Clean Up, Cash In

Clearing clutter and cleaning house is a Passover ritual. The Jewish version of spring cleaning started a long time ago, when the Jews had to leave Egypt on the run and without lots of stuff.

Today, however, life is messy, and it’s so easy to keep collect- ing more and more clutter. But does more stuff make us happier?
On the contrary, clutter usually makes people tense and stressed out. So while you’re scouring your home of chametz, it’s a great time to do a little spring cleaning – make that Passover cleaning.

A way to create new opportunities in your world is to clear your mind, and one of the best ways to start is by clearing your house.
First, look around the house and see what you haven’t used or worn in a few years. Ask yourself, am I really ever going to wear this or use this more than once a year? If I’ve lived this long without it, do I really need it? If the answer is no, take the item and put it in a “toss” pile.
When you have a pile of things to toss, you can determine what should be thrown away, and what could be used again by someone else.
At this point, make sure to congratulate yourself. You are on a path to a place where your life will be easier to navigate, and now you have an opportunity to improve your world as well as improve the lives of others. So what should you do with the expensive suit that has been sitting in your closet for three years, or those handbags that are collecting dust and never seem to see the sunlight? There are many options.

First, and perhaps easiest, is to ask those around you – friends, neighbors, co-workers and people who work for you, like a house cleaner, gardener or au pair – if they would like any of the items.

Second, pick up the phone and call charities such as Jewish Family and Child Service, or log onto websites such as communitywarehouse.org to find out how to turn your junk into other people’s treasures. Many charities have drop boxes, while others have scheduled pickups in your neighborhood at set times during the month. Donating your goods will also earn you a tax break.

Third, let technology do the work. Use a digital camera to take photos of the items and post them on eBay. You can sell pretty much anything on eBay, from clothes to housewares. Be aware that eBay involves a little more effort than simply giving things away, and there are fees involved (including a listing fee and a percentage fee if the item sells) – but if you have something people want, you can make a few bucks off your throwaways. In order to turn your clutter into cash on eBay, do the research. Search the site to find out what sells and to see the going rate for similar items. It is important to describe the item precisely and be honest about its condition. Most important, when setting a price, make sure you are being realistic. Bidding can start as low as a penny, but you might end up selling a $150 item for a dollar, in which case, is it really worth the effort? Conversely, if you start the bidding too high, you could discourage bidders.

If the ins and outs of eBay make your head spin, a consignment shop might be a fun alternative. Different from thrift stores like Goodwill, consignment and secondhand shops usually sell more upscale and designer items. They will often give you store credit in exchange for your clothes or will pay you a percentage after an item sells. However, some stores are picky about what they accept, so you may have clothes left over when you’re done.

Whether it’s cold hard cash, more peace and harmony in your home or simply saving the planet by recycling, clearing clutter is a win-win situation. And once you clear your clut- ter and can finally relax before the first seder, you will revel in the good vibes, knowing you’re doing a mitzvah and giving to others. An added bonus: You’ll have plenty of room in your closet for a little something new.

Masada Siegel is the author of the new novel Window Dressings available at masadasiegelauthor.com.

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