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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Clutter to Good Homes

An important part of any de-cluttering purge is having a final destination for the items that will make their exit from your home permanently.  This post is put together at the request of a reader to help you in finding homes for your unwanted items.  If you have a topic about which you’d like to read, please let me know.  Email me - Julie at customexcelspreadsheets (dot) com.

Throughout the year, I keep a thin box in my laundry/utility room that collects items destined for donation.  I deliver these items to their destination whenever the box gets full.  My semi-annual purge also yields boxes and bags of items for immediate donation.  As part of the purge, I plan time for dealing with the donations because I don’t want to look at the clutter once I’ve decided to part with it!

Get a Little Back

Many folks are happy to buy things second hand (I know I am!).  Second-hand children’s stores are becoming quite common and your community is likely to have a place you can get a little money for your children’s clothing, toys, and decorative items that are still in good condition.  Many of these places may also have incentives for trading in out-grown clothing for credit toward the purchase of clothing and toys your kids can use today or in the future.  Also check for local second-hand or consignment stores that may buy adult clothing, movies, music, and other items, or help you sell them.

Household items, clothing, and electronics in good condition can be listed online at sites like or eBay for free or a small fee relative to the selling price.  If this is too complicated for you, there are businesses out there like “iSold It” that will sell things on your behalf for a commission. 

Websites to Aid in Donating Household Items

If you don’t have a favorite charity in your area that accepts donations (I usually go to the local Hospice Thrift store with mine), or you have donations too large to take somewhere yourself, you may benefit from one of the following means of donating household items.  Please see the appropriate website to see if the service is available in your area.  Sign up for free.  You create a list of items you have for donation.  They'll match the items up with local non-profits and provide tax deduction receipts.
The Vietnam Veterans of America group takes clothing, housewares, small appliances, toys, and tools.  You can schedule a pick-up online (if this service is available in your area) and the driver will pick-up your donation and leave a tax-deductible receipt. 

Other Items

Cell Phones for Soldiers Donated cell phones are sold to recyclers and the proceeds are used to purchase calling cards for troops stationed overseas.  The charity was started by a young brother and sister with $21 of their own money and has raised millions of dollars and sent more than a half million prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.  There are now more than 3000 collection sites across the country, or you can mail your phone to them directly.  Each donated phone equates to an hour of talk time for a soldier.

Computers: The National Cristina Foundation matches computer donations up with local not-for-profits that can take them.

Eyeglasses: Donate your old prescription eyeglasses so the frames can be reused to provide eyeglasses to those in need all over the world.  Many eye doctors, as well as LensCrafters, Sears Optical and Target Optical locations have donation boxes for Lions ClubsInternational, or you can go to to donate your old glasses to that program.

Figuring your Tax Deductions

The Salvation Army puts together a list of common donated items along with low and high values for calculating the appropriate tax deduction based on your donations.  You can click here to see this list, or you can email me – Julie at customexcelspreadsheets (dot) com – for a free Excel spreadsheet to easily calculate your deduction!! 

Proper Disposal of Dangerous Household Items

Expired or unused medications can be dangerous if disposed of improperly.  Many pharmacies will take these and properly dispose of them for free.  Inquire with your local pharmacy or search for one in your area at

Batteries, many home electronics, CFL light bulbs and other household items have chemicals in them that are dangerous to the environment (and us!) and should be disposed of properly (not in the trash).  Most waste management facilities will have a means to dispose of these.  They also take used motor oil at any time (many auto parts stores will also take used oil).  Designate an area in your home to store these items until they have accumulated enough to warrant a trip to the disposal facility.  For example, I keep a large zip-top bag labeled “dead batteries” next to the stockpiles of fresh batteries and empty it when it is full. 

Other household chemicals such as gasoline, paint and other chemicals that pose an immediate danger such as flammables or explosives should be disposed of at special household hazardous waste facilities.  Ask your waste management company or visit the following website for more information:

If you have other donation or disposal tips or ideas, please share them!  Happy decluttering!!

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