I know many people (including myself) are in a purging mood once the cold weather is upon us. Gearing up for spring and all its glory. Maybe its the items that don't have homes or the family accumulation, but whatever the case, it is so nice to PURGE!
So I put together a staging area- keep - sell - donate areas. We sell items and within a couple of hours, we sold this and then we sold that. It's very exhilarating.
But generally, if it’s not sold in a week, I’ll either reduce the price one more time, or donate it. I guess I just figure that if I don’t use the item anyway, I’d rather get some cash for it and have it gone ASAP then let it clutter up my home for weeks and months.
If you’ve been struggling to sell your unneeded items, my guess is that it’s because of one of the 3 reasons below…
1. Your prices are too high.This is BY FAR the biggest problem when it comes to people trying to sell their stuff — no matter where they are trying to sell it.
I’m not trying to sound rude… but no one is going to buy your “excellent condition” stuff or “like new” stuff or “still in the box” stuff unless they feel they are getting a REALLY good deal. And they are definitely not going to buy your “well used” stuff or anything with any sort of issue or stain or problem unless it’s almost free.
Yes, you might find an exception to the rule every now and then, but for the most part, there are too many other people out there (like me) who just want to get rid of their things ASAP so they set their prices really low in order to sell quickly. Unless you set your prices very close to what others are selling similar items for, you probably aren’t going to sell your items very quickly (if at all).
You will most likely get the most money for your items on Ebay. Craigslist and Facebook garage sales will usually get you the second highest price. And traditional garage sales or yard sales will require rock bottom prices to sell.
Just the other day, the kids and I stopped by 4 garage sales on one street. One lady had ALL her kids clothing for $0.25 a piece while the other 3 homes were selling it for $1.00 or more per item. I realize $0.25 is ridiculously cheap, but I’m sure you don’t have to guess which sale the majority people were crowded around. She was selling bags of clothing while the other women just sat by their sales with no buyers.
If your items aren’t selling, lower your prices significantly. After all, if the point of your sale is to clear out your house, wouldn’t you rather have a clutter-free house and a little extra spending money versus sitting and waiting while all your stuff sits piled up in your home?
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2. Your stuff isn’t nicely organized, displayed, or described.I can’t tell you how many garage sales I’ve been to with no rhyme or reason to how anything is displayed. Some sales don’t even have the clothing separated by size or gender so it’s nearly impossible to find what you’re looking for.
Similarly, I’ve seen HUNDREDS of horrible Craigslist ads with dark, blurry pictures and almost no description. No measurements of furniture, no brand names, no “this is where we purchased it from” information, or “here’s the Amazon.com link”. In those situations, even if it is something I’m remotely interested in, I usually don’t even bother sending an email because I figure if they can’t take 5 extra minutes to get a good quality photo and share a few more details, then it’s not worth my time to email you asking for all the information.
While I do try to set my Craigslist prices quite reasonably, I know for a fact that one of the main reasons my stuff sells so quickly (usually within 24 hours or less) is because I ALWAYS provide a very detailed description and multiple pictures of every item I sell.
Over and over again, I get emails from people saying “we’re buying from you because your ad was so informative”. I’ve honestly even had people email me saying “we’re not interested in your items, but just wanted to let you know that it was one of the most descriptive ads we’ve ever seen”
So yes, how your things are presented makes a HUGE difference in how quickly your items will sell. And to be perfectly honest, if you’re willing to take a few extra minutes to get high-quality photos and provide an excellent description, you will most likely be able to ask a higher price for your items.
3. Your stuff doesn’t have enough buyer demand.Sometimes, even if you have a competitive price point and display/describe your items nicely, they just don’t sell. In these situations, it’s almost always because there isn’t enough buyer demand.
Maybe it’s a very rare antique that only the “right” collector would be interested in. Or maybe you live in a more remote location so garage sales and Craigslist pick-ups are tricky since no one wants to drive out to your house.
In these situations, Ebay is often the best option for selling and shipping these types of items — however I personally don’t have much experience with Ebay so I’m definitely not the person to ask if you have more detailed questions!
