How to Declutter and Sell Your Stuff Before You Move
There’s a perennial decluttering trend; Americans, specifically, have a particular affinity for creating and holding onto clutter.
We are so addicted to clutter that we created a name for organization experts, called ‘Gurus’. People like Peter Walsh (7 Secrets of a Master Organizer), Marie Kondo (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up), and my personal favorite: Margareta Magnusson (The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning), who’ve generated endless content showing us how we’re slowly suffocating in our stuff.
Your impending mortality isn’t the only reason to declutter. Changing seasons, changing relationships, or an impending move are great reasons to get rid of stuff.
While you’re becoming enlightened through getting rid of excess, there are plenty of people out there still adding more clutter to their homes, and they’ll pay you for yours. Keep reading for tips and tricks to making money while decluttering.
How to Declutter
Before you can start raking in the cash, you need to declutter your own home first. If you’re getting ready for a move, start this process early. Decluttering dovetails with setting a packing schedule. Below are some decluttering tricks:
- Guilty Memories
- If you don’t like the family heirlooms you own, don’t hold onto them because of guilt. Offer them to the rest of the family and then dispose of them and treasure the free space.
- Your Memories
- Look at objects without sentimental value; if clothes are ragged, or dishes are chipped- then it’s time for them to go. Trust your memory, rather than ‘stuff’.
- 12 Months Rule
- If you haven’t used it or worn it in a year then it’s got to go.
- Cardboard Box Test
- Put the clutter into a cardboard box. If you pull something out of the box to use it within a month, then you keep it. Anything that’s left in the box at the end of the month goes to the yard sale. Pro Tip: This strategy works for kitchen utensils, cosmetics, skincare, and clothes.
- Dueling Trash Bags
- Pick a starting room (any room) and sort clutter into ‘trash’ and ‘yard sale’ piles. Do it once a day for the month. You’re guaranteed to reduce the clutter and have plenty for your yard sale.
After a few weeks of going through your home, you should have a nice pile of stuff becoming merchandise.
Rebranding Trash as Treasure
While you’re out to make some cash, first acknowledge that you will not get as much money as you paid for it.
The real goal is to ditch extra clutter and save some money while moving. Any cash you end up with is a bonus.
- Price things to sell: be realistic, and prepare to take the best offer someone gives you.
- A little TLC can go a long way: It’s not worth it to repair broken junk, but clean off dirt and dust.
- When selling online: take high quality photos, use descriptive words, and include measurements.
- Whether selling online or at a yard sale, make your stuff look nice.
Online Yard Sales and Apps
These aren’t ‘ye olden days’ of yard sales. New ways of selling used stuff make it conveniently easier. Start with your high value items: Anything designer, vintage, or current electronics (not your box TV from the 80s, sorry).
- You can name your price, and if you start early, you can set prices a little high and adjust down.
- Once you post an item, you don’t have to do more work to make a sale.
- Post high-value items online and then turn your attention to the rest of your clutter.
When selling your stuff online, high quality pictures go a long way to making an online sale. Take the time to set up an area for a photoshoot with lots of daylight.
After you’ve posted your high-end items, take your clothes and electronics in good condition, and head to...
Consignment Shops and Pawn Shops
These are the spots to hit up for your clutter that’s still in fairly good condition.
Only take what they want, name the price, and take a percentage of the sale. But, they’re taking your stuff out of your home immediately and then giving you money when it sells. Don't be afraid to try multiple shops. Hit up every consignment shop in your area, if one shop doesn’t take something another one might.
Although there are many, many consignment shops out there, here are some nationwide brands that you can start with:
- Buffalo Exchange
- Just Between Friends
- Plato’s Closet
- Crossroads Trading
They name a price and you can take it or leave it; but for tools, electronics, and home appliances, it's a low stress way of unloading bulky items.
After you’ve run through consignment shops in your area, and you’ve sold as much as you can online, it’s time to set up a good old fashioned yard sale to get rid of the rest.
Old Fashioned Yard Sales
There are different ways to hold a yard sale. If you’re unloading a lot of clutter, take advantage of a few options over several weeks to make the process less overwhelming.
- Single Home: A solo sale in front of your home. Pro Tip: Move your single home yard sale to a public park or busy neighborhood intersection to increase traffic.
- Group: Plan a sale with friends and family. You’ll increase traffic with more people advertising.
- Meetup: Join with strangers for group yard sales. Find online listings, or plan one yourself.
- Swaps: Flea markets and swaps are great places to set up a table and sell strange and unique items.
- Baby Clothes: $1-$3
- Adult Clothes: $2-$5
- Shoes: $5-$7
- Coats: $10-$15
- Furniture: $10-$30
Some additional tips for making your yard sale a success:
- The best times for yard sales are weekend mornings, but for better attendance try to go from Friday night through Sunday afternoon.
- Pre-bundle items: For groups of stuff, like baby clothes or books, bundle them together. Sell the lot for a set price. You’ll sell more, faster and shoppers feel like they’re getting a deal.
- Have batteries and an extension cord handy for people to test electronic items to make sure they work.
You’re responsible for getting the word out about your yard sale. Some proven methods:
- Flyers: If you’re in a city with foot traffic, post on street lamps and neighborhood coffee shops. Pro Tip: Check out these free moving resources to help you create a flyer for your moving sale.
- Social media: Post on your own feed, and use hashtags. Make sure your post is public.
There’s a chance that your clutter is so good that you sell everything by this point. But it’s more likely you’ll have a few boxes of odds and ends leftover- next to your hefty pile of cash. Consider donating the leftovers.
The final stop for your clutter is the donation bin, where old stuff gets a second life doing good for others. The ‘feel good’ way of getting rid of stuff. Plus, there's a financial upside to donating your items! You can typically write-off the value of your donation on your taxes. Just be sure to get a receipt from the charitable organization that you donate to.
- Books: Donate to your local library. For kids' books try local schools. ‘Reading Tree’ collects books and sends them to underfunded schools.
- Clothes: Give your remaining clothes to a cause close to your heart. Groups usually collecting are homeless teens and women’s shelters.
- Electronics: Recycle whenever possible! Read our tips for how to recycle old electronics. Or, donate them to your local school system, library or nonprofit.
- Furniture: Many charities offer free donation pick up for gently used furniture. ‘Furniture Banks’ is nationwide and accepts used furniture for people getting back on their feet.
- Old Linens: Animal shelters accept donated linens so homeless pets have a cozy place to sleep. Call ahead to make sure your local shelter is accepting donations.
Even if most of your clutter ends up going to donation, you still get the real benefit: a less cluttered home. Plus, you’re helping people in need!
Declutter and Profit (emotionally and fiscally)
If you’ve been waiting to declutter your home and just can’t find the motivation to get started, you’re not alone.
Reducing the amount of stuff that you need to pack is just one way to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Look over these other methods of having a stress-free move. Decluttering gets easier as you make a habit of it. Get good at it and you can develop a side-hustle decluttering for friends and family. Get really good at it and you get a Netflix special.
Start small, tackling one room or closet at a time. Think of decluttering as a practice, rather than a chore. Consider the money from selling your clutter as added motivation- not to buy more stuff (c’mon, now), but to pay down credit card debt or student loans. Or put the money towards an overdue vacation, you deserve it. Experiences > Stuff, but we’ll save that for another blog.