How to Find the Money You Don’t Realize You Have

Mountain ManDear Friends,

One thing I have become an expert at in the past two years is finding money I didn’t realize I had.  I bet you’re swimming in money and you don’t even realize it.  You’ve probably at least got a little paddling pool somewhere :)

Tips in this article are from our brainstorming about how to pay for our wedding and 3 month honeymoon, as well as how to pay for our living expenses so we could both do our dream jobs from home (cause we LOVE being together all the time).  We don’t use our credit cards, so we had to creatively invent money.

All these tips are not about decreasing your quality of life, but about increasing it.  Contrary to what we’re told in advertisements, having more stuff doesn’t increase quality of life.  Accumulating debt does not increase quality of life.  Working 80 hours a week to pay for more than you need and taking away from the time you spend with family and friends does not increase your quality of life.  I see friends and family struggling to make ends meet and accumulating enormous debts, all the while decreasing their quality of life.  And for what?

Maybe you want to save up for a trip to Tahiti, take kite surfing lessons (that’s on my list….as soon as we move near the ocean), or even rent a mountain man for a week—hey, I won’t judge :)  (By the way, the pic above is supposed to be a mountain man.)  Whatever your goal is, I hope these tips help you to create extra cash in your pocket.

Clear Out Your “Stuff”

All the items in your home that you don’t absolutely love are taking up valuable space that could be filled with what you do love or left as open, creative space.  When you clear out your extra “stuff” you give yourself breathing room to dream new dreams for yourself.  Think of your clutter as dead energy.  Clear it out!  You’ll feel so much better.  This makes Mark and I feel so good, we are always on the lookout for more things we can sell or give away.  It may seem initially that if you give something away, you won’t make any money.  Au contrair mon frere! Money, opportunities, and anything else you want has no space to come into your life unless you get rid of what you don’t want.  Here’s another way to think of it: your stuff takes up valuable square footage.  Let’s say you pay $100 per square foot for your home each month.  You are essentially paying $200 per month for a stack of books on your bookshelf that you won’t ever read again.  The office chair that is uncomfortable and super ugly with cat scratches on the seat is $400 per month to keep.  If you’re paying for the space you’re living in, don’t you deserve to fill it with what you actually love?

  • Go through all your books and sell whatever you don’t love to a used book store (like Half-Priced Books).  Sell your old CDs and electronics to a used media store.  Any broken electronics can be donated to an electronics recycling facility.  Check with nearby relatives and see if they have books or media to get rid of as well.  They’ll probably be happy to have the extra space and let you keep the moolah.
  • Sell or donate all the furniture, home goods, clothes, and anything else taking up valuable space that you don’t absolutely love.  Get rid of all the appliances you never use, the dishes that are chipped or ugly, and the silver spoons that got caught in the garbage disposal and now have sharp edges that can cut your tongue and render you lisping and drooling for the rest of your life — is that a chance you want to take???
  • Have a garage sale.  I have to admit I’ve never done this.  Mark says it’s horrible, but I think I could create one super awesome garage sale.  I’m thinking sparkles, I’m thinking stars and hearts suspended from the ceiling….Melanie’s Super Magical Garage Sale!  Everything you ever wanted to know about garage sales can be found at YardSaleQueen.com.

Phone

Are you using all the minutes of your cell phone plan?  If not, downgrade your plan.  Call instead of texting and downgrade your text plan.  Does your 5 year old really need a cell phone?  Get rid of your home phone and just use your cell phone.

Cable

Mark and I got rid of our cable years ago, and we never regretted it.  We saved money, started reading more books, and spent more time together.  We signed up on Netflix to get movies every month and use Hulu regularly, which is a website where you can watch cable shows for free online.  Instead of watching TV in the evening, we started making dinner together, going for walks, and playing board games.

Clothing Shopping

Shop your closet!  This is so much fun and one of my newfound joys!  Find ways to reinvent your wardrobe by coming up with new clothing combinations, altering clothing you already have, and trading online.  I dyed a skirt I never wore blue (it was white), and now it’s one of my favorites!  I painted a belt I own, learned to create layers of clothing for a totally different look, and started using all my accessories instead of just storing them.  The way to come up with new outfits is to commit to wearing a combo you’ve never worn before every day.  This gets your creativity flowing, and you’ll start to see the potential in the clothing you already own.  To find out about participating in a wardrobe swap shop, check out this article from What I Wore Today.  I haven’t done this yet because I’m having so much fun reinventing my current clothing, but I bet it would be lots of fun.

Home Shopping

I bet you know what I’m going to say here – Craigslist and Freecycle!  You can get everything from these sites so inexpensively and meet great people in the process.

Books, Movies, and CDs

Go to the library, borrow from friends, or buy from a used book/media store.

Entertainment

Go to see theatre productions on the inexpensive days (like Thursday) and matinées.  See movies when they come out at the dollar or discount theatre, go to the matinée, or wait until they come out on Netflix.  I love me a bargain, and I do not enjoy paying $20 for two tickets to see a movie that will only cost me $2 a week later.

Restaurants

Mark and I usually split an entrée at a restaurant.  We started this not out of frugality, but because we didn’t want to use a styrofoam to-go container.  There usually aren’t many options for vegetarians, and we enjoy the same foods, so this has worked out well for us.  In Europe, when we did this for every meal, we shared an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for less than the cost of 2 entrées and ate incredibly delicious food.   Another food tip is to cook at home!  Our most delicious and wholesome meals are meals we make at home.

Unclaimed Property

I looked on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, and found several hundred dollars that I didn’t know I had.  I e-mailed them and was sent a check a few weeks later.

Having space, having things you love (but not a house full of clutter), eating delicious and healthy meals, spending more time with family and in nature, and living each month with an abundance of money feels good.  There are so many ways to live abundantly, have more time to do what you want to do, and have everything you need in your life.  These are just some of the ways that have worked for us.

What has worked for you?

Melanie Jade :)

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  • http://jaseoncards.wordpress.com/ Jase

    I have never had cable tv. Sometimes I’ve had people who thought this meant I was from another planet!

    I do have Netflix though, and I love it. I can watch stuff on MY schedule, which I much prefer.