Over and over and over again, I get emails from discouraged individuals who have been purging and hoping to make a few extra bucks by selling their castoffs with little luck. After a couple emails back and forth, I can usually pinpoint their selling troubles to one of the 3 things listed above. And when I make a suggestion as to what they might change, they usually excitedly email me back within the next day or so, letting me know their items sold!
Yay for less clutter and more cash!
If your sole purpose for selling your unneeded items is because you simply don’t want them taking up space in your home (which is usually the case in my experience), then why not lower the price and add a few extra pictures (or a nice garage sale presentation) to increase the chances they sell ASAP??
What are your best tips for selling items ASAP – either online or at a traditional garage sale?
The key to downsizing is to rid your life of the things you really don't need. In balance, keeping the things you really do need. It sounds simple, right? But I can tell you, it’s not. Somehow in downsizing you may find yourself with 7 forks, 2 knives and 1 Rubbermaid container top. Organization is unfortunately not my strong suite.
Granted, I’d like to think this isn’t the norm – most people won’t mistakenly get rid of their silverware. But if the old adage, “Three moves equals a fire” is true, you’re likely to get rid of a few items during a downsize (whether or not you’re actually moving), that you should probably hang on to.
Downsizing effectively comes down to time and thoughtful consideration. If you’re short on time, or if you’re not thinking about the end result, you’ll end up making mistakes.
Luckily, with a few tips you can get smarter. Life is definitely better more streamlined, even if you are not moving. Here are a few tips for quality downsizing, whether you are moving or simply decluttering your current home.
1. Downsize the Big Stuff If You’re Moving
If you know you’re moving from a three-bedroom home to a two-bedroom home, there’s absolutely no reason for you to move three beds, three dressers, and three bedside tables to your new place. It costs money to haul big furniture, and if there’s nowhere to put it, you’ll just have to pay for a storage unit.
Things get a little trickier when you’re downsizing space, but not bedrooms – for example, moving from a 1,800 square-foot, three-bedroom home to a 1,200 square-foot three-bedroom home. You may need all your bedroom furniture, but you may not be able to fit all your living room or dining room furniture. Look carefully at the floor plan of your new space, or do a walk-through with a tape measure to really get a feel for where you can place your tables, chairs, and sofas. You may realize you can keep your dining room table, but you need to sell your breakfast table; or, you may find that you can keep your sofa and a chair, but it’s time to give away your loveseat. It’s better to make these big decisions before you move so you don’t end up paying for the expense to haul or store the excess furniture.
For instance, you know space will be at a premium. Ditch that large chest of drawers, which wouldn’t fit easily into our space, and opt instead for on-wall shelving to store clothing or other items.
2. Take the Small Stuff With You
If you’re moving, or if you’re just fed up with the clutter in your home, you may be tempted to give away or sell a lot of small items, such as clothing, knick-knacks, dishes, and home decor. However, you may want to take this step slowly. It’s a good idea to go through your stuff to get rid of the general junk that tends to accumulate in a home, but don’t start getting rid of items you regularly use or enjoy just yet.
During our first downsize, we assumed we needed to get rid of just about everything. As a result, we ended up selling or giving away items we actually needed, including silverware, cookware, and cleaning supplies, and then ended up repurchasing them after our move. Part of the problem was that we didn’t really know how much space we would have in our new home for these items, so we just got rid of it all. Had we conscientiously separated the must-keeps and maybe-keeps into designated boxes before the move, we could have waited to give away or sell items until after our move based on the space we had in our new home. Ultimately, this would have saved us money, as we ended up repurchasing a fair amount of stuff.
Keep any item you currently use or use seasonally. Also, keep items with sentimental value or a practical purpose, even if you don’t use them regularly. For instance, if you’re done having kids, it’s a great time to get rid of baby clothes, old toys, or maternity wear. However, if you feel sentimental pangs about some of your children’s onesies or blankets, go ahead and hang onto the item, at least for now. Sell or give away any item that no longer has a practical purpose for you.
