If you dread spring cleaning, you’re doing it wrong.
Rather than thinking of it as a chore, tell yourself it’s less about work and more about finding hidden cash in your home. Sure, you may find some change in the cushions — but we’re talking about bigger bucks here.
Here’s how to cash in on your clutter, step by step.
1. Take a no-holds-barred approach
The first step is to be ruthless — and brutally honest — while cleaning out your home. As you go from room to room, scrutinize everything.
The knickknacks buried on the bookshelf? Gone. The beach toys your kids have outgrown? Say goodbye. The movies you haven’t watched in years? Sayonara.
Don’t forget to venture into your home’s dumping grounds, too. Check out what’s lurking in the attic, basement, garage or shed. If you forgot you had something, that’s generally a sign it needs to go.
If you get tired of purging, remind yourself that the more you get rid of this year, the less you’ll have to clean next year.
2. Separate the wheat from the chaff
Now that you’ve been through every room, you probably have a huge mound of unwanted items just waiting to be turned into cold, hard cash.
To maximize your profits, start by pulling out anything of value. For example, set aside brand-name clothes, collectibles and antiques.
Next, find a consignment shop that may be interested in selling these items for you. While many consignment stores specialize in clothes, you can also find shops that consign antiques, children’s items, furniture and sporting goods, among other items.
If you don’t have a consignment shop nearby, see if any local retailers offer trade-in programs like those we detail in “9 Retailers That Want to Buy Your Clutter.”
Or, go online. A simple search for “online consignment shop” will bring up pages of results — primarily for clothing, which can be shipped to online consignment stores more cheaply than heavier items. Examples include Swap.com and ThredUp.
For other types of wares, check out “7 Websites for Selling Your Clutter — Safely.”
3. Pull out the electronics
While you’re pulling out brand-name clothes and collectible items, make a separate pile for electronics. Even broken electronics might garner you some extra cash.
Be sure to wipe the memory of cellphones and hard drives, and then try selling them to a company that buys secondhand devices, like Gazelle.
If you don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of mailing off your old electronics, several brick-and-mortar retailers offer trade-in program for electronics, as we detail in “7 Easy Ways to Get Money for Your Old Phones and Electronics.”
4. Host a yard sale
At this point, you should have all the really valuable stuff set aside. What’s left are odds and ends that won’t bring in much on their own but could collectively bring in a couple hundred dollars or more.
If you’re comfortable hosting one during the coronavirus pandemic, or if you just want to start planning for a future sale, check out “15 Tips for a Super Profitable Yard Sale.”
5. Get a tax deduction if possible
After a yard sale, you’ll probably end up with some leftovers that didn’t sell — or maybe you passed on a yard sale and wonder what to do with all the things you culled. Pack them up and head to the nearest thrift store.
If you have many leftovers or big ones, some charities will even come to your house to pick up your donations.
Either way, be sure to ask for a receipt in case you can deduct the donation on your next tax return.
Generally, you can only deduct charitable donations, whether of money or goods, if you itemize your tax deductions, as opposed to taking the standard deduction. But since the federal tax code overhaul in 2017, which increased standard deductions significantly, far fewer people itemize on their returns.
There is one exception for 2020, however. As we report in “5 Ways the New Coronavirus Stimulus Law Will Help Your Wallet“:
“To encourage Americans to donate money to charity this year, the CARES Act effectively allows taxpayers to deduct up to $300 in monetary donations on their tax return for 2020. This write-off is available to taxpayers regardless of whether they itemize their deductions or choose to take the standard deduction for 2020.”
6. Be smart with the profits
Don’t squander the profits from your spring cleaning purge.
To make the most of it, put the money in a high-yield savings account. Saving pennies now might mean you won’t need to go into debt when it’s time to replace the dishwasher, fix the roof or even buy a new car.