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What If You Have A LOT of Crap to Sell?

in Joan's Posts, Sell Your 'Stuff'

selling-a-lot-of-crap

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

Last week, I received a note from a reader asking me a question that I’ve received before, but that we haven’t previously addressed on Man Vs. Debt.

Her question was essentially this:

“What do you do if you have a lot of crap to deal with? For instance, hoarding, stuff boxed up in storage units, etc.?”

And while I had some short advice to offer, I thought that question deserved more discussion here with the MvD community.

When you have a lot of stuff

Dealing with a hoarding situation (yours or a family member’s) is one case where you might need to deal with “bulk stuff.” But there are other reasons too – the death of a loved one; a sudden need to downsize or relocate; the need to get stuff out of a storage unit (or units!); maybe having someone move in with YOU temporarily.

The thing is, some of our crap-selling advice is based on the idea that you have time, and you have space. When you’re dealing with stuff in bulk, sure, you’d like to make money, but you also want to balance that with time and space concerns. That said, a lot of the same techniques still apply!

See that photo above? That’s my garage. Not my stuff, but my garage. We’re helping friends of ours get ready to move to Puerto Rico as missionaries, and before they relocate, they’re temporarily staying with us AND selling almost everything they own.

That’s the sell pile. So not only was our reader’s question interesting in a broad “Hey, the Man Vs. Debt community needs to hear about this” sense, it was interesting in a personal, “Uh, I’ve got lots of stuff in my garage” sense.

It’s forced me to create a very different game plan. Normally, when I’m selling my crap, I’ve got a pile of stuff that can sit on my fireplace for a few days until it leaves the house.

It’s easy to photograph and list individual items for sale on various platforms. It’s not changing how I live my life. It’s manageable.

But the garage? Less so. And in case of my friendly reader, who said I could share some details of her story in the hope of helping other MvD readers know they’re not alone, it’s reached the point of “I don’t even know where to start.”

From her story:

“My brother and I downsized our apartments right into our dad’s house so there are old bedrooms packed in with stuff we once cared about but now know we’ll never need again. I’d like to sell from his house but it’s riddled with boxes and books and just gives a bad impression of how good the stuff for sale is, let alone the items in our overpriced-and-not-really-needed storage unit. I have living room furniture packed into both places and I guess I’m going to Craigslist it. Once it’s gone I’ll be glad I’m not having to worry about it. I was holding onto it hoping to put it ‘properly’ into an empty bedroom at my Dad’s but it seems there may never be an empty bedroom there. I’d rather do my part to free his floor space (though the stuff makes him feel like less of an empty nester) than to treat it like it’s normal to live piled-high.”

So… what do you do when there’s SO MUCH that it’s hard to even get started?

The “Lots of Stuff” game plan

 Step 1: Address major space issues first.

Our friendly reader is going to tackle her living-room furniture. That’s perfect – it’s LARGE, and it’ll free up a LOT of space. Don’t even worry about money so much here. If you have a gigantic item that you can get gone for $10 – or by donating – tackle that first!

Pick off as many sizeable things as possible, without having to dig too, too deep. It gets SO MUCH EASIER to deal with the rest of the stuff when you have a little elbow room to get at it.

Step 2: Identify big-ticket items as you go.

As we’re dealing with our garage, many items are simply destined for a good yard sale. We’ll talk more about that later, but interspersed among them are some items that can fetch good prices if listed online and sold individually.

There’s way too much stuff to sell each item that way. We’ve sort of taken the game plan of “If it’s easy to get to and photograph, or if it’s particularly valuable, we’ll list it individually.” That’s been the case with several antiques, some household items (like an airbed), bulk collections of clothing, and so on. We’re focusing our individual-item-selling efforts on the things that will give us the biggest cash return for the most reasonable time investment.

Step 3: Clear out less-valuable items fast.

This is where a yard sale can come into play, or an estate sale, or having an auctioneer bulk-buy from the space you’re clearing out.

In cases where you’re selling to an auction house or dealer, you’re likely to want to move some of the big-ticket items you identified above to that person as well, but with a yard sale, you can put out all those items that might sell online for $5 each, but you just can’t take the time to list them.

My recommendation? Price a few items at your yard sale, and make the rest 25 cents an item or “best offer.” Get stuff gone. Lots of stuff. You’re not going to do that selling books or DVDs for $1 apiece. You’ll sell some, but you won’t clear out in bulk.

Remember that it’s not just about the money. Those items sitting in your garage waiting to be sold for $1 are worth LESS to you now than those items sold for a quarter. Think about it. That space is valuable.

If you really want to get crazy, figure out how much you’re paying in rent or mortgage each month to house those items. You’ll start looking at selling them for a quarter MUCH differently!

