Clutter Is My Friend

My office isn't *quite* this bad.

In the past few weeks, household chores have taken a backseat to real life. While I’ve been doing the usual cleaning, vacuuming and dusting duties, the straightening up portion of the exercise has been all but forgotten. And as I look around our home, I see a lot of stuff that’s unnecessarily taking up space or out of place.

For one, there are a LOT of books. And 99 percent of the time, after I finish a book, it just goes in the bookcase, never to be touched again.  Then there’s the pile of unopened junk mail that needs to be shredded, papers to be filed, laundry to be put away. I’ve managed to load and turn on the (full) dishwasher, and wash the pots and pans. Putting things in their place is going to have to wait another day or two.

But some of the clutter can help us make some money — sometimes, clutter is my friend.

Making Clutter Work For You

Well, in reality, clutter can’t *do* anything. It’s definitely not going to clean itself up and clear out of your home — unless you give it a little help. Put that “stuff” to work and make some money off of it!

I’m not talking about getting rid of cherished keepsakes. I’m talking about all the other things in your possess, things that once had your attention but now just sit there, taking up room. Remember that awesome treadmill you bought yourself, swearing up and down you’d get enough use out of it to justify the cost? I’m willing to wager that its current purpose is serving as a very expensive clothes hanger. Instead of letting it sit there, taking up room, why not see if you can sell it? Put an ad on Craigslist, FreeCycle or a local message board, and see if anyone’s willing to take it off your hands.

I usually sell my books. My first stop is In the past year, I’ve netted $75 or so. It’s not a large sum, but it’s $75 we didn’t have before. They’re a bit picky about what they take, but I’ve had some success with paperbacks and hardcovers. A friend has suggested listing the excess books on, which I plan to do when I have some free time.

For clothes, I donate them to Goodwill or the Red Cross. I get rid of them and also feel good about the donation.

Furniture, picture frames, old signs — anything that you deem “clutter” could be another person’s treasure. Have a garage sale, post in for sale online. The rewards are two-fold — you get money AND you minimalize your stuff. I could never go as minimal as Red does over at Girl With the Red Balloon, but I’d like to free myself of some of this extra stuff cluttering our home before it gets out of hand.

18 comments to Clutter Is My Friend

  • Another way to get rid of books is PaperbackSwap. You send someone your old books and then you get to pick out a new one for yourself.

  • Hi Nicole, Don’t forget about the opportunity for a tax deduction (if you itemize) from taking your stuff to Goodwill etc. I usually go about 5-9 times per year. (We have waaaaay to much stuff) Love anything about clutter, cleaning or decluttering! BEst regards, Barb (found you thru Yakezie!)

    • Nicole

      @Barb: Thanks for the suggestion — we just started itemizing this year and used the donations as a deduction. Thanks for visiting!

  • db

    Sorry, this is equivalent to penny wise – pound foolish. You bought books for up to $25 and now will pay to sell them for a couple of bucks – not wise. Quit accumulating, go to the library. It takes no more time to go to the library than to go to the store, you can even go online a preselect your library books.

    I agree with Terry about mail hoarding. Just open it and deal with it. Immediately schedule all payments by bill pay. This is how technology is supposed to work. Use the time you spend blogging to open your mail.

    This is horrible advice – it is just rationalizing bad behavior.

    • Nicole

      @DB: Actually, I don’t buy any books. I get them for free. So for me, it’s a profit. I also do book swaps with friends and donate the ones I don’t sell/swap. Buying books at full retail price and then getting back a few bucks for them isn’t wise, you’re right, but if someone DOES choose to buy books, they can at least make a little money back on them.

      My important mail is always open — it’s the junk mail that accumulates — and I schedule bills to be paid as statements come in. It’s the other “journalism” clutter that I need to deal with.

      I agree with you that the ‘bad behavior’ is a problem, but for those who are already in a predicament, it’s a way to clear out some of their clutter — and hopefully, not reaccumulate it.

  • For some reason, clutter seems to find me. All the freakin time. I did manage though to sell somethings via word of mouth and on Amazon though. 🙂

  • Red

    Ha! Thanks for the mention! 🙂

    It’s true that clutter can make you some money when you sell it off – not to mention tax deductions when you donate to Goodwill.

    The hard part is not letting it seep back into your home. Because whether or not it makes money for us later, it usually costs much more than we see in a return.

    • Nicole

      @Red: I really wanted to find that photo of your closet, with the three things hanging in it, but I couldn’t find it!

  • Even though I help clients get rid of clutter, I also struggle daily with the clutter problem. Picture Frames

  • I should have added that the clutter I do have is mostly non-salable so not much use to me either :(… All no-friend clutter sadly!

  • I’m trying hard to go super minimal…. more clutter = more to take care of and carry around. I will be moving again in a year likely to another country again so need to keep possessions low as low can go!

  • Paper clutter can cost you – by having your bills misplaced in piles of clutter you may find you have to pay “extra” finance or late charges.

    A calendar hiding in the “clutter” can cause you to miss important appointments and commitments. These missed appointments can end up cost you money, even your job.

    I say clutter is not our friend, but decluttering can bring you financial peace and serenity.

    • Nicole

      My point was that clutter is my “friend” because of the money to be made by selling it, and the freedom that comes along with decluttering, but you make very valid points! Luckily, all of my bills and important papers are in their places on my small office desk — the one place where I *am* organized.

  • I like the way you can view clutter in a positive way. As I was reading this post, I was thinking about the good feelings I had when I got rid of clutter. If I had never owned it, I would never know about this feeling. I suppose that is something good. – Not everything is all bad or all good.

  • Your title gives me the heebie jeebies — that’s how much I hate clutter. (As I stare at my cluttered desk…)

    But getting rid of clutter can be my friend 🙂

    • Nicole

      @Jackie: That’s my main problem, my desk/office, and the papers/books that are in it. I need a spring cleaning!

  • […] Although I’m a long way from clutter-free, it’s fun to get motivation for “cleaning up the superfluous.” Do you like money and simplicity? If so, check out Nicole’s article, Make Money from Selling your Clutter @ Rainy Day Saver. […]

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