Getting rid of the extraneous things in your life is such a good feeling it really is hard to put into words.  If you've done it, you know how amazing it feels.  If you haven't purged the clutter in your life, give it a try.

Good reasons for getting rid of clutter are vast and varied.

Maybe you're moving and don't want to rent a moving van.  Maybe you're like me, going nomadic, and just need to get rid of everything.  Maybe you need a little bit of cash.  Or maybe you just need to clear a lot of junk out of your life and start with a clean slate.  Any reason is a good reason.

The question is, how do you go about getting rid of the clutter while minimizing the time involved and maximizing the cash you'll receive?

Craigslist is your answer.  It's available worldwide.  It's free.  It's fast.

To make purging your unwanted belongings easier I've put together these 7 tips I've acquired over the past month of clearing out my house.

I've sold almost everything except my car and couch at this point.  I've sold bedroom furniture, 2 beds, my favorite guitar (Gibson SG), bookshelves, a TV, Nintendo Wii, a Nintendo DS, fake house plants, and the list goes on.  All of the stuff I've sold has put about $3,000 in my pocket and I've never felt more free.  I'm paring everything down to one 32 Liter backpack so I still have a bit of a ways to go, but I'm almost there.

With all of that out of the way, let's get to it:

1) Get An Account.

Go to http://www.craigslist.org and sign up for an account.  It's free, and it makes listing and relisting items for sale quicker.  Saving your time is saving your money.

2) The Pictures.

Take pictures of all your things.  More pictures is better, but be mindful of the return on investment.  If you're selling a $10 lamp is it worth your time to take multiple pictures? No.  If you're selling a $500 bedroom set, on the other hand, provide as many details as you can.  Especially if there are any flaws in the furniture.  Be upfront about defects so you don't waste anybody's time.

Upload your pictures to Flickr, Photobucket, or your favorite image hosting site.  Name your images by product and number them.  For example, BedroomSet01.jpg, BedroomSet02.jpg, etc.  This way you'll be more organized, and listing your items on Craigslist it will be quicker and easier.

Note: I use Photobucket and for each picture they give you the HTML code needed to easily insert into your Craiglist ad.

3) How To Write A Craigslist Headline.

Headlines are important, so be clear about what you're selling.

Bad headline: 5 piece bedroom set.

Good headline: Black 5 Piece Bedroom Set Non-smoking home 70% off list!

It almost seems like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many people have horrible headlines.

4) Killer Pricing Strategies.

Craigslist buyers are looking for a deal.  That's not to say you have to be unreasonably cheap, but be realistic.  If you have a $2000 bedroom set don't expect to get $1500, or even $1000 for it.

Industry standard, time-tested, pricing strategies work here.  For example, $499 or $497 instead of $500.  I had a bedroom set listed for $500 and didn't get any e-mails.  I changed the price to $499 and got 2 e-mails within an hour.

Bonus pricing tip: If you have no idea what to price your item you have 2 fast and easy options.  First, check eBay's completed listings for the same item to check the average selling price.  Or, if your item is a big piece of furniture or something else that is probably not on eBay, price it at about 33% of retail if it's still in great condition.  The worse the condition the lower you'll have to go.

5) Best Times To List.

Deleting and immediately relisting your post is not allowed.  Craigslist makes you wait an arbitrary number of minutes, hours, or days.  I haven't figured out that algorithm, because I've listed an item and been able to relist it within 30 minutes, and with another item I had to wait 2 days.

Best bet listing strategy:  List at 6-7 PM on Thursday.  This is when people are preparing to do their bargain shopping for the weekend and your item will be listed towards the top of your category's page.

If your item hasn't sold by Friday, delete the listing Friday evening then relist it Saturday morning if you can.  If you can't (due to Reposting restrictions), relist the item Sunday morning.  If you have a Craigslist account relisting is really quick.  Login to your account, find your deleted post, click Repost, and follow the steps.

6) Time Saving Strategies.

You'll receive a lot of time-wasting "is this item still available?" e-mails.  Cut them off at the pass by clearly stating in your listing: "Please do not e-mail to ask if this item is available.  If this listing is up the item is available.  I will delete the listing as soon as the item has sold."

To make it easier on yourself you might want to list your phone number in the listing so you don't have to bother responding to multiple e-mails on the same items.  That's really a personal preference and dependent on how comfortable you are listing your phone number in public.

7) Safety.

Don't accept any form of payment other than cash.  You may get e-mails about using Western Union, bank transfers, or other scam-prone options.  Don't even respond to those e-mails.  For small items, meet in a public place like a gas station, preferably during the day.  For larger items you will have to obviously give your address, but be sure to take down the person's full name, e-mail, and phone number.  Truthfully, that might not help a lot if something bad were to happen.  But at the same time, it is good information to have on hand.

Bonus Tip: Start Early.

Start listing your items 1-2 months BEFORE you really have to sell them if you want to the highest possible price.  You can start your prices high and every week drop them a little lower.  I sold my beds and bedroom furniture for more than I expected because of this strategy.  If you're in the process of moving, the added benefit of starting early is you won't be stressed out trying to get rid of your things at the last minute.

Once you've de-cluttered your life and put a little bit of cash in your pocket, be mindful about getting back in the habit of filling your life with more unnecessary stuff.

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Update (August 14):  Sold my car on Craigslist! Also had interest from an eBay ad, but ultimately sold to someone who found it on Craigslist.

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Some additional links about clearing clutter you might want to check out:

- Why You Need To Clear Your Clutter from TheLifeUncommon.net - 5 Tips For Taming Clutter, Online and Off from WebWorkerDaily.com - 4 Effective and Fun Clutter Busting Games from TheHealthyLivingLounge.com

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