Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get Out and Stay Out

Now that the hard part of figuring out what you want to keep is done, we can move on to getting the rest of that clutter out of the house.

There are several ways to do that. The most obvious are the things that are truly trash - the instruction book for the blender you don't own anymore, the broken crayons, the newspaper clipping for the cabbage diet. You know the stuff. Into the trash it goes and don't even look back.

However, there's always that stuff that still has some useful life to it. Just not useful in YOUR life. There are several ways to deal with those things.

The first one that a lot of people think of is to have a garage sale. No one is a bigger fan of garage sales than me. I love to go to them, and I've had my fair share of very successful sales. However, the garage sale we had last fall nearly killed me. I'm not convinced that they are the best way to get rid of stuff, but if you want to pack away your unwanted stuff for a garage sale, then go for it.

Another way to get rid of unwanted stuff is to list it for sale in your local newspaper or Craigslist. I've had really good luck selling things on Craigslist, but a lot depends on how large of an area you live in. We live pretty rurally, but I seem to get a lot of takers from the Chicago area. We even sold our camper on Craigslist. Newspaper classifieds are usually pretty inexpensive or even free too, so that's a good way to sell something locally.

You might have family or friends that can make use of the items - call them up and have them come and get them right away. Your old dishes could make your 20 year old niece who is just moving out on her own really happy.

I've been using Freecycle a lot lately. If you aren't familiar with Freecycle, it's basically a way to connect with people in your area through an email list and offer items to give away. You can even ask for items. The rules vary from location to location, but if you have something to give away, it's a great way to go.

Donating to charity is an age old way to pass your items on to others that may find them more useful. Many charities may even come to pick them up. Think outside the box when it comes to charities - churches may have a list of people in need, shelters always need things, children's homes, homes for disabled adults, etc.

If you donate items to charity, make sure you document it well and know exactly what you can use as the correct value to write off. It's actually really surprising how much you can write off for household items and clothing in good condition. Much more than you can make from a garage sale. You can download a free copy of 2007 Deduction Pro here. I've been using it for my deductions and it couldn't be easier.

When I donate items, I take a photo of the items to be donated and save them to my hard drive with the place donated and the date. That way, if I am audited, I not only have the itemized list from Deduction Pro and the receipt, but I also have photos to document the donation and the condition of the items.

The most important rule of getting items out of your house is that they must go immediately. Put those garage sale items in a box and put them in the garage, attic or basement and plan a date on your calendar NOW for that garage sale. If they are going to charity, put them in your car to take them the next time you go out or call the charity and schedule a pick up right away. If you are selling the items or giving them away, list them right away so that you aren't tempted to keep them.

Now go kick that stuff to the curb and feel the weight lifted from your shoulders!

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I really dislike the Tip of the Day Dragon.