Many of us have spent a lot of 2020 at home, and we may be in the mood to get rid of a few things. To declutter successfully, it’s important to figure out what you can sell, what could be donated, what’s garbage, and how to best use what you want to keep.

Make a little money

Decluttering is inherently a money-losing proposition; chances are you already paid for what you have, so selling, donating, or tossing it is most probably going to bring in less money than you spent in the first place. However, you can make some money back by selling things that you no longer want but someone else could put to good use.

Books you’ve already read, clothes you no longer wear, and furniture your kids have outgrown can all be turned into cash. You can sell those old GI Joe toys and your old Barbie dolls to gain space and cash.

Help somebody else

When it’s time to declutter, you’ll need some containers. But first, if you’re working through clothes, for example, you’re going to put quite a bit back in the closet. Then, a black trash bag will work for what you need to discard, a white trash bag can be used for things to be donated, and a box will serve for whatever you want to sell. Another container can be used for any items you don’t want to lost but don’t need in the house — these can be put into a self storage unit.

Lay a blanket or sheet in the middle of the floor. This is for the stuff you want to keep. Open up the closets and all the drawers and start pulling things out. If something is basically in good shape but it no longer fits, put it in the white bag. If it’s stained or worn, it goes in the black bag. If it’s a high-end or labeled piece but it’s no longer something you want, put it in the box. When you fill up one container, get a fresh one and act on selling the items in the full one so you don’t end up revisiting it and wasting time.

You can sell clothing in good shape on Poshmark or ThredUp. If you’re selling on Poshmark, be aware that you’ll make more, but you have to maintain the inventory. ThredUp will send you a cleanout kit, but you end up making less on each item. Your schedule will determine the best method. There are many other sales platforms out there as well.

How to safely discard furniture

Don’t put worn or stained items in the donation bag. Additionally, check with your local thrift stores to see if bigger items can also be safely donated. A couch can be a great thing to pass on to somebody who can’t afford to buy new, but if you leave it behind your local Goodwill branch before a rainstorm, you’ve just added to their cost and labor.

If the cushions are shot but the frame is in good shape, consider donating it locally. Put it on Craigslist as “free for the hauling” and when you have a contact, set it out for them to pick up within a certain time window. Try to avoid personal contact at this time.

Gain full value from what’s left

Once you have gotten everything that you don’t want out of your space, you’ll have the peace of mind to make good use of what’s left. For example, you could build a capsule wardrobe that features a black pair of leggings, slacks, or a skirt. With black on the bottom, you can start to swap out different tops and jackets that will be great for work or play.

The trick with a decluttered or minimalist wardrobe doesn’t have to be to get down to just a few possessions. The goal is to make sure that every new piece you rediscover in your closet goes with at least two other things. For example, you might keep a black skirt and black leggings. Your newly unearthed pink sweater could then make two new outfits, and if you have jeans, it makes for casual weekend clothes as well. Add a scarf and you’ve got six outfits out of just four pieces.

It’s entirely possible to live better with less, make a bit of cash, help out someone who’s really struggling, and get rid of excess baggage and rubbish. Freeing yourself from your load of accumulated stuff won’t be easy. But get focused, play some great tunes in the background, and time yourself, and you can put in a couple of hard hours of decluttering and free up a lot of space in both your mind and your home.

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