We live in uncertain times. Although the latest government figures show unemployment at its lowest since August 2008, for reasons even the experts can’t agree on, wages aren’t growing at anything like the rate they should be.
One thing there’s no debate about, however, is that the cost of living is going up. With world events pushing fuel prices to near-record highs, Aussies aren’t just copping it at the servo, they’re feeling its knock-on effects at the supermarket and elsewhere too.
While the average person is largely powerless against the root causes of all this, there’s one simple way to improve both your finances and reduce the stress of living through the current moment – decluttering.
The financial benefits of selling items you don’t use are easy enough to understand. Even if you’re selling them for next to nothing, that’s better than, well, nothing. But how exactly can offloading clutter improve your wellbeing?
You might be familiar with the old saying “tidy desk, tidy mind”. As is often the way with such nuggets of folk wisdom, the science appears to back it up.
A study carried out at Princeton University found that working in a cluttered environment has a negative impact on our ability to focus. Put simply, if the place is a mess, your brain is distracted, whether you’re aware of it or not.
And physical health? Well, there’s a reason the words ‘clean’ and ‘tidy’ are used together. Clutter encourages dust, mould, mildew, and even pests. If you’re prone to asthma or allergies, an untidy environment is asking for trouble.
So, with the health and wealth benefits of decluttering firmly established, let’s take a look at five quick wins.
Cold hard cash
If you’re running a second fridge, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars in electricity charges just by keeping it switched on. Unless you’re using it daily, turn it off and turn on the savings. Of course, if you don’t need it, why not sell it online and get some cash for it?
Clear out and sell out
Whether it’s unwanted Christmas gifts, clothes you don’t wear anymore, or household items that have lost their shine, you can make some extra cash by selling them either in a garage sale, second-hand stores (Cash Converters, pawn shops) or online through sites like eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. Do some research on what similar items are selling for and which method will get you the best price with the least hassle.
Virtual clutter counts too
It’s tempting to think of clutter as applying only to physical objects. But offloading virtual products and services is an equally valid way of decluttering your life. We all know about underused gym memberships and streaming services, but have you ever wondered whether you’re paying for more internet speed than you need? 50 Mbps is what ISPs tend to recommend by default, and while that’s right for most cases, it certainly isn’t for all. Smaller households that don’t do a lot of HD streaming or online gaming will find that 25 Mbps is plenty. And people who only use the internet for basic browsing and emails should be fine with just 12 Mbps.
Sell your old phones and gadgets
Not everyone wants or can afford the latest technology. Many people buy second-hand smartphones, tablets, game consoles and laptops that suit their needs perfectly. So rather than dump or store your old gadgets in a box to gather dust, sell them for cash. Just make sure you clear your device of your photos and data by restoring it to factory settings or reformatting the hard drive. If you’re upgrading your phone, check if your telco offers a trade-in – it could be a few hundred dollars off your phone bill.
Bulk sell books, vinyl, CDs, DVDs and games
Older music and movie formats can take up a lot of space, particularly if you’ve acquired a decent collection over the years. And while playing older format media may be a problem for you, there are certainly lots of people out there who relish the crackle of a stylus on a vinyl album.
Selling one or two items at a time may prove a hassle if you have to mail the goods to multiple buyers, so consider bundling them into a collection. Old hard cover books in good condition are also sought-after items for some collectors. Check the publishing details before putting them up for sale as you may find you have a rare first edition worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Decluttering can be good for both your wellbeing and cash flow, so have a look around your place to see what you don’t use and could sell. Remember, what’s one person’s trash is another’s treasure.