Save some money: De-clutter
It could just be winter fever setting in early. Or maybe it's almost two months without a working vacuum. (I finally broke down and borrowed someone's because I couldn't stand it anymore.)
Whatever the reason, I've been going absolutely bonkers in our apartment.
Combined with Ramit's 30-day challenge, it's an excellent reminder about one of the best ways to save money: De-clutter.
There are actually 3 ways that paring down your belongings can benefit you financially.
Sell your stuff
Whether you go for Craigslist, eBay, or garage sales, you can get some greenbacks for your unwanted items. This can go toward bills or your emergency fund, but no matter what, extra money is always good.
The other great way to make some money is selling your books.
This is hard for me, because I love books. I grew up in a single-wide trailer that had 17 bookcases of varying heights. So the idea of getting rid of books is practically blasphemy. I love books.
But the thing is, I rarely reread anything. I can think of perhaps 5 books that I have willingly reread since high school. So, this Friday night, I will be making some piles of books to resell to stores in the University District. (Always be sure to call and find out days and times that they buy.)
People tend to complain about lack of space. There's the old adage that we all manage to expand our possessions to fill available space.
This, in turn, means we feel cramped. We're aware of the clutter. It drives us to get even bigger places, which we adeptly fill up, or to go out more to escape the mess and the claustrophobia. Either way, you're spending money: on higher rent or on food/drinks/cover charges.
No more organizational products
If you're anything like me, your eyes get kind of wide-eyed in the organization aisle of the store. In this hallowed arena are plenty of (slightly overpriced -- but not enough to deter you) items that promise to put order in the chaos of your life.
- Organize your closet -- it will be serene and you'll finally wear all those clothes you buy.
- Organize your cupboards -- you'll never have to root around around for that spice. You'll stop losing track of groceries, and will use everything you buy. Uber-thrifty!
- Organize your desk -- never hunt for a pen again! Enjoy a clean, orderly work space that increases productivity.
You get the idea. The point is that companies like Rubbermaid, Ikea, and Martha Stewart take financial advantage of our fantasies of an orderly existence.
But these items wouldn't be necessary if we had less stuff to begin with. It's a lot harder for there to be clutter when you have only what you need.
When you think about it, these products are just another form of materialism. They enable rampant consumerism. Heck, they wouldn't exist without it!
More importantly, they perpetuate the system of buying to make ourselves happy. They promise a better life, with the purchase of this one product (or, at least, one product line). It's another way to get us to believe that happiness lies in a store.
So I, quite literally, am no longer buying it!
As for my version of Ramit's 30 day challenge, the results are mixed.
No actual sales yet, though a couple people have expressed interest in a few items. And I have identified a few more items that I might be able to sell.
I will get $20.07 back from a return. We got some shirts from Sierra Trading Post in April. Two of them weren't Tim's favorite. But we forgot to send it back and the label expired. Today I checked with an agent and they are still returnable. That will be credited back to my card, but I'm still counting it as savings because this challenge is what finally got me off my duff.
The real savings, though, will come in the form of internet. For reasons too long to explain, my cable modem bill is currently in my mom's name and her cell phone bill is in my name. We've been meaning for some time to switch, but as of tomorrow she's supposed to call and start the process. Then, Tim or I should be able to sign up for an introductory deal for the Internet. This means I'll go from paying around $60 a month to $19.99. (Or, at worst, $29.99.)
I'm still investigating TV savings. I am planning on calling Comcast in the next couple of days to see what specials they have, but so far it's not looking great. I called Dish to find out if there were any special offers for committing to another contract. The best they offered me was $2.98 a month for DVR (instead of $5.98) if I signed up for 2 years (!!!) so that's not of much interest.
Yes, $3 a month is still savings. But usually starting in late November, cable and satellite companies start offering really juicy savings. Given that people are staying home even more, I figure they will really start pedaling deals this year. So I want to keep my options open for a few more weeks.
Through Vindale, Cash Crate and occasionally Squishy Cash, I am earning in dribs and drabs. With Vindale, I like to do only a couple of offers at a time, since I have to be careful to cancel free trials before being billed.
I'm using a calendar to keep close track of which programs to cancel on which days. Still, my depression sometimes makes small tasks seem insurmountable, so I am trying to keep the schedule light.
Today, though, I signed up for a program which, after I cancel in 10 days, will net me $12. And on Cash Crate and Squishy Cash combined, I earned about $5 while watching TV. So this is a potential source for bringing in some extra dollars, here and there.
I'll try to get a running total once a few of my pending earnings have been processed, which should be soon.
Is anyone else trying something along these lines? I know a few of you were inspired by the spirit (if not the tone) of Ramit's challenge.