In the months leading up to our move from a 3,000-square-foot house with a walk-up attic to a home nearly half that size, I was on a mission:
Purge the clutter we had managed to collect in the course of 30 years of marriage and see how much cash we could raise for an anniversary trip.
If we didn’t need it, love it or use it on a regular basis, we put it up for sale.
There’s nothing like an impending move to speed the emptying of the closets, the far recesses of the attic and the frozen-in-time bedrooms of children who have left the nest.
But even now, a full year after our downsizing, the purge continues. Beyond the cash toward our trip, we’ve found that less clutter has fringe benefits. There’s less to dust, less to organize, less to haul to and from the attic.
Among the unwanted, unloved and no-longer necessary items we have sold: a bookcase, an antique jelly cupboard, an antique wardrobe, a dining room table, two pieces of Ben Owen III pottery, a graphing calculator, dozens of books, Christmas decorations, old appliances, out-dated iPods, toys, clothes, broken jewelry and even a used rain barrel.
The kitty for our trip is hovering at $2,500, and counting.
Mostly, we’ve sold things online, but we’ve also toted items to consignment shops, sold unwanted gold and silver at a jewelry store and rolled our “stuff” onto the driveway in the wee hours of a Saturday morning for a yard sale. We even made a trip to the junkyard.
One of the biggest lessons we learned along the way is that it’s a lot easier to purchase things than to purge them — a huge deterrent to buying more clutter, by the way.
For all those reasons, cashing in on your clutter is a smart financial move. Like coins you find in your sofa cushions, it’s found money.
Why not put it to work financing a vacation, shoring up the family emergency fund, adding to a child’s college fund, boosting a Roth IRA or bankrolling a cash-only Christmas?
Here are a dozen places that will give you cold, hard cash for your clutter:
• Electronics retailers: Your old-school technology is worth more than you think. My daughter recently sold her well-used iPod Touch for $62 in cash at GameStop, which has a generous electronics trade-in program that allows you to choose store credit or cash. Target and Best Buy have similar programs, though both pay you in store gift cards.
• Craigslist vs. eBay: For the casual seller, Craigslist is probably your best bet. Also check for local pawn shops or stores willing to buy. In fact, we have received offers within minutes of posting an item online. Take advantage of the fact that it’s free to post your items, there’s no sales commission and you don’t have to worry about shipping.
— Tip: Be sure to post photos because most buyers won’t even click on a listing without a picture. Be honest if your item has any flaws. Include measurements for pieces of furniture. And be prepared to negotiate.
• Half.com: Incredibly easy to use, Half.com is great for selling books, DVDs and CDs. Type in the ISBN number and rate the condition of your item using Half.com’s rating system. Within minutes you can easily post dozens of items. Emails alert you to a sale and when money is deposited in your account. Half.com takes a 15 percent cut on items up to $50. The seller also is reimbursed for shipping.