3. Go Through Every Box
One person I know said, "I am amazed at the number of boxes that have followed me multiple times across the country without me even looking inside them. Many of these boxes were filled with “keepsakes” my parents gave me at some point. Eventually, though, I went through all of them. What started as five large boxes and crates of my childhood art projects, photographs, cards, and scrapbooks was quickly pared down to two boxes mostly filled with photographs and a few knick-knacks. I was able to discard three full boxes worth of stuff that I never really knew existed and will never miss".
When space is at a premium, every box matters. So take some time to go through each area in your home, from your attic to your closets to your garage to your cabinets. There’s so much stuff that lands on shelves and gets tucked away in storage just because it “might be useful someday,” or because you simply don’t know what to do with it. If you haven’t used it in over a year, or if you see no immediate use for it in the coming six months, purge it from your life and give it away, sell it, or toss it in the trash. You may even want to have a garage sale, or sell items to a thrift store.
4. Plan Your Storage Before Downsizing Further
Once you’ve separated the items you no longer need or use, you may still be left with more stuff than you think you have room to store. This is the point where it’s tempting to start giving away items in an effort to free up space. However, before you start giving away things you actually use, need, or want, assess and plan your storage.
The best way to do this is to decide where and how to organize your things. Once the storage was in place, I could fold and hang clothing and linens as planned, then determine whether we needed to pare down further. I did end up needing to give away a few more pairs of yoga pants and tank tops than I’d originally planned, but the end result was perfect – our new “closet” was filled with the best items we owned, and purged of rarely-used or beaten up, older items.
We proceeded to use this same formula to separate and organize our tech gear, tools, books, kitchenware, and other equipment. By planning our storage first, then fitting our must-haves into the storage second, we were able to make sure we could keep the most important items. Then, if we did need to pare down further, we could easily select the least important or least used items from what was remaining.
In your home, determine how you can make space go further by implementing more effective storage solutions. For instance, you can hang additional shelves and hooks, and you can seek out organization tools that expand your storage in closets and cabinets, such as wire racks, behind-door shoe storage, vertical clothing hangers, or under-bed storage boxes.
5. Follow the One-Year Rule
I know how tempting it is to hang onto items you once loved but no longer use, or items you think you might use someday. But the truth is, if you haven’t used a particular item in the last year, you’re unlikely to use it in the next year. And if you’re unlikely to use something in the next year, then you’re unlikely to use it at all.
This means it’s time to give up your high school skinny jeans, your paint and yarn from old crafting projects, your workout equipment that became a clothes hanger somewhere along the way, and most of your kids’ old shoes, toys, and apparel. Of course there are exceptions to every rule – if a particular item serves a specific purpose, or is particularly nice or high-dollar, use caution before giving it away.
For instance, I live in Texas, where it’s hot nine months of the year. Also, I work from home, which means my wardrobe consists mostly of yoga pants and tank tops. I have little need for suits or nice coats, so I got rid of most of my old work clothes. However, I decided to hang onto one nice cold-weather coat and one suit, even though they haven’t been worn in over a year. On the rare occasion when a cold front comes through, or when I need to dress nicely for a professional event, I won’t have to go out and buy new clothes. The items I kept serve a specific purpose and will prevent me from spending unnecessary money on new items should I need them.
The point is to be a realist when separating the stuff you keep from the stuff you don’t. Be realistic and ask yourself what you use and what you need, both now and in the future.
6. Remember It’s All Just Stuff
It’s easy to go overboard when you get into the decluttering groove. At the core, all the things filling your home are just things – they may spur memories of a person, place, or event, but they’re not actual memories. But before you become a minimalist who subsists on next to nothing, think about what you’d want to save from a fire. Maybe it’s photographs, a few of your favorite books, or an item that reminds you of a special day in the past. Don’t let yourself start thinking of everything as “just stuff” – not all items are expendable.
When paring down your life, get rid of as much as you can, but don’t get rid of those things that are especially important – the things that you’d like to share with your children or grandchildren someday.
7. Re-home Special Items
What you may discover is that you come across things from your past that are in a “no man’s land” in terms of best fit. They’re nice, they hold value and memories, and you don’t really want to give them away – but at the same time, you have no use for them and they are just taking up space.
