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November 10, 2023

The Art of Decluttering: Sell or Donate – Your Choice

Let's face it; clutter is more than just a messy room. It can mess with your peace of mind, too.

Graphic sign of the word decluttering
Written by

Matthew Oliver

The connection between clutter and our mental health is real. It can amp up anxiety, hinder sleep, and zap our focus. Plus, it's a sneaky productivity thief, making us reach for snacks and binge-watch decluttering TV shows (oh, the irony!). 

While some say a bit of chaos fuels creativity, too much clutter can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. So, in this clutter-busting guide, we'll help you simplify your life, room by room, with decisions on what to keep, sell, or donate. Your organized, stress-free space awaits!

Woman decluttering her house by donating or discarding

Say goodbye to the disarray in your life: See how decluttering can improve your quality of life

Decluttering isn't just about tidying up your living space; it's about breathing new life into your home and your well-being. It's a process that rewards you with more energy, more space, better mental health, and a safer home environment. 

These benefits are too good to ignore, but it's no secret that diving into decluttering can feel a bit intimidating, to say the least. Many folks delay it, sometimes indefinitely, simply because it seems overwhelming. That's where our guide comes in. 

We'll help you make informed decisions about what to sell or donate, making your decluttering journey manageable and enjoyable. 

The decluttering process 

There are various schools of thought on how to approach the decluttering process. You might have heard of the KonMari Method, the Becker Method, or the Peter Walsh Method, just to name a few. Whichever approach you take, the key is to have a plan in mind before you begin.

A handy tool to help you stay on track is a decluttering checklist. This checklist can be your decluttering compass, guiding you through the process. Here are some items that might make their way onto your list:

  • Old electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras
  • Old photos (select your favorites and let go of the rest)
  • Unused or broken holiday decorations
  • Old holiday and birthday cards
  • Excess and unused luggage
  • Hobby-related items that no longer see the light of day (musical instruments, camping gear)
  • Unused exercise equipment
  • Extra bed linens (two per bed are ideal)

When decluttering, set realistic goals and take it one step at a time. Rome wasn't decluttered in a day, after all. Having a checklist can make the process manageable.

A yard sale for someone decluttering

Identifying items to sell

Identifying items to sell during your decluttering journey is a crucial step in streamlining your living space. To assess an item's value, consider its condition and use guidelines like the 50%, 25 to 30%, or 10% rule.

Starting at 50% of the original retail price is a solid benchmark for items in top-notch condition.

Items in decent condition can often fetch 25-30% of the original retail price. Setting prices around 10% of the original retail price might be more realistic for well-loved items.

Once you decide what to sell, the next step is finding the right platform. Popular choices include eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. When pricing your items, research similar listings to gauge the market and be prepared to negotiate. Effective pricing and savvy negotiation can help you declutter your space and put some extra cash in your pocket.

Determining items to donate

Clothing is often a challenging category when decluttering. We invest time and money in building our wardrobes, making it tough to let go. However, there are some essential considerations. 

Worn and stained clothing can find new life through textile recycling, while pieces that no longer fit or flatter can be donated to needy charities. Holding onto clothing from previous sizes can lead to unnecessary stress.

When it comes to donating, the benefits are a plenty. Not only do you declutter your space, but you also provide much-needed items to those less fortunate. Common items accepted by charities include:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Furniture
  • Kitchenware
  • Toys
  • Books

Remember that donations should be in usable condition. Broken, stained, or torn items might be more suitable for recycling or the landfill. Be aware that some items, like electronics, certain baby gear, mattresses, and furniture, may not be accepted. Expired items are better off in the trash.

Donating isn't just about helping others; it can also help you. Many charitable donations are tax-deductible, meaning you can receive a financial benefit while decluttering your space and aiding those in need. It's a win-win situation.

Maintaining a clutter-free lifestyle

Decluttering is not a one-time event but a lifelong journey toward maintaining an organized living space. To keep clutter at bay, consider adopting some helpful habits:

  • Make your bed every morning. It's a small task that sets a productive tone for the day. If you haven’t seen the snippet from the infamous speech by Admiral William McRaven, check it out today for a bit of inspiration.
  • Open and sort mail immediately. Avoid letting paper piles accumulate.
  • Place items back in their designated homes. Everything should have its place.
  • Tidy up in the evening to start each day fresh. A clutter-free evening leads to a clutter-free morning.
  • Designate a special place for important items. Keep track of keys, phone, and important documents.
  • Clean the kitchen and do dishes after every meal. A clean kitchen makes for a happier home.
  • Create a routine for tidying up. Dedicate specific times for quick cleanups.
  • Avoid accumulating clutter again. Practice conscious consumerism and mindful purchases.

Living clutter-free offers more than just an organized space. It has numerous health benefits, including:

  • Better sense of well-being. A clutter-free space reduces stress and promotes mental clarity.
  • Weight loss. Stress caused by clutter can lead to unhealthy habits.
  • Enhanced mental health. An organized environment contributes to emotional well-being.
  • Savings. Reducing clutter saves money and helps you appreciate what truly matters.

By incorporating these habits and understanding the health benefits of living in a clean, clutter-free space, you'll not only maintain an organized lifestyle but also enhance your overall well-being.

Graphic of woman decluttering her mind and home

Start your journey to a clutter-free life

As we have said, decluttering is not just about tidying up; it's about making space for a happier, more organized life. In our clutter-busting journey, we've explored the benefits of decluttering, from reducing stress to saving money. Now, it's your turn to take action. Start decluttering your spaces, and don't stop there; extend the organizing to other aspects of your life.

Getting organized financially is another significant step. Companies like RateWorks can help you refinance your car, reducing monthly expenses and saving you money. Additionally, consider optimizing your monthly subscriptions or creating a budget to keep your finances in check.

Decluttering is more than just a task; it's a gateway to a healthier, happier lifestyle. It frees up not just physical space but mental space, too, allowing you to focus on what truly matters. So, don't wait. 

Start your decluttering journey today, and watch how it transforms your living spaces and overall well-being. 


What should I do with sentimental items I no longer need?

Dealing with sentimental items can be tough. Consider passing them on to family or friends who might cherish them. Alternatively, take photos of these items to preserve the memories without the physical clutter. Recycling or upcycling sentimental items into something practical or decorative can also be a heartfelt way to repurpose them while keeping the sentiment intact.

How do I decide between selling or donating?

Choosing between selling and donating depends on your priorities. Selling can yield extra cash but requires time and effort. Calculate the opportunity cost, considering what else you could accomplish with that time. 

Donating is quicker and helps others in need. Make a decision that aligns with your goals, whether it's financial gain or the satisfaction of helping others, considering the time and effort involved.

Are there any tax implications when donating?

When donating, tax implications vary based on the condition and value of your items. You can claim an income tax charitable contribution deduction for household items in good used condition or better. 

However, an exception exists for items not meeting this standard; tax implications may apply if you claim a deduction exceeding $500 for such items. Be sure to follow tax regulations and consult a professional for guidance.

Where can I find local charities to donate to?

Finding local charities to donate to is as easy as checking with well-known organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, GreenDrop is an option for various donations. For those passionate about helping furry friends, consider local animal shelters that often welcome contributions. You can also explore smaller, local charities within your community to make a meaningful impact.

What are the benefits of a clutter-free home?

A clutter-free home offers numerous benefits, including reduced stress and improved mental clarity. It creates a safer and more organized living environment, making it easier to locate items. It also saves time and enhances productivity. 

A clutter-free space can improve well-being, promote healthier habits, and even save money by helping you appreciate what truly matters. For other tips on improving your household, car, and budget, check out the RateWorks insights blog.