It feels like my house is too small for my family!
Whether your family is growing, or you’re buying more things, sometimes, it can seem like our homes are too small. Does this mean it’s time to buy a new house though? In this article, I cover some clever ways you probably never thought of for making the best use of the space you already have.
What is the #1 Problem People Have with Their House Sizes?
It doesn’t matter how big the family is, or how big the house is, nearly everyone who thinks their house is too small has the same problem.
It is simple, and because of its simplicity, it stares everyone in the face and they never notice it.
They do everything they can think of to fix it, and yet, their problem still persists. They stand inside their home and say:
This house is too small.
But what is the real problem? Is the problem that their home is too small? No. Almost always, it is that they have too many possessions, or they use their space inefficiently.
But, how do I fix these two problems?
How to Minimize Possessions
One of the simpler options is to minimize the number of things you own.
You can do this in three steps:
- Throw Away
Before you roll your eyes and click away, I guarantee you that I have ideas on here that you’ve never heard of. So, with that really big claim, I encourage you to read on.
It could save you thousands.
Places to Sell Your Stuff
When you think of selling your extra items, it’s common to just think of eBay right-away, but you’ll likely run into a big issue.
It’s even more common now to forget about this common problem because of websites like Amazon and Walmart.
What’s the problem you ask?
Shipping. The most effective items for you to get rid of for space reasons are, naturally, large items. The problem with large items is that they cost a fortune to ship.
In this next section, I’ll show you a few ways to sell your items online and have shipping be a non-issue, and give you a bunch of ideas for selling locally that you probably haven’t thought of.
Sell Your Stuff Online
Selling your possessions online is the first thing that comes to mind for most people, but there are a few pros and cons to consider. Obviously, the biggest pro is that you don’t have to go anywhere at first.
You can see what the going prices are for the items you have, and you can see how popular the items might be. Selling online is one of the best ways to get the top price for your items.
The drawbacks though, are that you often have to ship the item, you usually have to wait a while before the item sells, and you usually pay fees to sell your things.
Everyone knows Amazon, but few people think of it when selling their things. If your item is listed for sale on Amazon, then you can sell yours as used on the listing page. This is a very quick way to sell an item.
Bonanza is more geared towards people who want to create a store and generate ongoing sales, but if you have a ton of things, then it might be worth a look. This is directly from Bonanza’s About page:
Bonanza has been a seller-centric marketplace since our inception – that’s why we don’t make any money until you do. No listing fees, no monthly store fees, no other sneaky fees.
As mentioned in the beginning of this section, eBay is a fantastic outlet for selling so long as your items is cheap to ship, and popular enough that people will actually search for it. If you have a large item that isn’t very valuable, then eBay is probably not the best website for selling your things.
eBid launched as a direct response to eBay and their angle is that you don’t pay fees unless your item sells. While this was a direct affront to eBay’s business model at the time, eBay does offer free listings. Of course, eBay will be more expensive if your item sells, but there is a better chance of your item selling on eBay. I included eBid though for those who want all options available to them.
Etsy is a huge marketplace for handmade items, but did you know they also allow you to sell vintage items as well? If any of the items you have for sale are handmade or vintage, then Etsy might be the perfect marketplace for you.
Gazelle is one of the more prominent places to sell your old phones online. While cell phones don’t take up much space, once you have a few phones and a nest of charging cables, they can certainly occupy a small box. In addition to cell phones, Gazelle also purchases laptops, tablets and computers. There are two main drawbacks to Gazelle, they only want fairly high-end devices, and their offers are pretty low. If you’re looking for a quick sale and you buy high quality tech though, then this is a great option.
Swappa is the same idea as Gazelle above, with the exception that they seem to accept a much broader collection of devices. Again, with these kinds of services, you can expect to get a lot less than if you were to sell directly to someone else.
Sell Your Stuff Locally
Selling locally might seem a bit low-tech in our hyper-connected world, but often it’s the quickest way to get your money. In addition, technology has revolutionized the convenience of selling items locally.
With local selling, the advantage is that you can often sell the item quickly, but it is often at a lower price as you have fewer people vying for your items.
Safely Selling Locally
I wanted to take a moment to discuss selling safely. When you sell locally, you often meet up with people that you’ve never known before. Most of these meet ups go fine and they never make the news, but plenty have gone awry as well. Whether it be a misunderstanding that escalates, or it was a scam from the beginning.
