3 Ways Spring Cleaning Can Save You Money

by Kailey Hagen | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 22, 2021

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A couple organizing boxes in their home of items to recycle or donate.

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Turn your trash into cash with these simple tips.

Need a little motivation to do your spring cleaning this year? Here's a big one: money.

There's almost certainly something of value hiding in your house somewhere. I don't mean coins and cash -- although there could be! But there are several ways you can turn unused items into food for your piggy bank. Try these ideas to get started.

1. Sell what you don't need

Take a quick walk through your home or apartment and look around for things you rarely use or don't really like. It could be old clothes you haven't worn in years or a lamp that no longer goes with your decor. Maybe you've upgraded your tools or kitchen gadgets and don't need the old ones anymore.

You might be able to find other people out there who want that stuff and are willing to pay for it. And selling items yourself these days is so easy. There are plenty of websites online that let you advertise and sell items to anyone anywhere in the world. And if you don't want to ship something, you can always advertise to people in your area using Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

Just watch out for scammers. Don't accept checks from potential buyers. If they bounce, you'll lose your money and your stuff. Only accept cash if you're selling the item to someone in person or credit card payments if you're selling the item online through a third-party site.

2. Donate

If you don't want to go through all the hassle of selling your unused items or you just want to help out those in need, you can donate your old stuff instead. This won't bring in quite as much money as hosting your own virtual garage sale, but you could still score a sweet tax break.

The government gives you a tax deduction for charitable donations you make throughout the year. So if you earned $50,000 this year but donated $1,000 worth of items to a charity, the government would only tax you on the remaining $49,000. But there are a few catches.

First, you have to donate to a qualified tax-exempt organization to claim the deduction. The IRS has a handy search tool for these organizations. Second, you need to document your donation. You don't have to submit this with your taxes, but you'll need it in case you get audited. If you're donating items, a written acknowledgement from the charity is best. You may also need to fill out Form 8283 if you're donating at least $500 of non-cash items.

Remember, it's the current value of the item that determines the amount of your tax deduction -- not what you originally paid for it. Don't try to cheat the government or you could find yourself explaining every financial decision you've ever made to an IRS auditor.

3. Stop replacing misplaced items

My husband owns a lot of stuff, and sometimes he loses track of it. Occasionally, that's led him to buy replacements for things he can't find, only to locate the misplaced items later on. This is why we own approximately 10 tape measures.

Organizing can help eliminate some of these duplicate purchases. This may not be as much of a spring cleaning benefit for you if you've already got your stuff really organized. But if you don't, it's another incentive to give spring cleaning a try. It'll also save you time going forward because you'll be able to find what you have more easily.

If doing a deep clean sounds like a lot of work, break it down into smaller tasks and spread them out over several weeks. Focus on one room at a time and enlist help from the other people in your household if need be. Once you're finished, you'll have a cleaner space and hopefully more cash in your pocket that you can put toward your other financial goals.

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