5o Ways to Declutter Your Life

simplicityOver the last several years, Dave and I have been focusing on simplifying our lives. From not buying stuff just to buy it to using what we have until it actually wears completely out to just enjoying each moment for the moment, we’re trying. Here’s 50 things we’re doing. I hope you’ll share more ideas with us!

[Tweet “50 ways to declutter your life and start living.”]

Get rid of Shoes and Clothes if:

  1. You haven’t worn it in the last 12 months
  2. You haven’t ever worn it but think you might someday
  3. You are keeping it because it might fit again someday
  4. You spent a lot of money on it, and even though you’re never going to wear it, you feel better not getting rid of it
  5. There are stains, holes, rips, tears, snags, etc.
  6. It’s outdated or out of style

Get rid of books if:

  1. You can get the book digitally
  2. You’ve already read the book
  3. You will never read the book
  4. The book has enough dust on it you can leave a fingerprint
  5. It’s a cookbook and you can look up the recipe online (or, like me, you don’t cook)

[Tweet “Out of clutter, find simplicity. – Albert Einstein.”]

Get rid of magazines and cancel subscriptions if:

  1. You haven’t read last month’s issue when this month arrives
  2. You have a stack of magazines you haven’t read
  3. You have boxes of magazines you store “just in case”
  4. You think the magazine will someday be valuable enough to sell
  5. You can get the subscription digitally

Get rid of home décor if:

  1. You don’t remember where you got it
  2. It has no intrinsic value
  3. It has no emotional value
  4. It has enough dust on it you can leave a fingerprint in it
  5. It no longer works with your current home fashion
  6. You don’t like it

Pay down debt by:

  1. Sleeping on it before making big purchases
  2. Paying more than the minimum payment on all credit accounts
  3. Not buying it – you don’t need it anyway
  4. Focusing on a single card to pay off (high interest or high balance), then using the money you save from that payment for the next card
  5. Not buying it if you don’t have the cash to pay for it
  6. Consolidating debt and closing credit cards

Reduce your monthly spending by:

  1. Skipping the morning latte and taking a cup of coffee with you to work
  2. Packing lunch instead of eating out
  3. Skipping the monthly trip to the hair salon and do it yourself
  4. Mani-pedis at home rather than at the salon
  5. Skipping the new outfit you think you need but really don’t; when you do buy, choose classic pieces that will last
  6. Using coupons at the grocery store
  7. Checking for discounts on purchases before checking out (my sister regularly saves 10-15% on purchases at department stores simply by checking her for coupons and sales offers while she’s in line to check out)
  8. Taking advantage of member benefits that give you discounts: AAA, AARP, American Legion, and others all offer travel, insurance, prescription, and other discounts that can save you money
  9. Renegotiating your monthly payments on everything. Our insurance company just tried to raise our rates on our car insurance (we don’t drive to work, put less than 10,000 miles on the car each year) by more than 20%. We called around, found similar coverage for less than we were paying before the increase and switched immediately.

Build savings by:

  1. Taking your extra change at the end of each week and put it in a change bucket in your closet
  2. Taking a set amount per week in cash and putting it in an envelope earmarked for whatever you’re saving for
  3. Paying down debt so that you have more disposable income to tuck away
  4. Maximizing employer-matched retirements
  5. Putting money in a Christmas account so that when the holidays come, you have cash to spend instead of credit
  6. Putting the money aside in a special account (or secret hiding place) every time you resist buying something you might otherwise have purchased.

Learn to embrace frugality by:

  1. Growing your own veggies and herbs
  2. Mowing your lawn with a push mower that doesn’t require gas, oil, or expensive maintenance
  3. Reusing and repurposing rather than throwing out
  4. Repairing rather than replacing
  5. Making do with what you have and being grateful for it
  6. Sharing what you do have with others; trade and barter rather than buy new
  7. Planning errands so that you make less trips and use less fuel

I’m inspired daily by Becoming Minimalist. If you’re looking to do more than just save a few dollars every month and really want to begin changing your mindset, start there.

