Normally our show features interviews with those who've moved overseas. On Black Friday Dawn had the opportunity to interview Jes Marcy, host of the It's All Clutter podcast and a Clutter expert. For those who want a Dream Life in Paradise, a daunting obstacle they must overcome is "What to do with all the STUFF??" Jess shares some of her best tips and an invitation to join her 5-day workshop!
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Commercial: [00:00:02] Welcome. You are listening to the overseas life redesign podcast where you'll hear fine, relaxed, and inspirational interviews with people who are really living the dream. I'm Dawn Fleming an attorney turned alchemist and your host for the show coming to you from the tropical island paradise of East level net us Mexico. Listen to conversations with courageous souls who step out of their comfort zone and designed a new way of life. They'll share their experiences, wisdom and offer practical steps you can take to redesign your life overseas. Listen, and you'll believe if you can dream it, you can achieve it.
Dawn Fleming: [00:00:43] This podcast episode is going to be a little bit different. Normally, I do interviews with people who've moved overseas. This time I'm going to share an interview with an expert in dealing with clutter because one of the questions that come up very often when people want to move overseas is what to do with all of the stuff. So I hope you enjoy this interview with her a little bit different style from normal. And if you're interested in joining us on Facebook in the Live and Earn in Paradise group, we hope you will join us, though. There's a link in the show notes.
Dawn Fleming: [00:01:18] I have a very special edition of Freedom Friday with Dawn for you today. I have a guest, Jes Mercy. She's I've watched her have tremendous success with her program. And I thought it would be so time to bring her on and have her talk about stuff because that's obviously one of the things we talk about in our five-day workshop is what to do with the stuff. And so she's I guess I want you I didn't I just call her the clutter expert.
Jes Mercy: [00:01:56] But I actually have a hard time figuring out what to call myself after all of these years. Professional organizer, clutter coach. But it really doesn't get to the heart of what I do, which is really helping people let go of the stuff that they're attached to and move forward with their life so they can take on these big life experiences and do all these things that are on their wish list and their bucket list. So anyway, thank you so much for having me, Dawn.
Dawn Fleming: [00:02:26] Oh, I'm just thrilled. And I cannot wait to hear how you got started as a clutter coach about that.
Jes Mercy: [00:02:36] So, you know, I've been I've always loved organization, right? When as a kid, I was the person who would pull my whole room apart and reorganize it. And at every point in my life, I thought, you know, I want to be a professional organizer. And my parents always told me, you can do whatever you want as long as you become a doctor or a lawyer. So I did. I went to school. I went to as when I got into college, I got into three and three programs so I would complete three years of undergraduate. And I had guaranteed admission into law school. And at that third year, I decided I really don't want to be a lawyer. That actually is terrible to me. So I'm not that great. Just I took my LSAT. I did great. I got, you know, I mean, everything was moving forward. And at the very last minute, I just pulled the plug and said, this is not right for me. And then I was kind of left with, well, what is the right path that I should go on? But I had been working in the archives at the college I went to, and I really was interested in history and kind of the organization of history and artifacts and all that stuff. So I ended up getting a master's degree in archival science, which is basically the organization of large collections of items, and that put me on this path to becoming a professional organizer. But it wasn't until many different career changes that it all came together. I was doing this as a hobby and then it just became really clear that I needed to do it as my full-time job. But also, personally, I had two little girls and I was really drowning in clutter, although it was very organized clutter. You know, I had the nice boxes, the labels, and I had to I really had these moments where very low moments actually, where I was depressed and I had a lot of anxiety and I had to figure out what was the underlying cause here. And for me, it was that I had too much stuff. My kids had too much stuff, we had too much stuff. And even though it was organized, it was overwhelming and it was creating just too much chaos in my life. So I really learned on myself and my family how to move forward. And the key is. Get rid of a lot of the stuff that you own to learn those basic skills, to learn how much space you actually have, and to live within that space, and that's where the freedom comes from. So everything I teach, I learned the hard way. Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt right.