And when you’re done that yard sale, whatever hasn’t sold? Donate it and get a tax receipt. Again, this doesn’t include your identified “big-ticket” items. But all those 50-cent and $3 and even $5 items? Free up the space, and get them to a good home.

Step 4: Regroup and restart.

If you’ve cleared out large items, listed some of your big-ticket items for individual sale, gotten rid of some “bulk” in a yard sale and by donating, you should start to see a significant dent in your pile of stuff.

That’s when it’s time to regroup and restart. Have you unearthed other large items that should go to make more room? Can you start grouping what’s left into lots for selling as bigger-ticket deals? Are there things you can immediately donate or throw out, or is another yard sale in order?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Keep at it, and each time, it’ll get easier and easier to find things, make decisions about them, and sell them or otherwise purge them. It’s never “easy.” But it does get better.

Bonus step: Set deadlines.

In the case of my garage, we’ve got a built-in deadline: Our friends need to move to Puerto Rico this fall. The stuff’s got to be gone by then. That makes our decision process a lot easier. Yes, we’ll take $20 for that $40 item if you can take it NOW, you know?

If you don’t have a time crunch, though, I highly suggest you fake one! It’s too easy to get stuck in procrastinationPick a date and commit to it.

If you’re paying rent on a storage unit, give yourself three months to get it emptied. Cancel your agreement effective that date. Then you’ve got to make it happen!  Otherwise, it’s too easy to get overwhelmed, say, “I’ll deal with that later,” and end up in the same boat 5 years later. Trust me, I’ve been there!

Changing your mindset about stuff

This is really the key. You can clear out a space once. But you really don’t want to be doing it two, three, four times. And it WILL build up again – if you don’t change your mindset.

That’s why I loved hearing from our friendly reader. She wrote:

Reading Man Vs. Debt articles has really helped me see possessions as anchors. I wish I could get my family to do the same. I ask for movie passes and restaurant gift cards as gifts and they get mad at me because I don’t want some ancient paperweight from an estate sale. I’ve tried to explain how I have to care for, clean, and pack these items and I’d rather have experiences but they don’t understand. They’d rather spend $$$ doing both and I’d rather save money and not have to bubble-wrap everything. I hope that once they see how nice it is to not live with stuff, they’ll want their homes stuff-free and join me on the CL/eBay/Amazon crusade of cleanliness.

That’s what we hope, too. And while there are deep, deep issues that go into situations of hoarding, many more than we can tackle here on MvD, we can give you hope that there’s a plan to tackle the stuff, if you’re ready and willing!

Do you have questions about selling “bulk stuff” or experience doing so? Are you ready to get started?

We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucille July 12, 2013 at 9:02 AM

I don’t sell anything; I give it away…to friends, charity and anyone else who wants it.
I like getting rid of almost anything that binds me to the past…..most posessions keep you anchored and I’m a free spirit. I always feel lighter when I give stuff away.
I believe in minimalist living so anything else is given away or dumped. You don’t have to move to another country to travel light!

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Bee July 12, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Enlist Help and make it a Work Party! Make time for it, but get others involved. There is time frame and accountability built in. I know a professional organizer who charges $50 an hour to help people make decisions about keep / toss/ donate/ sell. Knowing this, having friends help with a project seemed a better use of my resources! And sometimes you just want to feed off someone else’s optimism and energy! They can bring skills too — like lifting/ moving or taking pictures or being the Ebay/Craigslist guru. It can be casual or it can be Hard Core assembly line style.

Afterwards, reward them accordingly! Pizza and drinks or maybe its bowling with friends afterwards or its offer free babysitting… you know your friends and what makes them happy! If you get volunteer help, then writing thank you cards or making a donation can be a big help. Get names of the volunteers helping you too — its a little detail that means volumes when you write your thank yous.

And if you have connections to a Faith Community then you can possibly call people for Reinforcement Help. Again, small time frame, and a small army requires A serious thought out plan of action and all the tools ready.
You may be able to get the Teen Youth Group over to help if you promise a donation to their Activity fund after their help for a few hours. You may also get other Faith Families (who agree to help with delegated tasks — from watching kiddos, to taking pictures, to bringing tarps for the area for sorting). Its worth the effort to ask! If you are working with elders you may have other community groups with volunteers who can help. Call your local united Way and ask if there are community groups you could call.

If you are bringing in help — plan AHEAD how you want the hours to go, so they go smoothly. Be ready to be the delegated leader and have Pile Areas ready to go. You can call your waste mgmt folks for a dumpster if you think you will have excess stuff you just want to ditch and be done with it. There is a small fee, but its worth it! You can also set up tarps or old bedsheets for different pile areas. Perhaps friends/volunteers have trucks where they agree to drop stuff off at the thrift store for you. That means have boxes ready. Liquor stores often have boxes for free, just scope out where you can get them.