The Best Items to Shop for in the Winter Months

MomsGetReal Contributor Norman Fong

Winter seems to be the busiest time of year for shopping. It would seem like finding a sale when nearly everything is in demand would be difficult, but just like the early bird catches the worm, the smart shopper catches the sales.

Saving big in the winter requires a bit of extra know-how about when to buy what:

Best Items to Shop for in December

shutterstock_121339153Every store advertises huge sales from the day after Thanksgiving right up until Christmas. But you have to be savvy during this season. A lot of stores hike up prices and then offer 25-50% off so it looks like you are saving big when you’re really saving very little, if anything at all.

December is a great time of year for gift card offers. Certain companies like California Pizza Kitchen, Barnes and Noble, Kohl’s and Toys ‘R Us will offer you vouchers and gift cards if you spend a certain amount. The best time to buy toys for the little ones is mid-December and the worst time is days before Christmas, because the stores are fully aware of supply and demand on those days.

Tools and hardware start going on sale in November and run through December so it should be easy to check Dad off your list. If you are shopping for the women in your life, you may want to avoid buying jewelry this time of year because you will be hard-pressed to get a good deal. Lastly, the best time to purchase Christmas decorations is the day after Christmas – likely the exact moment you are boxing up your current ones.

Best Items to Shop for in January

This is the perfect month to take advantage of last year’s models. As soon as manufacturers start to release 2014 models, the 2013 ones go on sale. Cars, electronics, and appliances are ready to be purchased at a discounted rate.

Toward the end of this month you can get a great deal on what’s left of the 2014 calendars. You can also find bargains on exercise equipment, which will be a huge bonus for those weight loss resolutions. If you missed the late December Christmas decoration sales, fret not because in early-to-mid-January they are practically giving the stuff away.

Buying for other seasons is a great deal in winter months, so fans, air conditioners, and summer gear are items you should keep an eye on. Now is the time to get your swimwear at a fraction of the retail price. It is also the perfect time to buy winter clothes, since most have already purchased theirs earlier in the season.

Best Items to Shop for in February

This month is going to be your last chance for winter deals. The sales that started in December are going to be at their close-out best this month. Big name TVs such, as LG, Panasonic, and Samsung that are left over will be dropped to even lower prices. All winter gear is on its final way out so they can make room for spring products, so stock up on clothing, boots, and heaters.

Outdoor recreation and furniture items go on sale in February to get the consumer in the mood for spring. Now is the time to buy patio furniture, grills and outdoor toys for children before the prices spike for spring and summer.

The weeks before Valentine’s Day you will find promotions on candy, jewelry and flowers. And you can always depend on Presidents Day sales for clothing, appliances and even travel deals.

There is no need to go broke this winter as a consumer when it’s so much fun being frugal and shopping smart. Your saving grace is to stay informed and shop around. Some stores will even match any advertised price, rewarding the hard working shopper; you simply need to pay attention to the restrictions that apply. It may take you a bit more time but you can rest assured knowing you’ve gotten the best deal around.

Norman Fong is Co-Founder of www.buyvia.com, an online, Android and iOS App smart shopping service that lists reputable products from top online stores, at the best price available. By downloading the BuyVia Android and iOS App to their Android Device, iPhone or iPad, consumers can be alerted to the best deals on the most popular products, anywhere and anytime.

How to Lower Your Weekly Spending

MomsGetReal Guest Contributor Jessica Watts

Lowering your overall spending begins by monitoring how much you spend in the short term. Creating weekly and even daily budgets will result in an overall reduction in your spending habits and an increase in your savings. By examining where you waste cash and taking actionable steps to start better habits, you can be on the road to saving money in no time. One of the main places where people spend cash on a daily basis is food. Here are three quick and easy tips to lowering your weekly spending on meals and getting your finances on track for the long haul.

penny pinching momsgetrealCut Coupons

You might think that only stay at home moms cut and use coupons, but these cost saving squares can add up to big savings for anyway. Free monthly circulars and grocery store mailings can offer a variety of different coupons that are catered to you based on your spending habits. You can also search online for coupons related to specific products. While each coupon only saves a few cents or dollars, over the course of your weekly meals you will notice a difference in your spending. By the end of the year, you may have saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Rethink Your Shopping List

Refine your shopping list to include only the essentials. When you cut back on even a few items you will see a difference in your long term budget. During your weekly grocery shopping trip, consider buying the store brand of your necessities instead of a name brand. You may be able to save at least a dollar on each item just by getting the store version of a food item, and the ingredients are usually similar or identical to the name brand you’re used to.