Dawn Fleming: [00:05:18] Have your community, I know has just grown leaps and bounds. People are really resonating with your message, which I guess before us kind of get into how to deal with the stuff as my audience is interested in. Can you talk a little bit more? I know we were talking before the interview started about sort of the bigger impact in going this direction.
Jes Mercy: [00:05:47] So do you mean like the environmental impact or the.
Dawn Fleming: [00:05:51] Yeah.
Jes Mercy: [00:05:51] So what's been really fascinating to be working with clients is there's a lot of concern about letting go of stuff. What's the best way to let go of items that I have? I have clients that just have boxes in their homes because they don't know if they should recycle boxes. They just don't want to let go of things because they're afraid that there's going to be an environmental impact. It's going to go into a landfill. So I started really digging deep into what happens to our stuff when we let go of it. And one of the cold, hard truth that I share all the time is everything that you own is going to end up in a landfill one day. And that's horrible sounding, but it really is the truth. So the best thing that we can do as consumers is to buy less starting immediately. We have almost no control over what happens to something when it leaves our house, but we have a lot of control over what we bring into the house. So really now it's Black Friday. So we're being inundated with sales flyers and these very emotional poles to go purchase something. But just remember everything that you're bringing into your house, you are going to have to get out of your house. So if that's going to be a struggle, that needs to be part of our buying decision, because once you purchase it, once you consume it, it's your responsibility to dispose of it. And we really have no control over what happens once we leave it at a donation center, put it into the trash. There is, unfortunately, the global situation with recycling is really, really bad. Almost nothing gets recycled. So even if we recycle something, it's not necessarily it's most likely it's not going to be recycled. It's going to go into a landfill. So just try and think about that before you bring something in because that's where you have the most control over the process.
Dawn Fleming: [00:07:51] That's where it starts,
Jes Mercy: [00:07:52] Right. It's all started where it starts. Yep. Yeah.
Dawn Fleming: [00:07:56] Well, thank you for bringing that up because I think that is important as we think about that. And so I know you also work with people who are downsizing, which is kind of what sort of like what we're doing here. Some people do that. And what we teach is to do a beta test. Like you don't have to get rid of all your stuff to go do a bit of test. Right. So we'll try it out before you, like, go through this whole exercise. But then let's assume and our beta test, we're getting some really great results back. People are really loving that concept and then coming back and going, OK, now, yeah, I really want to do this. So where do I start? So we've talked about sorting into what are you going to take? And you may only take a couple of suitcases with you, right. If you're traveling by airplane, maybe a carload if you are going to drive. I know one of my ladies I interviewed on my podcast, she told me she and her husband moved out of a seventy-five hundred square foot home in Canada and only brought with them what they could fit in their ultima. So I was like, oh, wow. And then she told also told me was really interesting. She had like all these photo albums and like all of that, that's those are memories. Those are experiences. And so she put them in storage and then she told the story about going back up there and just spend days scanning. Right. And then basically taking them to a landfill, as the actual photo albums. But that was done later on. So, I mean, that's kind of the one extreme of that whole exercise. But really, it's the take, sell, donate, or store or kind of our major categories. So tell me how you help people through that daunting task is.
