Create Cash in Your Closet

Learn how to turn shopping mistakes into money.

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Professional organizer and Mission: Organization guest, Monica Ricci of Catalyst Organizing Solutions, offers web-exclusive tips.

Do you have hundreds of unclaimed dollars just hanging around in your closets taking up space? Last summer's polka-dot dress and that wool blazer you outgrew. The slacks you bought because they were on sale and the suit that never fit right to begin with. Sound familiar? We all make shopping mistakes, but why live with them the rest of your life? Turn past year's bargains into cold hard cash right now by taking them by putting them on consignment.

Consignment stores are popping up everywhere because people know that they can find great bargains on quality used clothing for themselves and their families. The flip side of buying consignment is selling on consignment, which is a great way to clear your closet clutter and make a little money in the process.

So how do you do it? Start by pulling each item from your closet one at a time, and separate into piles based on the following criteria:

  • You love it and wear it faithfully, and you like how it looks on you.

  • You hate it and never wear it. In fact you wonder what you were thinking when you bought it, it doesn't fit, or you bought it because it was a bargain.

  • You like it and you wear it fairly often, or it's a key player in a few outfits.

  • This pile is for undecided items--those that don't really fit into the other piles.

Here are five easy steps to complete the job:

  1. Once the closet is empty, put everything in the "Love it" pile back into the closet.

  2. Put the items in the "fairly often" pile back into the closet. You should be left with two piles of clothing--the "hate it" pile and the "undecided" pile. (This is where it gets fun!)

  3. Neatly fold everything in the "hate it" pile and wish it well, for it will be going on a little journey.

  4. Go through the "undecided" pile piece by piece, and ask yourself what value each piece currently gives you.

    Warning: Do not get sucked in by the clothing trying to convince you of its value and reminding you how good you used to look wearing it. Clothing is sly and it will say anything to get you to keep it around. It will remind you of how expensive it was, or that it was a gift from your mother-in-law, but do not fall for these sneaky tricks! You must be strong and objective. Clothes that aren't serving you need to be culled to make room for those pieces that are valuable. The fact that you are undecided on this pile indicates that you don't love it, which means you should be able to get rid of more than half of it if you're ruthless in the decision-making process. Once you've culled the pile, you should have a whole bunch of clothes that didn't make the cut back into the closet. This is where your secret cash stash is hiding.

  5. Call a local consignment store and ask what their guidelines are for consigning clothing. Find out if you need to make an appointment or if you can just drop by. Ask how the proceeds are split between you (the consignor) and the store, and don't take less than 50 percent. Ask what happens to your clothes if they don't sell, and do not do business with a store that gives your clothing back if it doesn't sell. Most consignment stores will donate anything that doesn't sell within a certain period of time to a shelter or another nonprofit organization.

  6. Load up your car and haul the clothes to the consignment store of your choice. When you get back home, relish the new look of your closet.

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