Plan Ahead

Make a weekly schedule with the meals you will prepare. Having a solid plan eliminates your need to eat out, which is usually far more expensive than preparing a meal at home. You can enjoy fresh produce and ingredients every night of the week by using your own groceries instead of getting food to go, and save eating out for special occasions. Make it a habit to sit down on Saturday and make a list of meals and shop for the ingredients. When you stick to it, you can avoid most mid-week grocery store trips and the need to purchase meals from restaurants. Planning also lets you send your kids to school with meals instead of having to pay for a meal plan in some cases.

Lowering weekly spending will ultimately lower your overall spending. By sticking to these few tips, you can create new habits for your family that allow for more saving and the ability to spend your extra cash elsewhere. Don’t feel guilty about splurging on a nice meal for a special occasion – changing your weekly budget doesn’t mean you can never indulge, just that it shouldn’t be done every day if you want to lower your expenses.

 

Jessica Watts is a finance expert. She loves writing about saving money on personal finance blogs. She recommends Sumo Coupon website for money saving tips and fascinating vouchers and coupons.

 

The Language of Savings: How to Avoid Being Misled By Coupons and Rebates

Contributed by BuyVia

When it comes to coupons and rebates, the savings are in the details. What seems like a great deal in large, bold letters may no longer be as appealing after reading the fine print. Mail-in rebates require following instructions closely, while coupons can be misleading if you don’t have a grasp on the language used.

Here are some ways to know how much you’ll actually be saving and how to make the deals a reality.

Translating coupon language

shutterstock_130416152Before you get too excited about how much money you’ll apparently be saving from coupon, you need to take a moment to consider what these following bargains really mean:

Buy One, Get One Free
If you purchase the exact product that is part of a Buy-One-Get-One-Free Deal, then you truly will get an additional one for no extra cost. The catch is that a price limit is usually put on that additional item. For example, the fine print may read something like “item may not exceed $4.99.” If the shelf price of the item is higher than this, you’ll be responsible for picking up the difference.

Buy One, Get One “X%” Off
These offers are designed to entice you to buy a second item when you were only planning on buying one. The most common deal here is “Buy One, Get One 50% Off,” which boils down to saving 25% on each item.

Don’t be misled by the picture
Don’t be fooled by the picture on coupons. Often times, the most expensive item in the product line will be shown, implying that the coupon can only be used for that item. If you read the fine print, you’ll most likely discover that the coupon is also valid for other, less-expensive products.

“One Per” Coupons

  1. Per Transaction – No matter how many copies of a coupon you have, you can only use one for each time you go through the checkout line. Of course, you can ring up multiple times and use a different copy of the coupon each time.
  2. Per Visit – You can only use these coupons once each time you visit an establishment.
  3. Per Purchase – You can use one of these coupons for each item you buy. For example, if you purchase three rolls of paper towels you can use a separate coupon for each one.
  4. Per Customer – You and everyone in your party may each use a separate coupon.

Expiration dates
Pretty much all coupons have an expiration date, so make sure to keep an eye out for it. The coupons are good until midnight of the expiration date.

“Redeemable at…”
Some coupons may say something like “Redeemable at Mega-Mart,” but this doesn’t mean that you have to go to Mega-Mart to use it; rather Mega-Mart is just one of several places where you can redeem it.

“Only at…”
If the coupon says “Only at Mega-Mart” then you must go to a Mega-Mart store to use it.

