3 Easy Steps to Declutter Your Home and Make Money – A Guest Post

The following is a guest post from Julie at The Family CEO.

Melissa and I are kindred spirits when it comes to decluttering. It’s a win/win situation when you can free up some space in your home and give your finances a boost at the same time.

And like Melissa, I often sell things – especially larger things – on Craigslist. But when it comes to smaller things (clothing, household items) I am more like to donate them to a worthy charity and take the deduction on our income taxes.

Here’s the decluttering/donation process I’ve been using for many years. It’s a simple system that works well for me.

Collect It

Collecting items to donate is sometimes a big, whirlwind operation that takes up a whole weekend. Those kind of purges feel good, and I engage in them every once in a while.

More often, however, our family’s decluttering process takes place over time. Outgrown tshirts, books that won’t be re-read, and extra coffee mugs (come on, you know you have too many of those too) all find their way to the pile little by litte.

One thing that helps with this process is to have a collection or staging area that all of the family uses. As our kids have gotten older, they declutter on their own schedule.

Then, when the pile has gotten large enough – meaning I can’t reach the wrapping paper that is in the same closet as our collection area — I move onto the next step.

List It

Before I bag up items to donate, I make a quick list of what’s included. It’s a very simple list done on a legal pad with tally marks to indicate numbers.

Grouping like items together before I start the list helps make the process faster.

The reason for the list is that we value our donations for tax deduction purposes. As a self-employed family, our tax bill is scary and the few minutes it takes to list and value our deductions is worth it at tax time.

I use a free, online service called It’s Deductible to make the valuations.

It’s Deductible has predetermined values for many of the items people donate, and the level of detail is amazing. Is that puzzle you’re donating 10-999 pieces or 1000+ pieces? Is the golf club you have listed an iron, a wedge or a putter? It’s Deductible will value them all differently.

Once I’ve finished entering the items into It’s Deductible, I print a summary report off and staple my handwritten list and the receipt from the charity to it. These are kept with our tax records.

Sometimes I enter and value items as I go, during the year, but more often I do it all when I’m getting tax stuff ready for our CPA. Even then, it only takes a half an hour or so.

Donate It

The last step is to get the items out of our house and into the hands of someone who can better put them to use. I’ve found that these days it’s more convenient than ever to donate items to charity, and I’m guessing that’s the case for you too.

For instance, there are several drive up places in my area that make donating items as easy as ordering a burger and fries. Some are adjacent to the thrift stores the charities operate and some are stand-alone containers.

There are also various organizations that come through my neighborhood and pick items up right from my driveway. It doesn’t get easier than that.

One question I always have is whether or not a charity I’m giving to is reputable. When in doubt, I stick with an organization I’m more familiar with. And a site like Charity Navigator – which rates charities – can be helpful too.

Do you have a system of donating to charity that works for you? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments.

Julie Mayfield is a family finance and lifestyle blogger. You can find her sharing “simple ideas for everyday living” at The Family CEO.

60 Day Declutter & Earn Money Challenge

We have been in our new apartment long enough to make it, um, homey, which in our family means cluttered.  When we first moved in, the upstairs (our main living area) was furnished in the minimalist style, and we loved how light and airy it felt.  However, now, almost 8 months later, we are back to having piles and stacks every where, and it no longer feels like it used to.  It feels a bit claustrophobic, and I don’t like it.

Our finished basement area never really got settled.  Yes, my husband and I have our office space down there as well as an extra bed that we sleep on when my mom is visiting and is in our room, but there are still many piles.  Piles of things to sell, things to make their way to our garage sale pile, things that never got unpacked.  Yuck.

So, I am starting a 60 day declutter and earn money challenge for myself.

My husband has a conference in San Francisco in the late fall, and we plan to travel together, the first time we have travelled alone in 8 years, since our son was born.  Of course, his trip will be paid for, but not until after the fact.

We will need to pay for my plane ticket and my food.  Then, we will need about $1,500 upfront to pay for the hotel room and his ticket as well as his conference costs, which will be reimbursed later.  I am guessing we will need about $1,800 to $2,000 upfront, of which about $1,500 will be reimbursed a few months later.

That means most of our snowflaking efforts will need to stop while we build up cash for this.  I want to hurry the process by selling some of our extra clutter such as our kids’ outgrown clothes and other household items we are not using.  My goal is to earn $500 to $750 in the next 60 days.

I’ll post every two weeks or so to show before and after photos and to let you know how much money we have made.

What is the most money you have ever made selling your household clutter on Craigslist?  What are your tips for successful selling?

Decluttering Challenge, Week 25

It has been quite some time since I decluttered due to a busy summer.  However, this past week, we got rid of 42 more items.

First, I got ride of 29 diapers and diaper covers and a baby bouncy seat by selling them on Craigslist.  I made $55 as I documented in my weekly Saved Quarter Challenge

Then, I started weeding through my kids’ outgrown clothes and came up with the following 12 items to go to our garage sale pile.  I am hoping we will yet be able to have a garage sale as we have a ton of stuff, but I am not sure it is going to happend due to my husband’s busy schedule.

We are not at a total of 1,364 items gone from our home in 25 weeks.  Yeah!

Have you been making progress decluttering?  If so, please tell us about it in the comments.

Decluttering Challenge, Week 24

This week I decluttered 34 items, most of them my kids’ outgrown clothes to go to the garage sale pile and books about giving birth and being pregnant.  I have now purged my home of 1,322 items. 

What I am most excited about, though, is that I have shut down my eBay store and am in the process of liquidating the inventory.  Every day that I get rid of the clothes, I feel so much better.  Our study has so much room now, and I am not even done yet.

I hope to be completely free of eBay within the next 2 weeks, and then I will write a post about it and share with you fully my delight in closing this chapter of my life.

Have you been decluttering?  If so, please share your results in the comments.

The Cost of Clutter Financially and Emotionally

As my readers here know, I have been on a mission to declutter for the last 20+ weeks.  Doing so has revealed quite a bit to me.  We are no where close to done, but I am able to see the difference it has made in our lives so far.  I am over at Free from Broke today writing about the cost of clutter.  Here is an excerpt:

We are a nation of junk collectors.  Look around your house.  Do you see any clutter?  Are there things you own that you know you shouldn’t have purchased?  Are there items you purchased but have never used?  Look in the closet.  Are there any clothes with the price tag still on them?  Any non-perishable food you bought that you decided you just don’t want to eat?  Any expired food?

I thought so.

I would love it if you would head over there to read the full post and leave your comments. 

If you have been decluttering, what have you noticed throughout the process?  What have you learned?