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Today’s guest post comes from Ainsley Lawrence, a writer who is passionate about topics like life, work, finance, and all the things that impact us on a day-to-day basis. As someone who is always striving for optimization (as I’m sure many of you are), I thought that a declutter post would resonate with you all as well. Enjoy!
Three days into vacation, you realize that you could stay on that island, mountain top, or exciting city street forever and never miss a thing you left back home.
Realistic or not, that feeling has some truth behind it: You don’t need each and every item that’s cluttering your house. All of those distractions also make it impossible to find what you really do want, like clothing that feels great and is flattering or books you can get lost in.
Getting rid of items you don’t like or don’t use can help you make some money now, save a bit at tax time, and lead to a life more full of purpose than belongings.
Have a Game Plan
As you clean out your home and decide what you’re going to do with the items, it helps to have a game plan in mind. Here are a few things to keep in mind during this process:
- Put some thought into where you’ll sell your items. You may have made a bit of money selling on something like eBay in the past, but there could be other options out there that are more lucrative.
- Different items can and should be sold in different ways. For example, consignment stores are great for children’s clothes and toys, while websites like Gazelle, as covered by CNet, will give you money for your tech gadgets.
- Don’t be in such a rush to sell your items that you accept less than what you think is fair.
It’s okay to hold on to your clutter a little longer for the sake of making more money.
Clean Out Your Closets
Even if you’ve made your way through your house and scooped up any items you no longer care about, it’s easy to overlook your closet — it’s hidden behind doors, after all.
The scary truth is that you have to face your closet if you want to really get your home in order. Plus, there’s probably a lot in there that’s never been worn, which could mean big bucks in return. If you come across items that are in decent condition but not new enough to sell, you can donate your clothing to a shelter (more on that in a bit).
Let’s decide what stays and what goes. If it fits, ask yourself when you wore it last. If the answer is any of the following, either sell it or donate based on its condition:
- “Never. I have never worn this, not even once.”
- “I can’t remember.”
- “Sometime this past year, but I didn’t like how it looked, so I’ll probably never wear it again.”
If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. This is true even if you love it and vow to fit in it again one day. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, of course, but if you truly want to declutter and make some money doing it, these items have to go.
One last thing: If it has sentimental value, put it in storage.
Donate Items to Charities
If you’re having a hard time selling some items or you don’t have the time to take pictures, list them online and mail them once they’re sold, consider donating them instead.
Before you give your items to any ol’ charity, though, you want to vet it to make sure the charity accepting donations is legit. Here are a few tips when assessing a charity:
- Does the charity give you details about their name, location, contact information and what donations are used for?
- Do they have positive social proof? A charity with a solid reputation will have something written about them online. If you can’t find anything, or if all you see are bad reviews, that’s a red flag.
- Can they show you proof that they’re eligible for tax-deductible contributions? If they give you a receipt, you can write off the donation at tax time.
Keep Your Home and Closet Organized
Once your home has been cleared out, you can start thinking about closet organization hacks. If you keep your closet organized, you’ll have an easier time spotting the items you can sell in the future. If you use your closet as a catch-all space, though, where you toss anything and everything you don’t know what to do with, it won’t be long before your clothing and other items are spilling onto the floor.
Here are five easy-to-follow tips to get you started:
- Add features like hangers that hold multiple pants or a hanging soft shelf unit to maximize vertical space.
- Organize items on a high shelf by putting them into clear boxes. You’ll prevent them from spilling everywhere but still keep them accessible.
- Use tension rods wherever possible to add hanging space.
- Hang seldom-used items on the walls of your closet, behind your clothes.
- Go through your closet monthly to get rid of anything you don’t need.
Adopt a Minimalist Outlook Moving Forward
Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter and been paid handsomely for it, it’s time to think about your future. Do you want to get bogged down again by unnecessary items, or would you like to live a simpler type of life?
The minimalist lifestyle can help your relationship with money in a number of ways. It helps you realize that:
- Limiting your items to only what you truly need lets you surround yourself with value.
- Accumulating possessions can become an addictive cycle, putting you into debt.
- There’s less pressure to earn more at work and more freedom to live your life.
Don’t wait for the “perfect” time to declutter, like the beginning of the year or the start of spring. Do it now, create habits for the future, and enjoy some extra cash in your pocket.
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