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  • Writer's pictureJonda Beattie

Excess Stuff – Sell It or Donate It?

I read an interesting blog this past week by the Clark Howard Staff. It was entitled “39 ways to sell your old stuff for the most cash”. Below are some tidbits from their blog and my take on it.

According to the Wall Street Journal report several years ago, Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on goods and services they don’t need. According to Orlando Sentinel, nearly one out of 10 American households rents a storage facility, costing anywhere from $125 to $165 a month. Of those who rent the storage areas, 65% have a garage, 47% have an attic, and %33 have a basement!

It’s obvious that we have a lot of stuff we don’t need and that we are paying monthly just to keep those things out of sight.

The blog’s take is to get money by selling these items. A lot of good ways are mentioned including ebay, Bonanza, eBid, Etsy, and Craigslist. For designer clothes they mention Tradsey,com, Poshmark, The Real Real, Threadflip, 99Dresses, and Buffalo Exchange. They also suggest consignment stores. For gold, firearms, musical instruments, and collectibles, they suggest Pawn Shops. They then go on to list yard sales, and a couple of links for selling to people who live nearby and links for used electronics. They even list some websites to help you determine value of collectible items or antiques.

The first step is getting organized. I have some clients that have 25 or even 40 years of “stuff “in their basements, attic, spare rooms, offsite storage, garages, etc. Most of the stuff is stored there because:

  1. It just needs fixing

  2. I’ll need it someday

  3. It was inherited

  4. My children may want it

  5. It brings back great memories

  6. I think it’s valuable

  7. I’m holding it for someone

The sort begins. This I plan to keep. This I plan to sell. This I need to give to ____ if they want it. This is trash.

They may be fairly good at culling out what they plan to keep (but usually some of these items will also have to go). And the very obvious trash is taken out. But it is the “This I plan to sell” piles that begin to become unreasonable – especially if they are looking at a deadline. And the “This I need to give to__” also takes a lot of time.

I encourage these people to keep in mind that selling takes time and the return is not as great as they might think. All of the “keep to sell” items will need a further sort and a decision on how they are going to sell them. The items will need to be cleaned, polished, or repaired.

As they sort through their items, I would rather the self talk be more of “Would I go 20 miles and spend over $20 for this?” rather than “Someone might buy this.” I would encourage every sorting session to end up with a big pile of items to donate and trash with just a few items for the sale pile.

Those items that are going to be sold could be divided into possibly real value and good items for a garage sale. Then, if time is an issue, hire someone to do your selling. That person can also usually help you determine what really is worth the time and expense to put it on the market and what is not. If they plan to have a garage sale, they should be aware that the sale also takes a lot of time sorting, organizing, advertising, setting up, and holding the sale.

Just think about it. Think what your time is worth. Then decide and act.

Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer

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