To stay safe, here are a few suggestions.
Safety Tips for Selling In-Person:
- Never meet at your house.
- Never meet at night.
- Always keep your phone on you.
- Don’t wear anything valuable.
- Bring a friend or family member with you to the meeting.
- Always ensure that someone else knows where you’re going and who you are meeting (even if someone is coming with you).
- Set a time that you will call someone or they will call you to make sure everything is OK.
- If you’re comfortable enough with the idea, share your real-time location with someone you know on Google Maps.
- Check with local police to see if they have “safe exchange zones.” These are becoming more common and many are even directly in front of or inside police stations. They are well-lit and often under 24-hour surveillance like this one in Grand Prairie, Texas.
- Meet at a neutral location that has lots of people. Preferably a place with security cameras.
- If something seems to good to be true, then it probably is. Don’t let yourself become lured into a bad situation. Check out these common scams that Craigslist warns their users about.
Sell Your Stuff on Facebook
Did you know that you can sell your used items on Facebook Marketplace? Just like you can browse local events, you can also shop for (or sell) items that are located near you.
Everyone knows Craigslist, but I’m including it for completion. It’s free to list your items, but you need to arrange the meeting and payment. Once again, familiarize yourself with the above safety tips, and don’t forget to review this list of Craigslist scams.
ecoATM is a cool idea I came across a couple of years ago when I had a few cell phones I wanted to get rid of. Their payouts are super low, but that’s because you are recycling your device (in some cases, I’m sure they resell it, but I think a lot of the really junk devices they buy end up getting recycled). The convenience of walking up to an ATM, putting in your phone and getting paid instantly is pretty nice. They accept a wide variety of devices, but don’t expect to walk away rich.
Nextdoor is a website that neighborhoods can participate in. It’s basically a social network for local areas. If your area is particularly active, then you can enjoy the benefits of hyper-local news from your neighbors.
The reason I’m including it on this list though, is that they allow you to buy and sell items for free to your local areas and I actually did this successfully about a month ago. I listed an RC car and track and had an offer the same day. I met the guy the next day, we exchanged money and the item without incident.
Once Upon a Child
Once Upon a Child specializes in buying and selling second-hand children’s clothing and toys. They have locations in most states and pay you immediately for anything they choose to buy from you. Children’s toys are a giant use of space in our home, so getting rid of these items will certainly give you some of that space back. All of those ride on toys, and activity tables take up so much space.
Pro Tip: make sure you aren’t getting rid of your kid’s favorite things.
Another Pro Tip: if your kid sees you getting rid of something, it will immediately become their favorite thing, then you can’t get rid of it.
A couple decades ago, Pawn Shops were one of the only ways to get rid of used items quickly. I’m still including them on this list for completion, but Pawn Shops have never paid great prices for items, so you’re probably better off trying some of these other ideas first.
Plato’s Closet specializes in second-hand, name brand clothing for people aged 12 – 24. If you have nice, name brand clothing in good condition, then bring it in and see what they’re willing to pay you for it. Here are some of the brand’s they mention purchasing:
- Abercrombie & Fitch
- American Eagle
- Lucky Brand
- Pink by Victoria’s Secret
- Steve Madden
- True Religion
- Under Armour
Play It Again Sports
Exercise equipment can often take up an immense amount of space. That’s where Play It Again Sports comes in. They buy your used exercise and sports equipment. Treadmills, exercise bikes, kayaks, punching bags and any other clunky, dust-gathering equipment could be stealing your sanity.
I get it, selling your exercise equipment is like admitting you’ve given up on your health goals. We buy these products with the best intentions, then they sit there, staring at us mockingly. We say to ourselves “I’m going to get my act together… soon! Some time next week, I’m going to get on that treadmill.”
Making space in our homes requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves. Sometimes, we make bad buying decisions. Sometimes, we don’t have the time to train for a marathon, even if we want to. It’s OK. Don’t let those decisions continue lowering your quality of life! At the very least, you can get your living space back, and maybe even get some of your money back from the purchase!
Second-hand Kid Stores
I’ve mentioned “Once Upon a Child” earlier, but I wanted to mention second-hand kid stores in general. Not all will pay you on the spot, some prefer to do consignment instead. The pro of this is that you will probably be paid more for your item, but the con of it is that you won’t get paid right away. Second-hand kid stores are everywhere, and they all have their rules and methods, so call around and find one that works the way you like best.
