Spring cleaning is good for the soul, good for the body and, if done right, good for the pocketbook, too. Clearing the clutter and getting organized will leave you with a more harmonious living space. It will also give you a better idea of what you own, what you can get rid of and how you can tweak your lifestyle to spend less on clutter in the future. From selling old junk to upcycling old stuff into new things, spring cleaning is an opportunity to tidy up financial ledgers, too.
Here are six ways spring cleaning will save you money.
[See: 15 Spring Home Maintenance Tips.]
1. Repurpose furniture and other home goods. Have your dining room table and chairs seen better days? Are you bored with the artwork on the walls? Instead of buying new, take stock of what you have and what it might take to refresh and reuse. Painting and refinishing a table and chairs is a do-it-yourself project many of us can pull off. Anything from textiles to prints from magazines can be upcycled into new art for your old frames. Making minor repairs and reorganizing your space to accommodate furniture stored in the garage or attic can eliminate the cost of buying new.
2. Sell gently used clothing. Once you turn your attention to your closets, make note of any lightly worn and brand-name items that still have plenty of life in them -- but you could do without. If you don't plan on wearing something at least once this season, set it aside to sell it off to a resale boutique in your area or via an online consignment store like Tradesy, Twice or Poshmark. You never know what the selling price of that designer handbag or that designer dress will be. You might find it easier to sell the item this way instead of listing it on eBay on your own. You may not earn as much (after all, the shop will want its cut), but you might appreciate the convenience.
[See: How to Live on $13,000 a Year.]
3. Refresh and reuse clothing and accessories. For the rest of your wardrobe, get creative. You can bring out-of-season items to the forefront and have fun layering different styles and pieces to create new outfits and looks. This can save you a significant amount of money buying new pieces for spring. It will also help you maximize your initial investment of clothes, shoes and accessories by extending the wearable lives of your much-loved pieces.
4. Bank found money. During your cleaning and organization, you may strike it rich with a $20 bill found in an old pair of blue jeans or a lost cache of coins between the cushions. More likely, you may have been tossing your pocket change into a jar all these winter months. Many local bank branches will be happy to sort and count your change for you, often for free. Once there, resist temptation and deposit your bounty in your savings account.
5. Prepare for a garage sale. Your garage or attic may be hiding scores of items that still have value to someone else. Clearing out these areas will reduce clutter and help you round up plenty of good things for a sale. If a yard sale is out of the question, look for items that might fetch a decent return on Craigslist or eBay. You can quickly find out if it's worth the trouble by checking prices via your smartphone or computer. Turning junk into cash has never been easier.
6. Inventory your fridge and pantry. Over time, leftovers and other food items tend to get pushed to the back of the fridge, and canned goods and other storable foods migrate to the back of the pantry. Organizing and clearing out your food storage spaces can help you clean out the old to make room for the new. Better yet, the exercise can give you a better idea of what items you should probably stop buying. Before you head out to the store to restock, be sure to prepare and eat anything you find that's still good. "Shopping the pantry" is a time-tested way to reduce the weekly grocery bill, at least for a week or two, depending on how deep your pantry shelves are.
Sabah Karimi is a columnist for the blog Wise Bread, where you can find consumer tips like how to select the best balance transfer credit cards. Her personal finance articles have appeared on Time Magazine, MSN Money, Business Insider, AOL Finance, Yahoo Finance and USA Today. Sabah is the author of Financial Fitness for Freelancers, which helps freelancers learn how to thrive on a irregular income.