Over the years my husband and I have purchased many items we’ve barely used and quite a few that have never seen the light of day.
First there are the infamous electronics. We owned an Apple TV and a Popcorn Hour that were used for less than a month. There’s a Wii Fit collecting dust underneath the table that holds our television and a Playstation that’s just as dusty right beside it. We owned DVDs at one point that we watched only once or twice and video games that are still in their shrink wrapped paper.
There was also that $400 pile of men’s dress clothes we purchased for a job that my husband never accepted and bags of shirts and pants that I shipped to Goodwill after wearing them on one and only one occasion.
We certainly didn’t set out to waste the money. We had every intention of watching DVDs, exercising with the Wii and wearing the clothes we purchased. It’s just that for some reason or another we ultimately realized the Apple TV didn’t work quite the way we hoped, exercising to the same video games became boring, and those clothes that looked so amazing in the mirror at the store, didn’t look quite the same way once we got home.
After cleaning out the closets and decluttering our home I’ve come to a couple of solid conclusions. First, if I buy clothes I must jump around in them while I’m still in the dressing room. A lot of the clothes I donated just weren’t comfortable. They were too small in one place or too large in another. Now, before I purchase anything new I really need it to feel just right.
If I can prevent yourself from purchasing unwanted and unncessary items in the first place, I’ve won the battle. If I can’t stop myself from buying something I move on to step two.
If I decide an item is worth purchasing I stow the receipt in a special binder and try the item on at least one more time at home. If I decide I still want it, I place the item in the front of the closet so I’ll be forced to look at it each time I open the door. If I don’t wear it within a week or two I gather the receipt and take it back to the store. I hate to waste time returning unwanted stuff, but I’d rather take the time to get back my money while I can.
A lot of stores have short return policies these days, so I make certain that I mark a date on my electronic calendar so I won’t forget to go back to the store.
Unfortunately, electronics aren’t quite as easy to deal with, but I have come up with a quasi-solution for them too. I know that I won’t be able to return the item once the box has been opened, but I still store the box anyway. I have a couple of plastic tubs in the basement that I reserve for this very purpose.
If my husband decides he doesn’t want some piece of equipment he recently purchased, (which usually happens because it doesn’t work quite the way he expected), then I immediately take pictures of the item, including the box and list it on eBay.
Now this sucks, because we will never recoup the cost of the original item, but if we list the item right away we can be certain to get the highest price for it. There’s no sense in waiting months or years to sell an item that is outdated. A new model will sell for close to it’s manufacturer’s listed price while an old model will sell for only pennies on the dollar.
Of course, in an ideal world we would never buy items that we don’t use, but let’s face it life doesn’t always work out that way. While we are much more careful these days and think long and hard before buying something, it is inevitable that we will end up with something that we no longer desire.
When that time comes I now have a plan for dealing with our unwanted stuff and I can now reclaim a good portion of the money that would have otherwise been wasted.