Lots of volunteers want to BE BUSY and USEFUL. Know what you want them to do. And then let them go. With a small army you can accomplish volumes in two hours! Plan accordingly. I can’t stress this enough. If you just want to be able to stand and point and delegate, that’s great!

When dealing with MASSIVE amounts of stuff the TIME factor decides plenty for you. When you are on a deadline, its NOT about the $$ you can make.
And you may wrestle with this “But its worth something” a lot. I sure did. But remember it takes TIME and EFFORT and FOLLOW UP to post stuff to sell. If you have volunteer help they help with this part.

A TV show that dealt with cleaning out rooms and transforming them had a Tarp system and used front lawns. KEEP, SELL, DONATE. You will want boxes for all three areas. But that system is genius — it forces you to make decisions. That’s what MASSIVE crap needs first and foremost.

***BIG ISSUES NOT TO OVERLOOK!!!**** MAKING the decision to deal with the Crap is VERY different than TAKING ACTION with it. Be aware before jumping in that this is HARD DECISION MAKING. Its Emotional. It is draining. But if you acknowledge *that* you are prepared to create systems for yourself. Know what you need. Happy music? Time frame? Before and after pictures? A clean, fresh hotel room to sleep in that night?

Speaking of pictures — its a GREAT idea to take pics of the stuff, even if you are going to donate it. Remember it digitally but then MOVE IT OUT.

A hotel room– what? If this stuff is in the place you live/are staying — and you are going to uproot the place by making piles, cleaning out closets– then respect the disruption. Use the bedroom/ living room for sorting — Give yourself the gift of a couple of nights in a hotel after hard core sorting, dealing, deciding, photographing, boxing, listing. The clean open space of the hotel room is good for you. And if they have a pool, hot tub and free bkfast even better. You need to take care of yourself during these intense days.

And give yourself a perspective of gratitude when dealing with PILES and PILES of stuff.
Remember to tell yourself (or print it out a sign and post it on the doors and walls to remind yourself) YOU HAVE BEEN A GOOD STEWARD OF THESE THINGS. IT IS RIGHT, IS CARING, and IS GOOD TO SEND THESE THINGS OFF TO NEW HOMES!)

***ALSO! If this is NOT your crap (aka downsizing mom and dad) understand that if this has not been a conversation you have been having for a YEAR or more in preparation, then this may be seen as a HURTFUL, painful personal attack. They see you making decisions about their life’s memories. You may see “old stuff you don’t even use anymore” but they see it as their life’s museum — and each thing has memories. Emotional issues and attachment issues are VERY real. And “just stepping in to help” may be seen as clodhoppers stomping all over their life and can damage relationships with people you love very much. I recommend this book: Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash-A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move http://www.amazon.com/Memories-Trash-A-Helping-Downsize-Organize/dp/0978818938
Oh and there is this
and HOARDING is a very serious mental health issue. Its NEVER about the stuff. Never. And dealing with the stuff is overwhelming for them, even just dealing with making decisions on one box may take up their whole day. Pick your battles — you may lose your relationship with them over “helping to clean up.” Read up on hoarding before jumping in to be an organizational hero. You won’t be. They will resent any work or decisions or changes to their life. Enlist professional help if you can! There will be fights. There will be emotional volcanic episodes. Hoarders don’t want to change because they don’t see a problem with having their stuff. This is a person you need to think really hard about helping, and I say that with love, as I know them and love them and have had falling-outs as a result of helping. This is a whole other topic and I won’t get into it, but its a WHOLE OTHER ANIMAL than “just dealing with a lot of crap.”

But if it is your stuff– Put some CELEBRATION in the WORK DAY! And take pictures of the stuff, play fun music, have a plan, enlist the help of others to your Party To Clean Out the (__________)!!! It really can make a HUGE difference and can make short work of your mess.

I’ve seen it where a bunch of church dads, moms and youths helped a family clear out their overwhelming garage – and the moms took care of the little ones and/or the family elders and made food for the crew. They took party before pics. They all had working gloves, trashbags, boxes and supplies in their cars — ready to work! Then they dove in and made it happen. They had a foreman, they had music playing and the garage-celing-high-of-crap was dealt with in an afternoon! There was a dumpster for the day. One of the kids took pics of everything and everyone all day. And a few others brought digital cameras specifically to take pics of the things (both for selling and for donating). Anything for a garage sale was taken to a friends house (out of site out of mind is HUGE in this process). The friend’s house was the site of the garage sale! Then they took after pics. What’s the magic ingredient? Teamwork with a common purpose, limited time frame and a enthusiasm/hopeful outlook. It can be done!

