Use Your Own Closet to Create a Financial Buffer for Holiday Spending

Is it just me or does anyone else see those holiday countdown clocks and instead of feeling delight, feel a tendril of fear wrap itself around their esophagus? Now don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love eating too much food with my favorite people on the planet. And as an evangelical Christian, Christmas is far more to me than just a tree or gingersnaps.

What I don’t love is that from now on through the rest of the year I become a money-spending machine. I think it’s fair to say even the most frugal among us start feeling the strain as soon as plastic Pumpkins appear on grocery store shelves at the beginning of September.

In 2016, the Rubicon Project conducted a study that concluded millennials are largely responsible for how much holiday spending actually happens. And last year they estimated that each millennial spent approximately $1,427 on the holidays. Holy Jinglebells, am I right?

There are a lot of tactics that can be utilized to allow you to better manage your money and spend less. But beyond changing how much is leaving your wallet, you can also take some steps to make in the incoming number grow.

Last year, I embarked on a new venture: I decided to scour my home in search of things I genuinely don’t ever use anymore that had some value in the hopes of selling these items for holiday pocket change. I was skeptical. I’m twenty-five after all. Unlike my parents, I don’t have an attic space filled with the accumulation of stuff that can only happen after decades of adulting.

What I do have is cluttered drawers in… well, in every room of my house. My walk-in closet has dark corners where I rarely dare to venture. And I have this weird habit of shoving stuff under my (Mom, if you’re reading this I’m so sorry) couch.

But what I’ve found is that that stuff often has surprising value attached to it. One girl’s outgrown coat is another girl’s fall wardrobe staple, after all.

Find those electronics.

This is the one area I was actually kind of embarrassed I hadn’t ever given a second-thought to. In my laundry room, I have a very classy tupperware set of drawers, and underneath all of that dryer lint, in the warm light of the solitary LED, there was a drawer with four “old” iphones. And by old, I mean I have some eyeliners I’ve been milking for longer than those iPhones have been off the conveyor belt.

Plus, in the years we’ve been adulting, my husband and I have both upgraded to new laptops. And our old ones? Even though they were tired and had both seen more than their fair share of furious, all-night typing of the English major variety, we decided to see if we could get anything for them. And together, they brought in a few hundred dollars. Even if you just have one laptop from your college days, there is likely someone hunting the internet right now for an affordable, used laptop.

Look at any piece of tech that you’ve upgraded, and consider whether or not its predecessor can be sold.

Two things to note when reselling electronics. The first, is that you are going to want to compare prices. So check out a site like Blue SageBook, or look at what your electronic is selling for on a site like Amazon so that you don’t get shortchanged.

Second, make sure you aren’t accidentally giving away any personal information. If you’re selling a phone, it’s worthwhile to find an associated charger, power it up, and reset that bad boy so that no lingering data can be used by a buyer against you. This is especially important given the fact that phones currently store so much info.

Clean out your wardrobe.

Okay, if my husband heard me attempting to guide people in the fine art of downsizing one’s wardrobe, he would laugh out loud because I’m not very good at it myself. I will find a ratty skirt that I’ve had since junior high, and convince myself that I might find need to wear it for the first time in twelve years.

Because I’m so bad at getting rid of clothes, when I do make myself go through them, I usually have an impressive haul at the end. This has a double benefit because it’s an awesome opportunity to curate your wardrobe. I have to live and die by this rule: with the exception of highly sentimental items (I don’t wear the dress I got engaged in anymore, but I’ll never give it away either.), if you haven’t worn it in a year, say goodbye.

If there has ever been a time to utilize your wardrobe for financial purposes, the time is now! People are seeing the benefit of buying pre-loved clothing, and it’s a more popular choice than ever before. Sites like Poshmark and ThredUp will sell your clothing for you, and then give you a percentage of the resale value when sold.

Decor: keep it fresh.

Okay, so disclaimer, the cute stuff in my house has either been gifted to me, or I bought it for $3 in those wonderful bins just inside the doors of your friendly (BFF-status, actually) Target. This year as I was prepping for my fall decor takeover, I realized I have more fake pumpkins than I do space to set them on. Seriously. I’ve got stuffed pumpkins, glass pumpkins, realistic pumpkins, shabby chic pumpkins. I had no idea I even liked pumpkins this much.

The moral of this pumpkin takeover is that I have more than I need to decorate my place for fall. I probably have more than several people need. And it’s not just pumpkins. It’s a tree and pinecones and wreaths—basically, I just move the outdoors inside in December. It’s heart-shaped spoon rests for Valentine’s. It’s tablecloths in florals during the spring (groundbreaking). And that brings us back to the pumpkins.

If you’re at least a little like me, then you probably have acquired your own collection of seasonal decor that just keeps on growing and growing. The same concept that applies to your closet will work here: if it hasn’t graced the shelves of your home within the last couple years, then it’s probably a prime candidate for the sell pile. Consider a platform like Facebook Marketplace or Shopify.

And even if I’m not describing you, even if you don’t have piles of pumpkins, there’s still likely some stuff you can sell that will keep your living space on the cutting edge. Perhaps, this is the season where you make a little extra cash and pull minimalism off effortlessly.

We got this.

The pressure to give the right gifts, to enjoy the Nutcracker and a season on the slopes, and to take part in the holiday parties you want to indulge in feels ever pressing as we approach the end of the year and we survey all of the festivities that lie between now and then.

But, if you’re worried about a bank account with an ever-dwindling balance, start preparing now for a stress-free holiday season so that from Halloween through the New Year, you can relax and enjoy the holiday itself rather than the commercialism behind it.


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