Simple Saturday – Is There Money in Your Decluttering Future?

Photo Credit ~

I almost wouldn’t not believe these stories of decluttering financial windfall if I had not been personally involved in every one of them.

Story One is my own. Last year I was tidying up my fireproof safe that contains my most important papers (birth certificates, wills, passports, etc.) and discovered an envelope containing $500. I was shocked for about 30 seconds before I remembered that I had put that money in there after Hurricane Rita, which affected the Gulf Coast, about five hours from where I live, and the giant city of Houston. In the mass exodus, many locations did not have electricity, so evacuees could not access cash machines, could not use their credit cards, and were completely handicapped by a lack of cash. I had completely forgotten that I had put this money aside. Theoretically I would have remembered or found this money in an emergency. . . . Right?

Stories Two and Three both happened within the past 30 days.

Story Two: A friend of mine became depressed and, as a result, allowed his mail to back up for months. To help him out, I went through an enormous stack of mail and papers he had squirreled away without processing. In total, I found six checks worth over $2500. Four of the checks he knew about; one he had opened but completely forgotten about; one was in an envelope that had never been opened.

Story Three: I have made reference several times to folks who live in California but have a storage unit here in Texas. In December when they were visiting, they cleaned out several boxes in their unit and found $5000 of U.S. Savings Bonds which had matured and were available to be cashed. (For those of you outside the U.S., Savings Bonds are a very safe, long-term investment, usually 20 or 30 years; the amount of interest earned is guaranteed by the U.S. government and is known at the time that the bonds are purchased.)

The sum of these three decluttering stories is $8000. Could you sitting on a windfall and not even know it too?

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Continue reading with these posts:


  1. I guess one challenge about having your home decluttered is that you chances of finding a windfall are less. I did help someone with their home and she was going to throw away some old checks. I opened the box, because I wanted to get them out to shred instead of just throw them in the trash, and there was $300.00 inside. I also helped an older woman years ago and found several papers good for 3-4 free air travel anywhere. I guess that is a benefit of clutter! (Ha,Ha!)

  2. Wow, Spendwisemom, further proof that there are many different types of pay-offs for decluttering.

  3. Ah! I wish I would find a windfall. I could use one. This shows that we never know what we will find and just tossing isn’t the right thing to do. ALWAYS look through everything just in case.

    • Deb J,
      I should say so! Helping to clear out my to-be-mother-in-law’s house (serious hoarding/psych. problem), I picked up a pile of Mills and Boon books to send on their way, checked each for loose contents (already found “things in things in things”), and out fell her marriage certificate! I’ve never have thought of looking there for it …..

      • I worked in a hotel, cleaning rooms. In every room there is a bible, and that book made me check books for things, as people were often hiding money or important documents in there. and then forgot about it 😉

  4. just last week about the donations of foreign coins, I found (and then remembered) again those 100 british pound. I brought it to the next exchange bank and got 115 euros for it. As a student, this saves my february. I also send one little voucher for free pictures to my boyfriend. Seems like I got that when I bought my camera last year in denmark…

    When I was reading the headline I first thought this post will be about the selling of things, which would be interesting as well, as I seem to be a rather stupid seller (8,50€ in the last month), so I will go and start reading on those posts, to learn something valuable.

  5. Allthough decluttering might lead to a cash windfall in some cases, staying decluttered means that the money never got forgotten or wasted.
    I too wish I would find a cash windfall somewhere, but I like the fact that not letting things creep into my home means that I have more cash left at the end of the month. In the end that is going to reap more bennefits, I think.

  6. And then there are the forgotten gift cards and gift certificates! I love coming across these now that there are no expiry dates.

  7. I may forget about many things, but money is not one of them. No chance of a windfall in the household. Unless it’s the dime I find in the washer after a load of my husband’s jeans!

  8. I think the ex-Texs would be thriving even without the bonds … Just not paying for that storage unit anymore can be considered cash in their pocket. And that every month!

    • They told us in December that they would come back around Valentine’s Day and that they were going to take everything back to California with them. Well, tomorrow’s V-Day, and we haven’t heard a word. I don’t think it’s happening…again.

  9. Like Rozanne, I’ve misplaced a few items in my lifetime. However, money isn’t one of them, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it.

  10. For a while now I’ve been trying to empty our storage unit. My boyfriend thought that it was just too much stuff for our house. Now it’s been broken into. We have to go see what’s gone this weekend. But for me it’s simple: it was not worth it to pay money to store stuff only to have it stolen. And the worst (or best) is that I can only remember a few of the things things that were stored there.

    • And you can probably assume that what is left wasn’t worth stealing so it certainly isn’t worth throwing rental money at either. Those thieves might have done you a favour.

