I Made $521 While Decluttering, and You Can Too (It’s So Easy!)

published Mar 12, 2024
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cardboard box with clothes on coffee table

There’s a pile of clothes on my dining table, a collapsing pyramid of books on the living room carpet, and a tangle of electronics blocking the front door — these are all signs that I need to do some decluttering. I broke up the project into small, manageable chunks, starting with the madness of my bedside table where a tower of partially read books, a stream of charging cables, and stacks of water cups were completely obscuring my alarm clock. 

I began by organizing items into piles that needed to be returned to their rightful homes. For each item, I asked myself if I used it in the last three months and if they still functioned. If not, they went into one pile. For anything I wasn’t sure about, they went into another pile to revisit another time. I continued this pattern for other areas of my home — from the entryway table, to the kitchen counter, to my bedroom closet.

After three days of decluttering, I had a pile of clothes, books, electronics, and small home furnishings that were ready for a new home. Even though these items were no longer benefiting me, I knew they had value. It’s not realistic for me to sell each item — it would require photographing, posting online, and then coordinating with prospective buyers — but I knew there were some worth the extra care and time. 

For instance, a Nintendo Switch that’s been collecting dust, a nearly new winter coat, or a modern-looking armchair. I struck a happy medium between time spent and money back by being thoughtful about where to take my unwanted items. And in the end, I made $521 while decluttering. 

You can make some money off your previously loved things too, if you follow the three rules I set for myself when selling decluttered items.

If it’s worth more than $50, I sell it on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. 

I always set the threshold to $50, but you can change this based on your preference. Typically electronics or furniture falls into this category. Invest time in good photographs and writing detailed descriptions, taking extra care to show any wear and tear. Be prepared for fruitless back-and-forth messaging and lowball offers. The key is to make sure it’s worth your time taking these extra steps to get the best return. 

I take books and clothes to stores that’ll resell them. 

Many local bookstores will look through your unwanted books and make you an offer on the ones they think they can re-sell. The same goes for your used clothes. Search online for a local secondhand clothing store or bring them to chains like Plato’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, and Uptown Cheapskate. It will be less money than selling each item individually but it takes a fraction of the time! If you frequent the store, ask if they will give you a higher offer in store credit. Some of these places will even donate the leftover items for you.

I donate everything else. 

Do a little research if you don’t already have a go-to thrift store. Curbside help is ideal and if it goes to a cause you believe in that’s even better. Ask for a charitable contribution slip and apply it to your taxes when the time comes.