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Mari July 12, 2013 at 12:39 PM

I am the reader from the article and I love Your suggestions, they go very well with Joan’s article. I actually got a 30×30 tarp years ago after my Mom died so I could sort her possessions. She was the hoarder in my family and we are still digging out the house almost six years later. I need to get my family to utilize the tarp (previously it was me and a fed-up boyfriend) and truly get things gone.
We don’t have any friends to enlist but if I can get my Dad and Brother to just take things out of the dark house and into the light maybe the things can make their way to the thrift store. Thanks for commenting, You and Joan will help many folks like me.

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Money Beagle July 12, 2013 at 10:14 AM

If it’s completely overwhelming, you could always hire companies that run estate sales. They’ll sort it out, determine pricing, run the sale, and hand you the money that’s made (less their cut). It will cost you, but the thing is that most people probably aren’t going to do it anyways, so even if they take a third of the money from your ‘stuff’, you’ll end up with more than you likely would anyways as most people will just let it sit.

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Sassy July 12, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Great ideas, which I wish we had paid more attention to two years ago when we were pretty sure we would be moving from a large (5000 sq. ft.) home in the country to a much smaller place in an expensive metro area (ended up with a 1310 sq. ft. home). But as much as I kept saying “I need to put this on eBay” I never got around to it. So when it came time to get stuff out to prep the house for sale and ourselves for moving…it was tough.

We called in an auction house for a bunch of stuff. Mixed feelings on this: they brought a truck and took stuff away but their new moving crew separated things that went together (like shelves to oak bookcases, stand to a ceramic drum, etc.) One large sculpture had a piece broken off. But we console ourselves that we got all that stuff out of the house.

We did not live in a good area for a yard sale (in the country) so I filled our large porch for four separate charity pick ups; took ten overly full SUV loads to local charities; gave our painter a number of IKEA bookcases; and gave him the pieces of a secretary that broke when being moved by the painter and my husband (that one caused me some pangs, but was helped by the recognition that it wouldn’t fit in our new home).

Then when we were looking at a move in a week scenario, a friend posted things on a school district website (they had a spot for employees to post items to sell or trade). We priced things low and when folks came to pick up one or two things, we talked them into taking other things for free (figuring it would save us hauling say, the extra refrigerator, or paying someone to haul it away. Washer and Dryer for $25 each…take this yard art and grill too. When I could not sell some furniture I gave it away. IKEA dressers and a giant old TV to a young pregnant woman moving in with her fiancee (her family came to get them out of the house); exercise equipment to a neighbor with twin middle schoolers; the outdoor basketball hoop, ditto.

A friend bought several Rubbermaid totes of Legos, with the instructions filling yet another tote, for less than half of what the equivalent volume of plain pieces would cost at the local Lego store — they are very young but they and their father are already enjoying them at her house. The sofa went out for a trash pick up because it was too big to fit in the house: I don’t know if someone picked it up or the trash guys did (I was making more charity runs).

My husband took a lot of his sports memorabilia to a local sports shop and just took what they offered, even knowing that he might have been able to take the time to find individual buyers but not having that time.

What helped me was the realization that we were paying for the big move ourselves — everything I didn’t take saved us money even if we didn’t get money for it. I took a lot of pictures just to trigger memories and kept reminding myself that saving the money of moving was probably more than I would get from most of the items.

We had movers pack the truck. When we went to get them lunch and run some errands, they packed the half of the garage that we had told them was going to charity — and then filled that in with more stuff. They refused to unpack the truck, we didn’t want to take the time (and the damage to our backs) to do it ourselves, which leads to today…my living room is filled with stuff that we want to post on Craigslist and eBay. Some of it brought by that accident and a lot we realized that there is just no room for.

We were so focused on how much we got rid that we didn’t think through how much too much we were keeping. My dream move would be to move nearby, being able to take stuff, fit it in the new place or return it to the old and then have an estate sale or charity pick up there.

My college son has through today to get stuff listed and then split the profits; if he doesn’t then come Monday I do it myself…if I don’t list then, Tuesday everything goes to charity because we simply do not have room and we have to commit NOW.

And a reminder that at least in the USA, donations to charity are supposed to be itemized and those ten SUV loads and four porches full? Yeah: I have lists of everything single item. Saved us enough on our taxes to be worth it, although while I was making the darn lists, I was cussing most of the time (and learned the best way is to have someone else there who writes down what you tell them…then you can sort into the right pile and not have to stop to list or to go through the whole darn pile again).

Okay, I clearly needed to say all this to process what was a difficult time. What was particularly tough was just making all those decisions. I could go for a period of time and then realize that everything or nothing was being saved — always a clue to stop for a break.

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Jake @ Common Cents Wealth July 12, 2013 at 11:33 AM

This is great advice. I think the biggest part which you mentioned time and time again is to just get rid of the stuff no matter how you can. Don’t worry as much about the money because having it gone and the space clean is worth more than gaining an extra $20 or so.

