Give Stuff Away and Win a Money Book

Homeless man and dog

“The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist.”  ~ Laurence Leamer


We might be taking a little break from spending, but we January Money Dieters can still find creative ways to be generous. This week’s challenge is to give away a load of things we no longer need.

Giving stuff away is a win-win-win. We help others in need; we keep things out of landfill by putting them to use before they become obsolete; and we create calm space and breathing rooms in our homes.

In our neighborhood, we have a Goodwill drop-off conveniently located in a strip mall about a mile away. I’ve gotten in the habit of regularly loading things we no longer need in the trunk of my car. Then, whenever I’m driving in that direction I can swing by and unload stuff.

Coats, blankets, furniture, baby items, kids’ toys, dishes, bed linens, and clothes are all much-needed items that most nonprofits readily accept. Many charities have drop-off locations or regular pick-up schedules. You can also contact your church or homeless shelter to learn more about specific needs. Or try Freecycle, an site that connects people who have extra stuff with people who need things.

My friend Wendy told me that whenever the various charities call asking if she has any “household goods, clothing or reusable items to donate,” she always says yes. Committing to the pending pick-up deadline keeps her constantly weeding out drawers, closets and the garage.

A Challenge and a Prize

Money books

Just for fun, I’m going to give away a copy of a classic money book to the reader who gives away the most stuff this week.

Between now and midnight MST this Saturday, January 24, just have fun decluttering and gathering your donations. Let’s move that stuff out! Leave a comment below letting us know what you cast off.  Feel free to leave multiple comments if you make several trips.

The lucky winner will receive a copy of one of these inspiring financial books – your choice of a digital or paper copy:

  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • The Total Money Makeover
  • Your Money or Your Life

If you already own these books, we’ll figure out another one.

What I’ve Sent Packing So Far

Yesterday, I gave away a computer monitor we no longer need to a neighbor.  (It had been sitting on the floor in my office for six weeks!) I also stopped by the Goodwill and donated:

  • 1 box of books
  • 1 bag of clothing
  • 1 box of Christmas decorations
  • 1 bag of toys and miscellaneous household items

How About You?

What can you give away in the next six days? I’m going to join you and look hard at our stuff, with an eye for getting the clutter out, out, out!


The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. If you itemize deductions for your taxes and donate something to a nonprofit, be sure to ask for a receipt so you can claim the deduction on your taxes.

P.P.S.  You could win a deluxe Happy Simple Living gift box by participating in the January Money Diet. The box includes a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, $25 cash, pantry staples like bean soup mix and organic quinoa, signed copies of three of my cookbooks, homesteading supplies like soap, candles and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and much more.

At the end of January I’ll choose one winner from among everyone who comments–someone who has participated in this 31-day challenge with heart and soul and achieved good results. Good luck!

Photo: Beverly Pack

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Give Stuff Away and Win a Money Book

  • Hilary

    Love your blog. This weekend was a major weekend for us as we hit the “play room.” The funny part about this is the kids couldn’t even play in there because it was filled with so much stuff! We ended up donating 8 bags of gently used and brand new toys. The other two bags were either recycled or thrown out. We were able to repurpose a book case from another room and put baskets in it to help organize toys that were on the floor. At first it was hard to determine what to give away, so I organized it into three groups. Stuff to get rid of, stuff I think I want to keep, and stuff I know I want to keep. The stuff I think I want to keep I put in a storage tote and in a week I can go back though and see if my feelings have changed about it!

  • Cindy

    What a Day! Today, I gave away the following:
    *Office supplies through Freecycle
    *A box of bras to Free the Girls ( they use gently used bras to help women overseas escape sex trafficking.
    *2 scrapbooks to my mom
    *Vitamins and protein powder to my goddaughter
    *A wingback chair and 2 wastebaskets to my other goddaughter
    *A bag of books and 6 DVDs to my local public library for their used book sale (2 staff members made a point of saying, “Thank you for thinking of us.”)
    *Bags of donations to Goodwill
    *5 jigsaw puzzles to a friend
    *A book to a nephew

    I also recycled 3 trash cans of paper
    I sold $18.75 worth of DVDs and movies to Tradesmart
    I returned 2 bras that didn’t fit and got a refund
    I took my mom to buy a purse, and just by asking for her, got her an extra 25% off, on top of the 40% off sale the store was having.

    What’s next – I’m going to find some more things to give away through Freecyle, I’m going to sell some more things, and I’m going to reduce more paper clutter.

    What I have really appreciated and liked about this challenge is that it has challenged me to dig deep in terms of finding things to give away and also in terms of finding places to give away those things. Some items, like used eyeglasses, don’t make sense to give to Goodwill, but by thinking, I could find a home for many items where they will be put to a great use.

