See the results of our 2022 Personal Finance Study!
12 Tips for Getting Rid of (and Selling) Your Extra Clutter
Spring cleaning is as great a time as any to purge your home of unnecessary stuff. Those old clothes? Toss ‘em out. That guitar you bought but never learned to play? Outta here! Your daughter’s noisy pet gerbil? Well, maybe that can stay. It is adorable.
But the point still stands. Not only is now a great time to get rid of your extra junk, but it’s also a great time to earn some extra money. Selling off your stuff will not only leave your junk drawers empty, it’ll leave your wallet feeling full.
"If decluttering feels like too much of a chore--which is fair,as it literally is a series of chores–then remember the wise words of Paloma Baillie, one of the organizing experts for local buying and selling app, 5miles.
Disco: Create your favorite playlist–something that motivates you to get moving.
Discover: Open up boxes, closets, and items you haven’t seen in over a year.
Discard: Throw away trash and discard or sell those things you haven’t worn or used in the last six months. (You can make money on unused items using mobile marketplace apps like, say, 5miles.)
Donate: Choose your favorite charity donation shop or shelter and create a tax write-off for your return.
Disinfect: Use green and eco-friendly products to make your house smell beautiful with lemon.
"The average American home contains roughly 35 unused items, at a resale value of $670,” says Baille. “So most of us have plenty of clutter that we can get rid of—and make extra money.”
Now that you’re in the mood to get started, here are 12 expert tips on how best to declutter your life, and sell your junk for some much-needed cash.
1. Plan ahead
Ruth Soukup, bestselling author of “31 Days to a Clutter Free Life” and “Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul,” says that “The first step to decluttering is to harness your plan and get ready.
“You’ll want to start preparing at least a few days ahead,” she says. “Schedule your clean-out for a weekend when you can dedicate the entire time to the process—no lessons, no games, no activities, no visitors.”
2. Ask for help
"Assemble a team of helpers, including your spouse and (depending on their ages) your children,” says Soukup. “By including the whole family, you ensure their buy-in and commitment to keeping your house unstuffed after the work is done.”
“It’s so easy to slide into bad habits,” she warns, “but it’s more difficult when you’ve exerted such effort and had a hand in the process.”
3. Divide and conquer
Josh Cohen is the founder and CEO of The Junkluggers, an eco-friendly junk removal company.
He says that “Before you start, make yourself a plan and set a realistic goal for how much you are going to accomplish. You can either set aside a little time each day to tackle a small project or set aside an entire weekend and knock it all out at once.”
“Either way you will feel a real sense of accomplishment,” says Cohen. “If you write down everything that needs to be done, you can have the satisfaction of physically crossing it off the list!"
4. Create categories
Ali Wenzke blogs about “moving, decluttering, real estate and happiness” at The Art of Happy Moving.
“Decide where you would like to begin the decluttering process,” says Wenzke. "I like doing books because they're heavy to move. However, if you're too emotionally attached to your books to start there, then begin with your coats and jackets.”
“Gather your coats from every room in your house,” she advises, “including anything that may be kept in an attic bin or a guest room closet. Now lay out each coat so you can see them all at once. When you have every jacket you own in one place, you'll see that you don't really need four navy blue jackets, especially when you haven't worn any of them in years. Donate them all or pick the one you like best. Then, move through your clothes by category: sweaters next, then long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and so on."
5. Save for later
If you have a few items that you aren't sure you are ready to part with, put them in a box in a closet and make yourself a calendar reminder to go into that box in 6 months time. If you went into that box looking for the item in those six months, it's safe to say you can keep it for a little longer.
When you revisit the box, you'll be able to evaluate whether or not you missed those remaining items in the six months you didn't have the visual reminder of seeing them every day. More often than not you'll be fine without them so it's time to get them out of the house!
6. Have a garage sale
“When it comes to selling your stuff and making money from your items,” says Soukup, “there are several methods to choose from and each works better for different items. Explore eBay, Craigslist and even Facebook as potential sale sites, but garage sales work best when looking to make money quickly.”
Her advice is to, “Get some tags and price items to move. Make sure you pick a prime date and get the word out! Be sure to let people know what it is you have to offer. Start early, and don't be afraid to make a deal.”
Of course, Soukup also cautions, “Garage sales can bring in a lot of money but they are rarely the place you’ll get $500 for a rare book (eBay) or $250 for a gently used futon (Craigslist).”
