Is there cash hiding in your clutter?

In tight economic times, getting rid of clutter can be a good way to cut your expenses and/or bring in extra cash. If you’re looking to save or earn a buck, consider these possibilities:

  1. Old hobbies. Most hobbies require equipment, supplies, and/or specialty tools that can easily be resold at near-cost prices. If you’re no longer participating in rock climbing, scrapbooking, or golf, consider selling the hobby’s accouterments. Sites like eBay and Craigslist are good options for selling the supplies, and so are sites where hobbyists visit (like Ravelry for knitters, crocheters, and spinners).
  2. Collections. If you’ve lost interest in a collection, consider putting it up for sale on eBay. Sell things as a single lot if you don’t want to spend the next couple weeks at the post office mailing each piece of your collection to far-flung locations around the globe. Look at other sales of similar items to see what kind of a bid to expect.
  3. Maintenance costs. The more stuff you have, the more you have to maintain — you have to pay for more square footage in your home, more money goes out to heat and cool your space, and even more is spent on things like painting, cleaning gutters, lawn mowing, etc. Typically, to get more square footage in a home, you also have to live further from your job, which increases commute times, travel expenses (fares, tolls, gasoline), and you have to service your car more often. All of it adds up, putting greater strain on your pocketbook. Living simply almost always means paying significantly less on maintenance costs.

Where have you found cash in your clutter? Share your suggestions in the comments.

27 Comments for “Is there cash hiding in your clutter?”

  1. posted by Charity on

    I did this with my books and DVDs. I really, really pared them down and sold them to Amazon.com and Powell’s Books. Over the course of a few purgings, I made a little over $500 which I applied towards debt and getting a food processor which I had been lusting after for years. I used it several times a week and it is worth every penny I paid (or didn’t pay since the books and DVDs paid for it for me!)

  2. posted by knitwych on

    I’m in the process of doing this right now. Our local VFW is having a big yard sale this weekend to raise funds for a memorial in the town park, so I’m donating a lot of items – including hobby-related stuff – to that cause. I also have a lot of old comics and books that will be sold on eBay or taken to the local used bookstore. I’m going to check out selling items on Amazon, too.

  3. posted by Handy Man, Crafty Woman on

    we have definitely cashed in some clutter: yard sales, craigslist, etc. One big thing we did was to ask about moving hubby’s work schedule from 5 eight-hour days to 4 longer workdays (10 hours/day.) Those days DO get somewhat long for him at times, but it saves commuting 1 extra day. Plus, it gives an extra day for resting, family time, completing projects, errands, etc. This has helped us a LOT!

  4. posted by Dawn F. on

    I took a huge stack of music CDs to our local CD Exchange store (they buy/sell/trade music, movies and computer/video games) and got a nice chunk of cash on the spot. You have to have the original CD holder (with the paper insert). I have also sold children’s DVD movies to them, which my son had outgrown. It was so nice to clear out room in the entertainment center AND get cash on the spot. Perhaps there is a similar type of store in your area.

    I also sold our son’s outgrown baby items (clothes, high chair, large toys, etc., etc.) to a children’s resale shop. I chose one that would evaluate the items and pay cash on the spot. It was such a nice opportunity – clear out things we will never use again and bring home cash!

    For bigger items like paintings, chandelier, etc. I posted on Craigslist. Only accept cash and I suggest meeting at a neutral place like a parking lot at a store – for safety.

    It REALLY pays to keep your things in good condition – to get extra money when you no longer need them.

  5. posted by TanyaZ on

    Good ideas! My husband (he is a packrat) recently noted that he is willing to part with the tennis balls/rackets, which we have not used for a few years, since I pulled my back badly on a backhand. No sure he will be able to part with his CDs.

  6. posted by Jen on

    See, here I was expecting an article pointing out that sometimes checks are hidden in the pile of papers you’ve been meaning to file “someday”….

  7. posted by Gina on

    If you’re looking to sell your cloth diapers Diaper Swappers (www.diaperswappers.com) is a great place to go (ebay doesn’t allow sale of used diapers). Many of them have high resale value.

  8. posted by Keri on

    With baby #3 on the way, we felt the need to purge our garage. We had a garage sale for a lot of household items, and I took books and DVD’s to a local Half Price Books. All together we made $400! It was the perfect amount of money to makeover our master bedroom before baby comes.

  9. Profile photo of

    posted by themusiclivez on

    I have been doing this and have been able to profit by selling my CDs, books, and DVDs on eBay and amazon.com.

    Don’t forget: Old jewelry (gold, platinum, silver) can oftentimes be sold back to local jewelers for whatever the cost is per ounce. My husband and I were able to sell back broken bracelets, earrings that were missing the other half, and ugly things we would never wear!

  10. posted by CJ on

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  11. posted by Dooley on

    Jen: Sadly, I’ve actually found old checks in stacks of unfiled papers.

    I’ve recently been going through a lot of my items in preparation for a move and got rid of a huge number of books and clothing. While I gave good books to friends I knew would enjoy them, I brought many others to a used book store and got a good chunk of change in return. I also have a few boxes of clothes I plan on taking to a consignment store. Whatever they won’t take will go to Goodwill. Furniture, pet supplies, sporting goods, etc. are going on Craigslist and whatever doesn’t sell is going in the neighborhood garage sale in August. Everything leftover is going to Goodwill.