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Mari July 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM

You and Joan are correct! We have held onto so many things and most every weekend my Dad and Brother shop to fill their loneliness, often buying things “to sell”. I need to get anything I can for these space-wasters. My favorite part of the article, besides feeling represented, was:
“Remember that it’s not just about the money. Those items sitting in your garage waiting to be sold for $1 are worth LESS to you now than those items sold for a quarter. Think about it. That space is valuable.”
I’m going to use this wonderful article Joan wrote (can I say for me, though I know it’s for all of us) to help me get every square foot back.

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Linda Miedzinski July 12, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Perfect advice for my current situation!!

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annay July 12, 2013 at 2:32 PM

We are in the midst of moving my mother-in-law out of her house. She was a hoarder, so there is a lot of stuff. The storage unit we rented is already full. She wants to keep everything, but she cannot afford to keep the storage unit. My question is: How do we get rid of stuff without upsetting her? I feel like I have to be the “bad guy” and just start dumping stuff, but we have no choice. Any ideas?

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Bee July 13, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Have her sort by THINGS THAT YOU LOVE for your new home. And the rest of it — tell her that you will take pictures of it and make her a photo book. The price of a photo book (or two or three depending how big the storage unit is) is worth the NoT paying for a storage unit and having her in a safe new place.
The photography aspect is HUGE HUGE.
And if she is a story teller (hoarders I know all have stories and attachment to their stuff. Bring a video camera or a audio recorder. Record her stories, her memories, her hopes and dreams, things and people and places she remembers while going thru the box. INVITE that level of conversation (even if you personally don’t give a hoot). Its a form of extending respect and allowing her to relive those memories. For Hoarders– each item is a PortKey (like in Harry Potter, where you touch the boot and you are taken to the other place and time). Yep.
Collect the stories. Let them talk. And take pictures of the item from many sides. And tell her there is only space for the Items She LOVES. And that you will create a book that lets her KEEP her STUFF for her MEMORIES, and that it all will still travel to her new place, just in a book. **Ideally you can take the pics and make a photo book, and if she’s computer savvy set them up as screensavers, and files she can click and go thru. Tell her she will still have the memories and no one is taking away her memories. Instead tell her that you LOVE that each thing is important. Tell her that you LOVE that this collection makes her Happy. Explain that the photos and story collecting is a new way of ALWAYS keeping the stuff around, even when there isn’t space. It may be be 100% (there’s alot of grief and lack of control going on in her world, so she’s likely to be mad and angry and say mean things). Accept that’s normal but that you are still loving her and taking care of her. But limiting things to THINGS SHE LOVES and then archiving the rest is extra work, true but the magic of digital cameras is astounding. But keep reminding her that you love her and you too love what makes her happy. Listen, let her touch and tell, take pictures, and then encourage HARD choices, choosing the things she LOVES. And then yes, tough love means you have to field out the rest.

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Bee July 13, 2013 at 3:08 PM

If there is Crafty stuff You are in Luck! If her new location (assisted living community or nursing home) has an activities director — approach them with the stuff as a donation to the community activities. Now if mom is SUPER territorial, don’t do this. She will just be “That’s mine! That’s mine” at activities and that’s sour grapes for everyone. But if you can have the discussion that the crafty stuff goes with her to her new place, and the activities director can use it too and its there for her anytime she wants — DO THAT. Knitters have EPIC yarn stashes. One knitter tells everyone, “When I die, put all my beloved, cherished yarn in my coffin and put me on top and then pack the rest in around me. I love my yarn collection so much! I can’t part with it, ever.” And wer’re all pretty sure her family will likely do that — she’s serious! But if you can get the collection in the building/community with MOM’s Blessing — win win. If not, then yes, you should donate it to a different agency. Out of sight out of mind. And later if she asks for it “I don’t know it got lost during the move” may be better answer than telling her you got rid of it. Its hard. Hoarders see anyone touching their stuff (just touching it) as a PERSONAL ATTACK. The language they use is very similar to physical violence and violation. But if she can’t keep the storage unit and you have to move her to a new place, then do what you can to TAKE PICTURES OF EVERYTHING. And then move forward however is best.

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Bee July 13, 2013 at 3:14 PM

It helps to remember that every Tchochkey, every book, every fabric, every single thing holds memories and connection. Honoring that honors her stuff and her life. If she resents you for it, that’s her choice, but you did what you could with the time that you had. Some people, as I was lovingly told when we were all dealing with a hoarder — “Some peoples is just the way they is and you gotta love them just as they is. You do not gotta love their stuff. But you do gotta find a way to honor their long, amazing, busy, complicated, beautiful Life anyway you can while they are here. That’s love even if that’s not the way they see it.”

That’s where photo books come in! They still have their stuff, its just a different PortKey now. One that can sit on a shelf, instead of fill a storage unit.

