When a couple decides to take the next step in their relationship and move in together, it should be a joyous occasion. However, a recent survey conducted by www.Kijiji.com, eBay’s (Nasdaq:EBAY) free, local classifieds Web site and Chadwick Martin Bailey, a custom research and consulting firm, found that cohabiting often leads to clutter, which can actually put a strain on a relationship.
When combining two lives into one household, reconciling each person’s possessions can be a challenge of tug-of-war – he might want to keep his black leather couch, while she prefers her neutral microsuede sofa. Over half of Americans (54 percent) admitted to having up to 10 duplicate items when they moved in with their partners, and an additional one out of five (21 percent) said they had even more. Although some respondents gave the extra items to friends and family or donated them to charity, more than one in five (22 percent) simply kept the items, which are still cluttering up their homes to this day!
Merging and Purging
In fact, less than a quarter of respondents sold the unwanted items to make some extra cash, even though more than one-third said that learning to balance finances as a couple was the most difficult part of moving in together. Kijiji can help solve both of these issues, as its family-friendly, localized online marketplace makes it easy for people to buy, sell and connect with their communities for free within 220 different cities. Some of the most common unused items sitting around couples’ homes include electronics (42 percent), kitchen appliances (36 percent), cookware (29 percent) and furniture (23 percent). If you really can’t decide whose item to keep, why not sell both of them and use the money to buy something that you can each agree on?
“With 57% of Americans expecting the economy to remain the same or get worse over the next 12 months, couples are continuing to cut back by not only getting rid of what they don’t need, but profiting from it,” says Brant Cruz, vice president of Retail and e-commerce at Chadwick Martin Bailey. “We fully expect to see this trend continue, especially with websites like Kijiji.com, which make it not only safe but easy to make some extra money.
Other than taking up valuable space, unwanted clutter can take its toll on a relationship, as nearly one in six Americans (15 percent) said that they argue with their loved ones about clutter more than one might expect. More than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) said that their significant others refuse to part with certain items, despite their pleading. The items causing the most stress include home décor (41 percent), furniture (31 percent), sporting goods and trophies (22 percent) and kitchen appliances (12 percent). Despite the fact that three-quarters of Americans (76 percent) said both they themselves and their partner made joint decisions about what to get rid of, more than two-thirds (68 percent) would like to purge some of their loved ones’ belongings if given the chance! A ping pong table could net you an additional $80, a futon $44 and a television as much as $422! This is extra cash lying around your house that anyone would find useful!
Fighting and Finger-Pointing
The perception of who is responsible for household clutter adds to the clutter-related conflicts between partners. Nearly one-third of respondents describe their partners as “clutterbugs,” but only one in five admitted that their partners would say the same about them! It also seems as though most people are willing to hold their loved ones to higher standards than themselves, as 55 percent said that their significant others have a manageable amount of clutter, whereas 63 percent said their partners would say the same thing about them. Women were more likely to take responsibility for purging unwanted items, as a quarter of females (26 percent) said they were the ones in charge of making decluttering decisions within the household, in comparison to only 10 percent of men.
Fitting Two Lives into One Home
In light of these challenges, Kijiji’s Merge & Purge Expert Kristen Sullivan, founder of www.LoveandLoot.com, suggests the following tips for couples who are moving in together and don’t want their relationships to suffer:
1. Take Advantage of the Financial Perks of Moving in Together: Discuss where your lives and belongings will overlap, and figure out how and where to make the most appropriate cuts. If you have two coffee makers, considering selling one of them online.
2. Outline a Budget for the Move: Working together to create a budget will open the door for conversation about your attitudes towards spending, income, savings goals and how you’ll budget your lives once you’re living together. If you’d prefer to invest in a nice sofa by skimping on a kitchen table, make sure that your partner feels the same way.
3. Discuss Your Division of Labor and Costs Before the Move: When it comes to financing the move, you might decide to split the cost down the middle or divide it in proportion to your income levels. Create a plan and set a schedule to discuss how the plan will evolve over time.
4. Maintain Your Independence: Remember that you’re combining two lives under one roof. It’s healthy to maintain some financial independence, particularly if you’re not married. If you don’t have a contract or many years of commitment binding you together, then it might be best to avoid making large joint purchases together.
5. Find the Right Mix of Communication, Compromise and Compassion: As you’ll soon come to understand, communication, compromise and compassion are each key to building a happy and lasting living arrangement.