    I definitely have packrat tendencies so my rule is: If it goes in the box, it doesn’t come back out for any reason.

  12. posted by Mike on

    I used to collect Magic: the Gathering cards. I didn’t think I was all that hardcore of a collector, but it took months to fully sort, sell, and ship everything off — and then it went so well that some friends had me do their collections too (for which I took a percentage of the earnings). All in all not a bad way to raise money to kill off debt.

  13. posted by MsD on

    I thought it was going to be literal, too. I once found $50 in an unopened holiday gift (several years old) in my mom’s house while secretly tossing junk. My payment for a long, hard day of work!

  14. posted by Claycat on

    I have been selling my MIL’s things on eBay. (She is in assisted living.) I’m making money for her and a little for me as well. I’m also selling some of my things.

    I’ve also had 2 estate sales which weren’t that great, because we are rural, but they did better than I thought they would. Then I sold a computer desk on craigslist. I have some other things I’m going to list there, too.

    I have found that Half Price Books doesn’t pay very much for books, so I stopped taking books there. I’m going to be selling books on eBay.

  15. posted by DebraC on

    Given that a lot of this stuff just lies in our cupboards unused, we may else get rid of them. It provides the opportunity for others to make use of these items. And the cash always comes in handy. Having a garage sale is a good way to sell as many items as possible in a short timeframe.

  16. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    As others have mentioned, actual money can often be found when decluttering. In working with clients, I’ve found travelers checks, a tax refund check, other bank checks, and numerous gift cards.

    But related to point #3, there’s also the clear-out-the-self-storage-locker kind of cash savings

  17. posted by nicole on

    I finally sold some of my college textbooks I had been holding onto through Amazon. Made several hundred dollars and cleared of an entire shelf.

  18. posted by Joy on

    I’ve been doing this too!
    I just sold a Serger Sewing Machine, 35mm Camera & lens and made over $250 on Craigs List. I think I get MORE excited SELLING my unused item (and making $) then buying new!

  19. posted by Jen 2 on

    So far, I’ve found over $200 in old checks, rebates, and occasionally actual currency – literally cash lost due to my clutter.

  20. posted by dijamae on

    I like to resell my children baby clothes. They grow so much that I am always having to buy new ones. Selling old clothes on ebay gives me money for new ones.

  21. posted by Rory on

    When I moved in with my husband (then-fiance), we sold tons of comics, movies, video games, and toys to a shop called Vintage Stock (including all of the items we each owned a copy of) — we took some of the funds in cash and kept some in store credit for carefully thought-out future purchases.

    I also recently came across an uncashed $12 money order while decluttering my office. These are nice rewards for getting organized!

  22. posted by gypsy packer on

    Regional highway garage sales (The World’s Longest is my favorite) are great places to rid oneself of clutter on a long weekend. If you like to camp, many of the larger sale sites allow it.
    Also a help–shopper periodicals. We have two Craigslists within 100 miles, but that much gas eliminates the bargain in the purchase.
    With collections, always check out collectors’ societies online. They may have prospective purchasers of entire collections, or auction lists/want ads for purchase.

  23. posted by Magchunk on

    I’ve “made” money by uncluttering:

    1. Finding cash tucked into pockets of old coats/bags/jeans that I never wear and luckily checked before donating!
    2. Simplifying vehicles – we moved into the city, which cost a little more rent-wise but made up for it by getting rid of one car and it’s insurance/maintenance/gas costs (and we rarely drive the car we still have).
    3. Like others, selling items on ebay and craigslist. I had several (ok 7) years of Vogue magazines. I kept my favorites but got rid of many many others – one sold for $60 on ebay!
    4. We’ll be “buying” a table at our community rummage sale. For the $25 fee I expect we’ll more than quadruple that in sales.

  24. posted by Fred E. on

    On my last checking statement I see three credits for a total of over $48 from Half.com for three books.

    I am guilty of taking an entire box of CDs or picking up books that people have left in the trash room and selling them, however, which is backwards from the way this is supposed to work as far as getting rid of clutter. That said, I made several hundred dollars from a box of CDs last summer including one that was worth over $50 and once sold a book from the trash room on Amazon for over $200. Those are of course the exceptions that prove the rule that most of the stuff isn’t worth listing because it sells for $1 or even 1 cent.

  25. posted by mydivabydesign on

    #3 is great. Clutter is also a state of mind. Clearing it will help you focus on the things you love instead of feeling guilty about it. Clutter also saps your energy.

  26. posted by Could organizing your household earn you money? Find out how, here! | Bath Fitter Blog on

    [...] you be hiding cash in your clutter? Our favorite household organization blog, Unclutterer, recently featured this article about finding cash hidden amidst your clutter.  Naturally, [...]

  27. posted by Bernardino Lima on

    Hi!

    Beside all the examples given I once really found cash hidden in my clutter. Hi put all my mail on my inbox. A couple of years ago I got money as a gift from a grandma on a envelope, and it went to the pile of the mail in the inbox. Some weeks later (I usually sort my mail few times because I have automated payments) I discovered the money in the middle of the mail… I already had forgotten I had it!

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