De-cluttering: Know Your Options

by David Bakke

clutterI am a big fan of de-cluttering.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, it basically means getting rid of all the unused crap that is lying around your house.

We do a good job is my household of not letting the clutter level get too high, but about every 4-5 months, we still go through every closet and storage area in the house.  If it hasn’t been used in a normal amount of time (usually 3-6 months, depending on the item) then we decide that it’s time for it to go.

However, when doing this, it is important to know your options.  If you had previously been throwing all of this stuff away, you are missing out on some good financial opportunities.  If you have been donating it all, the same applies.

I thought I would go through the short and quick thought process that I use when dealing with my unwanted items.

First, can I sell it?  If it is unused and still in the box (basically, a gift that I never used) selling it is probably your best bet.  It is amazingly simple to open an account at either EBay or Amazon to sell your items.  This, to me, is the most profitable choice because the item will generate cash for you.

Second, does a family member want it?  If it is unsellable, maybe someone else in my family might want it.

Third, does a friend or neighbor want it?  Same principle, I just usually like to give my family members first dibs.

Fourth, can it be donated?  Donations to qualifying charitable organizations (Goodwill, Salvation Army, churches, etc) are tax deductible.  While this does not generate cash for you, it does generate a tax deduction. Some might say that this should come before giving it away to a friend or relative, I’ll let you be the judge.

And finally, if none of the above applies then I usually throw it away. This generates nothing financial for you, because it does keep your house from filling up like a junkyard.

De-cluttering is a very therapeutic process for me. I cannot stand living in a house that has closets full of unused items, and psychologically, I feel much better after my scheduled de-cluttering.

And additionally, as you can see, there are some good financial benefits to it as well, depending on what you can do with your unwanted items.

Your comments and feedback on de-cluttering are always welcome.


1 Cajun Chef Ryan March 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm

We donate most of our old stuff and write it off on taxes, but some I have sold on eBay, and some has been given away to friends or neighbors too.

2 David/Yourfinances101 March 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Yes Ryan,

I use a combination of all of these methods too. Anything to keep the house from filling up with “stuff”.

Thanks for commenting
.-= David/Yourfinances101´s last blog ..De-cluttering: Know Your Options =-.

3 Tom March 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Thanks for the post, David. Ever since we bought our first house a couple of years ago, it seems like we have to de-clutter monthly.

If you want to get rid of it quick and want to sell it, sometimes the most profitable choice is selling on Craigslist. Since they don’t take out any fees, and you don’t have to pay to ship it, you can offer a lower price and still make more money.

As a bonus, it does help de-clutter.
.-= Tom´s last blog ..What Is the Difference Between Dentists with DDS and DMD Degrees? =-.

4 David/Yourfinances101 March 28, 2010 at 2:17 pm


Great point. I have used Craigslist several times in the past, and it is a great option to consider. For all the reasons you mentioned.

Thanks for stopping by.
.-= David/Yourfinances101´s last blog ..The Most Effective Use of Credit Cards =-.

5 Julie Anne Pyle November 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

Hello David,
Sometimes I feel like my workspace looks like the photo you have here!

I de-cluttered by moving things into storage. WRONG thing to do. Now I still need to go through it and move it out.

The options that you and others have mentioned are all very good, and I’ve used several of them. Do you have a solution for how to get the kids to take or throw their stuff after they’ve been gone for more than five years?

Your suggestion to go through things regulary and ofter is wisdom beyond your years. Sorting and disposing of 30-years accumulation is daunting.

Striving to get – and stay – organized.

6 david/your finances101 November 30, 2010 at 6:32 pm


I know what my parents do with me and my “stuff” that they still have…they tell me to come and get it or its getting thrown out!

Best of luck going thru your 30 yrs of stuff–and thanks for commenting!

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