Seven benefits of uncluttering

Today, we welcome Gregory Go. He is one of the personal finance and frugal living bloggers at Wise Bread, and a contributor to the new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget (available this May).

I come from a long line of packrats on my dad’s side of the family, and I definitely have a tendency to hold on to too much crap. But keeping my inner packrat in check is easier when I remember these 7 benefits of uncluttering.

1. Save money.

What if it only cost you $2 to read a brand new book that costs $24.95? Pretty good deal, right? Trent at The Simple Dollar shares his secret to reading brand new books for cheap (or sometimes even for a small profit). The key? Sell them as soon as you’re done reading to capitalize on the still-hot demand.

If you get rid of stuff you don’t need quickly, you can recover some portion of what you paid for the item. It’s like getting a discount on your purchase price. The faster you dump it, the bigger your “discount”.

Uncluttering (physically and emotionally) also makes a huge impact on your financial health, as Erin explains in this guest post at The Simple Dollar:

You will stop making impulse purchases because you can consciously evaluate a product and ask yourself if you really need it. You don’t operate on automatic pilot. You can easily foil retail marketing efforts. You don’t approach shopping with a “some day I might need this” attitude. You can better evaluate products because you’re aware of their components and inspect their quality. You are a mindful consumer, which is beneficial to your wallet and your commitment to simple living.

2. Make beer money.

In addition to books, electronics like cellphones, CDs, televisions, and computers are other items that retain more of their value the sooner you sell it. Dump it as soon as you don’t need it anymore. More money and less clutter for 30 minutes of eBay time? That’s a good deal.

Here’s a quick tip from The Digerati Life on how she cashes in on her clutter:

Post photos of your items on craigslist or some other web classifieds site for your local area. Ebay or other online auctions should work too if you’re able to ship the item. Amazon is great for used books, CDs and DVDs. Price your item well. I do this by checking what the going rate is for the item then knocking off 5%. Rules would obviously be different for auctions – try no reserve.

You probably won’t get what you want for your stuff, but anything is more than what you get if that crap stayed in your closet. Here’s an active discussion on Wise Bread about the kind of stuff you can offload on eBay. For example, Lynnae of Being Frugal shares in that thread:

I’ve sold “gently used” children’s clothing with some success. It does better in big lots according to size, and it helps if the clothes are name brand. Mostly I sell books, though. I’m a book-a-holic, and I always have extra books to get rid of. My books don’t fetch high prices, but every little bit adds up.

3. Get more space. Afford more house.

What percentage of your home is used for clutter storage? You may be shocked to learn the percentage of your rent or mortgage payments being used to store that old TV, extra couch, and broken coffee maker.

All I can afford here in Los Angeles are small apartments far away from the beach. If left to my packrat ways, half (or more!) of my rented space would be used to store crap. By purging regularly, I’m getting twice the apartment. I can also move a little closer to the beach because my rental budget doesn’t have to buy as much space.

4. Help others.

Why horde that second blender when your college-bound nephew could use it for mixing margaritas? Or how about all those clothes you never wear anymore?

The stuff you don’t need anymore might be useful for someone else. Donating your unused stuff is a fine way to up your charitable budget without using cash.

Bonus: Giving your stuff away helps the environment. If old toasters, hair dryers, and books are handed around to different people, less stuff would need to be produced. Give your old stuff a new lease on life with a new owner, and save the planet at the same time!

5. Save time.

Without all that clutter, it wouldn’t take so much time to prep your home for guests. Regular household chores (vacuuming, dusting) will be faster and easier without so much stuff lying around. Having less stuff piled up on your desk also makes it easier to find that important piece of paper when you need it.

6. Be more productive.

What is your current R.O.O. (return on organization)? Being more organized will provide a positive return in time (and we all know that time is money). The returns can be quite significant.

It is estimated that increased R.O.O. can yield up to an extra two hours of productive time a week.

Decluttering is so powerful it actually creates time! Get things done by getting rid of clutter.

7. Reduce stress.

Eliminating clutter reduces your stress level. Instead of your home being a sanctuary from the stress of work and real life, it adds to your stress level. It’s a terrible feeling when home is more stressful than the workplace.

Ready to purge?

Here are more helpful posts on how to unclutter:

  • Instructions for Decluttering Your Home in 5 Easy Steps (Unclutterer) – Alex Fayle explains in less than 500 words the thought-process of organizing your home.
  • 10 Ways to Declutter and Put Cash In Your Pocket (The Simple Dollar) – All of that stuff stored in the closet is money just sitting there gathering dust. Here are tactics to use to clear out a lot of your unused stuff (freeing up space in your home) while also putting some cash in your pocket.
  • 9 Tips for Decluttering (Zen Habits) – Zen master Leo Babauta offers his best tips for getting and keeping your space clutter-free.
  • How to Get Rid of All Your Crap (Wise Bread) — “Professional Hobo” Nora Dunn explains what she did with all her stuff when she left her cushy Canadian life for the adventure of vagabonding.

Good luck, fellow packrats! If I can part ways with my crap, you can definitely do it too.

19 Comments for “Seven benefits of uncluttering”

  1. posted by Gryphon on

    There is one other trick to decluttering that a lot of people seem to disregard. That trick is to re-purpose your things. Absolutely get rid of things you don’t need, but when you are organizing don’t be afraid to look at something and say, I have a new use for this item.

