Aspiring to Make Money from Our Closet Has Wasted Emotional Energy

There’s nothing like moving to show you how much crap you really own and make you want to become a minimalist!  Just working in our closet, I filled 2 giant trash bags, 1 suitcase, and 2 carry-ons with clothes that we rarely or never wear.  And I’m not even done with that category of clothing.  I’m like, ashamed to even be typing that, even though I’ve already confessed to you that we have too much junk.


I can’t believe we paid money for all these clothes and, even more, have held on to them for so long.  Part of not wanting to get rid of it is an aversion to waste and part is that, for the ones that we’ve never really worn, I’ve been thinking we should sell them to recoup some of the money we spent.


We’ve made two really great steps this weekend toward freeing ourselves of this physical and emotional baggage of owning clothes we never wear.


1) We physically sorted our clothing.


The stuff Kyle never wears had been mixed in with the stuff he does, and there were some shirts he still wore that he probably shouldn’t because they had become so shabby-looking.  While I was working on the closet, he asked me to go through his shirts and sort them into “keep,” “donate/sell,” and “trash/recycle.”  Of the 70-ish shirts in the closet (there were more in the laundry, but he obviously was wore those recently!), I sorted about 45 in to “keep,” 10 to “donate/sell,” and 15 to “trash/recycle.”  Kyle then went through and rescued a few shirts from the “donate/sell” category, insisting that he finds occasion to wear them, but he largely agreed with my assessment.  He also picked out underwear and socks that he no longer wears (we recently bought new ones).  I shoved all his “trash/recycle” clothes along with a few of my own into a trash bag.


empty hangers2) We decided how to rid ourselves of the clothing.


We looked up where we could recycle clothes and decided to take them to our city recycling center this week.  We have to take the shoes we want to recycle to the Nike outlet store, which is like 45 minutes away and will be a special trip.


I had previously sorted out my clothes that are in good shape but that I never wear into a separate part of our closet, so I just added that group to Kyle’s “donate/sell” shirts.  We resolved to not move these clothes to our next place so they are going to be out of our hands within the week.  There is one kind of nice outfit in particular that I have literally never worn and the thought of not reselling it kind of grates on me, but not more than the fact that I bought that outfit 9 years ago and have held on to it this whole time for just that thin reason.


I don’t have time over the next week to try to sell this stuff on ebay or craigslist and frankly I don’t think it’s high enough quality to go to a consignment shop.  So it’s going to become a donation and whatever we can’t donate we’ll also recycle!  I can’t tell you how good it already feels to have a plan to not bring this stuff to our next house and I’m sure it will feel even more amazing once we actually go through with it.


I really think holding on to the hope of selling that clothing was detrimental to our emotional energy because it held us back from getting rid of it.  It doesn’t matter how much something is worth if you never take action toward selling it.  (Ugh, I just realized I’m also holding on to a bunch of old pairs of jeans for the pipe dream of making some kind of craftsy quilt or bag or something with them.  I should just admit that’s never going to happen!)


Having a lot of clothes doesn’t both me, actually, it’s just having all this stuff that we never wear.  I actually really want to do that stereotypically female thing of buying more clothes to fill up the newly vacated space in our closet, but I’m having a hard time finding things I like enough to buy.  In going through my clothes I realized I have a ton of shirts from New York and Company.  Like, all my most frequently worn tops are from that store.  However, in the last year or so I’ve noticed that they have stopped carrying, at least in-store, shirts made of the kind of casual (but not totally cheap/see through) material that I like to wear to work.  I recently bought two tops from the store (this one in teal and this one in maroon), but they’re too nice to do lab work in so I’m restricting them to evening/weekend wear for now.  I need to find another source for monocolor, thicker-fabric, well-structured T-shirts.


I hope take the inspiration I’ve generated from working on this slice of our possessions to apply it to other zones in our house, because they are in serious need of culling as well!


