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.