How to Make Some of Your Money Back When De-Cluttering

When I talk to people about what's been holding them back from doing the major de-cluttering purge that they've been "meaning" to do... it usually comes down to a few of the same things:

  • I don't even know where to begin.
  • It all seems so overwhelming.
  • I don't know what to keep and what to get rid of.
  • I don't have the time to do it.

Although I can't address every one of those reasons in this post, I have talked about them in other posts and will continue to do so.  But, right now, I want to address one of the other hesitations that comes up a lot...

It seems like such a waste of money just donating all of that stuff after all the money I've spent!

Okay, first of all... holding on to all that stuff and stacking it up in random piles in your garage, attic, _______ (insert favorite clutter spot here) isn't exactly making a good use of your money either.  So, if you've somehow been tricking yourself into thinking that it was, you can let that go right now.

Next, I agree with you.  Just donating all that stuff that you spent your hard-earned money on is a waste!  But, that's the good news... you don't have to just drop all of it off at the nearest donation store and be on your merry way.

When it comes to what to do with your purged items, there are LOTS of other options and many of them will make a little cash back for you!

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1.  Re-sell your "gently used" clothes at a consignment store.

When you finally get around to going through your closet, chances are, you're going to find some things in there that you've hardly worn (if ever).  So, instead of just dropping these nearly-new items off at a donation store, you can make a little of your money back by taking them to a consignment store.  They usually have some guidelines as to what they accept, so they should be fairly new (no Hammer pants), in good condition and typically, in-season for the current time period.  But, even if they don't accept all of the items you take in, even a few pieces will still bring back some more of your money than none.

2.  Re-sell your furniture and other housewares at a home consignment store.

Believe it or not, consignment isn't just for clothes, shoes and purses.  Most cities also have some sort of furniture or housewares consignment store as well.  The concept is the same - you bring in your gently-used furniture, linens, pillows, decorations, etc. and they re-sell them for you.  Again, it's up to the store owners to decide which items they'll accept, but it's definitely worth a shot.  Most consignment stores give you at least 40 or 50% of the sale price, so it's a great way to make some of your money back!

3.  Sell your books, video games, movies and music to a used bookstore.

With the growing popularity of e-books and e-readers, it may sometimes feel like there aren't any real bookstores left.  But that's not the case, I promise you.  Not only are there still bookstores out there, but most cities also have at least one used bookstore where you can find pre-used books, movies, video games, CD's and maybe even cassette tapes if you're lucky!  So, before you just toss all of your entertainment items and books into a donate bin, take them to one of these stores and see what they're willing to put out on their shelves.  Usually, you'll have the choice between two options - a combination of cash and store credit or straight cash (which will usually be less).  Either way, it's a win.  If you want to be really good about not bringing in new clutter, take the straight cash deal and be happy that you're walking out with more than you came in with. 

I'm not strictly against the store credit option though either, because I find it useful for "replacing" some of the older options.  For instance, if you still had a VCR and VHS tapes, but are getting rid of them in your purge and you do still watch DVD's, then I think it's fine to use that store credit to replace some of your old favorites that you used to own on VHS with the DVD version.  Just don't go crazy in there and bring home a bunch of new stuff that you'll never touch!  ;)

4.  Sell your collectible/valuable items on eBay.

If you're getting rid of any items that are collectible or valuable, you definitely don't want to just mindlessly donate them.  Unless you want to be that guy/girl facepalming when you see someone on Antiques Roadshow cashing in on your fortune.  It will take a little longer and a little more effort, but it'll be worth it in the end.  eBay is a great place to re-sell these types of items because that's where collectors generally hang out, so the people viewing your stuff will be more familiar with its value.  If you're not sure of the value yourself, just do a little research - look up what similar items are going for and then price yours accordingly based on the condition.  This is also a great way to make sure that sentimental items go to a "good home" where you know they will truly be appreciated and enjoyed (which will make it a little easier for you to let go of them).

5.  Sell your furniture, electronics and appliances on Craigslist.

For any items like furniture, electronics and appliances that are in decent shape, I always advise people to at least attempt to sell them first on Craigslist before donating them.  Why not?  Again, even if you don't sell them for much, you'll still have more than you would've had otherwise.  Of course, you want to be smart about it and use precautions like meeting buyers in a public place and properly "vetting" them first.  And, it will take a little more patience on your part as you will surely get a few of the infamous no-shows.  But, if you have the time and the patience... go for it.

6.  Have a yard sale.

When all else fails, have a yard sale!  When I went through my downsizing process, I actually left the yard sale for last.  I took clothes and furniture to consignment stores, got cash back for my books and movies, sold collectibles on eBay and did a few Craigslist deals.  THEN, what was left went out in the yard sale.  People who shop at yard sales don't want to pay much more than a buck or two for anything, so make sure you try to sell your nicer items first and then put whatever's left out on the lawn.  Even if you only come out of it with $100 at the end of the day, that's $100 that you can put towards your tiny house or a bucket list item!

Good luck!

Until next time... keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!

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