Have you ever found freedom in getting rid of possessions?  Do put the effort into reselling your used stuff?  What area of your house is in the most need of downsizing? 


photo from Free Digital Photos


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35 Responses to "Aspiring to Make Money from Our Closet Has Wasted Emotional Energy"

  1. Mrs PoP says:

    We tend to give away old stuff more often than selling it, mostly because I don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling and have trouble thinking of my trash as something someone else would pay for. =).
    Mrs PoP recently posted..Understand Your Goals AKA Car Chargers For Everyone!

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, I definitely feel the same way for the stuff that is used rather than we just don’t like it! It has no value to me so why should it have value to anyone else? But the stuff we don’t wear that was a gift or a poor decision I can definitely see someone else liking.

  2. Michelle says:

    Sometimes it is best to just get rid of things without selling them. We have a lot of junk in our house, and we plan on separating it all into “sell” and “donate” piles.
    Michelle recently posted..Is Cable/Satellite Worth It? Costs and Other Alternatives

    1. Emily says:

      Is this a post-switch priority? Once you’re no longer working 2 full-time jobs presumably you’ll have more time for keeping on top of that sort of thing.

  3. Matt Becker says:

    I can almost always find clothes to get rid of when I find the motivation. Most of the time it just gets donated because I don’t have the energy to sell it and I figure that it’s going to a good cause.
    Matt Becker recently posted..Buying a Car: Picking a Car That Fits Your Needs

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, I hope I’ll have some good feels after donating the clothes that will make up for the few bucks I’m “losing” (but not really).

  4. If you donate the clothes to Goodwill or another charity, they will give you a receipt with the donation value. You can then write that off on your taxes. It’s not as much as you’d probably get by selling the items, but at least you’ll get some compensation.
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..Inherent Risks in Investing

    1. Emily says:

      Do they assess the value? Because I feel totally incompetent to do that! Unfortunately (or fortunately?) we take the standard deduction so that won’t help us on our federal taxes, but in NC we can itemize charitable donations separately so it will help us there.

      1. They don’t, but there’s a form you can find that does. It’s like $1 for some clothing items and $2 for others. A little more for things like suits.
        nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Taking into account the full costs

  5. Thanks for this article – sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by all the posts out there about how we should be making money from all the unused stuff in our closets. Personally, I just feel way better about donating things I no longer need, especially if they were hand-me-down items to begin with. I’m with Mrs. PoP, I have a hard time asking someone else to pay for things that I no longer want! And clearing out clutter, no matter what happens to it, always makes me happier because it’s that much more STUFF that I don’t have to worry about!
    Kali @CommonSenseMillennial recently posted..Making the Next Steps Clear: What Do I Do with My Savings?

    1. Emily says:

      It’s not just a matter of time vs. money but also emotional energy vs. money. We’re not in a bad spot financially so we don’t need to wring every cent out of our possessions when we get rid of them, and it sounds the same for you. We have a lot of stuff that came to us secondhand as well, and if we didn’t pay for it I wouldn’t want to sell it.

  6. Sometimes I will try and sell the stuff I have, but most of the time I just donate it. It is quicker and I feel it is a better use of time.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Why Do We Fall For Ponzi Schemes?

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, I agree about the use of time – worth more than the few bucks we might get.

  7. Hooray for having fewer things! A trick we use to keep our clothing under control is to have set number of hangers. When more clothing comes into our lives, we have to get rid of something existing. When you’re making a big purge though, as you are, maybe getting rid of some hangers is a good idea, too. 🙂
    Done by Forty recently posted..Is it Moral to Let a Sucker Keep His Money?

    1. Emily says:

      That is a good system to put in place. We have bought a bunch of hangers within the last year. 🙁 How do you get rid of hangers – donation??

      1. Oddly our friends seem to be happy to take them off our hands when we have too many. Which makes sense, I guess, since it’s not that common to consciously limit the number of clothes you have.
        Done by Forty recently posted..How We Negotiate, Part II

  8. When I moved in with my girlfriend I had the same experience of realizing I had accumulated a lot of stuff. I went the route of selling it on Craigslist and yard sales. It involved a good amount of work, but the effort was worth the final amount of money I ended up with. There were some things that I ended up not selling (no buyers) that I gave to the thrift shop.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted..Fast Food Workers Pay: How Much is Enough?

