My first thought is always to give something away. (This sounds so charitable, doesn't it? But it's also the easiest and quickest way to lose clutter.)
- Hand down kid stuff to moms I know. Even when there's no reciprocity, I've encouraged the chain of generous mom-sharing.
- Free section of Craig's List just helped me give away 2 coats and several boys pants. They were claimed within the hour.
- Thrift stores are my last resort, because they help people in an indirect way. I prefer independent, church-run or community shops, but I'll do the Goodwill donation drive-thru in a pinch.
Then it comes to the items which I need to sell. Maybe none of my friends wanted this print that my mom brought, or I have enough money invested that I need the return.
Craig's List has become my preferred marketplace. Listing is free, and I don't have to fool with packing. For cost-effectiveness, I don't list items under $10.
Next is Ebay. I know, I'm weak, but I cannot cope with piles waiting to be listed and a teetering stack of envelopes to be shipped.
Given my schedule and my tendency to clutter, I've learned that an item must bring $20 gross to make it worth the sales time.
Now I must get back to selling that 2T snowsuit and 3 pairs of 13.5 W Stride Rite shoes!
Most of my give aways are to the church or to thrift stores.
Join this yahoo group for free and post "offer: ___ " OR GET stuff! by posting, "wanted: _______ " and wait for the emails to come flying to your inbox! I've gotten some awesome deals thus far (been a member for maybe 4 months). Just last week I scored a HUGE box of fabric (about 5 prints had yards and yards, each!) probably worth more than 100$ at a retailer...for FREE!
Here's my personal rule for decluttering: Every time I pay a visit to the thrift store I must take something with me to donate. This works fabulously for me because, 1) the thrift store is a locally-based one serving a ministry I believe in and want to help, 2) I live in a small town where Craigslist is hardly existent, 3) I am forced to always be thinking about what we do/don't use, what is clutter. I go to the thrift store every week or two, so there is a constant flow of things going out (and sometimes coming in).
Items that can be passed along to other folks whom I know can use them get handed off with joy. In good condition baby items, baby clothing, and maternity clothes go to Save-a-life. I rarely make the effort to list on ebay, although I do know some folks benefit greatly from selling this way.
We sometimes participate in a consignment sale at a local church. Usually I see ads for other sales that are open to everyone. For ours, we pay $10 to be in the sale. We get free tags and hangers to set our own prices. All we have to do is tag them, hang clothing and drop them off. For most sales, you keep 70% of the profit. The reason we do this is to turn around and use the $ we're making to purchase clothes at the same sale. So it's almpost a trade off. If you don't want to tag your items, some will do it for you, but you'll make less of the profit. It's getting harder to find the sizes we need at this sale; so we may not do it again, but it was wonderful for the baby to toddler years! It is true though that the sweetest thing is to give it to another little one who is growing into that size. What a blessing!
I hate to admit this, but I have four bags of old clothes sitting in my trunk. They've been there for about two months because I haven't made it to Goodwill.
Freelance Writer's World
I don't bother with Ebay at all - not for buying or selling. It's so populated that I don't find bargains OR people don't see the stuff I'm selling (and shipping is hard to do while working around naptime!!).
And after netting $60 for a garage sale with hours and hours of work, I'm NEVER doing that again!! I get rid of my handfuls of things I've purged to friends, the library booksale collection, the Salvation Army (close by), or craigslist or freecycle.
I am thinking through all this. We are going through a major downsizing right now (because we are literally growing out of our house with our 5 kids!) and I am trying to decide whether or not to have a garage sale or just chuck it all at Goodwill in the drive-through dropoff. This is a year where I could really benefit from the garage sale money, but I HATE not getting the clutter out immediately. Garage sale season here in the Midwest doesn't start until at least March, so the stuff would have to sit for a while. Any suggestions?
I accumulate bags for thrift in the back of my van and try to remember to drop them when I leave the house.
BTW, the print is lovely. Are you really getting rid of it, or just using it for a photo prop?