    I do this all the time with clothes. If I have worn holes in pants or shirts, they become this years work clothes. At the end of the year, the work clothes are gotten rid of, but I didn’t ruin clothes that would have been good for a while longer or buy clothes (yard sale, thrift store, or otherwise) that are going to be ruined while painting.

    I can also scavenge things from odd places for my craft projects. Old clocks can yield cogs for steampunk style projects, bits of plastic, fabric, or packaging can be used in creating model terrain, and I have cut apart old pieces of jewelry I don’t like to make new pieces. There are any number of things that can be done with clutter if you are creative.

    Don’t forget you want to simplify and clean your life up though. Be sure that you use whatever you re-purpose within three months! If it isn’t used by then, get rid of it, and no excuses!

  2. posted by Jesse on

    Thanks for the links to Wisebread…I hadn’t found that site at all yet! Now I have some reading to do tonight…

    Jesse

  3. posted by Seven benefits of uncluttering « beelers’ life on

    […] list of the seven benefits of uncluttering your home. I can definitely relate to Number Seven. Seven benefits of uncluttering | Unclutterer 7. Reduce […]

  4. posted by Ninja on

    I’ve recently discovered the importance of clearing clutter too. I got rid of a load of stuff recently, and I had forgotten I even owned most of it. Which just shows how much I didn’t need it :)

  5. posted by Tracey on

    Today must be the day to simplify! I am so in the frame of mind to unload and organize some of my stuff. The Container Store has a sale on for spring organizing also!Check it out at http://www.girlzdealz.com.

  6. posted by Glen on

    Double bonus for #4: deduct your charitable donations from your federal taxes if you itemize.

  7. posted by TC on

    But, but, but…If it’s a book I won’t want to keep beyond the time it takes me to read it, why not get it from my library? Costs me NOTHING that way. Or, if it’s one of those new-new books that I just can’t WAIT to read (which…I don’t think has ever happened) my library has a rental system…a buck for a week’s time out. Still cheaper than reselling on ebay or amazon, no?

  8. posted by momofthree on

    CRAP, a term I have come to love and use quite often!
    I am just AMAZED at all the STUFF people hold onto, and pay good money for the space in which they are storing it!
    (there are several people I know who rent 2-3 storage rooms for all the holiday gear that they put out 2-3 times a year…you know, the folks who OVERDO the Xmas, Easter, and Halloween displays year after year after year….and the displays get tackier and tackier and tackier because they just keep adding to the mess…
    Glad I don’t pay those storage bills!

  9. posted by Lynn on

    On #2. A few months ago I was in desperate need of some cash. So I looked around my bookshelf and found a bunch of books that were practically brand new. I thumbed through them and then forgot about them. There were maybe 10-15 of them. In the first month I made $200, and now once every week or two I get a message that another has sold. That’s more than a little beer money. =)

  10. posted by Lynn on

    Er..I skipped the part where I posted the 10-15 books on Amazon and that’s how I made $200 in the first month. =)

  11. posted by Kate Kashman on

    Gregory, a subject near and dear to me! Thanks for the motivation and the great links. I agree that it must be declutter day…I spent the day going through clothes and even got a load to the consignment shop. This article was just on time :)

  12. posted by Wellington Grey on

    I’m curious if anyone has suggestions on how to price used items on craiglist. I don’t know why, but I find coming up with a price for my junk rather stressful. I’d prefer to use ebay, where the market sets the ‘correct’ price, but they’ve been nickle-and-diming their customers to death for years.

  13. posted by James on

    I have been using http://DesktopBudget.com to manage my personal finances for a few months now. Its the easiest to use free, offline personal finance manager I have seen so far.

  14. posted by gypsy packer on

    I pass my used electronics along to a local teen tech wizard with good skills and not much money. He gets “used” by his non-tech friends with little rate of return. What I give him, he can sell or use as he sees fit.

  15. posted by The Digerati Life on

    Great post from Gregory! I especially like the idea of valuing your space more than you do the item that rests on that space. Before I buy an item, I always think about where I am to put that item in my home, where I’ll be keeping it and whether it’s worth storing or keeping anywhere. Does it have a use?

    I also make sure I clean out my home once a year by putting unused things up for sale on sites like Craigslist or eBay. If you do this regularly, it will be less work to declutter your home.

    Great ideas here. Thank you!

  16. posted by Jaromey Weel on

    Clutter does get me down but I have saved every magazine from NCRA and would not part with one of them. Also I save phone books as resource books but friends really do not understand. Currently working at clutter by shredding work contracts from the 90s.

  17. posted by Fia on

    More than an eyesore, clutter really adds a high level of stress to one’s life and eliminating it is truly liberating. I think it should be a habit to declutter and organize both our home and office, so that we can work more productively whether at home or at work. That is why it’s also beneficial to invest on some practical organizing products that can make our lives so much easier and more systematized.

  18. posted by Gregory Go» Blog Archive » My guest posts for Wise Bread’s book launch on

    […] 7 Benefits of Decluttering (Unclutterer) – This is what I want.  It’s a war that I’m losing. […]

  19. posted by Simplicity in Life: 10 Free Resources To Achieve It | My Super-Charged Life on

    […] big part of simplicity.  If you have packrat tendencies, then you definitely want to read the Seven benefits of uncluttering to help wrap your mind around this concept.  Clutter costs us in a number of ways that often […]

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