    1. Emily says:

      I’m glad you found reselling to be fruitful. Were you just selling tons of junk or were there a few high-value items (to Mrs. Pop’s point above)?

  9. Have I ever! I just need to keep working to get bf on board. We’ve come a long way (I should say him), but we still have a long way to go (gotta get rid of that storage unit!)
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..$130 Saved My Relationship

    1. Emily says:

      It’s so frustrating to learn that you can’t change another person! I hope he comes around on his own.

  10. “There were some shirts he still wore that he probably shouldn’t because they had become so shabby-looking”

    That is totally me! I’m a big fan of flannel shirts and I still have my first one, which I stole from my dad when I was about 15. The material is completely see though at this point and has had every seam re-stictched and every button replaced at least once. But I have such an emotional attachment to it that I’m never giving it up.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Do Pedestrians Have to Obey Traffic Laws?

    1. My wife has a little stuffed lion, named Rose, that’s stuffed with beans or rice or something like that. It feels kind of like a small bean bag. It is completely threadbare and falling apart. I’m not allowed to touch it for fear I will cause its final demise. Some things just cannot be parted with.
      Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..Inherent Risks in Investing

      1. Emily says:

        Sounds like it needs to be placed in a climate-controlled display case, like in a museum! I wonder how many adults still have their childhood comfort objects.

        1. I still have my baby blanket. I will put it over my legs in the winter while I’m watching tv
          Edward Antrobus recently posted..Do Pedestrians Have to Obey Traffic Laws?

    2. Emily says:

      It was really hard for me to put a few of those shirts into the “toss” pile and it was hard for Kyle to confirm. We love the shirts and how he looks in them but they have just been too popular for their own good! Do you still wear that shirt or just keep it for the memories?

      1. I still wear it, although only around the house.
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..Do Pedestrians Have to Obey Traffic Laws?

  11. I feel freedom every time I clear out my closet or declutter a drawer. It’s really freeing.
    SuburbanFinance recently posted..Why You Absolutely Need Rental Insurance

    1. Emily says:

      It’s too bad my motivation never corresponds with having the time to carry out the purges!

  12. Lainey says:

    I could not agree more. I will be moving in a few weeks and I am finally ready to let go of boxes worth of expensive clothing I’ve been hoping to re-sell for several years now. There just never seems to be enough time, and by the time you clean and photograph and list and pack and ship and pay fees, is it really worth it? Sometimes. But right now I think I just need to get rid of it and look forward to feeling lighter and having less to move.

    1. Emily says:

      I guess the point is that you and I truly don’t believe it’s worth it, because if we believed it we would have been motivated long ago to sell the stuff! I definitely believe in looking at people’s actions instead of their words and I’m just applying that to my behavior in this area. Congrats on using your move to free yourself!

  13. We always just donate. After all, if we made money at least a portion would be going to charity. This is just more direct and with tax benefits.

    I found it really helpful to do a clothing audit and make sure that I knew what and when I would wear each item of clothing, and got a list of missing items. So I wear pretty much everything I own now except a few things that are too large or too small that I keep in case of sudden weight fluctuations (which tends to happen when I’m too busy to shop).
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Don’t say no, say “Yes, but…”

    1. Emily says:

      I like to keep clothes a size up or down around, too, because my weight isn’t terribly stable. How can you tell what is missing from your wardrobe until it’s needed?

  14. […] by Forty made a great suggestion for not letting our closet get overrun again on Aspiring to Make Money from Our Closet Has Wasted Emotional Energy: “A trick we use to keep our clothing under control is to have set number of hangers. When […]

  15. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Aspiring to Make Money from Our Closet Has Wasted Emotional Energy – Aspiring to sell our unused clothes held us back from actually getting rid of them. […]

  16. […] Aspiring to Make Money from Our Closet Has Wasted Emotional Energy was featured in the Carnival of Financial Camaraderie. […]

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