Thursday, January 17, 2013

Decluttering Success

A (very) belated Happy New Year to you!

For the third time in as many months, I feel like I’m on the cusp of “catching up”: bills paid, little snippets of paper under control, cleaning mostly up-to-date and only a handful of items on the to-do list. I hope I don’t jinx myself in terms of getting sick!

One of my proudest accomplishments: I’ve recently purged a number of items from our home via eBay, Craiglist and Freecycle. Though the proceeds have been minimal, I am delighted that these items have been given a second chance and will not be heading to the landfill for a while longer.

To date, we’ve parted with:
The above-pictured Ikea chairs (Freecycle)
A papasan dorm-style chair (Craigslist)
A spare set of yard sale golf cubs (Freecycle)
Four teddy bears that I was once collecting (eBay)
A necklace I never wore (eBay)
A highly breakable crystal bowl not compatible with young boys (eBay)

As a result, the basement is a lot less cluttered. I also have a few bucks in my PayPal account!

If you are highly motivated to pass on some of your earthly treasures this year, here are a few tips that I’ve gathered from my personal experience. I’d love for you to add your ideas in the comments section.

Choose the right listing venue
You must first decide if you want to dispose of your item quickly, or if you are willing to be patient in order to make some money.

  • eBay is a great way to get broad exposure for items that are relatively small and easy to ship. Though competing with many other sellers, you can offload almost any item in new or good condition that appeals to the average person (jewelry, accessories, clothing, children’s items, household items, etc.) 
  • Craigslist is a great option for items that are inconvenient to ship or that are showing a little bit of use, such as furniture, large quantities of clothing, large toys, etc.
  • Freecycle is a great way to get rid of nearly anything, and quickly. Your only investment is time in reviewing the myriad emails and putting the item out on your porch.
  • Facebook is a growing way to announce that you have items to part with. It’s also a terrific way to find a lender if you need to borrow something for the weekend.

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes
Who doesn’t love free shipping? If you are listing an item on eBay, offer free shipping. However, please save yourself frustration by first packing it up and taking it to the post office or UPS store and having them give you a price to ship it as far away as possible. (I always seem to end up selling to people on the West Coast.)  Build the shipping into your cost and be realistic.

Also, be sure to take good photos of what you are offering, even on Craigslist. I’ll be turned off by seeing the item in your dank-looking basement, wondering just how creepy you might be. Take a few extra minutes to make it presentable. An honest representation about whether the item has been in the home of a smoker, or about stains/wear is also something I would expect before buying.

On the other hand, don't be ashamed of your ugly, beat-up possessions. There is probably a do-it-yourself-er that would love to get their hands on project materials. Remember that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Time it right
Hands down, it seems like Sundays are the best day for Craigslist and Freecycle pickups. Post your items on Thursday or Friday night so they are gone before the next workweek begins. This is also a good timeframe for eBay auctions. People are more prone to be available to place last-minute bids when they are home, especially on these dark winter evenings.
So what are you looking to get rid of soon? How will you get the word out?

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