5 Things You Should Sell or Get Rid of to Bolster Your Finances
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a lecture about organizing or how clutter is making you lose money. I’m not going to tell you to sell your TV so that you don’t sit around all weekend watching reruns of your favorite 90s sitcom (we all need a break from reality TV and a sense of nostalgia now and then). We are going to focus here more on how to remove certain items or expenses that will help you understand what’s important in your life and narrow your focus towards financial freedom. I will give a shoutout to Gretchen Rubin here though because she broke it down pretty nicely in her book Outer Order, Inner Calm. I like this one specifically because like my book, she follows each of her explanations with easy-to-implement and actionable tips, such as using that special candle and enjoying it now rather than waiting for that “special time”. I know I’m guilty of saving things like gift cards or even cologne because I want to experience delayed gratification, which is a fine concept but more so in terms of experiences, like paying ahead of time for a massage or saving that new pair of sunglasses until you go on vacation in 2 weeks. This post is aligned with that and more focused on actually decluttering some things that will enable you to accelerate your journey to financial freedom. For ways on how organizing will save you money, there is a whole chapter on it in Financial Fives!
1) Recreational Equipment: Relax, I’m not going to guilt you into selling your mountain bike (as long as you use it and it’s a source of consistent joy). Recreational equipment in this sense could be anything from a boat to an electric scooter. I’ve been to too many peoples' homes and have seen things like a hoverboard, electric longboard, even kayaks hanging in their garage that they use maybe once or twice a year if that. This is impulse spending at its best; we get excited by a sale or experiencing a friend’s recreational equipment, so we buy it ourselves, and then become indifferent to it because we’ve focused our attention elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with buying equipment for the hobbies you truly enjoy and engage in regularly, like a road bike or tennis rackets. The issue comes when we spend on big ticket items and then only use them a few times a year or they just keep collecting dust. It’s not just the price of the equipment, think about insurance costs and maintenance. If Financial Freedom is truly your goal, pick maybe one or two hobbies that give you a consistent thrill and invest in quality equipment for that, so it lasts a while, keeps you safe, and holds its value. If you have anything else you haven’t used but want to keep around because you’re “going to use it one day” (looking at that stationary bike turned clothes hanger) go ahead and sell it.
2) Storage Units - This relates to the previous point, because what do you do if you live in a small apartment or simply run out of space in your garage? According to Josh over at Becoming Minimalist, half of storage unit renters are just using storage units for the items that won’t fit in their home - it's just a spillover! Growing up I was always told storage units were for people who were in-between places, away at college, or while their property was being renovated. This isn’t the case anymore, and it’s concerning. Why anyone needs that much space I’m not sure, but they are in high demand. Apparently, there are now more self-storage facilities than there are McDonalds in the U.S. If you have a storage unit, cleaning that out and selling, donating, and recycling what doesn’t fit in your home will not only make you some money, but now you don’t have to pay $150 per month for a storage unit, not to mention the time spent coming and going from it. There is a reason Storage Wars is a real show and a popular one too. American’s have too much stuff, and we get entertainment out of finding their long forgotten treasures!
3) Musical Instruments: Unless you’re in the high school band or play guitar a few times a week to unwind, you’d be better off cherishing the memories and moving on. Whether it’s a flute, harp, karaoke set, or $100,000 grand piano, if you don’t get a lot of excitement when you get to use it or even look at it, or haven’t playing a while, probably time to sell it, and you’d be surprised at the price you can fetch for it whether locally or on an online marketplace. This article by Infamous Musician nicely lists out viable options to sell your instruments, such as Reverb and Craigslist. You might also want to check local music stores or college/high school message boards and groups for people who are looking for the exact item you have.
4) Your Car: Big one! Hey, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was just clearing the clutter right? This is a post about bolstering your finances, and no better way to do it than selling that $20,000 hunk of metal in the garage. I’m sure this is going to be harder for all those people who were city dwellers and now they’ve fled to the suburbs like so many during the pandemic and work from home shift. It’s like when my friends from New York or Chicago come to California and complain about the lack of walkability, but then when one of them moved here he bought a big Toyota 4Runner to fit in with the outdoorsy vibe, but uses it mainly to drive to Whole Foods and the gym. If you’re working from home though, do you really need two cars in your household? Or if you live alone/with roommates, can you live somewhere that’s more walkable? Clearly, getting rid of your only car if you are in the suburbs probably isn’t an option, unless you want to drag your Costco haul on 2 different bus lines. However if you can get rid of an extra car, or live closer to walking/biking distance to amenities and public transit, you’ll save so much money! There is a reason selling your car is advocated on many personal finance blogs. Transportation is most people’s second largest expense each month. So, if you can invest that money or stick it in savings, plus save on gas, parking, registration, maintenance, and insurance, even better.
5) Subscriptions: Not talking about your prized Netflix here, don’t worry! This isn’t just referencing Spotify, Disney + or any of the obvious digital ones, but are you paying for anything else you’re not aware of or using? This could be fitness memberships, magazines, meal delivery services, massage memberships, XM Radio, even ceramics classes. Look over the last 3 months of all your transactions, and highlight the ones for subscriptions. Ask yourself “do I use this enough to justify this cost, and am I willing to commit to using it for the foreseeable future?” If not, it would be a good idea to cut ties with these services. Keep an eye out though, sometimes they make you wait 30 days, specify a window or mail in a cancellation request. Some services unfortunately want to make it as arduous as possible in hopes you’ll just forget and stay on, but then make it as easy as possible for you to start a “free trial”. Interesting, isn’t it?