In my case, a few toys from my childhood, were a few of these special items. After thinking about it, I realized I had people in my life who could benefit from and enjoy each item, and I would enjoy knowing they were being used.
How you re-home your items is a personal decision, but if the item holds meaning to you, try to keep it in the family or with friends who understand the meaning behind the item.
8. Digitize Whatever You Can
CDs, DVDs, cassettes, videos, pictures, and important documents can all be digitized and saved to the cloud or a computer hard drive to free up important space. While we kept hard copies of important personal documents, such as birth certificates and social security cards, we scanned and saved all of our other records – financial and personal. We also transferred all of our DVDs and CDs to digital files. We were able to get rid of four boxes of paper, discs, and videos with this simple step of going paperless.
Most documents can simply be scanned to a computer and saved as a PDF file, or uploaded to the cloud using services like DropBox or Google Drive. You can transfer DVDs and CDs to digital files by using free computer programs, such as Movavi, WinX DVD Ripper, or Freemake Video Converter. Just be aware that some DVDs and CDs are copyrighted, which may prevent you from making a copy, even though making personal copies of products you’ve purchased should fall under “fair use” laws.
9. Set Limits!
Once you’re settled into your smaller space, it’s important to keep your clutter under wraps. It’s amazing how quickly things can accumulate, which can make a small home feel even smaller.
Clothing and paper are the clutter culprits in our house. What I’ve decided is that if I receive or purchase any more clothing or shoes, an item I already own must be given away to accommodate the new item’s space. I’ve also instituted a rule regarding mail – it’s dealt with immediately. It’s read and recycled, or otherwise handled as soon as it comes so that it doesn’t start piling up on counters. You can also opt out and reduce the amount of junk mail that comes to your house.
I get asked all of the time, “Which should I have, an estate sale, or a garage sale?”
This is a question that I can easily answer. Simply put, if you are planning to move, or if someone has passed on and you are looking to sell everything in your home, then an estate sale is it. If you are looking to unload some of your belongings rather than selling most of what is in your home, then a garage sale is a better option.
To look at it more closely, an estate sale happens in and around your home, usually includes everything in the estate, and is a very powerful tool to clean out a home in a hurry. Something to consider is how comfortable you are with strangers going through every corner of your house. Since the entire estate is for sale, people will be walking through the home in order to discover items they want to purchase. Aside from the comfort level of an estate sale, you should consider how to operate the sale. To make the most money you can simply host the estate sale yourself. If you choose to do an estate sale yourself, my best advice is for you to research all the items that you are going to sell. Utilizing the “Completed Listing” section on eBay is a great way to see how much your items go for, or you can pay an antique shop owner to come by and give you good evaluations for what it can sell for now if you have a lot of antiques. A lot of people hire a third party to come in and appraise and handle the sale of items. This is great if you do not have the time or inclination to do this for yourself but I will warn you, you will leave a lot of money on the table. The people that put on estate sales usually charge 30-35% of whatever they bring in and they may have other hard fees that they will add-on on top of that. A third party is also going to concentrate on ensuring everything is priced to sell fast. This can lead to undervaluing certain items so they have a stronger chance of selling them.
I recommend that estate sales should run for 3 days, Friday through Sunday, and begin advertising way in advance. Utilizing Tag Sell It, Facebook, street signs and Craigslist are great ways to promote your event. Unlike garage sales, estate sales should have a lot of promoting at least two weeks in advance. If you follow all of these directions, you literally can double the amount of money you make by simply doing an estate sale yourself.
Now, let’s talk about garage sales! These are typically one day Saturday events, but if you would like to extend it to two days, I recommended having the extra day on a Friday. Friday is the new Saturday! With garage sales you are only selling the items you have brought out and are typically on display in your garage or front lawn. In no way whatsoever should you let people into your house. These events make good money if done correctly, and have enough promoting. Garage sales will not always bring in the same amount of traffic as an estate sale; therefore the earnings potential is lower. FYI, garage sales can be dependent on the weather, whereas an estate sale can occur year round even in areas with cold winters.
Best Wishes & Happy Hunting!
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