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Cleaning up your Home Sweet Home has never been more profitable…

As Americans, it seems we are addicted to our junk. We rationalize holding onto things that have been collecting dust in our attics and closets by convincing ourselves that we might need to use these things again someday (Ex:that third rice maker Aunt Delores gave you last Christmas), or that they might fit again one day (Ex: those “retro” acid-washed size 2 Levi’s Jeans from junior year of high school that were SOOO COOL) , or, even worse, we tend to over-exaggerating the sentimental value of some items (Ex: one or more lopsided, kiln-fired bowls made in a college pottery class that were praised by an over-enthusiastic post-hippie professor wearing just a tad too much hemp jewelry). Trust me, I’m guilty of this phenomenon. How can I possibly part with all the old Rolling Stone magazines following Kurt Cobain’s death? Or my 50+ terribly angst-ridden and frighteningly amateur sketches of Kurt Cobain based on the covers of said Rolling Stone magazines? Or all the horrible, never-ever-gonna-go-back-in-style oversize flannel thrift store cast-offs I adopted as my daily anti-establishment uniform at the time? You get the picture.  But today, I decided,  I’m trying to be more ruthless when it comes to my “stuff”.

And when I realized, while looking through my two huge storage closets, that there was a ton of potential money to be made from items whose existence I had totally forgotten, (“Holy Crap, there’s brand new Juicy Couture in here, Honey! And some old sketches of Kurt Cobain!”);visions of greenbacks danced in my head, and I decided to do something about it.

I would find a suitable home for all of my unwanted “stuff”, de-clutter my house, and make a few bucks while I was at it. Just the thought of this flooded me with a feeling of unstressed, zen-like peace. Purging my life of all this superfluous STUFF would make me one with the universe. Maybe. If I listened to “Because” by The Beatles while I was purging and organizing and tossing… on constant repeat… while turning a Tibetan prayer wheel… OK, maybe I would just have a lot more space in my closets.

I know, I know, getting rid of your clutter and organizing your “stuff” down to a spartan selection of bare, simplistic essentials is basically a religion these days. Sooo many books would have you believe that organizing your garage is the first step on the path to enlightenment. Trust me, I’ve read them, and my sarcasm isn’t that much of an exaggeration. However, there are many benefits to be had when you rid your household of unnecessary junk. And while some of these benefits can be psychological (always having to hunt for your checkbook every time you have to pay the electric bill can be super-stressful), most of the benefits that will spring forth from your Puritanical, soul-cleansing de-cluttering quest will be MONETARY. That’s right folks, no matter what kind of worthless junk you think you’re harboring in the depths of that closet/garage/attic I GUARANTEE you can see some financial gain from its permanent disappearance.

And please, hold on to a few of the sentimental items. Especially the ones that don’t take up much space. My Kurt Cobain sketches aren’t going anywhere. Screw The Man!!

But with so many potential “buying” markets out there, which one is the right fit for each item? Where can you get the most bang for your (slightly used) buck?? I did a little research, and below is my plan of action. I plan on executing this project slowly over the next couple of weeks, and I’ll update you on the results, and how much money I made from the project.

Take it slow! There’s no need to overwhelm yourself, because you’ll just end up calling it quits and then you may never get around to ridding yourself of all those New Kids On The Block cassettes. Experts say to start with your bedroom closet, or even a single drawer. This gets the ball rolling without being too overwhelming. A nice, stiff Grey Goose martini (or two) might make the process a little less taxing as well. If your boyfriend/fiancee/husband/wife/domestic partner/cat so much as clucks his tongue at you while you’re plopping the olives into your cocktail, just tell him/her it is a VERY important step in the Clutter Cleansing process. To help ease the pain of having to get rid of the bulk of your stuffed animal collection that’s been living on the bed you two share. He/she won’t complain again.

Below are my top five “markets” for the things you decide to get rid of. You might want to label five large boxes or plastic storage bins so you can easily separate everything as you go. And don’t forget, anything you aren’t going to keep for sentimental reasons, or that you think won’t sell, there is probably a Salvation Army or other donation sight very close to where you live that would be happy to have your hand-offs. For example, even old, out-of-date cell phones can be donated to battered/homeless women’s shelters. Now THAT’S a true step on the path to enlightenment.  Happy De-Cluttering!!

Frugal For Two’s List of Profitable Clutter Markets

(Got that Martini? Good!)