      • I must admid that when I first heard that our storage had been broken into I felt defeated and a I panicked. But now it’s starting to sink in that I won’t need to go through those old school papers anymore. And that I won’t need to think where to put the stuff.
        We will go down there tomorrow to see what’s left, if any. But I think we might use the insurance money on other things (we could really use the funds to finish the current restauration project in our home).

  11. The windfall could also be in that as you dig through all the “stuff” you have accumulated then you can see where your money went. Right there in a big pile waiting to go in the trash/donation center/garage sale, etc.
    If I had instead invested the same amount of money I paid in buying Rubbermaid storage boxes to store the stuff I obviously didn’t need…I’d have been a richer woman in both money & sense!

    • Hi Jane,
      what a great first comment to 365 Less Things and may I extend to you a very hearty welcome to my blog. I hope you comment on a regular basis in future if this one was a gauge of your usual wisdom. I for one know where you are coming from I have often thought of approaching a storage container company with the idea of having them sponsor my blog. But I am really not in the business of encouraging people to store their stuff. Chances are if it is in a container somewhere it is not being used or viewed so why keep it.

      • LOL- I’ve commented before but think I may have been using an older email address out of habit!

        • That happens to me at times. Usually if I think I should know the reader I search the name among the comment history and match them up. As you say you must be using a different email address.

  12. Good topic Cindy, to which I have two tales to add.
    1. I have had an old fountain pen in my possession for years, I believe it belonged to my grandfather. I had a good think about it last weekend and did so online research. The brand is a good one but the pen isn’t in good condition. So I found a company in melbourne that deals in antique fountain pens and sent them an email asking if it was worth anything. I received an email yesterday from the company offering me $50 for it sight unseen. The funny thing is I was fed up with the obligation (heirloom) & aspiration (thinking it might be worth something) and had decided it was just junk and nearly threw it away. I think I will accept the $50 and get it out of here.

    2. Before I started my original 365 challenge my hubby sold an old Ducati motorcycle kick start on ebay. He almost threw it in the recycling bin but thought “Nothing ventured nothing gained.” and listed it anyway. He walked away with $1200 in his paypal account.

  13. Great post. I would never imagine that I could “forget” money, but just today I was cleaning out a few files in our file cabinet and found two checks that had been filed instead of being deposited. I happily ran them straight to the bank! I enjoy your blog so much, you really inspire me! Thanks.

    • Hi Kim c and a very warm welcome to you from 365 Less Things. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. With the help of Cindy who wrote this post and all the great interaction from our wonderful readers I think it is fair to say they we really have something good going on here. I am happy for you that you found those checks. Just before Christmas I found $25 cash in old birthday cards from when my 20 year old son was a baby. He was pretty happy with the windfall I can tell you.

  14. People often keep a container into which they toss their change. I have yet to meet anyone who had any idea how much money they actually had. When asked to guess, they usually come up with a figure that is less than half, and they keep adding because they don’t want the hassle of rolling it or taking it to the bank. Don’t dismiss money because it is coins and not bills. There’s probably a small windfall in that jar.

    • haha. I am one of those people. although I know whats inside, because I LOVE to count money. nothing better than stacking up coins and then counting your treasure, just before you throw them back into the beer mug. (which btw I found in my handbag after a very fun evening at the oktoberfest last year…)

    • I cashed our coins in this week and there was a grand total of $126. Being the person I am I batch them up on a regular basis so I had a fair idea of what I had. Liam on the other hand likes to keep his more disorderly with the more valuable coins hidden in the bottom layers so he isn’t tempted to spend them. He usually knows how much is in there though because he counts it on a regular basis. It is an odd method of saving for him. He sometimes deliberately breaks notes then throws the coins in his coin box. He doesn’t like carrying coins around in his pockets so the more coin the more he saves.

    • I once heard that millions of pennies are thrown away in the USA each year because people think “it’s only a penny” yet if they kept the pennies they’d add up to dollars (or pounds as the old saying goes).

      • You are so right Gail and it isn’t just pennies. I was constantly surprised when I first started living in the US at how much money I would find lying on the ground. It seemed nothing less than a quarter was worth bending over to pick up. And any pool of water that looked remotely like a fountain was usually full of coins. I told one of my neighbours once that I was going to install a kiddies pool in the front yard of my house because I figured it would make me a fortune. I imagine things have changed now that the recession has been going on for so long.

        • We have a tiny, tiny watering can that’s been our change jar for at least 15 years. I took it in the other day; it was mostly pennies, and only added to $3 and some cents. Better than a poke in the eye, though.

  15. I had a small experience like this twice.
    I had started wearing a winter jacket and again and needed a tissue so reached into my pocket and found a $10 note.
    I sometimes if out and don’t have a wallet say if going to buy fish and chips I put the money in my pocket and then the change. I usally take it out when I get home but this time must have forgotten.
    so this was a small windfall the next winter which I needed at the time.
    I read somewhere that you should put a $5 note in a couple of pants or jacket pockets for occasions such as this.