“Available at…”
These coupons can be used anywhere. This is simply the store’s way of advertising itself.

Mail-in rebates
You see it all the time: offers of saving hundreds of dollars on items such as computers or TVs through a mail-in rebate. But statistics show that less than 50% of customers who purchase these items actually follow through with the rebate, and the percentage is even lower for rebates offering savings that are less substantial. This is because redeeming your rebates require filling out a lot of tedious paperwork that takes a while to process. Here’s what you should keep in mind when considering a rebate:

  • Is it worth all the trouble? – Many companies make it as difficult as possible to successfully fill out your rebate. From requiring the UPC bar code, receipt, and multiple pages of confusing paperwork, these companies are in the business of making you not want to follow through with the rebate. If the rebate is only for a few dollars, it’s probably not worth your time.
  • Turnaround time – You need to make sure you’ll be getting your product in time to submit the rebate. If you’re ordering your product online and the rebate expires in two days, you won’t be able to submit it before its expiration date. Also, after you’ve mailed it in, don’t expect to get your rebate right away. It can take up to two months to receive it. You can call the company’s 1-800 number to check on its status.
  • Your personal information – Many times, companies will use your personal information that you put on the rebate form for data mining studies of consumer behavior.

Do you have any other suggestions for understanding coupons or rebates?

Norman Fong is Co-Founder of www.buyvia.com, an online, Android and iOS App smart shopping service that lists reputable products from top online stores, at the best price available. By downloading the BuyVia Android and iOS App to their Android Device, iPhone or iPad, consumers can be alerted to the best deals on the most popular products, anywhere and anytime.

Smart Shopping for Fall Savings

Created especially for MomsGetReal from the people at BuyVia

The end of summer can be a mournful time of year for some: students and teachers head back to school, while the rest of us see an end to backyard barbecues, lazy days by the swimming pool, and cocktail parties on the deck. On the other hand, fall also brings an end to 100 degree days, mosquito bites, and parents’ worries about how to pay for babysitting or summer camp for their kids during the months-long vacation.

Another thing fall can bring is savings for consumers savvy enough to take advantage of its many seasonal sales. Having the patience to wait to purchase back-to-school items, Halloween costumes, and Thanksgiving electronics can enable you to take advantage of sharp discounts as stores become anxious to get these season-specific products out of the store in order to make room for the next big thing.

Here are some tips on the top items to purchase during the fall, from a savings point of view.

1. Buy summer items inexpensively:

2871972520_bebec39743Now that summer is over, stores will be left with bicycles and gas grills and even pools that they need to unload in order to make way for more seasonally appropriate items. That makes this a great time to get good deals. This type of shopping is especially sensible for those who plan to travel to warmer areas like Florida or the Southwest for vacation, or even to spend the entire winter there. Similarly, you can stock up on discounted summer clothing items like sundresses and swimsuits and shorts for the future, as well.

2. Buy older versions of big-ticket items once the newer models are released:

Apple often releases new models of big items like the iPhone in September or October — just last week, the release of the iPhone 5S underscores that consumers can now get the iPhone 4S for free with a two-year contract. Likewise, Samsung is currently offering great deals on the Galaxy SIII, now that the fourth generation model is out.

Similarly, new models of cars generally come out in September. Once these heavily-marketed new cars and phones come out, the older versions will drop in price, even though there is rarely a significant difference in quality between them and the newer versions. Generally, the new models simply offer a few extra features or a fancier design. Buying the older model is a good choice to save big while not sacrificing much in terms of actual utility.

3. Plan holidays and vacations in advance:

Once fall starts, it’s a good time to look ahead to holiday travel. Whether you are going to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or flying college students back home for Christmas, the earlier you book your tickets, the cheaper they (generally) will be. Remember that planes aren’t your only option – look into Amtrak and Greyhound as well. Travel by train or bus often offers more flexibility with regard to dates. Whereas you may pay big bucks to change the day you fly, you can often change the date you take the train or bus for free. No matter what type of transportation you choose, planning ahead will save you money and reduce your stress level.