  • eBay: Yes, even with rising fees for the seller and steeper PayPal prices, this infamous auction website is still my top pick for things like new or gently-used couture or pricier brand name clothes, “lots ” (many items of clothing of similar size sold together as one purchase…great for mom’s buying clothes for fast-growing offspring) of gently-worn baby or children’s clothes, or certain collectors items (think baseball cards) that are easy and inexpensive to mail, and that a collector might be interested in. If you’re not familiar with selling on eBay, you will have to go through a relatively simple process to set up a seller’s account, and you will also have to get a PayPal account if you don’t already have one, because this is the payment method of 90% of auctions and sales completed on the site. Decent quality pictures of the items you’re listing, I’ve found, can greatly effect the price you get for at item. Oh, and on eBay, you can either put your items on auction for a predetermined period of time, with the highest bidder winning at the close of the auction, or you can opt to sell your items at a fixed Buy It Now price that you set, in which case it could take five seconds of five months to sell your goodies. There are pros and cons to both methods…if you’re unsure eBay provides an excellent selection of tutorials and forums designed to aid the novice seller.

  • Craigslist: Craigslist is free, and it’s a great site for those items that are too large to bother with on eBay (who wants to pay crazy shipping fees to send a used living room sofa halfway across the country?) Simply pick the city you live in or the one that is nearest to you, and advertise what you have to offer. Pictures greatly increase your chance of success and number of potential buyers. Interested parties are SUPPOSED to contact you through the sight or your e-mail, but plenty of people leave a cell number on their ad to make communication a little quicker and easier. You can then set up a time for the interested buyer to come take a look at what you’re selling, or to pick up what you’re selling if they’ve already committed to buying it. Just exercise caution when dealing with strangers; it’s rare to come across anyone with anything but the most innocent intentions, but there are some (rare) social deviants out there, so it’s a good idea to either have someone with you when anyone comes calling, or to meet them in a neutral public place. Craigslist is great for selling used or outdated furniture, electronics, tools, and even that 1992 Chrysler Concord that’s been decorating your lawn for a year…mechanics often troll this site for fixer-upper projects or vehicles they can scrap for parts.

  • Garage Sales/Flea Markets: Good for unloading mass quantities of odds and ends…small household items, children’s toys, old books and magazines, smaller furniture, and pretty much anything else. But although it’s convenient to get rid of everything in one day (or weekend) don’t expect to get top dollar for your unwanted items…people who shop garage sales and flea markets are looking for the ultimate bargain. Doing a quick web search on garage sale and/or flea market tips, tricks and techniques can clue you in rather quickly to the art and etiquette of it all. And remember, as with most things in life, a friendly smile (and a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies) can go a long way in buttering up your potential buyers!

  • Consignment and Resale Shops: Don’t have the time to sell it yourself? These types of stores will either buy your goods outright (resale stores like Plato’s closet) or add your items to their inventory (consignment shops) and cut you a check after your items sell, and after the store takes their cut. Make sure your items are clean, odor-free, and in decent condition before trying this option or the store likely won’t take on your goods. Some higher-end boutique-y shops can be notoriously picky when selecting merchandise. Gently-used clothes, household items, books, jewelry, toys and DVDs can all do well here. Different stores tend to specialize in different merchandise, so do your homework!! A basic knowledge of brand name clothing and what it’s worth will help you out as well in case someone is trying to fleece you. It can also go the other way. I once bought an Oroton Italian Leather purse (hand-stitched in Australia), that still had the tags inside a zippered pocket ($600.00!!). Bought it for $12.00 at a (clueless) resale shop. I also own an antique L.Hitchcock solid wood rocking chair I purchased (at a shop down the road from the shop I got the purse) for $20.00. An internet appraisal valued it at over $400.00. The lesson? Whether buying or selling, it pays to do your homework!

  • Amazon: In addition to selling brand-new merchandise of all sorts, Amazon offers independent sellers the opportunity to sell their books, DVDs and CD’s on the site as a used alternative to their advertized new merchandise. If you don’t want to do all the legwork yourself, Amazon will also buy books, DVDs and Blu Ray Discs directly from you in exchange for money on an gift card, but beware, the payout is usually low. However, if you have boxes of books or DVDs sitting in storage you don’t have the time or inclination to go through, and would gladly trade these items for something you’ve been needing, like a new digital camera from the site, then this might be an easy, stress-free option.

If you decide to take on the CLUTTER INTO CASH challenge, I’m eager to hear how you did, what you got rid of, and how much money you made!!

Please comment with your successes/failures (hopefully successes)…I get a kick out of the lost arts of barter, trade, haggling and auctioning!!!

I’ll be updating you on how I do as well!!


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