In the months leading up to our move from a 3,000 square-foot house with a walk-up attic to a home nearly half that size, I was on a mission:
Purge the clutter we had managed to collect in the course of 30 years of marriage and see how much cash we could raise for an anniversary trip.
If we didn't need it, love it or use it on a regular basis, we put it up for sale.
There's nothing like an impending move to speed the emptying of the closets, the far recesses of the attic and the frozen-in-time bedrooms of children who have left the nest.
But even now, a full year after our down-sizing, the purge continues. Beyond the cash toward our trip, we've found that less clutter has fringe benefits. There's less to dust, less to organize, less to haul to and from the attic.
Among the unwanted, unloved and no-longer necessary items we have sold:
a bookcase, an antique jelly cupboard, an antique wardrobe, a dining room table, two pieces of Ben Owen III pottery, a graphing calculator, dozens of books, Christmas decorations, old appliances, out-dated iPods, toys, clothes, broken jewelry and even a used rain barrel.
The kitty for our trip is hovering at $2,500, and counting.
Mostly, we've sold things online, but we've also toted items to consignment shops, sold unwanted gold and silver at a local jewelry store and rolled our "stuff" onto the driveway in the wee hours of a Saturday morning for a yard sale. We even made a trip to the junk yard.
One of the biggest lessons we learned along the way is that it's a lot easier to purchase things than to purge them -- a huge deterrent to buying more clutter, by the way.
For all those reasons, cashing in on your clutter is a smart financial move. Like coins you find in your sofa cushions, it's found money.
Why not put it to work financing a vacation, shoring up the family emergency fund, adding to a child's college fund, boosting a Roth IRA or bankrolling a cash-only Christmas.
Here are a dozen places that will give you cold hard cash for your clutter: