Make the Most (Think $$$) of Your Spring Cleaning This Year

by Sindy Berkowitz

Have the winter months left your home feeling cluttered? What’s worse, is your living space fuller than your bank account? If both conditions apply, take a hard look at what is collecting dust around the house—perhaps it could help you financially. With Spring (and being able to open the windows again) right around the corner, there has never been a better time to get your home—and finances—in proper order.

According to a year-end 2015 Money magazine article, more than half of all Americans have set a money-related New Year’s resolution. Whether your goal is to pay down debt, put more money aside for the future or eliminate wasteful spending habits, The Milford Bank is here to enable your success. Here are some helpful suggestions to turn big household items just taking up space back into assets.

Sell Your Used Items Online. To rid yourself of unwanted property online, you may want to consider eBay or CraigsList. eBay offers both buyer and seller protection while taking a cut of your profits as a seller (and charging a store fee). CraigsList has no direct fees, but sellers must assume price negotiations and the risk of being approached by unqualified buyers. While Craigslist may be wonderful for that one-of-a-kind upholstered armchair you never sit in, your Pez® or baseball card collection likely would not sell for as much as it would on eBay. While other online marketplaces exist for used goods, you won’t reach the same number of prospective buyers on niche sites unless you have a very specific item or collectible to sell.

Have a garage sale. While garage sales have long been the traditional venue for unloading unwanted household items, making them a down-home favorite, they are not usually terribly profitable. They are also work-intensive: Preparation (e.g., sorting, pricing and advertising), being present at the sale and any associated clean-up of leftover goods all represent large time commitments. Another drawback? To make any money at all, be prepared to haggle with patrons over the price of every item. Before considering for this option, be forewarned that the average haul from a garage sale is only $300.

Donate for a tax write-off. Before dropping any unwanted belongings off at your local charity, document every item with clear, well-lit photos as a testament to their quality. The higher the value you can attach to donated items, the more you will be able to write off when tax season rolls around. Make sure you identify items explicitly to guarantee that their value isn’t called into question. For example, Goodwill’s Valuation Guide for donors lists the value of a donated coffee maker at $4-$15, meaning this is the amount the government will allow you to write off as a deduction for a “coffee maker.”

All of these options can produce cash in hand. So don’t let your valuable unused household items pile up like cobwebs in the corner. Act today! Your bank account will thank you.