Our need for abundance
Julie Morgenstern, professional organizer and author of the book Organizing from the Inside Out explains that a consistent cause of cluttered-ness in her clients is a psychological need for abundance. A sense of security that comes from filling the cupboards with food, filling the closets with clothes and keeping the bookshelves full.
One reason that we accumulate such excess is that it can give us a real sense of ‘fullness’ and ‘bounty.’ We feel comforted and secure that we are prepared for anything.. – Julie Morgenstern
The problem that comes from this need for bounty is that it’s often unrealistic and sometimes unhealthy. Filling our fridge with food that we won’t eat before it spoils or stuffing our drawers full of clothes that we’ll wear once or twice hurts our budget and is a wasteful use of our resources. Taking time to assess your belongings, determine what you need, what you like to have and what you have just because you can is imperative in clearing the clutter.
Plus, you can make some quick cash by selling the stuff you discover has no purpose.
Think of a financial goal to help you stay motivated
Jon and I set two simple goals for clearing out the excess:
- Pay for text books (and other Amazon needs)
- Pay off student loans
All of our profits from selling the excess goes to one of these two goals.
This provides motivation to get rid of things and excites us when we look at the progress we make toward these goals without stretching our budget even further. To date we’ve saved hundreds of dollars we would have spent on textbooks and have put hundreds more toward our loans just from getting rid of items we had no use for. Cleaning just to clean isn’t always fun for most of us, and finding a way to make it exciting and purposeful might just give you the energy to get it done.
Easy places to start
The first place I start when I assess the excess is the book shelf. I’ve felt my whole life that I wanted to have an extensive library – full of interesting books company would admire me for reading and owning. Truth is, half of those books are prized possessions, and the other half are gifts I read and won’t read again, old textbooks that have no application in my current life, and novels I loved at a younger time but would be slightly embarrassed to pick up again.
This is a great place to start -commit to getting rid of 5-10 books the first time.
Then hop online, go to Amazon.com Trade-Ins and see what you can get for them. Print the label, find a box and take them to the UPS store. You don’t even have to pay for shipping, even if they don’t accept your books.
While paying our way through my graduate program, Jon and I have traded in many books to prepare for buying the next set of textbooks.
In a future post we’ll tell you our other secrets about making Amazon money, in the past two years we haven’t spent a dollar of our own money on textbooks, Christmas presents, birthday presents, mothers and fathers day gifts and many other random items (including a mattress for our guest bed!) We’ve paid for these things completely from the trade-in money we’ve accumulated on Amazon.
Jon is a major gamer. Once when ‘clearing the excess’ we sat down and looked at all of his video games. We determined there were 5-6 he played consistently, 4-5 that were really nostalgic, and the other 10-12 he never played and didn’t particularly care about. So we traded them in. A quick $60-70 and more money for text books.
Do this with everything Amazon accepts on trade-in. Movies, CDs, random computer accessories. We even traded in our old cell phones when we got our upgrade and made $90 off each one. Easy money for something we might have otherwise held onto unnecessarily. The key to trading stuff in is realizing you’re not going to get back even a tenth of what you payed for it (with the exception of the cellphones), but you’ll get more out of it then what it makes sitting on the shelf.
Our town has a sweet little consignment shop called Velour. Every 6 months or so I look through my closet, grab things I haven’t worn in forever or don’t see myself wearing again and head down to Velour. They look through what I have, pick what they like and give me the cash. Simple. I can either take what they don’t want back and put it in the yard sale pile or leave it with them and they’ll donate it to Good Will. Simple.
If you can’t find an online store or consignment shop that will take your other random clutter items, think about selling it on Ebay. We have had success selling items we couldn’t find another place for – an unused label maker, board games, an old GPS etc.
A yard sale is always an option
Jon and I have mixed feelings about yard sales, mixed in that I love them and he hates them. I understand they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
If you’re like me though, the prospect of getting rid of clutter, making some money and bartering (yes, admittedly my favorite part of a yard sale) is enough to spend a couple weekend mornings hanging out in your driveway.
I must tell you as an experienced yard saler there are a few tips:
- Expect to get only 10% of what you spent back at a yard sale. Maybe less depending on the condition.
- Put EVERYTHING on a table unless it’s furniture or something else too large to fit. Stuff set out on the ground will not draw a crowd, even when it’s on a tarp.
- Keep things organized. It may seem pointless because it will be picked through throughout the day, but people are willing to pay a little more when things are kept together. Plus having helpers walk through the piles and organize makes it feel like more people are still ‘shopping.’ A crowd draws a crowd.
- Put a price on it. No boards that list complicated labeling codes or a ‘name me a price’ system. Some people are going to ask you to lower the price no matter what, but many people feel it’s too much of a hassle to ask for a price and will leave something they may have purchased if they knew the cost.
- Keep a huge stash of bags (offer them to your shoppers) and the last hour or two of the yard sale put a sign out that says “Fill a bag for $5.” The ultimate goal of a yard sale is to get rid of stuff, not make bank. This helps make a final push to clear the excess.
- Thursday mornings are the hard core yard salers favorite day. It’s not always possible, but if you can swing it – give it a try. Friday mornings are the next best.
Are there other ways you’ve found to sell your stuff or make some cash? What does your process for ‘clearing the excess’ look like?
Thank you to Carnival of Personal Finance – Frugality for including this post in its Happy Days are Here Again edition. Check out the Carnival for many other quality posts about personal finance!