Would you rather just sell stuff right in front of your house? Then check out YardSales.net. You can list your yard sale for free, including:
- Location, date and time
- A map
- Photos of your items
There are a number of sites if you really want to promote your yard sale.
Where to advertise garage sales:
Apps for Selling Your Stuff
Sometimes, apps are just the better way to do something. There’s nothing more convenient than downloading an app, snapping some photos and posting something for sale. Below are a few apps that might help you ditch some of your unwanted things.
Decluttr is one of my favorite options on this list. Not because it pays you so much, but because it is just so darn convenient! You just scan the items with their app, and they tell you what it’s worth. If you like the price, just put the items into a box, print out a free shipping label (they pay the shipping costs), then they pay you how you want: Paypal, Check or Direct Deposit.
Items Decluttr buys:
- DVDs / Blu-rays
- Game Consoles
- Video Games
- Smartwatches / Fitness Trackers
LetGo is another interesting app that allows you to sell your items locally. It’s also one of the most popular in this category. It’s like a streamlined Craigslist in a way. You list items for free, and you arrange payments with the buyer. The app just lets you list things for sale and locate items to buy. They make their money by showing advertisements in the app and “bumping” an item that you have for sale for a small fee so it is more prominently displayed.
OfferUp is very much like LetGo, but it’s not content with just being a Craigslist killer, it wants to compete with eBay. So, you can sell locally and get paid in cash, or sell and ship the item anywhere in the country and be paid by credit card.
Mercari is attempting to be a more streamlined hybrid between LetGo/OfferUp and eBay. Listing your item is free, you pay 10% flat fee when it sells. You are then emailed a shipping label that you print out and put on the box before shipping. You don’t meet up with anyone, everything is handled through shipping and payments is done through the app.
PoshMark is like Mercari, but only for fashion. The app handles the payments, you receive the shipping label to print out, then you ship the product out. You are paid once the item is received.
I covered this in the section above, but felt like Nextdoor deserved a shout out in the app section because they have a very functional app too. In fact, the sale I made using Nextdoor was all done through their app. The only complaint I have is that it doesn’t notify terribly well. So, make sure you monitor the app closely when you are selling things.
Their app allows you to list an item for sale to neighborhoods around you. There are no fees, but you do have to meetup with the buyer and exchange the money and item like a Craigslist transaction.
Everyone knows eBay. They have an app, so I included them here for completeness. I’ve sold tons of things through them, and it might be the best place to sell things when you can’t move them on any of the other apps. While they clearly have the biggest market, you pay a mint in fees to eBay and PayPal to access it.
Many people know about Etsy, and I mentioned them earlier in this article. In case you don’t know, Etsy is a marketplace intended for handmade and vintage products. They are an excellent marketplace if you have items that work for their customer base.
Places to Donate Your Stuff
Many churches have outreach programs for the homeless, and less fortunate. They offer food and clothing to the homeless, single parents, the elderly and just about any other need that might exist. If you have some food that you want to get out of the pantry, some blankets sitting in a closet, too many pairs of shoes, or anything else that could benefit people in these situations, then check with some local churches to see if they can use these items.
Donation Drop Boxes
In many grocery and store parking lots you’ll find drop boxes for donations. They look like over-sized mail drop boxes. They typically are for clothing and shoe donations, but I have seen them for books, school supplies, and one-time, I saw a more specific one: professional clothing only.
Often, larger thrift store chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army will park truck trailers in parking lots in areas where you can drop off your items. They usually have an attendant who can write you a receipt should you want one. These are really convenient if you’re kind of far away from one of the thrift store locations.
Donation Haul Away
Some thrift stores are willing to send a truck to your home if you have a lot of stuff to donate, especially unwanted furniture. Make sure you know the store’s policy on furniture before having a truck come out. I know the Salvation Army around my area is not willing to accept any furniture that is even slightly damaged. If your furniture is in decent shape though, they’ll send a truck over to pick it up.
While churches may offer help to people of varying backgrounds, there are also shelters setup to provide accommodations and support for people with specific needs. There are shelters for women who have been the victims of domestic violence, homeless shelters, shelters for single mothers, shelters for the elderly and shelters for people with disabilities.