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Thomas | Your Daily Finance July 12, 2013 at 4:19 PM

If you got a lot of crap I wouldn’t honestly worry about selling it. I would be worryin about just getting rid of it all together. What I have seen to work is doing room by room but not just moving things from one room to the next. Get rid of it. There are companies you can hire, you can have a garage sale, you can give things away to Goodwill. I don’t like clutter so a lot of crap jut isn’t something thats going to work.

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Martha July 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM

OK. But what if, let’s say, you have decided to sell online for a living? You plan to make your income off of all this stuff.

But let’s just say that you love the sourcing and hunting and buying of the bargains WAY WAY more than you enjoy the photographing and listing of said bargains? What if that’s the way you ended up with this Hoarder’s Palace ful of S*T*U*F*F?

So how do you motivate yourself to get this stuff sold — stuff that you paid good money for with the intent of reselling it, and which you can’t just give away without bankrupting your dreams and your budget? and how do you keep from finding more great stuff to sell before you get anywhere near getting rid of all that stuff you have?

This has become my dilemma!

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Bee July 13, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Martha — Great question! And honestly — you are in a great place because you WANT to sell the stuff.
1. Listing the stuff is not your fun part — I get that.

OVERWHELM is an issue? *** Tell your self 3 Listings this week. Get them posted. Get the ball rolling. *****Then next week 5 Listings.

Don’t look at it as “I have hundreds of items” — Set a weekly goal. Even a monthly goal may feel overwhelming at first. So get the first 3 done — tell yourself over and over I CAN DO THIS. I AM DOING THIS! THIS FEELS GREAT!
And then do 10 at a time. You will have the skills to crank out listings shortly, you’ll see!!!

2. Who is your support team? CREATE A SUPPORT TEAM. Are you active in a church or social group? Ask for a photographer to visit once a week, take pics and download onto your computer. Have a stack ready to go and ask for an hour of their time at first. You need the pics — and you these days you can get 300 pics in a summer, so you will have plenty of pics for your postings.
3. . Decide how you want to sell them
FB local group if you are FB savvy or C-list (meet in a public place, not at your home unless its big furniture) or Ebay. You can sell them at a garage sale, but trust that you will only get pennies on the dollar. But if you have garage saley stuff — its a viable option (or the Trunk sale “out of the box” idea below).

TIME is an issue — who is your target market? Is there a group in your area that you can specifically target? For instance we have a “photographer prop” collective where folks buy vintage things for photoshoots. And one pic and the price on the FB page and people get instant offers. So think hard about who is interested in the stuff you have amassed. Kids stuff -Seek outt a MOPS (mother of preschoolers) group.
–> That is the beauty of marketing!

OLD SCHOOL SIGNAGE possibility
Consider August a GREAT time for home goods b/c College Kids and their Parents are looking for DORM/apartment stuff. So if you have those products — make sure to put that in your listing title. Also if your stuff is applicable to the college kid market and you are in a college town — contact the Info desk and ask how to get Posters Approved. Make a For Sale Sign with pic and description and then pull off tag phone # or email.

Thinking out of the box:
“Trunk Sale Day”
–> Approach the site in your community that has the Community Farmers Market. Ask if the site can have a “trunk sale” day — and people sign up to be vendors like they do for the farmer-sellers. There are likely other folks in your area who can’t have garage sales (live in apts, etc) who would love to sell crap too!! Its like a flea market, but not a big building. Its also a “special event” b/c its not every weekend. Its worth pursuing!
–>You may be able to approach your faith group/church about a “Trunk Sale” and have the community have sales out of the back of their car Trunk once a month. Its like a community garage sale, but it lets sellers keep prices higher than a regular garage sale. And you can suggest a $5 or $10 car park/spot reservation fee that benefits a specific effort/group in the church. This can also work with non-profits that you may be a part of, but its trickier as it needs to go thru months of committees and approval.
–> It gets you SEEN and things SOLD. And is limited to what you can carry in your car — so that’s a bonus! Why? you aren’t schlepping heaps of stuff, just a trunk full at a time.

“But I want maximum money for this stuff” — okay, I get that. If you have the time to wait — then you can find your highest paying TARGET market and sell to them. Like stamps and Stamp Collector Conventions/Sales. This requires effort, but can be done. Ebay can also be a strategy with the “buy it now” option where you set the price.

You want the ball rolling NOW!
Sell what you can start with NOW!
Post three things — today — NOW!

How do you stop your self from buying more?
MORATORIUM on SHOPPING.

Tell yourself that no shopping until you EARN $1000 with your items. (That means keeping accounting records of what you sold– you should do that anyway — but keeping a list on the fridge is a form of accountability. But if you are SERIOUS about not spending that $$ you earn from SELLING your stuff — ENLIST DISCIPLINE as your new best friend.