Jes Mercy: [00:09:59] Really daunting. There's no question about it. So I think recognizing that it's overwhelming and that this is going to be a project that you have to break down into little bits and pieces and just continue this momentum forward is huge. The first thing that I do when people start working with me and if you ever are interested in my boot camp, this is like a baseline thing that we teach is when you are cluttering, when you're starting the process of downsizing, it's critical that you stop bringing stuff in. So I use this analogy, which is it's a strong analogy that's going to stick with you. But think about a clogged toilet. You would never add material to a toilet until you got rid of that plug. Right. And so clutter is essentially the same thing in your house. It's a clog. You're never going to get on top of what's there if you keep bringing stuff in. So right away in boot camp and with all of the clients I've ever worked with, we do the cold, hard stuff. Nothing comes into your house while you're downsizing, while you're cluttering, because you're just getting in your own way then, right? You're never going to get on top of it. So no. One considers completely stopping shopping. And the question I get all the time is, well, what about my pantry? Just eat down your pantry like this is a great time to eat and what you have and really save money. You see so much money when you stop in for a brief period of time, but that's going to help you get on top of what is actually in your house. And then the next step is to look at the space, look at the space that you actually have. And look think about the space that you're moving to. Typically, we're living well outside of our storage space, to begin with. So storage space in your home is really what I define as closets or cabinets. Floor space is not storage space. So this is kind of like a big house for a lot of people. If you have been stacked up on your floor, that's not storage space. So you're probably living outside of your storage space, to begin with. So step one is to try and reduce what you have to live within the storage space that you currently have already because typically with downsizing, you have to really get rid of 80 percent of what you own because you're already living so far out of the space that you have going to a smaller space. So just be really firm with yourself, really understand how much space you have, how much space you will have, and think about that as a guide moving forward. I also have some cautionary tales about storing stuff. So be very clear when you go to store your items. Number one, put a budget on it, a strict budget because most people have ended up having storage units for decades and you don't want to be paying to store stuff that you are never going to use. The other thing is that the storage unit, they have a lot of little critters and they have flooding problems. So if you're storing memorabilia or photographs of things that are really important to you, you want to get a climate-controlled storage unit, which costs a lot more. But otherwise, there's a good chance you will go back and find mold, mildew, mice, and bugs. I mean, the gamut. Right? So and the storage unit insurance does not cover those types of things. So just a little warning there, because the worst thing ever is going back to get your family artifacts and finding your heirloom items and finding that they've been destroyed. So you kind of realistic about that, too?
Dawn Fleming: [00:13:56] Good tip. Yeah, we still have a storage unit in Florida, but yeah, there's no question climate control was the only way to go because just because of what you said, the humidity there, you don't even think about it.
Jes Mercy: [00:14:10] Oh, yeah. And just the material that they use to build those, it creates a lot even in other climates, it creates a lot of humidity and that you're going to get mold and mildew and then that destroys everything. So you don't want to come back to that. No. We'll be back in a moment.
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Dawn: [00:16:03] Welcome back to the Overseas Life Redesign podcast, thank you so much for being here, and we invite you to subscribe, if you like, what you hear.
Dawn Fleming: [00:16:13] What have you found as far as selling now? We really lucked out when we were in Florida. We had run to this big house and I had picked up a lot of things on Craigslist and didn't pay a lot of money for them. But I got some really good quality things. I had a consignment shop down the street that I brought her over six months before we moved and said, hey, what would you which would you take? And she looked around. She said basically said, I'll take it all. But she didn't have room. So it was great. We had a little time, had a little van for transit van, and we were able to take things in small batches over to her shop as she had a room. And I've got a much better price even with her commission, than what I probably would have been able to get for it. So I don't know that that's a possibility for everybody. But do you have any tips for as far as selling things? I mean, with the pandemic, are people buying everything?
Jes Mercy: [00:17:16] No, I think if you really want to be realistic again about how much things are going to sell for so like you’re having a consignment shop right down the road from you, that would take everything. That is a huge win. I don't think that you really realize what you want to do.
Dawn Fleming: [00:17:35] I do know I have this beautiful Thomasville furniture set sleigh bed, armoire, lingerie, just everything. It was one of my dreams when, like, I always have hand-me-down furniture when I was a kid and when I got of law school, that was like one of my gifts to myself was this nice bedroom furniture. But I've had it for over 20 years like I was done with it. I wasn't going to take it to Mexico. And she actually brought a buyer over who bought it and they paid for the mover to come. And I got a really nice price on it. And yeah, I so we, yeah, we didn't really have to move much because we did not. But also as I said, we started we knew a year before we move that we weren't going to renew our lease. And so that gradual process was huge. I can imagine trying to do that in like a month or something.
