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The High Cost of Hoarding and How to Prevent It

Hoarding is not only a serious psychological disorder, but it can be extremely expensive. Hear from an expert who helps hoarders reclaim their space and find out how hoarding takes a financial toll on a family.

If you've seen shows profiling extreme hoarders and thought that would never happen to you, extreme cleaning expert Matt Paxton says you're wrong.

"I believe we're all two or three events away from becoming a stage 5 hoarder," says Matt. "It can happen to anyone."

In fact, 10 to 14 million people nationwide struggle with hoarding.

"I get thousands of requests a month from families nationwide that need my help, and I really couldn't help everybody, so I went to Service Masters and said 'I need compassionate guys that can go in and help properly,'" says Matt.

What many people don't realize is that hoarding is a really expensive problem in more ways than one.

"Twenty years of trash really takes its toll on a home," says Matt. "You've got mold issues, water damage issues, complete structural damage. Lots of times you have to have all new appliances, all new carpet, all new walls, all new floors."

A serious cleaning service like Matt's can cost about $1,000 a day, but the big jobs he does can run $20,000 to $40,000 to clean up.

And because the root of hoarding is often psychological, victims need help to kick their habit. When you factor in the cost of therapy, home health care, home repairs and professional organizing help, the price really adds up.

"It can get in excess of six figures," says Matt.

That's why Matt says it's important to know the signs and get help early. Despite common perceptions, hoarding is not a choice. He says it's usually triggered by something which leads people to start buying stuff to make themselves happy.

"Divorce, death, grief, some type of loss. No one wants to be a hoarder. There's a reason they do it," he says. What can you do to prevent hoarding?

Matt says the simplest thing is to ask yourself a simple question every time you buy something.

"Before you buy something, ask yourself do I need this, or do I want this? Will this make my life better, will it help my family? If it doesn't, don't buy it," says Matt.

Next, clean with your family. If your kids see you doing it, they are more likely to join you. Also, make defined roles for who does what. Matt says he and his wife and I have a very defined jobs every night. She makes the meal, once it's on the table it's Matt's job to get to clean the dishes.

Also, take the clean up one step at a time. Don't look at your house as a whole otherwise you can get overwhelmed.

"Focus on a one foot by one foot area, and you clean for 10 minutes a night," says Matt. "It's called the 10 minute sweep."

Once you clean that one spot, celebrate your progress.

"It took 20 years to fill the home," says Matt. "You're not going to clean it overnight."

Finally, practice equal in, equal out. Every time you buy something, you should remove something of the same size or shape.

For more from Matt, visit cluttercleaner.com.
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