How decluttering helps me make and save at least $500 a year
Think resale shopping and donating unused items

By CAMERON HUDDLESTON

March 11, 2017

                   

Charity Kenyon looks through her closet filled with clothing treasures she bought second-hand at consignment stores, July 18, 2013, at her home in Galt, California. For the last 15 years, Kenyon has been a dedicated thrift store shopper.

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You probably already know that decluttering can help you create a happier and cleaner home. Not to mention, it can help you feel better psychologically. However, perhaps one of the biggest benefits of decluttering your home is the fact it can save and make you a lot of money.

Every year, I cash in on items my family no longer wants by selling them or donating them and claiming a tax deduction. And there are a few other financial benefits that are harder to attach a dollar amount to. Hereís how you can make and save money by decluttering.

I CASH IN ON UNWANTED ITEMS

When the seasons change and I have to pull clothing out of storage ó and put some away ó I do an edit of my wardrobe. If there are items I havenít worn in a year or two and still are in good condition, I set them aside to sell.

I go through the garage and other closets in my house at least once a year to see if there are items that have been collecting dust and to which I no longer feel an attachment. Those things are also sold.

You can sell your unwanted items through local consignment stores. I get 50 percent to 60 percent of the sales price, which means Iím not necessarily making as much money as I could. But I donít have to do any of the legwork to sell them, which is important to me because I donít have a lot of spare time as a journalist and mom of three.

For example, I picked up a check for $233.97 from a home furnishings consignment store for several framed prints that were passed onto me from my mom, some nice platters I got years ago as wedding gifts but rarely used, and a few other home decor items that had been in boxes since we moved in 2012.

                                 

Vogue Revisited Consignment Shop, located in Baltimore, Md., features dresses, blouses and jewelry.

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And, Iíve gotten more than $230 from a clothing consignment store for items that were in good condition ó which they need to be for consignment stores to take them ó but no longer fit me well or werenít getting enough wear to justify letting them take up space in my closet. It took only a couple of hours for me to pick out those items, iron the wrinkled ones and take them to the consignment store.

You can avoid a trip to a consignment store altogether if you have clothing to sell by using a site such as ThredUP. If youíre willing to put more time into selling your unwanted items, sell your clothes on eBay or advertise your wares on Craigslist. You also could use an app such as Close5 to sell things locally from your smartphone.

I GET A TAX BREAK FOR DONATED ITEMS

I usually donate items that arenít in great condition and wonít fetch top dollar at the consignment store, Goodwill or a local organization that helps refugees that have been resettled in my community. Then, I can claim my donation as a deductible charitable contribution on my tax return.

You must itemize on your federal tax return to claim charitable contributions. When you donate items, the dollar amount you can claim as a tax deduction is based on the itemsí market value ó not what you originally paid for them. And, you should get a receipt from the charitable organization. If you claim a deduction for an item over $5,000, you need a qualified appraisal.

To figure out how much things that I donate are worth, I use the Goodwill Industries International donation value guide, which provides price ranges for items commonly sold in Goodwill stores.

I SPEND LESS ON NEW THINGS

When my kids beg for new toys ó or clothes in the case of my oldest daughter ó going through their closets is a good way to stop the pleading.

As we sort through their stuff to get it organized and to identify what theyíre not using, we always find toys that they had forgotten about and that suddenly seem new because they havenít played with them in a while. It also reminds them of all that they have and reinforces my message that they donít really need more toys or clothes.

Going through what Iíve put into storage also tends to have the same effect on me. I might find an item I stashed away that appeals to me once again ó and itís like getting something new. Or, it serves as a good reminder not to buy more ďstuffĒ that will just end up collecting dust and, perhaps, fetch a percentage of the price I originally paid if I sell it.

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