Jes Mercy: [00:18:28] Right. It's yeah. I mean, by doing it quickly, you would probably be forfeiting a lot of potential sales. The thing with selling your stuff, so the best thing that you can do is to look at the items that you have as if your next-door neighbor owns them. We tend to place a tremendous amount of value on our stuff because it's ours, right? It seems so valuable because we own it. So you want to look at it like it's owned by somebody else. And if you walked into your neighbor's house and saw that, how much would you be willing to pay for it? So that kind of gives you a little bit of a starting point that makes more sense. Then it removes that emotional piece of it is ours. Right. And then if you do have some valuable things, definitely bring in an expert and find out how much they're actually worth. Otherwise, I would say you want to give yourself a set amount of time that you will devote to selling items. So your time is worth more than anything. Right. And I know that this is what you teach also. So time is a non-renewable resource. We're never getting our time back. Money is a renewable resource. We always have the ability to make more money in the future. So if you're going to spend four hours selling something that you're going to get fifty dollars for, is that really worth your time? So just set up before you get started, say, OK, my time is valuable and I will spend one hour trying to sell this if that's worth it. Right. But just kind of it's a good way to assess how much of your time to put a value on your time. Is am I worth more than twelve fifty an hour? Probably. Right.
Dawn Fleming: [00:20:19] It's right. Yeah.
Jes Mercy: [00:20:20] It is very difficult in the pandemic right now in terms of it's actually easier to sell things than it was before because you can do like Porch pickups. There's a lot of those sort of like free marketplace type things. But if you're planning on doing a lot of donating to you, I would encourage you to go now because donation centers have been opening and closing and opening and closing during the pandemic. They're overwhelmed. Everyone is de right now and there's a lot of restrictions due to covid. So if you're thinking about going to a donation center, do that sooner rather than later because you never know what's going to happen, when it's going to be open, when it's going to be closed. You know, that's a yeah.
Dawn Fleming: [00:21:02] Yeah. And you know, one thing that was really surprising to me, I had a nice set of it was a love seat and a sofa, lazy boy, good quality. I'd had it for quite a few years. The love seat was in pretty good. It was in great shape. And then the sofa was in great shape, except one corner and the back had a little area. I have cats and I had some cat scratching in one area. And do you know, Goodwill came over and they said, well, we'll take the lefse, but we don't want that sofa because it has damage on it? And I was like, are you kidding me? I mean, it was a nice sofa, you know, but like, they wouldn't take it if you experience this with this.
Jes Mercy: [00:21:44] Absolutely. So I was shocked. So if you're on social media, which you probably are, because you're watching this on social media, this is a really good use of your social media post to your public page and say, where can I donate in my local area? Because there's probably a lot more resources out there than you're aware of. There are furniture banks. So typically furniture banks are volunteer-run and they're set up in warehouses and they help homeless populations re-establish in homes. So they'll take pretty much anything but like which is Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Salvation Army. They only want stuff that's going to sell. So they're much pickier. And oftentimes they'll ask you to send pictures first. So make some phone calls and you can save yourself a lot of time at the back end, know where your charities are, and know what they're taking, and know what their stipulations are. And definitely, you can have somebody come and pick you up at your house. That is by far the way to go, right?
Dawn Fleming: [00:22:44] Absolutely. Yeah. Good tip. Yeah, I think that's a great idea. I hadn't really thought about that, but yeah. And we actually found that even just asking around people to I mean we found some charities that were lesser known that were like so grateful, like we would bring them stuff and they're like, oh my gosh, thank you so much. You know, as opposed to some of the ones that are more known and they've just got things piled everywhere over there. But like little thrift stores, like there was I remember there was a little thrift store that supported an animal shelter and they were just so grateful. And it wasn't I felt bad. I was like, I wish I would have found you guys sooner because I would have brought more stuff there instead of the Salvation Army.