  16. My hubby tends to be the one who forgets gifts cards. I seldom do. Probably this is true because he cares less about money than I. 🙂 I’ll ask him tomorrow if he has any unused gift cards. Sometimes it’s hard for us to find ‘stuff’ to use our gifts cards for since most of the time we don’t need to buy much except food.

  17. Great post and subject,
    If anyone watches ‘How Clean is your House’ there was one episode of a young American woman who was getting help with her flat ‘Nightmare Flat’ but that is another story. While the ladies were going through the joint they were picking up money all over the place. I think from memory they found around $3000US. Helped pay for the air-con repairs. It was amazing to see her face when they told her. Evidently she was a well paid welder (?) and she used to just put her money down everywhere. Good clean up good windfall.

    My Mum found heaps of money in my Nanna’s belongings when she helped my Grandad sort her gear after she passed. Mindblowing amount was found.

    As for small change, we regularly throw it in a jar. My son’s school did a fundraiser called ‘Small change for a Big change’, he used a regular pasta sauce jar and we just filled it over time with 5c and 10c pcs. When it was full we counted it and there was just over $70 in the jar. It all adds up! At least I know with mixed change, everytime we empty the jar it will have $100 or more in it. Never underestimate the power of small change!

    Have a great day everyone 🙂 🙂 🙂

  18. I have been coming across expired gift certificates, that is really annoying… But I’d love to find cash 🙂

    • How annoying especially if the certificate has only just expired. I have never had this happen to me because I always loved “cash” gifts although I do at times procrastinate too much about what to spend them on.

      By the way Ella welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for dropping in to leave a comment.

      • I seldom use gift cards because I think they encourage spending – buying something you don’t need because you have a card. Or worse, buying something you don’t want, to use up the last few dollars on the card. Last time I had a card it was in a book store and there was a pittance left – about $2. So I handed it to the person behind me at the cash register. Bonus for them. No clutter for me.

        • You will notice Wendy that I said I always loved gift cards. Now I generally don’t get gifts at all. Although this suddenly reminded me of the fact that I do actually have a grocery store one in my purse that I won last year. It expires soon so I better use it the next time I get groceries.

  19. Sabrina from Italy

    I think it is quite impossible such things happen to me, since I regularly write down every expense, even very small ones, and I count what we have in the bank account and in our wallets… down to the cent! But this is a very good method to keep your expenses at bay.
    My dad puts all “big” coins he gets, 1 and 2 Euro ones, in a big 2 liters plastic bottle, starting every year in January. Then at Christmas he opens it and gives the money as a present to my brother and me. Last Christmas we got more than 450 Euro each!!!

    • one: great christmas tradition from your dad!!!
      second: I started to write down my expenses just last week… I hope to detect those little black holes my money gets sucked in. I expect to be a bit richer at the end of the month this way.

  20. When my mom and aunt were cleaning my grandmother’s bedroom before she was coming home from a hospital, they took out bags and bags of garbage and stuff, joking that there could be a gold treasure there for all they knew.. – And what do you know, the next thing they found was a collection of gold coins 🙂

    For me the money was in selling some valuable stuff, things that you can’t take to a thrift shop. I forget how much I made but it was many, many thousands of euros (despite the fact that I also donated a bunch of really good stuff..) I have realized that I don’t really want to own many expensive things. And from then on the money was every cent that I DIDN’T spend.

  21. Hi C(indy) & C(olleen),
    This I can relate to!! My in laws gave all their children (& by default spouses!!) some coins a few years ago for xmas. With kids and everything else I somehow disgarded it …. until I saw a box in my study drawer whilst decluttering the 3rd draw down (tks!). So I find a coin – an uncirculated $200 aussie gold coin – looked it up on the net – in gold value alone it is now $500 – slightly more for the actual limited edition coin. Still undecided as to whether to cash it in or hold on to the gold.
    thanks again, rds.

  22. In my case it wasn’t that much, but I did find 20 Euros in an old birthday card, additionally I sold some stuff. I think, all together was less than 500 Euros, but still – I am living on a rather small budget, so it was a relevant amount to me.

    • Don’t knock it Sanna. I found $7 in the, which quite frankly I’m sure was mine anyway, and I felt pleased.

  23. I found a document I nearly threw out as it was like another expired policy. It was still valid and worth £3500! ($5000?) This is my best decluttering find!

  24. slowly but surely I am getting the hang of earning money along the decluttering way. I got today 40 Euros for 2 old CD Boxes. I am still collecting things to sell on the flea market in around 6 weeks, so I hope to make some money there as well… I am very curious how much money I will make this year.

    I still hope to find a huge white envelope with thousands of euros in it. that would be so amazing right now. until then I keep selling stuff 😉