think about how it really will be. My kids will be fighting and wrestling, not sitting quietly. Our stuff won’t be stored neatly. They’ll have things all over the place. Then, there’s the maintenance. An RV is basically a small house combined with a truck. Both of them need to be maintained and can have expensive problems. I can’t even keep up with maintenance on the house I live in, much less a second one with wheels and an engine. It still sounds like it could be fun, but I’m glad I didn’t rush to buy one right now.
So there you go. Three things that I’m happy to say I didn’t buy. It actually feels pretty good to know I still have that money I almost spent on something I didn’t need and I don’t have to find time and space in my life for them. Unfortunately, I don’t think exercising my willpower counted as real exercise and it certainly isn’t going to help me run that 5K I have coming up in a few weeks. However, I think it is important. You should try it sometime.
They say success leads to more success. Often the most difficult part is getting started but once we find ourselves building some momentum on something, we find it gets easier and easier to achieve our goals. With some projects though, we fly out of the starting blocks at a full sprint only to find out that we’re actually running a marathon. Then we lose momentum. We can get stuck, or worse, abandon the race altogether.
The marathon example is how it feels when we’re decluttering. Lately, I’ve felt like we weren’t making progress. Not that there wasn’t more stuff to get rid of, but it was getting more difficult. There are some things I’m having a tough time removing from my life and the kids still refuse to let more toys go, even though it seems all they do is play video games. We also have some things identified that we are going to sell on the local Facebook group, but just have trouble making the time. I don’t want to post them for sale on a Friday if we’re not going to be available all weekend.
I finally found some renewed motivation.
About a month ago, we were going through some of our old textbooks still in the basement. We have an app on our phones called BookScouter, that we checked each book on to see if it was worth any money. We identified about 6 books that we might actually be able to get some money for and put them for sale on Amazon. If you’ve never sold used books on Amazon, give it a try. They make it very easy, although as we found out, you pay for that convenience when Amazon takes their fees out of the sale. They took about $8 in commission for a $38 book.
The Amazon Seller Central dashboard makes it easy to see all of the products you are selling. It will show you if you are the lowest price and if not, you can easily see what is the lowest. Then, you can quickly adjust the price to match the lowest one or set your own. When selling books, I suggest you read up on how to rate their condition so that you don’t mislead anyone. Pictures are a great idea too so that potential buyers can see exactly what they are purchasing.
In the end, we’re getting about $30 for the book. It was a little bit of a pain to pack it and take it to the post office on a Saturday morning, but we probably would have just donated it otherwise. It was a book we both used over 20 years ago for undergrad. Now, it’s out of the house and the sale has rekindled (Amazon pun intended) my motivation. Incidentally, I re-purposed a Barnes and Noble box to ship the book in.
If you’re interested in selling on Amazon, here’s the link to the seller homepage. There, you can get started by placing your products for sale and setting up you bank account information so you can get paid. Note that you can sell almost anything and not just books.
Getting money for stuff you don’t want anymore is nice, but just remember the goal isn’t necessarily to make money, it’s to make more room in your house.
That’s why I keep checking the seller page and have lowered the listing price for my books several times. Good luck and thanks for reading.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2017