Jes Mercy: [00:23:34] But it is a lot of churches that have little areas where they set up like consignment type sales or stuff like that. So churches are a good source for that. Homeless shelters, animal shelters, animal shelters actually take linens and all sorts of things like that, which is can be hard to let go of. So there are definitely options. But you do have to kind of poke around but start that early. I figure that out west.
Dawn Fleming: [00:24:00] Yeah. Yeah.
Dawn Fleming: [00:24:01] And I guess that from my experience, having done it a few times now, I would say the earlier the better for doing that sort of thing, because it is, as you say, is sort of a stressful, overwhelming process to begin with. And the more time you can give yourself to either work through the emotions or even just the logistical, practical aspects of it, it seems like that's a much better way to go. Another thing I have to tell you, this funny story because it was hilarious. So when we moved from California, we had the movers coming on a Sunday and we had a garage sale on Saturday for all the stuff that we weren't taking with us. Right. And we had everything like dirt cheap. Right. Like you. This was a get rid of it Roche dale. This was not like a make money garage sale. And we knew that anything that was left was going to be going to the donations that we were going to have to carry it. So the first couple of hours were pretty good. And then as the day wore on, people would say we would or someone would look at something. They wouldn't even ask about it. And you were interested in that? Oh, you want that? How much you give? Well, OK, I'll give you that for this price. But you have to take that bet and that literally there was a woman who bought a hand-painted arm, what was originally a TV sound. My girlfriend, I remodeled the house and we painted this thing. And it was she was just going to use it as a closet, I think, single mom, and Hispanic gal. And she said, can I come back later and pick it up? And, oh, Jessica, when she came, I mean, I gave her clothes. I gave her, like, a lot of the stuff. But like I said, we were and her eyes were so big. She was just like, what? I can't pay you for the stuff that we're like, no, no, no. You understand you are us by taking in. But it was when we knew it went to a good home and she was very grateful, it was a very funny Grantsville probably tells the story better than I do, but it's an interesting way to go.
Jes Mercy: [00:26:17] It's always good if you feel I mean, if you can find somebody in your local community who really is in need, it's so much easier to let go of stuff if you know it's going to somebody who truly needs it. That's one way we can bridge that emotional barrier of letting go of stuff, find somebody who really needs it, who you connect with. And that makes it so much easier.
Dawn Fleming: [00:26:39] Yeah, absolutely. In fact, someone was talking about having things in storage and basically deciding, no, I really don't want it. And just being able to give it to someone who was a young couple starting out, needing to furnish an apartment, that type of situation. So, yeah, good. All right. Well, is there anything I didn't ask you that you before we wrap up here,
Jes Mercy: [00:27:05] I think I would just say to anybody who's listening, you're on this journey, right? The experiences that you're going to create are so much more important than any single idea that you have. So just really keep the bigger picture in mind. And I know, John, you know, this is your message also. You share this all the time, but the weight of clutter and the weight of stuff, once you start letting it go, it's everything else flows so much more freely. So give yourself the gift of not creating too much stress around the process of letting it go. Just let it go because you're going into this beautiful new experience. And that really keeps that goal in mind. I guess I would say the eye on the prize.
Dawn Fleming: [00:27:52] That's right. That's right. For sure. All right. Well, thank you so much for you’re sharing your wisdom about clutter. And I'll definitely put the link in case somebody wants to go through your workshop. I know. It's phenomenal.
Jes Mercy: [00:28:10] Absolutely. Join us.
Dawn Fleming: [00:28:13] So that's wonderful.
Jes Mercy: [00:28:14] But if you for having me, I love working with all-seeing everyone just aspiring to all different things. This is why I do what I do so that my clients can get to this point, too, and live out their dreams. So you guys are doing amazing stuff.
Dawn Fleming: [00:28:29] Oh, thank you for saying that. I appreciate it. We enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. And you. All right. Bye-bye.
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