Every day, we are inundated with advertising messages. Shiny new gadgets and brands tug at our wallets and fill our homes. But what happens when we accumulate more stuff than we have room for? What happens when prized possessions become junk and we find ourselves with more stuff than we can manage?
There's even a TV series, "Hoarding: Buried Alive," which reveals the most dramatic cases of compulsive shoppers, pack rats, and individuals consumed by their possessions. Homes literally become buried in stuff as people struggle to get rid of anything they've accumulated through the years.
One of the easiest ways to sell your old belongings is online. While these are extreme cases, anyone wishing to declutter can learn the lessons. And while it can seem like a daunting task, if you stay focused and follow this advice, you'll feel more organized in no time—and likely make money in the process!
In this video professional organizer Jessica Sabat, New York, discusses five Cs to follow when organizing clutter: clear, categorize, create, choose, and complete.
- First, she says, clear the space you're organizing. If it's a junk drawer, dump the whole thing out. If it's a closet space, get the goods onto the floor.
- Next, categorize items by placing piles of like items together.
- Create spaces for organizing such as shelving, drawers, bins, dividers.
- In the process, you also will have to choose which items you want to keep.
- To complete your task, simply tie up any loose ends you have: If there still are items without storage space, reevaluate if you still need it or if it can go in the toss pile.
Once you determine which items you no longer want—and have a system in place for the ones you do—it's time to decide if you want to toss or sell.
clutter to cash
If you want to cash in on your clutter, there are options:
- Hold a garage sale—Holding a garage sale can yield a pretty profit, but it also can be a lot of work. First, find out if your city has any restrictions or requirements for holding yard sales. Next, you may want to combine forces with a friend to lessen the load and have a wider variety of items to draw shoppers. Make people aware of your sale by asking friends to spread the word, using online tools such as Facebook. Use caution when choosing friends to invite by creating a "private" event where you control who receives the invite. Place homemade signs throughout the neighborhood. Place ads in community papers as well.
Price items reasonably to avoid being left with lots of unsold belongings. One more tip: Make sure you have plenty of cash to make change on the day of the sale.
- Head to consignment or resale shops—Consignment or resale shops take gently used clothes and sell them at a marked-down rate. Before dropping your clothes off at a second-hand store, call around to gauge policies, fees, and which types of clothing each store buys. Many shops only consider clothing a couple of years old and in mint condition, so take time to wash and iron all items. Resale shops generally buy the item upfront, whereas consignment shops will put the item on sale for a month or two and take a percentage of the selling price. Also, be sure to keep any receipts from the shops, as this is your only record of what you have out there.
- Use the Internet—One of the easiest ways to sell your old belongings is online. Resources such as eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace make it quick and easy to buy and sell items from the comfort of your home.
eBay lets you see which items are "hot" and gives simple instructions about how to list items. eBay also has a Giving Works program, where you can donate 10% to 100% of the final sale price of your item to a nonprofit organization of your choosing.
Craigslist houses a worldwide directory of items, and makes it easy to search for listings by item, location, and price. You can list virtually anything on Craigslist: bikes, furniture, guitars, tickets, clothes, tools, and more.
If you're not shipping items and decide to complete the sales transactions face to face, be smart about meeting specifics. Take someone with you when meeting the buyer, meet during the day, and in a public place. If the buyer comes to your home, have someone there with you so you're not alone.
When you list an item on Facebook Marketplace, it will be broadcast to your friends' news feeds just as a status update would. Your listing will remain active for 30 days, unless you sell your item and close it sooner. Facebook Marketplace does not have a PayPal application, so the buyer and seller must arrange payment on their own terms.
Besides these three, there are many sites for selling specific categories of items, such as these, according to MSN Money:
- Books: Cash4Books.net
In most cases, the price you receive depends on the make, model, and condition of the item, as well as demand for it. Most sites pay by check or PayPal, and some will offer free shipping if you sell a certain amount of items.
donate your goods
Freecycle.org is a cool movement made up of about 4,834 local groups and more than seven million members across the globe. Membership is free, and it's simple to post belongings you no longer want for people in your community to reuse. Volunteers moderate each local group.
National Association of Professional Organizers
Facebook MarketplaceYou also could donate items to a charity of your choice, like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and others. You generally can receive a tax deduction for your donations if you itemize deductions.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, to make a deduction, you must "maintain a bank record, payroll deduction records, or a written communication from the organization containing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution, and amount of the contribution." In other words, keep your receipts. You can find more specifics about tax deductions for charitable giving here.
The ItsDeductible website from TurboTax can help you keep track of your donations and estimate their value as well. You do not have to be a TurboTax customer to use the site.
When an item has outlived its time, sometimes it's best to toss it to the curb. If you have oversized items, check with your city regarding its policy on trash pick-up. The city may have certain pick-up times or require you to pay a fee.
If you want some ideas for repurposing old items, RealSimple.com offers creative tips in "50 All-Time Favorite New Uses for Old Things."
Decluttering your space is refreshing and brings a feeling of accomplishment. Moving forward, being conscious of what you buy will help eliminate the need to go through a purging process with your stuff. There are lots of great websites and resources that discuss how to simplify your life. The underlying concept to all of them is simple: Don't buy more than you need to avoid clutter in your life.
Zen Habits offers advice on "How to Simplify Your Life When You Love Your Stuff." This website has hundreds of archived articles about living simply and finding happiness. Take a look around for some inspiration.