30 Day Post-Retirement Decluttering Challenge


Starting on May 1, my wife and I began a project that a friend suggested called the “30-Day Decluttering Challenge”.  The concept is simple – on the first day of the month, get rid of one item. On the second day of the month, get rid of two items. Continue to do so until the 30th day of the challenge, when you get rid of 30 items from your household.

All together the “30-Day Decluttering Challenge” will add up to 465 things out of your house!  (I know that Steve at ThinkSaveRetire.com – who moved with his wife into an Airstream trailer – will think that number is less than amazing, but it is a a lot!)

The instigator of the challenge was my good friend, Maggie. We had lunch a couple weeks ago, and she was talking about things she has enjoyed doing in her early retirement. As a bit of a Type A personality, she said that doing this decluttering challenge would be right up my alley.  Truthfully, I think she is more of an “A” than I am, but my wife, predictably, also loved the idea!  My DW is a genuine neat-nik and although she has not put together a honey-do list for me, I knew this was exactly what she would love me to do.  

One toughest parts of the challenge is to be prepared for the days at the end of the month when you need to get rid of 20+ things.  I have decided that I would modify it slightly to knock off a number between #1-#30 on any given day so I can tackle some of the hardest numbers when it best fits into my schedule.  Otherwise, I am afraid I will get to the end and have to really blitz to finish successfully.

For the first day, my wife and I went through the cupboard where we keep all of our bills, papers, tickets, coupons, and other assorted “adminis-trivia.”  We probably got rid of about 100 papers, but I’m only going to count that as one thing, as it doesn’t do much more than fill a small box.  From there, we started tackling some of the obvious places to start: I knew my closet would be a treasure trove of superfluous stuff and I pretty quickly took 30 things off hangers and brought them to the Goodwill Center.  Next, I went through old paint cans and lawn chemicals in the garage (#16), and got rid of some old sporting goods equipment that we didn’t need (#11).  My biggest task so far this month was going through our music CDs – we had well over a hundred of them and I needed to rip them all into iTunes before we got rid of them (I counted them as #29, since #30 was already taken).

Below is what the list looks like so far.  I’ve clicked off 16 of the numbers in the first 17 days of the month.  Most of the stuff has gone right to the Goodwill Store.  A few things got recycled and only a few got tossed out. 


  • 1 – Bill drawer/cupboard
  • 2 – Birdhouses
  • 3 – Banners/4th July
  • 4 – 
  • 5 – Baseball hats
  • 6 – Nylon Bags
  • 7 –
  • 8 – 
  • 9 – Health & Beauty Stuff (to Garbage)
  • 10 – 
  • 11 – Footballs, Basketballs, Soccer, Skateboard
  • 12 –
  • 13 – 
  • 14 – 
  • 15 – Electrical Outlets / Parts
  • 16 – Paint and Chemicals (to Recycling Center)
  • 17 – 
  • 18 –
  • 19 – 
  • 20 – Christmas Music
  • 21 – Wife’s Clothes Closet
  • 22 – 
  • 23 –
  • 24 – Books (mostly business)
  • 25 – Tools/Sprinklers
  • 26 – 
  • 27 – 
  • 28 – Old Magazines
  • 29 – Music CDs (100+)
  • 30 – My Clothes Closet

I have to say that this challenge really is quite a challenge.  Even though I am about halfway through the numbers, with 51% of the total 465 items decluttered, I have already hit a lot of the easy areas and find myself challenged to go back and look for more several times.  Some of the numbers go up as I add things to stuff I decluttered earlier.  

I have also made a list of the areas of our house that I think can fill in the big, open days between #20 – #29.  These areas include VHS tapes, toys/games, holiday decorations, DVDs, and stuff in our workshop. These are the kinds of things that collect around our house and should be rich veins to declutter.  

Since it is not easy, part of the reason I am publishing this post now is to ensure that I have some accountability to get it done by the end of May. 

What do you think – are your ready for the “30-Day Retirement Decluttering Challenge?”

Image Credit: MrFireStation.com

30 thoughts on “30 Day Post-Retirement Decluttering Challenge

  1. Love IT! although my Type A behavior only made it through about day 20..I need to get back to it! Thanks for the inspiration and challenge. This helps curb spending as well as you quickly realize we all have too much stuff !!!


    1. My wife says “thank you, Maggie” a hundred times! Because it is a game, instead of a chore – I am actually doing it without any complaints. She’s shocked. 🙂


  2. I love this challenge! We have had a decluttering goal on our to do list for the last year. We are slowly making progress. Getting rid of stuff and not replacing the stuff, just makes life easier. Less to clean, store, misplace, etc.


