Charities, Internet, garage sale, junkyard: How to lose your clutter
In the ’70s, actor and comedian Redd Foxx portrayed the character Fred Sanford on the hit TV series “Sanford & Son,” in which he and his TV son played owners of a junkyard. Although the show’s set was a simple, sparsely decorated home, you just knew it was smack dab in the middle of the messiest junkyard known to humankind.Well, we don’t live anywhere near a junkyard, but we often feel like we’re “smack dab in the middle” of the one that belonged to the Sanfords. So we have a New Year’s resolution that will ensure clear paths and junk-free surroundings: unclutter everything!Here’s our plan:First, we will be giving as much as possible to charities. Yes, a garage sale is great, but it doesn’t come with high returns via built-in tax credits.Next, we will list what’s left on eBay. You can sell just about anything on the Internet.Then comes the garage sale. Keep this one in third place and your gain will be 20-fold over past experiences.And finally, a trip to the junkyard – not Fred Sanford’s, the real one.Once you’ve accomplished these tasks, you’ll be left with more storage space than you know what to do with. With all of the extra room, you ought to be able to store what’s left in a far more organized fashion. When you can easily access what you have, then it becomes more valuable.Moving from last to first on the list above, we all know about making a trip to the junkyard. It isn’t rocket science. Load the stuff up and get it there. Pay a small dump fee and drive away relieved.A garage sale isn’t much more complicated. Place signs around the neighborhood a day or two in advance (check into any required local permits), try to get neighbors to hold sales on the same day in hopes of attracting more buyers, put prices on everything and make the prices really low. Oh, and try to run your sale over a whole weekend rather than just one day. This gives passersby a chance to think about what they saw.Getting rid of junk begins to get a bit complicated as you move up our list. However, the closer you get to the top, the better your chance of walking away with money for your trouble and your stuff.The world of buying and selling on the Internet is somewhat different than you might be used to. If you haven’t done it before, find a friend who has. Look into something known as PayPal: It is a secure way of exchanging money over the Internet without disclosing personal information with every transaction.Finally, back to the first part of our plan: Giving to charities definitely is a good thing. It helps others who are less fortunate. And there is a great tax advantage associated with donating. As a tax deduction, you can take full value for what you give. Wow – help yourself while helping others!Donating isn’t always as easy as you might think. Many organizations have strict rules about what they will and won’t take. Don’t be discouraged. The charitable organization has to be able to sell what you give them. In some cases, their sales resources are limited. In other cases, the charity doesn’t sell the item, but is geared only to use what is donated.Make a list of what you have, then make a few calls before you load your car. Just because you want to donate it doesn’t mean the charity will be able to accept it.By the way, if you are interested in which charities do what, how they work financially, who does the best job with your dollars and other donations, go to a Web site called Charity Navigator at http://www.charitynavigator.org. It’s full of information about the country’s biggest, smallest, best and worst charities.Finally, keep in mind that you can always give Aunt Martha what you can’t sell or donate. She will love stacking it in her hallway and spare bedrooms, along with all of the other stuff she’s been hoarding since the middle of World War I.Send us your home improvement tip. If we use it in our column, we’ll send you an autographed copy of our book “Home Maintenance For Dummies.” For more tips, visit our Web site, http://www.onthehouse.com, or call 1-800-737-2474 (ext 59).Send us your home improvement tip. If we use it in our column, we’ll send you an autographed copy of our book “Home Maintenance For Dummies.” For more tips, visit our Web site, http://www.onthehouse.com, or call 1-800-737-2474 (ext 59).
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