Getting organized not only feels amazing, it can also help you recoup money!

How many of us have bags of items for store returns sitting around our home, clogging up our space?

In a way, it’s cash – or maybe debt – sitting in bags in our closet…or hallway…or other valuable spaces.

Why don’t people just take back the stuff that didn’t fit or doesn’t work?

Guilt. Maybe they didn’t need the stuff in the first place; it just felt good to shop. Or maybe they couldn’t afford what they acquired but feel bad taking it back.

Time. Either folks really don’t have the time (or the perceived time) they think it will take to get the unwanted/unused items back to the store. It may feel overwhelming to drive around and return the items. Or, it may seem like it’s too late.

But, with a little organization and a SUPER SIMPLE plan you can recoup your cash!


One of our beloved organizing client had bags of store returns that were nagging her. Not only were they evidence of money spent, but they were adding clutter and taking up space in her home.

The corresponding receipts were mixed in with the client’s receipt stash and she assumed that many of the items were too old to return.

Our professional organizer worked with our client to tackle this nagging project!

Use these three steps to organize your store returns:

1. Sort Returns by Store

A good sort goes a long way! The same is true in this organizing project.

First, we sorted items to be returned by store and placed them in bags.

Next, we sorted receipts by store and placed them in labeled envelopes.

If you don’t have paper or plastic bags labeled with the name of the store, make sure to identify each bag with the store destination on them to avoid confusion!

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2. Reunite Receipts

Now that you have the items and receipts sorted by store, choose one store and get started with reuniting receipts.

Find a space in your home where you can spread out your unused/unwanted returns while you search for receipts. If you have an excess of shopping bags, this is a perfect time to use them!

As you reunite receipts with the corresponding return items, place all items from one receipt into a shopping bag. I like to tape the receipt to the item(s) inside the bag to ensure the receipt isn’t lost.

If you don’t have receipts for certain items, place those items in a bag labeled “No Receipt.”

Completing this sort will make the actual store returns much easier and more efficient.

Do this for each store until you’ve reunited all receipts!


3. Carve Out Time

The process of driving to do the store returns can feel overwhelming.

Just break it down into something manageable on your calendar and then it will actually happen!

Once our client’s returns were organized she made a plan to go to three stores a day until the returns were done. Make a plan that works for you! Maybe one return per day is manageable for you. Maybe three returns per week is more doable. Whatever it is, put it into your calendar and make it happen!

Plan your route around errands for convenience. Place your returns into your vehicle or near your exit point of your home to remind you to take them with you. I like to place them on the passenger seat of the car so they’re in plain view until handled!

Many stores will accept items for return without a receipt and beyond the return period. So, even if you think something may be too old to return, give it a try! You may receive store credit or partial refund, but either is better than unused items sitting around your home!

If you can no longer return your unused, new items, think about selling them on one of the many resale apps like Let Go, Offer Up, or Facebook Marketplace.

What’s the Payoff?

As you begin to get the clutter out of your home and recouping the spent money, you will gain momentum and relief!

If you really want to track how much this task pays off, take a picture of the clutter before and the cleared space after! Celebrate the reclaimed real estate in your home.

Also, keep a total of the money you recoup on your returns! Designate this money for a certain goal – paying off debt, paying a bill, a date night or special treat. Using this money in a targeted way will also help you experience the payoff of completing this project.

The Real Story Our Receipts Tell….

Facing the backlog of unused items that we’ve purchased reveals our habits to us…and it’s not always pleasant to behold how we have accumulated our way into overwhelm and sometimes even debt!

Sending all the stuff we bought back to where it came from can be painful.

  • That’s because we must dedicate time to unravel what we bought on a whim; it can take us longer to get rid of it than it took to acquire it!
  • Also, we have to expend ourselves to simply recoup rather than moving forward. Taking time to break even feels less rewarding than taking time to move ahead.

And facing these realities can be challenging…which is why a lot of people procrastinate on this project!


However, a benefit of organizing and taking back store returns is that the PAIN of going through it will instruct your mind to stop accumulating in the future! You will never want to “pay the piper” again and you’ll decide that what you have is enough.

Something a lot of folks don’t talk about is that SHOPPING can be a way to curb loneliness.

But once the thrill of being “out and about” and acquiring fun stuff is over, you’re left with the “evidence” (and expense).

If you can relate to accumulated unused goods, find out what’s behind the accumulation. If it’s loneliness or boredom or even an outright shopping addiction – there is HOPE.

  • Serve! Find another way to direct your time more productively than shopping, like helping serve or heal someone less fortunate. Along the way, you’ll discover how much you have to GIVE!
  • Join up! You can get involved in your local community, business chamber, or church. Simply having meaningful connection with others builds mental health!
  • Start the real treasure hunt! Part of what people like about shopping is “the hunt.” Why not trade UP to the hunt that really matters…the hunt for the True You! Begin a journey to discover who you really are and what you’re built to do in the world! Loneliness and boredom are eliminated when you’re doing what you’re meant to do with whom you’re meant to do it! Start the treasure hunt with our Reclaim Your Spirit virtual course.

When you become more connected with others, invested in relationships, and with a mindset of service, you’ll find that your need to acquire disappears.

We are with you in this journey of life reclamation!


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