4. Re-purpose seasonal items or save them for next year:

Once the back-to-school rush is over, most school supplies are steeply discounted. Know which items tend to go right away and which tend to stick around. You can buy the basics in early fall (whatever your child needs right away) and stock up on the rest once they go on sale. You can also buy items that are always needed – paper, folders, notebooks – and save them for next year, while re-purposing other materials for arts and crafts throughout the year.

The same goes for Halloween items. Once the holiday is over, their sales value and price will drop dramatically. Buy and store non-perishable items like decorations, makeup, and even one-size-fits-all costume items like hats and masks, and save them for the next year or two’s holidays. Likewise, although the big draw on Black Friday is the $100 iPad or the newest model of flat-screen TV going for what seems like virtually nothing, there are very few of these items available and most will be gone ten to fifteen minutes after stores open. Take advantage of the next few days when stores try to unload the stock that didn’t go during the big sales.

A little creative thinking can go a long way. What are some strategies you use to save big during the fall?

Norman Fong is Co-Founder of BuyVia, an online and iOS App smart shopping service that lists reputable products from top online stores, at the best price available. By downloading the BuyVia iOS App to their iPhone or iPad, consumers can be alerted to the best deals on the most popular products, anywhere and anytime.

5 Tips to Save Money on Christmas Shopping

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Shopping earlier in the year may be the best way to celebrate the New Year without Christmas debt. According to the Wall Street Journal about 13 percent of Americans start their Christmas shopping in July. A 2012 online Harris Interactive poll found more than one in 10 adults had started shopping before July. In addition, 17 percent of those polled were looking forward to saving money with the Christmas in July sales that have become popular in the U.S.

Shopping early allows consumers to wait until the exact item they want is on sale, instead of purchasing goods that stores decide to discount during the pre-Christmas rush. Getting a head start on the holiday rush may be the best way to stretch your Christmas-shopping budget.

If you don’t want to join the early birds, here are four more ways you can save.

Buy a Tree That’s Evergreen

It’s difficult to avoid overspending on holiday decorating when colorful, trendy decorations hit store aisles each year. You can be frugal and still be in the Christmas spirit if you go classic and use decorations you already have. Save by purchasing a realistic artificial tree instead of buying a costly fresh tree each year and disposing of it after a few weeks. High-quality replicas such as artificial Christmas trees at www.balsamhill.co.uk are lifelike and will last year after year.

Pay Cash

Pay for holiday shopping purchases in cash and save hundreds of dollars in interest charges and late fees. This will help you stay within a realistic budget. Shopping with large denomination bills can help curtail impulse buys that you don’t need. Think twice about purchasing just a few more inexpensive stocking stuffers if you have to break a $100 bill. By the end of the Christmas shopping season, those little savings add up. Kiplinger’s personal finance editor, Janet Bodnar, suggests keeping a daily tally of your credit-card charges in order to monitor spending. Credit card expenses can quickly get out of hand during the holidays if you don’t pay attention.

Be Creative

No glitter glue or origami skills needed! Stretch your imagination a little and save big money on purchased gifts. If your family is taking a big trip in the spring, buy the kids maps and books about your destination instead of more toys and stuff they don’t need. Rather than purchase four separate gifts for your brother, his wife and their two kids, give them a board game and a gift card to their favorite pizza joint so they can have a family night. Gifts that encourage people to spend time together are often less expensive and most appreciated.

Shop with a List

Making a list (and checking it twice) will help you stay on track and avoid impulse purchases. Temptations are everywhere during the holiday shopping season. You can spend all day at the mall and come home with empty pockets, but only a gift or two to show for your effort. Making a list of the gifts you need will keep you focused as you maneuver through a storm of sales, and it will also mean fewer trips around town. Keep the list with you at all times to decrease the chances of overbuying and make sure no one gets left out.

Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a financial stressor. If you find yourself swimming in holiday debt at the beginning of every new year, it’s time to for adjustments. It’s never too late to start saving ahead for your Christmas expenditures. Even spare change can add up quickly, and it’s never too early to start shopping for this year’s Christmas bargains.

