Radical Simplicity and a Beautiful, Messy Life

The Ultimate Guide to What to Do with All That Stuff you're Decluttering

Selling online tips, yardsale tips, donating tips

You've decluttered a room or two and now you have boxes of stuff taking up space in your home.  You've got a few options on what to do with it.  Here are some things to consider.

OPTION 1: SELL

If you are trying to pay down debt (like we are!) I'd suggest selling what you can.  There are a couple ways to go about this.

Online Marketplaces
Online Marketplaces like Facebook marketplace, Kijiji, craigslist, etc are a great way to unload some items. My personal experience is that it is not worth trying to sell anything for less than 5 dollars.  Arranging a pick up time, dealing with no shows, and answering questions about the items take time and your time is worth more than a dollar or two.

Some tips for selling online

  • If the item is a big item, go ahead and price it with some wiggle room for bargaining.  If it is under 20$, in my experience most people won't bother trying to haggle, so be careful not to overprice or people might just scroll past.
  • Include thorough descriptions.  Include measurements and other things people might ask about the item to save yourself time answering a bunch of individual messages
  • Use quality pictures of the item. 
  • Some items sell well in lots.  Sort baby clothes by size and sell each size as a group.  A stack of books of the same genre may sell better as a group.  
  • When people message you that they are interested, ask immediately when they would like to pick the item up.  This keeps the sale moving instead of stalling out.
  • Generally I don't agree to deliver items unless they are big ticket items.  It's not worth driving all over the city to make a few bucks. 
  • And of course, be cautious.  Have someone else home when people come to pick up items, or meet people in a well lit public place.  If delivering an item, don't enter their home or parts of the yard not visible from the street.  Stay safe, friends!

Yard sale
Yard sales are a great way to sell your stuff quickly if you are  a) In a good location  b) Have a lot of stuff to sell at once or can join forces with a friend.  The larger the yard sale, the more people will stop and shop  and c) Are willing to let your stuff go for really cheap.

A yard sale is faster than selling online but people at yardsales want amazing deals.

Here are some tips for hosting a successful yardsale:
  • Use plenty of signs, and keep them simple. When looking for a yard sale, people don't read words, they follow arrows. Keep your signs all the same colour and style too, they will be like a trail of breadcrumbs to your door.
  • Think like a store. Put like items together, display popular items at eye level, hang clothing and arrange items so that they are clearly visible. Most people won't rummage through boxes to find a treasure. Put things where people will see them.
  • Plan ahead. Be prepared to make change and have bags or boxes available for people to carry their items away in.
  • Keep it outdoors. As a reasonably cautious young woman I never, ever, EVER go to a yard sale that is inside, even if it's just an enclosed porch. I can't be the only one who feels this way, so if you aren't willing to move your stuff out to the front yard (or an open garage that is easily visible from the street) then you WILL lose customers.
  • Price to sell. If you price things too high people won't even try to haggle you down, they'll walk away. 
  • Get rid of the left over stuff pronto. Don't save it for another yard sale, another year. You are not a big box store, and your garage is not a warehouse, so clear out the inventory.

Pawn Shops
Pawn shops or Buy and Sell's can be a quick and easy way to unload stuff like electronics, musical instruments, power tools and sporting goods. If you are short on time and not in debt this might be a good option for you.  But if you have debts to pay down, I recommend selling the items yourself as you will get far more than the pawn shop can give you.




OPTION #2: DONATE
This is a great option for stuff you can't be bothered to sell. Please remember to only pass on good quality items, nobody needs your stained blouse or broken alarm clock.  There are a few places to consider donating your items

A Second Hand Store
We are careful about which second hand stores we donate to.  We prefer to give our items, especially clothing and home necessities to the not-for-profit thrift stores that serve the community in need rather than the higher end second hand shops that sell things at almost retail prices.  I want the clothes I don't need anymore to go to someone who does need them, at a price they can afford.

And please don't drop off your old mattress or broken couch outside a thrift store and then take off.  Many of these places are run by charities and have to pay disposal fees for the unusable items they receive.

Women's shelters
Call and see if they need your gently used women's clothing and accessories, housewares for women moving out of the shelter and rebuilding their lives, toys and children's items.

Animal shelters
These can sometimes use old pillows and blankets and, of course, pet supplies.

Crisis pregnancy centers
Donate baby clothes and other baby items to a mother experiencing an unexpected pregnancy.

Homeless Shelters and Services
In colder climates, donations of good quality winter coats, scarves, gloves and footwear can literally be life saving.



OPTION #3: GIVE AWAY
Sometimes when I have something that I know a friend of mine will love, I just pass it on to them instead of selling or donating it.

I once committed to give away one item from my home to my friends on facebook every day for 100 days.  I would take a picture of an item, post it on facebook, and the first person to claim it would get it.  It was a great way to do some decluttering while having fun and making a bit of a game out of it.

This is a great option for books and movies you enjoyed but probably won't read or watch again.  Instead of letting it collect dust on your shelf, pass it on to a friend that will enjoy it, with the caveat that when they are done they will pass it on to someone else who will enjoy it.  Spread the love!

You can also join a local freecycle group.  Not only will you find homes for your items, you might meet some like minded people in your community.




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