    1. It is nice to have less stuff in the cupboards & garage. Most of us have more than we need. Unfortunately, I did bring a bunch of stuff home from our community garage sales last weekend!


  3. I recently made Mrs. AE throw away 3 travel cups before she bought a new one, we will call that step 1 and move onto this challenge – we have crap everywhere!

    Nice work! And glad you are able to donate/reuse most of the stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Travel Cups / Bottles – yes, we have a cupboard with a bunch of those in it. That will be a good score on our march toward Day 30!


  4. That’s a great challenge, best of luck! I may have to start one of these days too. Just a bit of forewarning, if you copy over your CDs to iTunes and then throw away your CD, you just threw away your license to have that music on your computer. The CD is essentially your only proof of ownership. Don’t mean to be a downer, but I’d give that one a second thought.


    1. Well, I gave them to my brother. I do rip them as generic MP3 files so that I don’t get all of the Apple DRM formatting on them.


  5. Good for you! Going through everything in our house was life-changing. It was a weight knowing there were no longer things hidden in corners that I had forgotten about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought of your posts on this as I was starting. In addition to decluttering, I’ve found a lot of useful things I had “lost” or forgot we had. It’s like going to your own garage sale! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent challenge! I also like that you gave yourself some flexibility as far as the number of items that go out certain days… and that you didn’t cheat and count the number of pieces of paper you tossed. We had some cabinets built recently for our entertainment area and I love the fact that some drawers and cabinets are completely – or almost – empty. And, we plan to keep them that way.


    1. We had a similar experience. We emptied out a big drawer in our entertainment built-in (that was already half empty) and now have a great place to keep our two fuzzy blankets. We tell people it was designed as a “blanket drawer” and they think it is genius! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome challenge! We’ve been talking about doing some Spring cleaning and this sounds like a great way to get started!


    1. It’s actually been a lot of fun. It “game-ifies” an otherwise unpleasant chore. My wife wants us to repeat it in June. I’m not sure I’m up for that!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great challenge, you’ve paid good progess already. My husband is a music teacher and has literally thousands of CDs, tapes and records so this will be a big challenge for us. We are trying to go paperless at the moment, which is taking a while but getting there ….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is quite a project to digitize everything, isn’t it? Transferring CDs, scanning photos, etc. I’ve spent a lot of time on digitizing over the last 10 years.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is major decluttering! I cannot imagine what it takes to fit everything you own into an SUV!


  9. That’s a pretty cool challenge. I think I’d also want to tailor the number of items to my schedule. I think I’d start with more steam than I could finish with. I love decluttering but I know there are always things I overlooked the previous round so this would help me be more thorough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – when I find more things in a given area, I just add it to the list and move them up the numbers!


  10. This is a really good challenge and a great idea!

    We are still a new household, so we don’t have many items to begin with, plus a few months ago we cleared out a lot of stuff we’ll never use. We either sold it or donated it.

    We are trying to buy as little as possible. If it’s not going to be at least annually useful, we don’t see any point having it (unless it’s sentimentally important).

    Nice idea!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a saying – things are easy to buy, tough to store and maintain. Sometimes it keeps us from buying stuff we know we don’t need later.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Cool challenge. Living on less “stuff” can be so freeing. The last 10 days of the challenges must be the toughest. Imagine getting rid of 30 items on day 30. it’s got to be freeing as well. I am trying to make sure that I keep my life as de-cluttered as possible. One of the ways I try and achieve this is every time I bring something into the home, I I throw/donate something else. One in and one out. Its not a perfect science but is something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve always tried to get rid of things on an everyday basis, but the challenge really got us to dig in deeper.


    1. I’m not the Neat-Nik my wife is, so the challenge was fun because it kind of made a game out of it.


  12. Congratulation on taking this challenge !

    I had a lot of fun doing the same challenge during the month of May. The most challenging part for me was to document the process with pictures, in addition of finding the objects to throw away daily (I tried doing it on a day by day basis). Thankfully, I had a lot of help from Mme Riche Relax as well, so it ended up being not too difficult.

    I still have to write a wrap up since a lot of things happened since then, and my house is still very cluttered, so it’s something I may have to try again in the future !

    I’ve read somewhere the typical american house have something like 300 000 objects in it (If you count every small object like 250 nails in a box). Not sure how many there is in my house, but I intend to make a rough evaluation just for the fun of it… But this is a project in itself !

    Good luck !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow – 300K items in an average house. That’s amazing. Congrats on finishing the challenge. Look forward to seeing the pix!


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