Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show Tidying Up has the Internet buzzing – and millions of devotees are decluttering as a result. If you haven’t watched it, Marie uses what she calls the KonMari method of tidying. It involves sweeping your possessions into a giant pile and holding each one to see if it “sparks joy”. Anything that doesn’t meet the joy test should not be kept.

In the very first episode, Marie visits the Friend family from California and helps them sort through their cluttered garage, kitchen and closets. Collectively, the Friend family throw out 7 garbage bags of (largely unworn) clothing, a full garbage bag of toys and more.

When wife Rachel argues with her husband about throwing out coat hangers because “we paid money for those”, you have to recognize that part of the reason we hold onto items longer than we should is that we hate wasting money more than we hate clutter. Throwing away clutter is really throwing away cash that could be recouped. The experts at Gumtree sat down and did the math:

  • Clothing

We couldn’t see a detailed inventory of what was discarded, but if we go with Kevin’s assertion that they were left with two hundred empty hangers, the Friend family have given away clothing with at least R10,000 on the second-hand market. If 25% of their items were designer or name brand wear, that value could go up to R50,000. And if they actually sold the clothing hangers, they could have added another R1000 to that figure for good measure

  • Toys

Toys are one of the best-selling items on the second-hand market because they are a) expensive and b) usually in good condition. One bag with 30 items could potentially have fetched R6,000 second-hand. The two large teddy bears would easily have fetched R1000.

  • Miscellaneous

We weren’t privy to the contents of the garage but spied a yoga mat, car seat, beach bags and box of CDs, worth roughly R2500. Expensive car seats go for much more, potentially upping the figure to R5500. Kitchen appliances can fetch R200 each, and even broken appliances will sell for R30-R50 depending on the items. The pram could have fetched R1000 if it came from a popular manufacturer.

  • Books

Kondo’s harsh stance on books sparked tirades in The Guardian, Washington Post and social media. The rule of thumb is to keep about 30 of your best-loved works on the shelf. If you shelf 30 books, you could have given away R1,500.

That means that in one episode, R64 200 ended up in the landfill. If that cash had been placed in a savings account at an average interest rate of 8.80%, it would have earned an additional R440 per month – R36 960 in 7 years.

While not everyone has as many goods to sell as the families that Marie Kondo visits in the series, a 2017 survey showed that the average South African has between R27 000 – R35 000’s worth of unused items in their homes.

It may take some effort to upload and sell those items but then again, nothing sparks joy quite like cash in your hand.

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