One of the hardest things about purging is figuring out what on earth to do with all of the stuff we no longer need. After watching my husband clean out the garage I am surprised by just how differently we approach this problem.
While I cleaned out the majority of the house my husband was in charge of a small section of the basement and the garage. When it was his turn to remove clutter he pulled six large trash cans into the backyard and began tossing everything in sight into them.
A couple of things were tossed into a pile for family members, but the rest were pitched with little regard. He could have donated some of the stuff, but truth be told everything was in need of a good cleaning. Those Christmas bulbs may have worked, but who is going to dust off fifty little glass balls before bundling them up for donation? A few days later he rolled those trash cans to the street and early the next morning all that unwanted stuff was taken away. Within an hour or two his work was complete.
Unfortunately getting rid of stuff is not so easy for me. I tend to review every item carefully and ask myself whether or not we should keep it. I didn’t see my husband ponder for more than a second. He looked at each item and either pitched it into the trashcan or placed it back on the shelf.
It’s not so easy for me. I run through a series of options in my head. If we aren’t going to keep it should we donate it, toss it or try to sell it. If I sell it how much time and energy will it take to find a buyer? If I donate it when should I drive over to the donation center? Should I continue to gather items before making a trip over there or should I make a trip every time I fill a bag up?
Where do I store things while waiting to drag them off to donation and where do I hide things so extended family members don’t see the bags I plan to donate?
While I think some of the things my husband tossed could have been donated or sold I did appreciate his simple approach to getting rid of the junk. It seemed a whole lot easier than the mental hoops I jump through.
I settled on a few rules this time around that seemed to make my life easier.
- First, I set aside any new and/or like-new items in a drawer in my dresser. If I found anything new in a box or with tags still attached I turned to eBay to see if I could sell it. I put watches on similar listings and waited to see if they sold. If they sold I created a seven day listing and waited. If the items failed to sell I listed them one additional time.
- I didn’t waste time listing any items I didn’t think would sell or any items that would earn less than a $10 profit. Unfortunately I failed to earn that much on three or four of my transactions!
- I sold all of my books to book buying services. I know I could earn more selling each book individually, but I wanted the stuff out of my house so I sold them in big bundles and figured some cash back was better than nothing.
- I took a lot of trips to the donation center! I could have waited until I was finished with every room in the house, but just like the books my ultimate goal was to get these items out of my sight. Some nights I took the bags right out to the car, other times I stacked the items to be donated in large paper bags and stored them in a corner of my dining room. (I like the paper bag approach because unlike garbage bags you can line them up neatly.)
The amount of time I spent cleaning, compared to my husband, is quite shocking, but I still feel good about my approach. After all…
- Unlike the garage and basement a lot of the items within the main rooms of the house were in good condition and can be used by someone else. I would feel terribly guilty throwing anything away that could take on a second life.
- I made a small pocketful of change on the items I listed on eBay.
- By donating the majority of stuff and selling some things off to bulk buyers I didn’t earn as much as I probably could have, but I did get everything out of the house quickly!