REAL LIFE

We found $40,000 in our garage!

So lucky!

Like many of us, Sharon Burns, 54, and her family used their garage as a place to store unwanted or unused items that didn’t fit in the house.

Over the years, it became quite cluttered and Sharon always told herself she’d get around to sorting it out.

But, she had no idea of the treasure that had been sitting right under her nose all along…

My hubby, Darren, was cramming items into a box.

‘Do we really need all of this?’ he asked.

‘I’ll sort it when we’ve moved into the new house,’ I promised him.

Over the past 15 years, we’d used our attic to store things we didn’t use.

Still, I just couldn’t bear to part with it.

Darren and I had travelled the world and, everywhere we went, I liked to buy a trinket or souvenir.

Plus, I liked different currencies and old coins.

Anything we acquired, I insisted we keep – I just loved collecting things!

Despite Darren’s regular encouragement, I refused to chuck any of it.

‘We might need it one day,’ I’d say.

When removalists came to take our stuff to our new, forever home, they couldn’t believe how much we had.

‘How many of you are moving? I’ve just seen nine sets of golf clubs!’ one of them laughed.

‘Just the hubby, me and our baby girl, Zara,’ I smiled.

In our new place, I put everything from the old attic into the garage.

I’ll sort that out later, I told myself.

But I never did.

As Zara got older, the pile in the garage grew. From sporting gear and camping bits, to my girl’s old clothes and toys – I kept it all.

Full to the brim, it meant we had to park our two cars on the street.

When Zara was going camping one day, the garage was so stuffed we couldn’t even find her sleeping bag.

We had to buy a new one!

It was getting out of hand, but it was a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Nine
(Credit: Nine)

Then, last September, I was in the kitchen with Zara when my phone rang.

I recognised the number – it was one that had tried to contact me several times in the past week.

They’d left voicemails about a TV show, but I didn’t think it was real.

‘Oh, it’s that prank call again,’ I sighed.

‘No, Mum, it’s that show. I nominated you!’ Zara said.

‘What the…?’ I said.

Answering, it was a producer from a show called Space Invaders – a series that helps people declutter their homes.

And our 11-year-old girl had nominated us!

I felt shocked – and a bit embarrassed. I didn’t realise it was affecting Zara… But I still wasn’t sure about us going on TV, even when Darren was keen.

‘I’ll do it myself,’ I said, vowing to finally clear it out.

‘Come on, love. We need this,’ Darren said.

‘Okay, let’s do it,’ I agreed.

Within weeks, a TV crew was staring at our garage haul in shock.

It was a reality check to see it through their eyes.

Everything in there was taken to a huge hall.

Seeing it all laid out, I was astonished.

‘Wow!’ Darren gasped.

They’d sorted everything into different piles – Zara’s toys were one pile, another was a tonne of shoes, while another had a heap of sports equipment.

Three declutter experts, Peter, Cherie and Lucas, were there to help us out.

I found it difficult to let go of things, especially sentimental items such as Zara’s old dancing shoes.

‘You’ve got to change your attitude to clutter,’ Peter said. ‘Hang on to the memories, but don’t let the clutter weigh you down.’

Slowly, I felt ready to let things go – and it was so liberating! But the most incredible part was the hidden treasure that had been lurking in the garage.

Nine
(Credit: Nine)

Over the years, I’d stashed Aussie coins I liked the look of, or that had been made the year I was born.

I was amazed to find out some were rare. Plus, I’d kept a heap of money from different countries.

Totalling it up, Lucas revealed the pile was worth $28,500!

‘I can’t believe it!’ I cried.

Next, Lucas worked out the value of three pieces of art that I’d purchased in the Northern Territory.

They’d been created by an Indigenous artist, who had since passed away.

‘The three together are worth $12,000,’ Lucas said.

It meant we’d found $40,000 tidying up!

I decided to keep the coins and artwork to pass on to Zara when she’s older.

But we also donated a chunk of items to charity.

After a whole week of sorting, chucking and donating, the garage was transformed from an overflowing mess to an organised, tidy space.

Everything we kept, such as Christmas decorations, keepsakes and beach gear, was neatly put away on new shelves.

‘It looks amazing,’ I beamed.

Sometimes, I find myself reverting to my old ways.

Zara steps in, though, and reminds me, ‘No Mum, not again!’

‘You know she’s right!’ Darren adds.

And I can’t deny that.

It was a surprise when Zara nominated us, but I’m so proud of her. Now, I’m determined to keep our lives clutter-free!

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