October 2007
Vol. 5, No. 10

Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life

“Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought – particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.”

–Woody Allen, Comedian (like you couldn’t tell!)

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Turning clutter into cash

It pays to unclutter. A few months ago, I sold a bicycle, kayak, and car roof rack on Craigslist (more about that in a minute) and made $800 for about 60 minutes of effort.

My husband watched in amazement as people pulled into our driveway, looked at the item I had advertised, and then counted out $20 bills into my hand. I was pretty surprised, too, at how easy it was – so easy that I started rummaging through the garage to see what else I could sell!

If you want a little extra spending money for the holidays, just look around. An October 2004 AC Nielsen survey showed that the average American has more than $2,000 worth of unwanted items that could be donated as a tax write-off or sold to generate cash.

What’s in your closets, garage, basement and attic that’s just taking up space? Following are some ideas on how you can turn your clutter into cash:

Place a classified ad – A few years ago, when I was moving from Lake Placid, New York, I placed a small classified advertisement in my local newspaper to sell some Adirondack furnishings that I knew would be out of place in my new home in Phoenix, Arizona. I sold all but one lamp and it only cost me about $15 to place the ad. You can often place classified ads in weekly community or shopping papers for free.

Sell online. Some items sell very well on eBay.
LiveDeal.com is a similar web site that lets you target buyers in your local community. But my favorite online selling site is Craigslist.org because 1) lots of people look here first, 2) it’s free and 3) it’s effective. If someone is interested in buying the item you are advertising, they will respond via email and you can schedule a time for them to come see what you have. Go to http://www.craigslist.org, click on your city and then click on your specific “for sale” category. At the top right of that page, click on “Post.”

Sell on consignment – Consignment shops usually accept your secondhand belongings with an agreement to sell them and give you a percentage of the selling price – something in the neighborhood of 40 percent. This is a good choice if you want someone else to do the selling for you. You can sell all kinds of things on consignment including clothing, furniture, sporting equipment, and more.

Hold a garage sale – Set a date for your garage sale (better make it soon!) and plan to put an ad in your local paper. Then go through your home, looking for things you no longer love or use. Give yourself permission to let go of those things. Get the whole family in on the act. If you have kids, let them keep any money they make on items they contribute to your sale.

Find a specialty dealer – To sell items such as jewelry, antiques, coin collections, and musical instruments, look for stores that specialize in buying and selling these items. I once sold a set of old Westerns to an antique book dealer for a nice price. I recently learned that Powells.com buys books they feel they can resell and will give you roughly 30% of the price they expect the books to sell for. You don’t get cash; they give you store credit.
What you do is enter the ISBN of each book you wish to sell, click “Sell these books” and in just a few moments, you will receive an offer. If you accept the offer, you can print a postage-paid mailing label to ship your books to Powells. For more information or to sell your books, go to http://www.powells.com/sell.

Next month: Simplifying the holidays

MEET THE AUTHOR: November 1st in Scottsdale, AZ

Will your holiday season be stress-full or stress-less? A little organization can make all the difference.

Next month, I will be presenting proven tips on how to simplify holiday preparations – from getting your home ready for guests to sending cards and giving gifts to preparing meals and throwing parties that practically clean up after themselves. And when it’s all over? Take home tips on how to put away decorations for easier set-up next year.
Hope to see you there!

November 8, 2007, 7 pm Organizing Yourself for a Stress-free Holiday (Presentation followed by book signing) Barnes & Noble, 10500 North 90th St. at Shea Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85258 Phone: 480-391-0048

SURVEY RESULTS: What’s stopping you?

Last month, I asked: How long have you been feeling the need to get organized?

As promised, here are the results of that survey. . .

2% said: Just recently (less than one year) 25% said: For a while now (last few years) 28% said: Since a major life event (move, divorce, baby, death, etc.) 39% said: Most of my life 7% said: I don’t feel the need (I just do it!) 2% said: Other

Well, hopefully it helps just a little to know that you are not alone!

When you’re really overwhelmed with clutter and disorganization, it’s hard to decide where to start. But that’s exactly what you need to do.