And maybe set up a bank account with a local bank. Why? Get to know a banker or teller on a first name basis. You will benefit from the social connection when you make a deposit.
If you want to be HARD core about saving $$ from your profits, ask someone to be your accountant. Let them handle THE MONEY. All of it. Why? Then you have to ask them if you want to make a purchase. It takes the “ooh I have $25 and I can get so much for that on Yellow tag days at Goodwill” syndrome OUT OF YOUR HABITS. Instead you have to ask them for $$ if you want to buy anything. This is also great if you have troubles with $$ (many hoarders do, its part of the “shopping high”). No shame.

JUST CREATE A TEAM OF SUPPORT!

And have meetings with them. This could be a friend who cares about you who you know is GREAT with money. You are asking a lot of this friend, but you may have one ready to step up in this new role. So too if the person is a relative. “Pay them somehow!” is absolutely required. Cook meals for them. Baby sit their kids for them. Whatever works. And when your $$ situation improves from sales, respect the POWER and ENERGY of your money and pay them for their time and talents. Its okay. There is more $ coming your way. But respect this team member!!

You can also pay a professsional accountant. They will only accept $ as payment. But if you need someone else to be incontrol of this new money cash flow — its worth it. You can’t pay them in lemon poppyseed muffins, but these people are there in your community. Call around ask about their services and prices. And when you do you will see that Friend or Family member’s worth in a whole new light. But as a hoarder — I get it, I know plenty– if you truly want to sell your stuff, YOU CHANGE YOUR DAILY HABITS.

You make time to post 3 things a day.
You make time to enlist the help of a Money Manager/Accountant who will be a helpful $$ steward so you don’t recklessly spend on “deals.”

HABITS also dictate your day.
How do you spend your day? Ever broken it down by hour? Go ahead, do that exercise. And then you see that that hour at the thrift store, spending $17 on four items now means FOUR HOURS of WORK to sell that deal and flip it. So instead of shopping SPIN your HABIT and make it WORK FOR YOU!

CHANGE YOUR DAILY HABITS.
That’s how change happens! It is possible! Impossible things are happening every day!

You can also enlist a “party” environment to get help. Have a party — have friends over socially (telling them its social and its helping you with your new project of selling your things). Everyone gets a stack of post it notes, and goes to pick out 5-7 items, and then they write up info on it, or put a post it note on the box where good info is listed on the box. Have an open space (a table or two? Space on the deck?) And then have your party of people sipping wine (or whatever) and they can be taking the pics with you, writing descriptions for items, and its SERIOUS and FUN and SOCIAL. People want to help — but they need space. If you have wifi, have room for one or two to set up their laptops. A friend who sold everything in his apartment before moving overseas had a TAG IT Party — and this approach is what he did! What worked? A TEAM of people. A rush of adrenaline with the helpers to get things tagged, creative descriptions for some items, nerdy details for other items. That guy gave himself ONE MONTH to sell it off and worked HARD I mean HARD to make it happen.

What helped is he made BIG listings of a LOT of things. “Lot” is a keyword on Ebay for selling all sorts of stuff in one listing.
You can do this with Cgslist too — like a (LOT of 10) size 14 dresses.
What to price it –? Profit is profit at first. If you bought the dresses for $4 each, recoop THAT amount or more ($40). So You can have 10 dresses for $50. or 10 dresses for $40. But that’s not profit. TRUE. But You are getting your $$ back. That’s PROFIT because its money back in your pocket.

Getting the same amount back — NO SHAME IN THAT. Its profit because its money you invested in the THING and now the THING is profitable. You may have to drop the dream of “This dress was $50 new and still has a tag on it so I can get $40 for it — ooh and so the Dreamy Dream math of $40 x10 dresses = $400. LET GO OF THAT DREAM. Price it for $75 if the things all have new tags. But when moving MASSIVE amounts of STUFF the Dreamy Dream math doesn’t hold up.
And that SUCKS.
And that HURTS when you have emotionally set yourself up with Dreamy Dream Thinkin. And its okay to go thru the grief cycle.
EXPECT THAT YOU WILL! Your Dreamy Dream item worth let down does suck. It does sting. BUT IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY with the crap you do have (I use the word crap lovingly, like ManVsDebt does) then you may have to go thru disbelief, anger, barganing (repricing), sadness and then acceptance. Its okay. FEEL THOSE THINGS but have a healthy NEW outlet for your emotions.

Hoarders I know shop to Insulate themselves from feelings.
Hoarders I know shop and collect to literally create a wall between them and others.
Hoarders I know spend to FEEL something GOOD.
Hoarders I know inflate the value of their crap.

So if you are a collector who is ready to move stuff out — know there are emotions with it, especially when the Stuff doesn’t Add Up to the Amount of Worth you once associated with it.

