May is National Moving Month and an expected 40 million Americans will pack up and move onto a new place. Given that I've moved every single May for the past four years, I truly understand the pain behind the statement "pack up."
I just moved over a course of four separate days for a total of probably 15 hours -- and my room is still cluttered with boxes of accessories and trash bags of clothes. Fashionistas typically can't pack light and I'm no exception. While it sounds like I'm still a hoarder (I just like options), I have some tips for how you can move less and possibly get some money in the process.1) Start small: Facing that closet simultaneously brimming with sweaters and tank tops can be daunting. Begin with one area of your closet or one kind of garment and create "yes," "no," and "maybe" piles. This is only the first step so you don't need to make any final decisions. It's okay to store away that winter wardrobe, but don't just pack everything. Bring a critical eye to what you'll wear now and what you'll wear next winter.
2) Do you really wear that? It's a painful question, but the main one you should ask yourself as you make your piles. If you haven't worn it in at least a year, you probably don't need it collecting dust (or taking up valuable space) in your closet.
3) Consult the Pros: Many style guides have tips to maximizing your wardrobe and cleaning out your closet. TIm Gunn's Guide to Quality, Taste and Style is a goodie for staying classic. And for the bold woman, Simon Doonan's Eccentric Glamour offers inspiration for dressing that is both eccentric and glamorous.
4) Don't Get So Emotional: I know, I know, Your mom gave you those shoes for your birthday five years ago or those earrings last Christmas. Many items you own are probably tied to people you love or fun things you did, but if you don't wear them then its time to re-purpose or dispose of them. I understand, believe me. It makes me sad too.
5) Enlist Help: I'll admit it. My friend had to throw away a pair of shoes with a clearly broken heel while I wasn't looking. Sometimes you need friends and family to break the harsh truth to you, as in "Those jeans have one too many holes "or "I think you've outgrown that 'My Little Pony' T-shirt."
6) Set Limits: "I'll get an unlimited supply of boxes so I can move as much as I want" is probably the wrong attitude to have when moving. This is the perfect time to dispose of unneeded items. So tell yourself, "I only have three boxes for shoes and what doesn't fit needs to go."
7) Sell it: Speaking of going, I've already discussed the ins and outs of consignment, but this is one of the best options for making money from your clothes. Remember to be selective on where you sell and make sure these clothes are tip-top shape.
8) Grab bag: Missed connections may be one of Craigslist's most popular destinations. But this site can also be the marketplace for your unwanted clothes. Put together like-sized clothing, snap some photos and post as a "bag of clothes." $10 is the typical asking price, but if you put together a few bags, it could add up.
9) Help Yourself, Help Others: Donating clothes may not earn you any money, but it does keep your clothes from a landfill and provides for those in need. My clothes were donated to a battered women's shelter in my hometown, but there are many outlets. Thirft stores are often tied to charitable causes, such as the American Cancer Society's Discovery Shops. But beware the bright green GAIA bins around Chicago, California and Indiana, which have ties to a group whose leaders have been under criminal investigation in Europe, as reported in the Chicago Tribune.
10) It's Never Too Late to Organize: Just because you already moved those four university hoodies doesn't mean its too late to get rid of at least one. Cleaning your closet and keeping your wardrobe fresh is unfortunately a constant process of re-evaluation.
Trust me, whether cleaning out that dorm closet or settling into your own first apartment, moving is a stressful but refreshing task. Think of this not as a task designed to make you cry as you part with significant items but as a chance to treasure the old in a fresh new environment.
Clothes to Free, appearing Thursdays, is a weekly fashion-on-a-budget column by Money College blogger Alysse Dalessandro. Send Alysse column tips at MoneyCollege@walletpop.com.
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