  • Catherine Godfrey

    I was soooo excitied to see this challenge. My goal is to live with much less. I don’t need all this stuff taking up space & costing my $$$. My goal is to not bring anything else into the house that causes clutter & end up in the donation pile. The $ needs to go for savings. We have a new thrift store in town all volunteer & all the sales go to a dog resue.
    I packed 3 large moving boxes w/ cloths, 2 boxes of knick-knacks, several pairs of shoes, & 2 boxes of kitchen items.

  • Deborah

    I am working hard to rid my home of clutter. So far, I’ve given away:
    -6 dinner plates, 6 dessert plates, 8 cereal bowls and 6 coffee mugs to a lady who had no money to buy dishes and had been eating off paper plates for months.
    -6 latte mugs from Pier 1 to a co-worker for her daughter graduating from college this May and needing items for her apartment
    -womens’ business style dresses to local Hospice Thrift Store that works with Women’s Christian group to help ladies get clothing for job interviews.

    This weekend, I plan to box up books and magazines to donate to our local library.

  • Cindy

    Today, I gave away the following
    **a book to my neighbor
    **a magazine to another neighbor
    **4 jewelry boxes to a neighbor who makes and sells jewelry
    **a blender and a book to my niece
    Saturday, I’ll be giving away
    **2 scrapbooks to my mom
    **5 jigsaw puzzles to a friend
    **bags and boxes to Goodwill

  • Cindy

    Looking to give away shoes? Soles4Souls collects shoes to give to disadvantaged people. It has many drop off locations around the country.

  • Cindy

    If you have dead holiday lights, you can take them to Ace Hardware through the end of January.
    Another good place to give things away is You sign up and then list items you want to give away and people come and get them. It’s amazing what people want that you wouldn’t be able to donate to Goodwill.

  • Georgina Bowie

    I’ve been busy for the last few months going through my things and getting rid of items I don’t use anymore. I’ve been keeping a black bag in my bed room and any times there’s an item of clothing or jewelry that I’m no longer wearing or loving I put it in straight away, that way I can’t change my mind or see it later on. I’ve also got rid of some furniture (on freecycle) that was just taking up room and never being used. Next it the items in the kitchen. I’m dreading one cupboard which is literally full of plastic food storage boxes.

  • Lisa F

    I dont imagine Ill be giving away the most stuff this week, but I wanted to comment that I also keep donations in my car. My rule is that once it enters my trunk, it can never go back into the house.

  • Carolyn

    Giving away? Love it – hate to ‘toss’ what I like but can/do give it so it gets a new home. The monthly call from a charity (ARC for us) pickup is great – they came last Monday – by that evening, I was starting on next donation. Declutter challenges: main are the basement and my sewing room. Now, when I spend an hour+ working on basement, I have ‘earned’ some time doing same in my sewing room. YES! Books, patterns, fabrics, and much more…on to a deserving home!

    Thanks for the inspiring ‘nudge’.

  • Laura

    I’ve donated 3 large bags of clothes, a bag of hangers,some household items, toys and books. I’ve also organized a small amount of items I couldn’t quite part with in my crawl space for safe- keeping for our neighborhood annual garage sale this spring. I’ve taken two large bins of kids clothes, toys, books to the resale shop. And I’ve sold a rug and stroller on craigslist. Feels really good to get it outta here! 🙂

  • Jennifer

    Two large garbage sacks of clothes down! My neighbor did two with me, also! 🙂

    Did you know that you can donate clothes that are ripped or have holes? I volunteer at a thrifty store that bundles all the damaged clothing to be sent over seas. The store gets a little cash and the clothes get recycled! No more just tossing them in the landfills 🙂

  • Lyn

    Kelly – I’m with you. I think I’ve finally “got it” about the power of removing clutter. It is amazing how much clearer I think when I am not distracted by stuff!! Since the beginning of January, we have given away an old stool, a bunch of clothes that don’t fit or haven’t been worn in years, gifts my kids got from their grandmother for christmas that they did not need or want, including two fleece blankets. Knowing that there are people in need and knowing how much I need to feel free of those very things is a helpful equation. So inspired by what everyone else is doing as well.

  • Kelly

    I’ve been on a journey to simplify for years, but now I think I’ve finally “got it”. I was so frustrated at how our home looked right before the holidays and how our financial situation was so bleak. I struggled with depression all through the holidays. I have vowed never again will our stuff get in the way of family. We are using the debt snowball and I am being very careful about what we purchase and what comes into our home.

    There is a huge pile of give-away in our hallway. Too many things to mention. Clothes the wrong size, outgrown toys, stuff we might need just-in-case. Gone!

