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Organizing Tips: Get Rid of the Clutter

Get order in your home! Simple solutions to clear your family's clutter for good.

By Laura Wallis

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Get rid of clutter
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Sell

Post simple-to-ship castoffs, like that multispeed juice extractor you never use, online to reach the biggest audience of potential buyers. TIP: In-season clothes and accessories are easiest to sell. Also, don't try to list what's stained or torn -- discard them instead.

Clothes, Household Goods, Electronics
Skip McGrath, Web marketing expert and author of The Complete eBay Marketing System (skipmcgrath.com), suggests eBay for selling everything from popular brand names (Xbox, KitchenAid) to collectibles (silver tea sets, Barbie dolls). The site offers an auction format and fixed-price sales, which may be easier for first-timers who don't want to deal with the bidding process. Cost: McGrath estimates fees to be about 12.5% of your selling price, including PayPal charges. Fashion retail sites like poshmark.com let you download an app to conduct transactions from your tablet or smartphone. Cost: 20% of each sale, but listing and shipping items is fee-free.

Vintage
Popular for handmade goods, etsy.com is also a destination for retro housewares, jewelry and clothing. Cost: 20 cents to list an item for four months (or until it sells); 3.5% charge on each sale. For large collections, you can open your own storefront on rubylane.com, a vintage-focused marketplace, for $75. Cost: Commission-free but there's a listing fee of 30 cents per piece, a 20-cent monthly maintenance fee per item and a $30 monthly advertising fee.

Old and New
Books, music and movies sell particularly well on amazon.com, McGrath says. The site also takes just about anything relatively new that's still in its original packaging -- electronics, small appliances, sports equipment. Cost: No listing fee; 99 cents per item plus referral fees -- typically 6% to 25% of the sale. Books and media incur additional costs.

Large and Heavy
Internet classifieds like craigslist.org and eBayclassifieds.com attract local shoppers. They're ideal for listing bulky items like air conditioners and bookcases because buyers are responsible for hauling items away. On oodle.com you can tap into your personal connections and local networks via Facebook to market wares. Cost: All for-sale listings are free.

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Trade/Consign

Let someone else handle the marketing and sale of your goods for a cut of the profit, says Nancy Heller, president of Goodbye Clutter in NYC. TIP: Always call ahead to thrift shops to check what's accepted.

Books and Movies
Receive a gift card from amazon.com for books, DVDs and other products that meet their trade-in criteria. Barnesandnoble.com has a similar program for textbooks with payment via check or PayPal.

Electronics
Ask about cash buy-back deals from your local wireless carrier, big-box stores or even mall kiosks. Heller recommends gazelle.com for instant quotes on cell phones and other tech gadgets based on model and condition.

Clothing and Accessories
Brick-and-mortar consignment shops will sell top-quality in-season items in exchange for a portion of the sale. You usually can set a higher price at a consignment shop than on Craigslist, but the store will take a hefty cut -- up to a 50-50 split.

Furnishings
Chairish.com, a virtual consignment flea market of curated one-of-a-kind furnishings and decor, offers weekly markdowns and a 48-hour return policy. Sellers receive 50% to 80% of the final price.

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Donate

If you're looking to unload that still-serviceable dinette set but can't find any takers, consider passing it on to a worthy organization. TIP: Local church drives can be good for donating kids' castoffs.

Furniture and Bulky Household Items
You can schedule a pickup for sizable amounts of furnishings with a major national charity such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Vietnam Veterans of America (pickupplease.org). Or stop by a local furniture bank (find one at furniturebanks.org) that distributes items to families in need. Habitat for Humanity ReStores (habitat.org) sell donated items at a discount, and proceeds go toward construction of Habitat homes.

Kids' Stuff
Some day care centers, preschools, hospitals and women's shelters accept children's books, games and clothing. Community chapters of stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org deliver gently used toys to children in need. Babybuggy.org (based in LA and NYC) takes kids' and baby gear as well as maternity and children's clothing in good condition.

Clothes and Shoes
Some women's and homeless shelters as well as churches and synagogues accept drop-offs. For women's professional apparel and shoes, try dressforsuccess.org. For a wedding or special occasion dress you'll never need again, visit bridesagainstbreastcancer.org or donatemydress.org. Cotton, Inc. runs a program on bluejeansgogreen.org, where denim gets recycled as insulation for homes in underprivileged areas.

Books
Schedule a bulk pickup with donationtown.org. Enter your zip code and choose from charities in your area. Check with your local public library to see whether they take books. You can also send select titles to booksforafrica.org. Shipping to the Atlanta warehouse is your responsibility but it's tax-deductible.

Towels and Bedding
Towels and blankets are often welcome at animal shelters for lining cages and comforting stressed-out pets.

Last Ditch
Before you trash them, give away needed items through freecycle.org, which acts as a Web-based local recycling network. "Just remember that your goal is paring down," says Heller. "Don't be tempted to take stuff."

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McGrath's Smart Strategies

Name a price: Check current listings of similar products to get an idea of what individual pieces should go for.

Offer free or fixed shipping: You'll entice more customers because they'll know their total cost up front.

Provide lots of details: List key specifics, like brand, color and size, first. Be honest about defects or wear-and-tear to avoid returns and negative feedback.

Post plenty of photos: Shoot from a variety of angles against a white background and include close-ups.

Be safe: When selling locally, don't give out your home address or phone number -- ask potential buyers for their contact info. Arrange to meet in a public place with a friend, if possible.

For more tips on a clutter-free home, go to familycircle.com/declutter.

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