10 Money-Saving Tips to Stretch Your Budget

What would you add to this list?
It is likely that when asking the question, “Do you want to save money?” everyone in this world would say that it is something they strongly desire and would love to be able to do. Here are ten tips for saving money that everyone can do now.1. Turn of the lights. Making sure that you are using the least amount of energy as possible has many benefits. It will lower your electricity bills, allowing you to save money. It will also allow you and your household to be more sustainable, which is great for the environment.
2. Employ the 15 day rule in your house. Thinking of making a purchase that you do not technically need? Wait 15 days. If you have gotten along fine without it for those 15 days then you probably do not need it. If you still want it but are also interested in conserving your funds, set aside a “Save Up” jar and put extra money in the jar until you have enough to fund your purchase. DON’T USE CREDIT CARDS TO BUY THINGS YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT!!

3. Write a list before you go shopping. A problem that a lot of people have at the store is buying things they had not intended to buy. Only go shopping with a purpose. Make a list of what you truly need and only buy the things on that list.

4. Limit how often you go out to eat. Although dining out can be fun, it is always more expensive that a meal that could be made at home. If you do not want to stop eating out all together, set aside a budget for eating expenses. Once that fund has run out for the month, no more eating out!

5. Drink lots of water. Some may think this is a strange money saving habit, but it works on many levels. For one it will fill you up before meals, making you eat less, therefore saving you money. It is also a healthier alternative to sodas and juices, which can be expensive.

6. Take full advantage of yard sales, thrift stores, and second hand stores. It is inevitable that at some point you will need to buy something new, but why not let it be new just to you? Yard sales, thrift stores, and second hand stores are great resources for getting cheap items. They will feel new to you and not empty your pockets.

7. Be an extreme couponer. We’ve all seen the show, or at least heard of it. Extreme couponing is a craze that is sweeping the nation. Although some of these extreme couponers look a bit crazy, there is a method to their madness. Coupons are a good source of saving and basing your shopping trip on what deals are available is a great money-saving habit to get in to.

8. Stay away from online shopping. It is all to easy to see a new top online and think “I must have that!” It’s even easier to buy it if your credit card is linked to those online accounts already. Just say “No!”
9. Try out the generic brand. Although some generic brands are not as tasty or don’t work as well, a good number of them are just as good as the real thing. Going generic is great for money saving and may be so good that you don’t know the difference.

10. Carpool – or better yet, walk. These days gas prices are through the roof. Saving any money on transportation is a great idea. Know someone who’s going to the same place as you are? Go together! This is a good opportunity for bonding and money-saving! Close enough you can get some exercise? Do it!  Have public transportation at your disposal? Take it!

 

Make Mother’s Day More Meaningful without Breaking the Bank

Getting Real With Connie Solidad

Did you know Mother’s Day is the 2nd most expensive gift-giving holiday in the U.S. after the winter holiday season? Many restaurants also report it’s their busiest day of the year and telephone providers report it’s the busiest day for long distance calls as well. We all want to make Mom feel special so we usually don’t think about the cost, but this actually leads to big bills on everything from presents to a special dinner out. This year, with so many Americans still facing tight budgets brought about by the recession, how can you make Mom feel special without putting yourself in the poor house?

The tips below can help you make Mother’s Day special this year without causing problems for your finances.