If any of these causes touch your heart, then perhaps this is the best place to donate your items. Even if you don’t think they would need something, it’s good to call. A homeless shelter near me will take almost anything, because they have their own thrift store. So, anything they don’t use directly, is put up for sale in their thrift store and they teach the homeless people who stay with them how to work in the store while they stay there.
When you think of donating, thrift stores are probably the first thing to come to mind. I’m including them here for completeness, but I’m sure you already knew about this option.
Places to Throw Things Away
I know, I know. You’re probably rolling your eyes, saying “well, duh! The garbage can!” I’m not talking about disposing a banana peel here. In this section, we’re talking about things that might be difficult to dispose of.
Giant, Plastic Kids Toys That Can’t Be Sold/Donated
Your best option is to contact your county waste management to see what kinds of plastic they recycle. Check the number on your toy to ensure that it is accepted. If it is, then you just bring it to them to dispose of it responsibly. If your county doesn’t accept that kind of plastic, then check surrounding counties. If no luck, then your only option may be taking it to the dump.
Large Metal Items
Depending on what metal it’s made out of, you can usually take these items to the scrap yard and get paid. Aluminum and steel items can make you some money! Lots of beat up old baking pans and sheets are made from either aluminum or steel. You won’t make a fortune, but getting paid is still nice, and you’re recycling!
There are a number of “we buy junk cars” services out there. Services like JunkCars.com might be able to help get that jalopy out of your driveway or yard and maybe even get you paid!
Use Space Efficiently
The next big problem people have, besides owning too many things, is using their space poorly. With a few changes, you can free up a ton of space in your home. It might require some expense, but it will certainly be cheaper than buying a bigger house!
Space Saving Furniture
Space saving furniture is nothing new. When you consider that the average house in 1950 had about 1,000 square feet, it seems obvious that people have been trying to make great use of their space for a long time. Look at the Murphy bed. We’ve all seen movies and TV shows with some type of wall bed gag.
Space Conscious Furniture & Nesting Furniture
But it doesn’t just stop at beds folding up to the wall, do you remember pull out beds? What about ottomans that open up for storage? There are also coffee tables that double as storage.
There is also nesting furniture which compacts down for those times you’re not using it. These are very common for the patio, but you can also find space conscious furniture for the living room and bedrooms.
Get rid of the entertainment center
Instead of an entertainment center, how about you mount your television to the walls? This is a lot more doable now that many people have cut cable and all but forgotten DVD/Blu-ray players. Are you still storing DVD/Blu-ray/CD players that you never use anymore?
But what about my Roku box? Switch to a Roku stick, or upgrade to a TV with Roku built-in. If you’ve read Wealth Artisan for any length of time, you know that I wouldn’t typically advocate for upgrading perfectly functional electronics, but when compared to upgrading houses, I say go all out!
Do you still have DVDs hanging around? Consider selling them (Decluttr will buy them!) and buying digital copies of the movies you truly want to own. Can’t make that jump? Then what about ditching all of those giant DVD/Blu-ray boxes and putting your discs into a disc organizing case? That will save you a ton of space otherwise being occupied by useless boxes!
Raised Bed Frames
You can get a new frame for your bed that sits higher to give you more space under your bed for storage. If you don’t want to spend the extra on a new frame, you can instead get things called “bed risers” that will elevate your existing bed.
Compact Kids Play Equipment
Is your home dominated by:
- Play houses
- Little Tykes Cozy Coupe Cars
- Riding push toys
- Play kitchens
- Play work benches
- and any other gigantic, plastic play toys
If so, then you might be as excited as I was when I learned about compact, folding play equipment. Here is one company that makes some super compact indoor play equipment:
There are certain situations where convenience becomes very inconvenient. One-trick-pony items are one of those things. They seem like a good idea at the time, but then you have to store them or clean them. That’s when reality sets in.
A strawberry cutter seems like a good idea, until you realize that it doesn’t work well, and it’s a pain to clean. If only there were a tool that every kitchen had that could slice through something like a strawberry.
Or what about those times where cutting butter is just too difficult. Don’t you wish there were a way to perfectly portion your butter and take up space that could be better used? You’re in luck!
Cooking instruments occupy a lot of space in most homes. By being more thoughtful in your selections, you can reduce a lot of the space being used in your cabinets. For example, Lodge makes a combo cooker set that functions as a dutch oven, a skillet, a fryer or a skillet. Do you really use all the pots/pans in your cupboard? On the few occasions that you use some of those pans, couldn’t you make one of your other ones work?
Once-upon-a-time, people used to have a toaster, a toaster oven, an air fryer, a rotisserie machine and a pressure cooker. Now, many of these functions can be had in a single machine! Yes, the machine may not do perfectly on all things compared to an individual machine, but when it comes to saving space, and not having to dig in the back of the cupboard to find it, I think you can overlook the machine’s shortcomings.
Using Vertical Space
One thing I’ve noticed in our own house and many other houses, is that we’re all pretty terrible at using our vertical space. We’re great sprawling out across the floor, but we seem to have a lot of trouble storing upwards.
Magnetic Strips & Magnetic Tape
For kitchen, and garage areas, strong strips of magnet can free up drawer space by allowing you to store your commonly used items on the magnet. Many people use these for their kitchen knives or for crescent wrenches in the garage.
Shallow, Tall Storage
Bookshelves are probably the most common type of this storage, but you don’t have to stop there. You can find toy organizers that are tall, rather than using sprawling toy boxes. Just make sure you anchor them to the wall so they can’t be tipped over easily.
This might come as obvious, but I’m not simply suggesting that you use your attic. My hope is that anyone reading this already is. What I’m suggesting here is using your attic well. People treat attics like they’re the blackholes you send things when you don’t want to think of that to do with things. Instead, I suggest taking a more thoughtful approach to your attic storage.
- Only store things that you believe you’ll eventually want or need.
- Only put things in the attic that you think could handle 10 or 20 years of extreme temperature fluctuations.
That means, don’t store plastic things that will eventually age and become brittle is a really bad use of storage space. Electronics are another poor use of attic space. Do you really think you’ll want the microwave 15 years from now?
Here are some other things you probably shouldn’t store in your attic.
What shouldn’t be stored in attics?
- Clothing (bugs, rodents, strange smells!)
- Electronics (Obsolescence, temperature damage)
- Books (Insects, temperature/humidity)
- Leather (temperature/humidity)
- Photos (damage)
Outdoor Living Space
As of this writing, we’re in the midst of screening in our patio. At the moment, it is an area of space that we don’t use very well. Once screened in, it’ll be like we added a whole new room or two to our home.
What could you do with added space outside? Could you add some shade trees, or other outdoor shade and some chairs to expand your existing living space?
What about creating an outdoor kitchen? with some dining. It might breathe new life into your current lifestyle and add some value to your home for when you do sell.
Any papers you don’t need to have a physical copy of can easily be digitized and stored on the cloud using apps like Google Drive.
Sure, it’ll take some time, but it will also make your documents much more searchable (Google Drive has text recognition built-in)! Stop wasting your space on electric bills from 7 years ago.
Google even has a great app called Google PhotoScan that lets you digitize your physical photos. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to bring yourself to tossing out your photo albums, but if you can, it’ll save you some cabinet space for sure.
If you have any filing cabinets filled with paperwork that you can’t bring yourself to get rid of, then why not digitize the files onto your Google account, get rid of the papers, then sell those filing cabinets? There’s no reason to sit on decades of “important” papers any longer.
And, when you truly have done everything you can think of, maybe it is better for you to rent someone else’s space to store your things than to buy a larger house.
I get it, this whole post is mostly about saving money, but hear me out:
A larger house usually means higher utility bills, higher home insurance, and higher taxes. A storage unit might be a cheaper option when you consider all of those added costs.
Believe me, I have no love for storage facilities, being a frugal person, but when it comes to paying $50/month versus several hundred each month- well, the math kind of works out, doesn’t it?
That’s especially true if you’ve been carrying a mortgage for a long time making the ordinary payments. You’ve already paid most of the interest up-front. If you go and get a new mortgage, then you’ll hit the reset button on your mortgage payments.
In my example above, I chose a $275,000 mortgage at 5% for 30 years. If you make the minimum payment every month, then by year 15, you’ll have already paid 70% of the total interest on the loan! If you go and get a new mortgage, you start right back at the beginning.
In this article, I’ve covered numerous ways you can make more room in your home and use your space more efficiently. I’ve covered ways to get rid of items you don’t need, and how to expand your living areas a bit more than you might’ve thought possible. I hope this article has been helpful for you.
If you have any other ideas, then let us know in the comments or by contacting us through our contact form.