2009 Money moves: Fix and sell your junk

Somewhere in the middle of 2008's great recession, one thing became painfully clear: 2009 will be a year of retrenchment, and for many people, one of 2009's first casualties will be clutter. All those various possessions that fill closets and make 4,000 square foot homes so necessary may start to seem less like treasures and more like encumbrances. After all, paying more rent for a bigger home so that you can store items that you never use isn't just a waste of space; it's also a waste of money.

As you clear out the clutter, one important thing to consider is that, with a little bit of effort, you can turn your old stuff into fresh cash. After all, all those neglected possessions didn't come cheap, and their next owner is probably scanning Craig's List even as we speak. With a little bit of time, a small investment in cleaning products, and a little bit of salesmanship, you can turn your old possessions into a tidy little pile of cash.

Follow the Dust: When you're looking at items in your house, look for dust. If something is covered in dust, it is generally one of three things: an heirloom, a souvenir, or a possession that you don't use any more. If it's one of the first two, determine whether or not it still has sentimental value. If it doesn't, get rid of it.