A few weeks back, Tsh hosted Project:Simplify. It was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to get rid of some clutter, clean up, and simplify little areas of our homes.
In our household, decluttering is also a great way to discover new ways to make some money. It is a constant inspiration for me to clean up, while my husband gets in line to get rid of things “meaningfully” — he has slowly mastered the art of making money while we clean up.
The path to actually making money is not a short one, so here are a few things to get straight before you set yourself on this path.
1. Like most everything else, making money takes time, trial and error.
Decluttering to make money can be frustrating in the beginning, and very often it feels like you are spending more time on it that it is worth. While that might very well be the case, give it time and start with low expectations. You’ll be better at the experimentation with that frame of mind.
2. Wait until you get two to five items together, but do not wait too long.
You’ll learn a lot through this experience, but it’s better to compress that learning into a shorter time. Wait to get two to five items collected before you start to sell your stuff. However, don’t wait forever, like I often did when I was getting started.
Procrastination often goes against the philosophy of decluttering.
3. There is ONE master of selling in the household.
Selling is hard; something not everyone is good at. Decide who’s “the master of selling” in your home, and make it that person’s job. Leave the selling to that person.
4. You WILL find a system that works for you, with time.
To put it simply, you will learn and figure out what works for you within a few months to a year.
Photo by epsos
Here are some simple ways to make some money while you declutter and simplify your home:
1. Sell on Craigslist
Craigslist is the simplest way ever to sell just about anything. List it, upload some pictures and wait for the emails to pour in.
Craigslist is the best place to sell gadgets that aren’t too expensive, children’s clothes, things for newborns and all kinds of furniture.
You never have to give your real email address or worry about responding to anyone that sounds less than appropriate on the phone.
What to look out for while you use Craigslist:
People will come to your home to pay and pick things up. Be sure not to be home alone. Put things out in the driveway or garage, and be sure to call people home early in the day.
2. Sell on eBay
eBay is a slightly more complicated way to sell, but it is a great way to sell valuable items, antiques, electronics and unopened items. Since eBay is a bidding system, it can be a very good way to sell items in high demand.
What to look out for while you sell on eBay:
Be sure to estimate shipping well. If you do promise free shipping or shipping at a standard price, be sure your estimation is right. Consider packaging charges as well. We once sold posters for a dollar and spent over five dollars packaging them to ship it.
Freecycle is not technically selling, but it is a great way to give away what you do not need quickly and to someone who will use it. Freecycle is an area-based mailing list that you can join to give away or find free stuff.
What to look out for while you use Freecycle:
Once again, a stranger will some over to pick up an item. Be sure to keep things out in the driveway or garage before the person comes over to pick up an item.
4. Donate to Charities
Donating to charities is a always a option. There are so many choices too! While you do not make money right away, they money comes back in terms of deductions on the taxes.
The Kidney Foundation will come pick up items every few weeks if you are on their list. They will call, let you know when they will be in your area. All you need to do is put the donation bags out and they pick up the bags and leave donation receipts for you.
What to look out for while you donate to charities:
Donations to charities and registered non-profits should be tax deductible. Be sure to get a receipt, and always keep track (a written list) of the items donated. We always keep an itemized list and take pictures of items we donate. Do a little homework to see what kind of items charities do not accept to prevent work for them later.
5. Sell at secondhand stores
Secondhand stores are all over. They stock specific items for sports, kids, furniture, and so on. These stores will always take gently-used items that would cost people a lot more to buy first hand.These stores are great if you want to get rid of a bunch of similar items, such as baby items when your baby turns two and you no longer need all that baby clutter around the house (such as big toys and furniture).
What to look out for when you sell items at secondhand stores:
The main issue with these stores is that they don’t take everything. They also might not give you the best price for an item. If they don’t pay you upfront, then they will give you 20 to 30 percent of the price when it finally sells.
6. Have a garage sale
A garage sale is a lot of work, but it can be fun if you do it with a neighbor or if you have a dedicated weekend for a neighborhood garage sale. Because they’re a lot of work to get ready for, so be sure to make it a day of fun for the whole family.
What to look out for when you have a garage sale:
Don’t obsess about the price of items. The idea is to get rid of a maximum number of items with the minimum amount of effort and still make some money, so stay focused on that.
7. Gift them!
I invited a number of friends over, and had my kids’ teachers look at all my books before I sold them all at Half-Price Books. It was a great way to gift people the books they loved.
When friends, cousins and my sisters come over to visit, I often gift them the clothes, accessories and sweaters they like in my closet. Considering my biggest ticket items are often gifts, I end up saving a lot of money and frustration when I give close friends and family things they love and I already have.
What to look out for when you gift items you own:
Don’t hoard items just so you can gift them in a few years to Aunt Hilda when she finally visits (and in the end, you can’t even be sure if she will love what you saved for her). Be sensitive, and never gift your things to people unless you know them really well… lest they think you are trying to be too cheap.
While you declutter this spring, I hope you make some money as well. Making small amounts of money is a great decluttering motivator and can help you simplify your life.
How do you make money while you de-clutter?