The Joy — and Financial Benefits — of Decluttering

Many of us have been spending more time at home. And when we're not staring at a screen, we're likely looking at all the stuff we have accumulated over the years.

Apparently, for many of us, this abundance has its downside. A 2019 survey by resale site OfferUp found that 70% of respondents argued with a partner about household clutter. The upside: Six out of 10 people reported that decluttering reduced stress.

Purging has financial benefits, too. You might eliminate the need for renting a storage unit. You could be less inclined to make impulse purchases that will clutter up your place again. And you can earn money selling your castoffs.

If your time at home has inspired you to declutter, here are some helpful tips:

Develop a strategy. No single tidying technique works for everyone. For example, you can follow organizer guru Marie Kondo's method of ditching anything that doesn't spark joy. Or you can toss clothing you haven't worn for at least a year or household items you haven't used for two or more years. Find a method that fits you.

Keep it manageable. Instead of trying to declutter an entire household over the weekend, set an achievable goal. Maybe it's organizing one closet or one room at a time. Or devoting, say, a half-hour a day to tidy up a room.

Sell your goods. Earn cash by selling items locally for free through online marketplaces. You can also sell clothing and accessories — for a fee — on other sites. Or consider consignment shops that will sell your goods, often in exchange for 30% to 40% of the sale price. Find shops that are members of the Association of Resale Professionals at www.narts.org.

When setting a price, be realistic. To estimate current value, check comparable items recently sold on auction sites. And if you suspect you have a rare find, hiring a personal property appraiser (www.appraisers.org) can help you set a price.

Donate unwanted items. Many nonprofits seek donations of new and gently used items that they then resell to support their mission. For example:

  • Goodwill accepts clothing, jewelry, books, toys, DVDs, sports equipment, linens, electronics, and more.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStores welcome furniture, appliances, housewares, and building materials.
  • The Salvation Army accepts a wide range of items, from clothing and household goods to furniture and more.

Check the nonprofit's website before dropping off items. Some have stopped accepting donations temporarily or reduced hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bonus: If you file an itemized tax return, your donation may be deductible.

Please note: The contents of this publication provided by ICMA-RC is general information regarding your retirement benefits. It is not intended to provide you with or substitute for specific legal, tax, or investment advice. You may want to consult with your legal, tax, or investment adviser to review your own personal situation. Some of the products, services, or funds detailed in this publication may not be available in your plan. This document contains information obtained from outside sources and it references external websites. While we believe this information to be reliable, we cannot guarantee its complete accuracy. In addition, rules and laws can change frequently.

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