  • Give gifts with meaning. Moms are pretty sentimental, especially when it comes to their families. This makes Mother’s Day the perfect opportunity to give a gift that has intrinsic meaning instead a big price tag. Handmade photo albums or family picture frames, letters or poetry, or even something that brings out your creative side like a painting or a song, all of these are great gifts for mom.
  • If you buy online, buy early to avoid high shipping costs. If you don’t think you can make something and you’re going the route of buying a gift, decide what you want to get and buy it early. Particularly considering 1 in 5 Mother’s Day gifts are now purchased online, buying early allows you to use standard ground shipping, which is often little to no cost depending on where you buy.
  • Make dinner instead of going out. Most people put enough thought into Mother’s Day to realize that Mom probably doesn’t want to cook her own special meal. However, instead of simply going out to a restaurant, why not put just as much love into making dinner plans as she does every day. Creating a special meal at home not only gets Mom out of the kitchen, it’s a good way of showing her you appreciate how much work goes into what she does.
  • Activities should be about family. Your mom doesn’t need huge extravagance to know you care, really (and she’s probably told you this before) she just wants to spend time with her family and have everyone together. Don’t go overboard trying to plan some big activity that’s going to cost a lot. Instead, consider inexpensive things that let you all have fun together. Go to the park, play in the backyard, or even just take a walk together and have a chat along the way.

As you can see above, keeping Mother’s Day costs down really involves planning, put some extra thought into whatever you decide to do in order to make the day special. Really all your mom wants is to know you put forth a little effort to show her some love. You can start making your Mother’s Day plans now to get a head start and stick to the budget you make to keep your costs down. If you do get into trouble with too much Mother’s Day expense, assess your budget immediately and make a plan to pay off the debts as quickly as possible. After all, the last thing your mom wants is to hear you need money because Mother’s Day expenses put you in a financial bind.

Connie Solidad is an expert in the field of financial planning and a contributing expert at MomsGetReal. She writes about debt management and credit counseling options and resources. When Connie is not working, she loves playing with her two dogs in Tampa, Florida. To learn more about debt management refer to ConsolidatedCredit.org.

 

Earn Extra Cash as You Get Organized for Spring

Getting Real With Connie Solidad

Spring has arrived and that means it’s time to knock off the winter dust and get your world clean and organized once again. As you tackle your spring cleaning it’s also a great time to earn extra cash. Beyond just digging the change out of your couch, there are plenty of ways to turn your cleaning efforts into a little extra money that can help improve your finances.

The following list provides some easy ways to earn cash as you get organized for Spring:

  • Have a yard sale. Depending on where you live, yard sales and garage sales can still make a fair amount of cash. As you clean your home, make two piles of your old unwanted items—one for junk and one for a yard sale. If you have a storage unit, spring is also a great time to go through your stored items and make sure you still want to keep everything. Once you have everything gathered, put up signs a week in advance and let people around the neighborhood know you’re having a sale so they can spread the word.
  • Sell items on eBay. If you live in a condo or apartment—or you simply don’t live in an area where yard sales make money—you can sell your items through eBay or other online resale websites. If you decide to sell online, make sure to take pictures of the items and give detailed accurate descriptions that will entice potential buyers without misleading them.
  • Take old clothes and jewelry to a second hand shop or consignment store. If you don’t want to take a weekend for a yard sale or put your items up online, there is a third option that works especially well for clothing and jewelry. Second hand and consignment stores will buy your old clothes or jewelry and/or agree to sell them for a portion of the price. This option can be especially good for kids’ clothing, which they often outgrow before the clothes wear out.
  • Sell old and unwanted gift cards. Often people get gift cards at birthdays and holidays then either forget they have them or simply can’t think of any way to use them—particularly if it’s for a restaurant or store you don’t usually frequent. If you find unused gift cards around your house as you’re spring cleaning, consider selling them online on a gift card exchange website. You can get extra cash in place of gift cards you don’t really want.

Whichever method you choose, once you have your extra cash in hand the next step is to decide what to do with it. While it may be tempting to turn around and buy something new, a better use of the money would be to use it as a means to improve your budget. If you use the cash to pay off debt on your credit card, you can decrease your monthly credit card payments. This, in turn, frees up more money in your budget that can either be used to pay off more debt or improve your savings. Little by little, the extra bit of cash you earned in your spring cleaning can be used to improve your financial situation. You can have an organized world and better finances, too!

Connie Solidad is an expert in the field of financial planning and a contributing expert at MomsGetReal. She has worked for several years at Consolidated Credit . She assists people in debt management plans, and credit counseling. When she is not working, she loves spending time with her kids and her two dogs in Tampa, Florida.