Make a decision. Pick a room. Any room. Then pick a drawer or a shelf and get to it. Robert Collier said, “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”

Getting rid of clutter is like losing weight. You do it one ounce, one pound at a time. Don’t get discouraged about how much you still have to left to do. Celebrate and reward yourself for the progress you make.

NEW SURVEY: Your #1 priority

Do you know right now what is your next organizing project?

No Yes

TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY, click the following link editor@unclutter.com or send email to editor@unclutter.com with the word “Survey” in the subject line and the letter that corresponds to your answer. Feel free to add comments in the body of your email. I love reading them!

I will share the results of this survey in the next issue.

READERS WRITE: Gift bag storage

I hang gift bags for gift-giving and even tissue paper from hangers in my closet. The tissue paper goes over the long bar on one hanger and the gift bags hang over the top part of another two hangers layered on two sides for easy viewing (the part that curls and hangs over the rod in my closet.) This way I can quickly see what each gift bag looks like and pick the appropriate one.

When I need to put together a last-minute gift, I grab a gift bag and tissue from the hangers then pick a gift out of my gift box and I am ready to go. I try to buy gift bags with gift tags on their handles so a card is unnecessary.
This saves time and money, plus the gas I saved from not having to run an errand every time I need tissue, gift bag and gift card.

–Submitted by Sherrie Hartzell, Keller Williams Realtor, Stafford, VA

WRITE TO WIN an autographed book!

Do you have a really great organizing tip you would like to share with other readers? Or a question about an organizing challenge you have?

Send an e-mail to editor@unclutter.com with “Readers_Write” in the subject line.

If your question or tip is included in a future issue of this newsletter, I will send you a free autographed copy of my book, The One-Minute Cleaner Plain & Simple. Check it out at http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

PLEASE NOTE: I get a lot of email messages and it’s impossible for me to respond to them all. Please know that I do read them all and try to answer as many as I can.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION: Get your holiday cards here

‘Tis the season to begin preparing to send holiday cards to those we care about – friends, family, valued clients and others.

This used to be a huge task for me. In fact, this may come as a surprise to you, but I haven’t sent holiday cards in years. I WANTED to send cards. In fact, I’m still using up the 37 cent holiday stamps I bought a few years ago for the cards I never got around to writing or mailing.

But this year will be different. This year, I am using SendOutCards, an online service that allows you to send real paper greeting cards from your own computer, with your own handwriting and signature even.

All you have to do is choose the card you want to send, personalize it, and click SEND. SendOutCards does all the printing, stuffing, licking, stamping, addressing and mailing – all for about $1 per card! You can even create a customized card using your own digital photo on the cover and add captions, borders, voice bubbles and more.

And you can ask them to add a gift card or gift check to the greeting card, or even have them send a physical gift with your card (gift boxes filled with such things as gourmet candy, nuts, brownies, cookies, coffee, tea, and cocoa).

SendOutCards does all the work, so you are receiving a product (card) AND a service (preparation of the mailing) . . . a huge time and money saver.

I liked this service so much and found it to be such an incredible productivity tool that I became a distributor for SendOutCards. If you would like to try it for free, go to http:://www.yourcardconnection.com.

Or contact me at donna@yourcardconnection.com and ask me to set up a gift account for you. I will personally walk you through how to log in and send a card. After that, you can send a few more cards on me. I’m happy to do it because I love sharing SendOutCards with everyone I know!


For nitty-gritty cleaning tips and techniques, look for Cleaning Plain & Simple in your local bookstore. If they don’t have a copy, please ask them to order one! For quick tips, look for The One-Minute Cleaner, an abridged version of the big book that was just released in February 2007.

If you are looking for organizing tips, look for The One- Minute Organizer and Organizing Plain & Simple in bookstores everywhere (including online bookstores) and in select Target, K-Mart, Staples, Discovery Channel, and Storables stores.

If you feel a need to simplify your life, check out Unclutter Your Mind: 500 Ways to Focus on What’s Important.

Want a signed copy of one of my books? You can order directly from me: http://www.unclutter.com/books.html

Click on the SignedCopy.com logo to have a signed copy sent to you.

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.