  • WOW – I am so excited by everyone’s efforts on this challenge. I’ve been flinging stuff in boxes all day and it feels so good. Thank you for inspiring me! 🙂

  • Lisa

    This weekend I finally cleaned out a large cabinet in the living room from which three bags went to Goodwill and one went in the garbage (old paper files I no longer need). We routinely drop off bags at Goodwill, and I also took a stack of books to our library which sells them for a fundraiser. I feel better giving things away than throwing them out. Next on my list is trying to find a good home for all my quilting magazines that I haven’t read in years. I hate to just throw them out, so I will look for someone who may want them, maybe through Craigslist?

  • Cindy

    My zealous give-aways almost ended up costing me money. Yikes. I went to put on my tennis shoes today and they weren’t in either of the two places I keep them. I looked in lots of other places and couldn’t find them. So I decided I had accidentally included them with the shoes I gave to the New Balance store last night. I jumped in my car and drove there as soon as I discovered it. I had visions of having to buy a new pair of shoes and the irony of that. I felt such relief when the store said my shoes were still there. When I got back in the car with my salvaged shoes, I glanced in the back and saw my gym bag that has gone unused for days. The lightbulb went off and I looked in the bag. Sure enough, there were my shoes.

    • Jennifer

      Good thing! I’m getting such a feeling of freedom from giving my stuff away and getting it out of the house but I also confess that I get a little anxiety actually dropping the stuff off at the thrift store. I think about accidently putting something important in a bag or a keepsake like a baby blanket getting caught up in everything. My husband has been helping me out and taking the items for me. He knows it will sit while I think about it for a week if he doesn’t and by then I may change my mind and now “need” that lime green purse that I’ve never used. 🙂 Glad you found them!

  • Lois

    Hi Eliza, I didn’t join in this year on your money challenge because I learned from the last two years that I don’t spend enough and the few places I do it’s necessary.

    That said I have still been giving away things. The latest are things I found in my new house that I don’t want. I’ve given away two ceiling fans, an air conditioner unit, shelving, cabinets, tools, and even a pair of skis.

    I also went through my clothes and gave away items that don’t fit properly but I’ve held on to. It seemed crazy to “own” something I couldn’t use while another person might love and use it.

  • Cindy

    I have already given away a lot of stuff since beginning the Money Diet at the first of the month. But since this challenge is just for this week, I got creative. Here’s what I gave away today:
    **6 magazines to the VA Hospital for patients and visitors to read while waiting
    **2 pairs of old eyeglasses to Europtics. The Lions Club picks them up and distributes them to those in need.
    **3 pairs of tennis shoes to the New Balance store. They donate the shoes.
    **My dad’s cellphone that somehow ended up at my house when he died 2 years ago. That went to Verizon. They donate it to a battered women’s shelter.
    Stay tuned. There will be more to come later in the week.

  • Danae Babcock

    hello! 2 weeks ago we started minimalism. Today with hubby’s help we dropped off 300 plus books, 4 bags of clothing ranging from newborn to adults, household goods, approx 50 cd and DVDs., 2 19 inch tiv’s and furniture. I am having a hard time writing this as I do not like saying what we did. I do feel though that doing that here as part of realizing that we benefit from less and do many benefit from our items. Thank you for encouraging this!

  • Lynn Louise

    I keep a box in the laundry room behind the door for clothes and items that I find and want to donate. It is about half way full right now. I just added a few things that I found over the weekend. Not as impressive as Mindys list! But I will keep addding to it and see what it is like by Saturday. I always donate the “left overs” from my garage sale in the spring. Anything that doesn’t sell gets loaded in the car and taken the next day to Goodwill or the St Vincent DePaul store. I will not bring any of it back into the house.

    • Karin

      I do the same thing and so did my mom. She called it the giveaway box and usually took the stuff to the church.

      This week the donation box will be a box of decorations, an old shelf I don’t use, a sheet set I don’t like, clothes (pants, shirts) and shoes my son out grew, some shirts I don’t wear and pants that my husband doesn’t wear anymore.

      Here there are several used clothing boxes around town. I just wish there were thrift stores near where we live now. When we lived in Virginia Beach there are several thrift stores near each other. I would drop things off and do some shopping, especially clothing for our son.

  • Baylee

    I am really taking advantage of this challenge! I have always tried to declutter and have never done a good job of it- doesn’t help the the husband is a hoarder!!! So far I have done the kitchen and some stuff upstairs around the house, but the storage room will be my project this week! So far I have kitchen items, some clothes and sweatshirts, baby clothes, picture frames and a photo album, some stuffed animals and a few books. I am hoping to go through the movies later tonight! Such a great feeling!

  • Mindy A

    This post came at a great time since we are dropping off donations today! 10 huge bags of clothing, two boxes of Christmas decorations, a few boxes of baby items & toys, craft supplies, books, and several kitchen items! Feels great to help others & declutter the excess in our home! Where did all this stuff even come from?!

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