How cleaning up can help your finances
De-cluttering your home can make it more inviting, reduce your stress and help you avoid health problems aggravated by mold or dirt. But did you know that it could lower your costs and even earn you money? Here's how de-cluttering your home can help you save.
- Catch problems early. Is your basement waist-deep in boxes? Do you remember the last time you saw the back of your closet? If not, your stuff may be blocking you from signs of damage. Leaking roofs, appliances and basement walls, mold and insect infestations often start off small. If you address them quickly you may avoid major repair or extermination bills down the road.
- Save by selling your stuff. Don't just throw stuff out. Identify belongings that you can sell online or at a second-hand store, such as DVDs, books or collectibles. Sort through your basement, closets and kitchen cupboards for gently used items to donate to charity, and ask for a receipt so you can deduct them on your taxes.
- Make better use of freed-up space. Do you have a spare room or basement that's full of junk? If you clear it out, you'll have more space for your family, and possibly avoid moving to a bigger home or renting a storage locker. You may even be able to turn that extra space into income by taking on a tenant.
- Reuse forgotten belongings. There's a good chance your clean-up efforts will reveal clothes or other belongings you had forgotten you even owned. Identify the ones that are in good condition and that you still want, and put them back in use. This can help you avoid buying replacements.
- Entertain at home. Do you ever go out for dinner or coffee with friends to avoid inviting them into your untidy home? If so, your clutter is ramping up your entertainment expenses. By making your home more guest-friendly, you'll be a more comfortable host while saving money on restaurant bills.
- Create a home inventory. If your home is ever damaged or burglarized, a home inventory will help you prove your claim to your insurance company. As you de-clutter each room, create a spreadsheet of all your belongings: clothes, appliances, furniture, electronics, tools, etc. Record serial numbers and take photos. Keep a copy of the inventory outside your home, such as at work or in a safety deposit box.
- Identify your big clutter problems. You may notice that just one or two types of items cause much of your clutter. Is it books and magazines? Clothes? Gadgets? Once you've fingered your clutter culprit, put it on a "do not buy" list. This way you'll avoid cluttering your home again, and save money on future purchases.
If these cost-saving hints have got you motivated to de-clutter your home, keep up the momentum by allocating your savings to a special goal, such as your vacation fund, retirement savings or paying down debt. Then enjoy your clean home and improved finances.
What's next? Having the money conversation