Whether you just want to free up some space in your home or you’ve decided to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, you have to get rid of the excess. Selling your stuff has probably come to mind.
Maybe you already tried selling a few things and it hasn’t gone quite as you’d hoped. Dreams of stuffing your pockets with wads of cash as your stuff disappears out the door can quickly turn into a nightmare. However, with some smart thinking, you can take the hassle out of the process and declutter your home, while returning money to your pocket.
Downsides to selling your stuff
Firstly, the downsides to selling. Regular readers will know, as a general rule, I don’t sell my excess stuff . However, your stuff is your stuff. I don’t want to tell you what to do with it, but I do want to make sure your that if you do want to sell your stuff, you go into it with your eyes wide open and the best chance of success.
I offer these downsides, not to put you off (well maybe a little bit), but in the spirit of knowing your enemy. As I see it, there are three main downsides to selling your stuff as a method of decluttering:
- delay – your stuff continues to sit around until it is sold, as opposed to donating it or giving it away
- work – listing, packaging and shipping your stuff takes time and energy
- drama – every transaction requires personal interaction and not every selling experience is positive.
There is also a philosophical, life-changing reason that I don’t sell my stuff. You can read about it if you’re in that kind of mood.
Taking the hassle out of selling your stuff
Nonetheless, selling your excess stuff (or some of it) may be a good option for you. You could be short of cash, maybe you own the stuff jointly and the other person wants to sell it rather than give it away, or perhaps there are some high-value items that you can’t bear to just give away.
So, how can you manage the selling process so that it doesn’t ruin your decluttering momentum, or drive you crazy? These are my recommendations:
1. Sell your stuff in bulk lots
The fewer sales you have to make, the lower the transaction costs in terms of your time and energy (and likely selling costs too). You’ll also see the benefits of decluttering more quickly. Sell one t-shirt and you’ll hardly notice the difference, sell one drawerful of clothing and you have an immediate, noticeable result.
2. Treat selling your stuff like a job
If you’re selling your stuff to earn some extra cash, treat it like you’ve picked up a part-time job. Give yourself set hours to work on the job and a deadline for when the job must be completed. Keep a tally of your hours so you can work out your hourly rate and decide whether this extra job is worth your while.
3. Stick to selling locally
Unless you’re selling highly specialised items, the benefits of selling locally outweigh the gains of a selling in a larger market. By selling locally, you can opt to drop off goods or have buyers collect them and avoid the hassle of packaging stuff and organising shipping. Also, (potential) buyers are less likely to be dumbasses to people they might bump into again around their neighbourhood (although it is by no means guaranteed).
4. Don’t be greedy
Yes, you paid good money for your stuff, but the reality is there is plenty of cheap, new stuff, and you’re far from the only person trying to offload your excess stuff. You’re selling in a buyers’ market. If people feel they are getting a good buy, they are more likely to buy and buy with goodwill. Holding out for higher prices delays your decluttering, while using up more of your precious time and energy.
A word on garage sales
If you’re going to have a garage sale (yard sale) to sell your stuff, beware. Many intended garage sales either never happen, or end up feeling like a big waste of time. To avoid that happening to you:
- set a time and day and stick to it
- organise with a friend or two to have a joint sale – it’s much harder to put it off
- decide how you’re going to sort and price your stuff from the outset (before you start decluttering). This way, as you go through your stuff you can sort and price it as you box it up. No need to go through it all again before laying it on the sales tables.
Reality check: If it’s too much hassle to sort and price as you declutter and box up your stuff, it’s likely to be too much hassle to ever sort and price your stuff. A garage sale may not be the right option for you.
Give guilt the goodbye
Often people feel they should sell stuff, rather than give it away, because they feel guilty about wasting money. They hope that by recouping some of that money they will reduce the guilt. In my experience, this rarely works. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. You just become more aware of the gulf between the purchase price and how much you sold it for. Your goal is decluttering. The best measure of success is how efficiently you can remove the clutter from your home, not how much money you can get for it.
Remember, these are items you have already identified as no longer adding value to your life. Do you really want to devote more time and energy to them?
What’s your experience with selling your excess stuff? Please share any tips you have for making the process easier.