Monday, 17 November 2014

Investing by Divesting: Switching Clutter Capital for Investing Capital (UPDATED)

Updated 31 May, 25 June and 6 July and 12 October 2015: Just updated the total again with another series of items sold. Excellent progress is being made!

We all have it. A corner, a room, a shelf, a draw. Within them various things which you are unsure what to do with. Collected over years and months.

As it stands, I currently live in one room in a rented shared house and so these little piles and shelves of unused and unread odds and ends is very physically visible. However, seeing as I both work and live in the same room they have become mentally invisible. They have become part of the furniture.

There are books which are not part of my working research library nor my personal reading library. I have bits of technology such as a LiveScribe pen, IrisPen and more besides slowly becoming outdated. I have a FiloFax collecting dust, deserted by my digital diary diet.

What to do with them? Sell them of course.

I was inspired to do this after having a ferret around The Minimalists blog. I have always been teased and tantalised by the minimalist style not only in design but in life. Reading around I came to be aware of just how much clutter I have collected over the years. The physically visible clutter had become mentally visible once again.

I have been in this house/room since 2011 but before that I had been in four other similar room tenancies in four years as I passed through university as an undergraduate. You would have thought being space (and money) restricted would result in a vigorous efficiency with regards clutter. Far from it.

So it was time to get hard on the situation. Starting with my books (because it is by far the most visible presence in my room) I began to mark those bits and pieces I just did not use enough to justify keeping.*
Then it was the fun bit. Listing them for sale. I chiefly used Amazon for the simple reason that I am most familiar with it having sold a great deal on it in the past. However, I have sold an increasing amount through eBay.

Already I have made some headway having sold a handful of things over the last few months. Rather pleasingly, I have also sold them at a slight profit thanks to my tendency to refuse to buy something except at a notable discount to its value.

  • Technology--£472.94 (14 items) 
  • Books--£359.22 (27 items) 
  • Other--£359.17 (12 items)

In recent weeks I have upped my campaign against clutter. I have since listed about another dozen new items for sale (one of which is already sold). 

It is remarkably cathartic to do this. I really advise it to anyone. However, it also has another importance. Firstly, I am making my immediate environment more pleasant to be in. In the last few months I have felt my mind be a little cluttered itself. My work and research has slowed down considerably of late. Of course, many factors have fed into this. Nonetheless, the room itself (and the clutter within it) has played a significant role in this. 

However, equally important is that by selling these items which are unloved and unprofitable I free up capital to be more useful. I am, in essence, investing by divesting. 

That £1190 I have already brought in can go into my investments and provide passive income rather than just being passive. As an example, if we assume that this £1190 earns the annual dividend interest of my portfolio as of writing (i.e. 4%) it will be earning me about £47.60 every year in (hopefully growing) dividend income. Not bad for some unused stuff. 

Indeed, hopefully the dividend income for that investment will grow over time making the divestment of this clutter even more profitable.

Once more of my unwanted stuff finds a new loving home the funds raised from them will again be recycled into my investing fund. My equity capital will thus grow whilst my room clutter shrinks. That really is a win-win situation.

Let's hope it also results in an increased productivity in the coming months...

*If I am honest, if an item was not financially viable to sell them online (including fees and postage etc) I have merely set it aside at the moment. Eventually I will deal with this collection of stuff. After all, even if I make a short-term loss the money will go towards making a longer term profit...eventually!

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[Creative Commons image reproduced from Flickr user Ross Pollack (rossap)]

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