Congratulations! You have taken the big step to clear the clutter from your home!
Now you have a few trash bags sitting in the corner waiting to be dealt with. Don’t lose your momentum and let those bags just sit there (speaking from experience)! It is time to make a decision about where to unload the clutter. Do you sell, donate or give away your wares? Before we look at which option works best for you:
Consider your Strengths
Are you a true Home Economizer who thrives on making your money go as far as possible? Or is the idea of selling unwanted items more of a chore?
Be honest with yourself on your current ability to make these sales happen. If the time it takes to sell your items is not worth the money you get in return, then let yourself move on to another choice.
- gets the clutter out of your home quickly (especially if you put it in the back of your car immediately for drop off)
- supports worthwhile causes
- ability to write off what you donated on your taxes
- no extra cash from your clutter
- takes time to record everything donated (optional unless you are going to write off the donation on your taxes)
- Yearly deductions can not be over $500 in one year (without an appraisal)
In order to qualify for a tax write off, the clothing or goods must be in “used good or better condition.” But really charities don’t want items that are not in good condition anyway.
photo via Bob Jagendorf
You can write off the fair market value of the items, but not the original purchase price. Anyone who has taken a stroll through a thrift store has a good sense of the current value. Craigslist and ebay also give you a good estimate of current value and you can even print out examples to document how you came to your fair market price if you are ever audited. The Salvation Army has also put together a handy guide to help you find the value of your donations.
A simple table can record an inventory of your donations for deductions. The columns can be labeled with something like items donated, date purchased, original price, and current market value.
I am not a tax professional, so before you start writing off your items or for more information about valuing your donations you can check out the always captivating IRS Publication 561
If you believe you have more than $500 worth of items, it might be worth it to have a garage sale or (my personal favorite) sell the premium items and donate the rest.
- receive more money for your items
- the extra time and effort
- many times need to have quality items (name brand clothing, etc.)
As you know, there are many options when selling items. A few I have personal experience with are:
The easiest to do in my opinion, best for large and mid-range items. We purchased all of our baby furniture from Craigslist and then sold it 3 years later for just a little less than we paid for it. If you are selling items that you purchased retail than you should be able to get around a 50% return depend on the wear and tear and demand. I have never tried to buy or sell clothes on Craigslist but have used it to find all sorts of things from a bike to a juicer successfully.
I used amazon for selling some books and was able to make over $150. When you calculate my hourly rate based on the amount I made and the time put in, it was totally worth the time I spent on the process. Not all books are worth selling, so you have to do some research (simply input the ISBN number to see the going rate of your book).
I find Ebay, with the photos, calculating the shipping, and going to the post office to be more trouble than it is worth; unless you have items that are collectibles or highly sought after. I am sure there are many that would disagree with me but I have never been a fan.
Consignment can be a great option for clothes, specifically children’s clothes. My local baby resale store offers 40% of what they sell the clothes for. For example, dresses are sold for $4.49 and so you would get paid $1.79 for your kid’s dress. They would buy 3T jeans for $1.50. Depending on your garage sales, this could be more than or pretty close to what you get for them. The drawback I have experienced with adult clothes is the consignment store was only interested in name brand items. You’ll have to check with your local store to see if the price feels worth it to you.
I have a love/hate relationship with garage sales so it needed its own pros and cons list.
photo via colros
- able to sell a large amount of items at once
- control over prices (compared to consignment or Ebay auction)
- time-consuming and labor intensive!
- super bargain hunters looking for deals can leave you giving away items dirt cheap or you’ll be left with items still to unload because they are priced to high
Garage sale gives you the smallest bang for your buck since items are priced at 25% or less of retail price. Mandy from Biblical Homemaking describes it best:
Those $35 jeans that don’t fit you anymore, but are in great condition.
Garage Sale Value: $2.
Tax deductible value if donated: $12.
If you are in the 15% tax bracket, the tax credit of those pants: $1.80
If you are in the 25% tax bracket: $3.00
You get almost the same amount or more, and you didn’t have to wake up at 6 am to move the tables out of the garage!
This example only strengths donation as my favorite option!
Whether it is giving to friends through a clothing swap, listing items for free on Freecycle or Craigslist, or even putting the items on the side of the road with a free sign on it; there can be extreme satisfaction in watching your items go to someone super excited to get free swag.
While this might be considered one of the easiest, (besides the dumpster) be careful not to saddle yourself with too many tasks trying to make sure the right things get to right people. My friend wanted to give away items, but wound up holding on to them for months until she was able to get together with those particular friends again. Those items still took up valuable space in her home. It is one thing to help others with your unwanted items and it is another to create a pile of to-dos that will be easy to push to the side when life gets in the way.
Whether you decide to do one or a combination of the options above, there is no better feeling than when you remove the clutter from your space!
What is your favorite way to unload clutter? Do you tend to donate items or sell them? Did I miss your favorite selling site?