I have sold a lot of stuff on Craig's List, but I am increasingly encountering people who want to haggle the price down to free. Most recently was a set of chairs I listed for "$20 each", and I had half a dozen people come by or email, only to be irritated when I told them it was not $20 for the lot.
Mostly, I give things to Goodwill, and sell books on Amazon (which I love).
We tend to give to whoever calls first. Usually, it's the Leukemia Society, but sometimes it's the National Kidney Foundation (this is who I prefer to support given my husband's diagnosis of kidney disease). We seem to have made it onto some charitable calling list, so we frequently get calls asking for donations. Given that all I have to do is set it out on the porch the morning of pickup, it's the easiest way to give stuff away.
Once I have decided to get rid of something, I take the fastest solution. That means Salvation Army, which is along our carpool route. (Though, I have graduated to taking the time to list the items and get a signed tax-deduction form)
Then I pray for the Lord to provide our needs as my goods are blessing someone else. He has not failed!
I wish I had the patience to develop an Ebay biz. I gave it a go, having a good eye for items to sell. But impatience is definitely an Achilles' heel. Cannot stand waiting around for people to decide, pay, or store the goods and shipping supplies. I need patience in so many other areas : ) that I de-cluttered my desire to Ebay. Someday?
Oh, one more comment. Also found a family at school, one size down from my kids, and quality clothing/shoes goes directly to them. It's a win-win, fairly automatic. In turn that family has blessed us with an extra mattress and other things.
Freecycle has helped me get rid of a lot of stuff too.
I wonder, do yout think it's worth the time and effort to run a yard sale? I always thing I'm going to, but then I'm afraid I will wast a bunch of time and only get like 20 bucks in the end.
I have learned that my time and sanity is more important than any yard-sale income. Maybe if I'd ever made more than $200, but that hasn't happened. Most yard-sale buyers are looking for serious bargains (check out Meredith's 25-cent suede pumps post) and if you really want to make money, take the time to sell a handful of desirable item through classifieds, Craigslist, Ebay, etc.
The exception to the yard-sale rule is when my kids want to have one, and they always make cookies and pies to sell (biggest income producer), we close up by noon and everything that didn't sell must go to SalvArmy, not back in the house.
I always seem to forget about Craig's List, though that may be because it is not a big thing around here... yet. Freecycle though? Love it.
I used to sell on Ebay, but now I hate it. Too much time, shipping hassles, saturated market, etc. I admire those with the patience and know-how to make it a real success.
I have never made enough money on a yard sale to ever make it worth the time. Joining a friend's though has sometimes been worth it.
We yardsale each year, and I'm blessed to live in a tri-level home which means I have a finished storatge area underneath the front room, but that doesn't mean I don't craigslist and freecycle year round. My yardsale is work, but my relatives and I work together and I generally make $200 + each year. I always accept donations of other peoples stuff to sell which helps generate $.
Here's my yardsale experience that works: Don't put prices on stuff. Just haggle with people and have an "everything goes" attitude. It's easier than sitting down to price everything, and even if you only make a quarter on something, you got the quarter. And when it's over, just load it all up and take it to Goodwill or where ever. We had a yard sale where we made a couple hundred dollars in about 5 hours by doing this.
These are great tips. I tend to usually just donate to Goodwill because it is easier and I can get the tax break. Who can't use a little break on their taxes? Thanks for this sound advice!
I give to thrift stores first! They help many people-providing jobs to people who need to develop work skills, supporting charities (if it doesn't support a charity, you should get paid for your stuff...), and also it is a huge help to the people who have no choice but to shop thrift. Many send clothing & coats that are donated to overseas humanitarian projects as well.
There are more benefits to thrift donations than just where the profits go.
Oh my gosh, I was not familiar with the Free section of Craigslist! What a great resource. Your blog is always such a treasure trove of good info!
[Also, I am so sorry to use your comment space for this, but I wanted to let you know that I replied to an email you sent me a while back. Emails from me *always* end up in people's spam filters for some reason, and I would hate for you to think I didn't reply.]
Keep up the good work!
I heart Craigslist. I don't even bother with eBay anymore. Love your blog too!
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