7. Consider donation
If you are downsizing during spring cleaning, you may not want to move all of your non-perishable items,” says Wenzke. “Movers affiliated with Move for Hunger will pack up your unopened and non-perishable food to give to a local food pantry on moving day. You'll save money by not moving unwanted items and you will help others in the process.”
Soukup agrees. Once you’ve sold everything that you’re able to sell, she says to “Count out your earnings and round up your remaining items. Inventory what you have left and determine whether each item realistically belongs in the trash or if you can donate it to the Goodwill, a women’s shelter, a preschool or another charity in your area.”
Cohen says “You'll be surprised at how much space you'll save when you digitize all of your CDs and DVDs then donate the physical copies. If you are nervous about a hard drive crash, you can also backup your collection on the cloud as well as an external hard drive to be extra cautious.”
“Consider scanning in your children's artwork as well and only hanging on to a few special originals,” he says. “This really helps to cut down on the clutter!”
9. Write down EVERYTHING for tax donation purposes
"When you donate your clothes to a charitable organization,” says Wenzke, "you will receive a receipt. Instead of writing down 'three bags of clothes,' list everything. Write down '4 women's blouses, 3 men's sweaters, 2 pairs of children's boots.'"
She says that “According to the Goodwill donation value guide, you could write off $40-$74 for tax purposes for these nine items.”
When I declutter, I end up donating much more than nine items,” says Wenzke. “Think of the savings! If you use TurboTax It's Deductible, it will give you a comprehensive list of the value of donated items.”
10. Sell stuff in bundles
Kathy Terrill is a top-rated silver power seller on eBay and a popular eBay expert and selling coach.
If you’re selling clothes your kids have outgrown or sporting equipment, she says, “Consider bundling the items or selling them in a lot. Many successful sellers sell such items and use the money to buy what their kids need now. You can do the same with adult clothes: do a bundle by size or designer/brand.”
11. Take advantage of free shipping supplies
Terrill suggests, “Make a trip to your local post office and pick up free shipping supplies. USPS has free Priority mails boxes and Tyvek mailers.”
She also advises that, “You can print shipping labels through eBay, so when your item sells you can ship fast and get your money!”
12. Use eBay groups
“I founded two large eBay selling groups on Facebook,” she says. “One is for eBay store owners. It’s called eBay Stores Nothing But eBay Stores and it has over 3500 global members. For eBay sellers without a store, I run a terrific Facebook group called eBay Selling Basics Nothing But Selling Basics also with over 3500 members."
Terrill says that “In both groups sellers post questions daily for help from me and the administrators of the groups.” She adds, “Sellers also jump in helping their fellow sellers.”
Paloma Baillie is an L.A.-based certified coach with more than 15 years of professional organizing experience. Paloma’s unique approach to decluttering not only addresses the home but the mind and the body as well. Over the years, she has orchestrated countless home makeovers, working with her clients to organize and clear toxic accumulation of clutter. In addition to 5miles, you can find her services listed on Yelp. Learn more at Balance By Paloma.
Josh Cohen is the founder and CEO of The Junkluggers, Josh is the heart and soul of the business. He started The Junkluggers out of his mother’s Dodge Durango in Trumbull, CT when he was just 21 and has since grown the company into a multi-state franchised operation offering junk removal and moving services to residential and commercial customers.
Ruth Soukup a blogger, author and product creator. She is the founder of Living Well Spending Less, a website that aims to “eliminate overwhelm in the lives of women everywhere by simplifying the necessary in order to make room for the essential.” Ruth is also the bestselling author of two books, "31 Days to a Clutter Free Life" and "Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul."
Kathy Terrill is a NYC-based professional actress. With more than 25 years experience in brick-and-mortar retail and over 6 years as an on-air product presenter for QVC, the shopping channel, Kathy knows sales! She founded several popular groups on Facebook including eBay Selling Basics for new sellers. Kathy is an in-demand speaker, private sales success and social media coach. Proven tips and classes for eBay sellers are available on her eCommerce website ilovetobeselling.com.
Ali Wenzke, Moving Expert, moved 10 times in 11 years. Now she’s helping the millions of people who move each year by providing practical tips on how to make moving a happy experience at The Art of Happy Moving. After calling seven U.S. states home, Ali is now happily settled in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and three children. She doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon.