Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

Tag: recycling

Sell CDs, DVDs, and Games

Discarding CDsI recently got a great question from a friend who asked me what she could do with her CDs that don’t have cases. Many of us, in an effort to save space, have gotten rid of the CD jewel cases as well as the artwork, so what do we do once we’ve gone completely digital? It seems like a waste of space to keep the CDs around.

Selling CDs, DVDs, and games can be split into two distinct categories:

What to do if you have cases and artwork in tact
What to do if you don’t have cases or artwork

How to Sell CDs, DVDs, and Games if You Have Cases & Artwork Intact

 If you have the cases and artwork, you’ll have a much easier time finding buyers. There’s always Ebay and Craig’s List, but here are a few ideas that are more interesting.

Decluttr

Decluttr is a service that will pay you for your old CDs, DVDs, and games (no matter what they are), plus, they’ll pay the shipping for you! You must have a minimum of 10 discs or a $5 value before they’ll pay for shipping. You enter your barcodes and they give you a price. (For reference, they offered me $.86 for my two-disc The Essential “Weird Al” Yankovic set.) This is a truly easy route to take if you just want to make a little money off your old discs. They’ll even take your Jagged Little Pill CD, which, apparently, everyone is now trying to get rid of.

Bonavendi

Bonavendi is like Bookscouter for CDs. Enter the barcode and they’ll compare the prices you can get over a variety of online buyers. They’ll recommend buyers, then send you to their websites to sell. Vendors vary on whether they’ll pay shipping.

Bonavendi - Sell CDs, DVDs, and Games

Amazon Trade-In Store

The Amazon Trade-In Store will give you Amazon gift cards in exchange for your CDs, DVDs, games and other items. In true Amazon style, free shipping is included. Enter a CD’s code you’d like to trade and they’ll give you a price. If you often shop on Amazon, the trade-in store is almost as good as cash. My Weird Al set would have gotten me $1.10 in Amazon gift cards. 

How to Sell CDs, DVDs, or Games if You Don’t Have Cases or Artwork

There aren’t many ways to make money on your old discs if you haven’t kept the packaging. Your only consolation is that people aren’t making much money on their old albums that DO have art so you’re not missing out on much revenue.

Here are some things you can try:

Sell Your Entire Collection (at once) on Ebay

Start the bidding at $1-$5 for your entire collection and wait. This person sold their 500-disc collection for $43, which is better than nothing.

Murfie

Located in my college hometown of Madison, WI, Murfie will create a high-quality audio version for you ($1 per disc) and/or store your entire CD collection for free (for one year). If you never want your discs back, they’ll keep them and others may eventually have the chance to buy and enjoy them. While you don’t make any money on them, you still get some added space in your house and the chance to order high-quality recordings.

CD Recycling

Are you ready to give-up on making money? Good, then here’s your best option. The CD Recycling Center of America will take your old discs (and printer cartridges, cell phones, cables, Christmas lights, cords, and small electronics) and dispose of them properly. Even in CDs, there are harmful chemicals that can leach out of them in landfills and it’s best to recycle them. They securely destroy your discs, recycling the plastics inside them and it costs you nothing! This is a pretty good way to gain some shelf space. To get started, find the closest recycling center and print a shipping label.

Have you found a good place to sell CDs? Comment and tell us where!

Clean the File Cabinet: What to Throw Away (Weekend Project)

Last weekend, I cleaned out our four-drawer file cabinet. I do this every year according to advice from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. It’s no fun to have drawers filled to the brim that won’t fit new files. With no room for more forms, papers pile up elsewhere.

Project: Clean the file cabinet

Time Needed: 2-4 hours (sometimes longer depending on your cabinet)

Prep: Get your shredder ready or find a place to drop off papers that should be shredded. Grab at least two bags: one for papers that must be shredded and one for recyclables. Read below for tips on what to throw out.

This year, I did some research on how long to keep certain household files, so I could maximize the cleaning. Here’s what I discovered.

 File Cabinets: What to Throw Away

There are a few great sites with lists for how long to keep records. Check out usa.gov, Good Housekeeping, or Consumer Reports if you don’t find what you’re looking for below.

One Year or Less

In general, keep the following items one year or less.

Pay Stubs Throw away after reconciling with your W2
Credit Card Records/Statements Until paid, then shred (major source for stolen identities)
Credit Card Receipts One year
Bank statements One year, keep your annual statement with taxes
Home, Rental, & Car Insurance Policies Keep until you renew
Retirement Plan Statements One year, or keep your annual statement with taxes
Bills One year
Social Security Statements Shred the old one once you get a new one and have double-checked the math

Seven Years

Tax Returns Seven years – more information here

 Forever

Birth/Death Certificates Forever
Marriage License Forever
Passports Forever
Household Inventory Forever – Many recommend taking a video of your possessions once a year for insurance purposes
Life Insurance Policies Forever
Roth IRA Statements Forever – To prove you’ve paid the taxes

 Other

Home Improvement Receipts As long as you own the property
Investment Statements Keep annual statements as long as you own the investment / shred monthly statements
Receipts for large purchases/warranties As long as your own the item
W2 Until you start claiming social security since this is the best estimate of your entitlements
Medical Insurance Papers / Explanation of Benefits If you’re healthy or for routine check-ups, you can discard these after they are paid and a year has gone by. If you have a serious medical condition, keep the papers as long as the condition persists.
Supporting Patent Documents Keep these for the life of the patent, which in most cases is 20 years

By the end of the weekend, I completely emptied 52 files.

clean the file cabinet

I sent a huge stack of papers to the shredder and another one to the recycling bin.

paper clutter

My horribly-crammed top drawer went from this:

clean the file cabinet

to this:

clean the file cabinet

and the whole process probably took 3-4 hours spread over three days. What are your tips for cleaning out the file cabinet?

Throwing Away 10 Things A Day: October Challenge Wrap-up

That’s a funny title for this post since the whole point is to tell you [spoiler alert!] that I won’t be wrapping up my habit of throwing away 10 things a day.

Over the month of October, I have thrown away a grand (conservative) total of 493 things. 115 of those will be donated or given away and the vast majority of the rest have been recycled.

 

That’s a pretty big number, but I still feel like if my house were an iceberg, we’re still chipping away at the ice above the water. I’ve successfully cleaned out only three major areas:

  1. Linen closet
  2. Upstairs bathroom
  3. Kitchen

We have a 1700 square-foot home with four bedrooms and two stories. That leaves a lot of rooms and spaces to minimize.

As I move into November, I will adopt a new theme, which will be unveiled on November 1st, but I will continue to go through each drawer, storage bin, and room until we have created space everywhere.

Throwing Away 10 Things a Day Continues

My goal is to be done by January 1st. I will purge items from one space a day for the next 60 days. It’s an aggressive goal and a massive undertaking, but I want it done yesterday. Let’s do this!

So much for “wrapping up”.

10 Things Check-In

Remember the October Challenge? Finding time to throw out 10 things a day has been fairly easy. There are a couple days that I completely forgot, but most days I’ve thrown away far more than 10 items.  In fact, on average, I’ve found 23.27 items to throw away each day.

I’ve had to stop randomly walking through the house and have started systematically cleaning out drawers and closets. Based on these photos, the exact number of items removed from the house is around 420. I still have a lot to do, however. I think I’m going to need a bigger month.

 

October Challenge: Throw Out 10 Things a Day

Between work, commuting two hours and taking care of the kids my weekdays are already packed.  To jump-start my de-owning adventure, I needed a lightweight method that fit into my current routine.  Based on Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness book, I know that habits are much easier to form when you perform them every day and so I’m going to spend October getting into the minimalist mindset by throwing out 10 things every day.  I can’t remember where I first heard this tip, but some people do this for a whole year.  The rules are simple:

Gather 10 things – anything – including trash, items you don’t need, recyclables, etc and get rid of them.

Over the past week I’ve basically ended up with two kinds of refuse:
1.     Things I can trash/recycle.
2.     Things I can donate.

At first it was really easy to walk around and find junk mail and old magazines to throw out (why didn’t I do this sooner?!), but then I had to start digging through drawers and getting to some tougher decisions.  The first week was fairly easy and required zero input from my family.  I suspect that will change quickly.

Day 1 DeclutteringDay 1: I threw out mostly garbage: an empty oatmeal container, receipts, shoeboxes, and an old craft project. The most substantial thing in the pile is my Badger aluminum water bottle. This was a sacrifice. I love you, Bucky, but this water bottle is too small to be useful, so it’s got to go.  I will donate it to a good family.

Day 2: More trash: a gift box, old menus, a broken coaster, congealed honey, random junk I got in the mail. The Bucky bib will go to my sister and the other bib I’ll donate.
Day 2 Decluttering
 Day 5 - Decluttering
Day 3: I found few old books, birthday cards (although I definitely appreciate having received them!), a pair of magnets, a sticker, and a plastic princess ring.
Day 4: An old highchair drop cloth, two ice packs, some plastic bags, dozens of sauce packets from Chinese take-out, and some old plastic utensils, probably from the same place.
Day 4 Decluttering
Day 5 Decluttering
Day 5: I raided a table in the basement and discovered several old, used-up note pads, two shards of tissue paper, plastic cups, a tiny owl pot, and some random pamphlets.
Day 6: I started to pick through the hall closet and found a bunch of old samples, a stain pen that I know for a fact doesn’t work, and a tiny comb.
Day 6 Decluttering
Day 7 Decluttering
Day 7: I decided to come to grips with the fact that I may never use 20 pairs of hotel shampoo/conditioner bottles.  Plus, I found some dirty kid toothbrushes, lotion, a broken barrette, and broken thermometer.
I feel like this is only just the tip of the iceberg.  By the end of October, I will have eliminated at least 380 items.  A good start, but will it be nearly enough?

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