BUT YOU HAVE BEEN A GREAT STEWARD! Its time to send it back out into the world! Its time to SELL for WHATEVER PRICE YOU CAN GET FOR IT.
Whaaaaat?
YEP.
That’s hard for a collector to hear.

BUT look
When the amount of stuff in your house is AFFECTING your Quality of LIFE and you WANT TO CHANGE — and change your daily habits — GREAT THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU BECAUSE YOU MOVE THE STUFF OUT!!!
I see it EVERY DANG TIME! Its magic!
****Even MORE great things will befall you because you have help with a money manager who helps you change your habits with money. Do you need the money for rent? Have them cut your rent check — not you.

Need that money for retirement savings? Create a savings account or IRA account or Health Savings account at your bank! Maybe put the $$ away for a kid you love and their college future? There is a an account for that too. There are support systems every where if you WANT to change your DAILY HABITS!!

And FIND A NEW source for your ENDORPHIN HIGH. Its brain chemistry. But take up a new hobby that makes you feel GOOD. Take up a sport (even if its awkward, but make it social (scary as that sounds, right?) for a new sense of accomplishment. Or maybe its helping a group you care about — volunteering and meeting with them.

If you are a bargain shopper who is AMAZING at finding deals — you can be very useful for NonProfits that need stuff but have teenytiny budgets. Find out what’s on their wish list and then if you have the need to go Thriftng or Shopping — Go because you are on the lookout for THE STUFF THAT LOCAL ORGANIZATION NEEDS. And then if you find something, call your organization contact person, tell them and then use THEIR money to get it (requires extra gas to deliver to them). I met a mom who keeps $10 mad money in her purse for the nonprofit she shops for — and if they need it and she can buy for them, she know that she can submit her receipt to them and they will cut her a check for the items. BUT to DO this kind of shopping you need to create a trust relationship with that organization. So she worked with a dog rescue and would buy towels, sheets and blankets cheap for the organization. But that’s her new HELPING HIGH. She’s still out thrifting, but she’s on a BUDGET and she’s HELPING others. But again, doing this you CHANGE YOUR DAILY HABIT. You aren’t shopping for you — you are using your deal seeking radar skills to HELP OTHERS. And you are NEVER taking the stuff home. You get the stuff, and the reciept, and take it to the nonprofit, THAT DAY and submit the reciept for their finance department and leave the stuff there.

But if you have to CLEAN OUT YOUR HOUSE — VALUE SPACE instead of $$ — and just get the ball rolling.
Post Three Items. CAll around and get a TEAM in place. Post 5 Items.
CHANGE YOUR DAILY HABITS to focus on selling. You may find you DO get a new HIGH from selling and getting the $$. GREAT! But you may still want a money manager.

Celebrate however it works for you to celebrate moving the stuff out. Keep a $$ tally. Keep all the pics of all your stuff on Flickr so you can SEE what you’ve sold if you want visual proof of your treasures.

BUT CELEBRATE THE PROCESS! THINK OF IT IN HAPPY UPLIFTING TERMS instead of sorrow. You are DOING New Great Things! That’s Worth Celebrating!

Now go!! DO SOMETHING YOUR FUTURE SELF WILL CELEBRATE YOU FOR!
Go! Do it today! Do it now!
Change one daily habit with STUFF — Sell it. Post it. Get $
Change one daily habit with $$ (entrust it to someone else) — Get $$, Save it, USE it responsibly!
YOU CAN DO THIS!

Reply

Bee July 13, 2013 at 3:29 PM

VISUAL BLOG
Set up a stuff blog as a One Stop Visual Stop for all the Crap you are selling. You can create a post + a title + a price on FREE blog.
Then tell all your friends and family and coworkers about the blog.
Post an item on Crgslist + link to your Crap I am Selling Blog.

This method was used by a person who was selling down their crap so they could travel. Would also be a GREAT way to Post and Go with your crap. And then people see everything you have in One Place. Awesome possibilities with the Blog idea.

Here’s where I learned about it: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/how-to-sell-all-of-your-stuff-part-2/

and this blog post (google search) 8-things-i-learned-from-selling-all-my-belongings-on-craigslist/ about Craigslist and selling most of your crap that way. I especially want to point out this part: “6. Your stuff doesn’t define you. For most of my life I’ve struggled with some hoarding tendencies. I amassed more and more stuff just for the sake of having it, and I couldn’t fathom letting any of it go. This move and the process of selling our stuff has forced me to confront all of my ideas about the things I own and what they mean to me. The gist of it? I’ve learned that stuff is just stuff, and has absolutely no bearing on who you are as a person. In fact, getting rid of stuff gives you more freedom to the live the life you want, without being bogged down by clutter and material things.” (full, direct blog quote)

TAKE THE RISK.
POST IT.
SELL IT.
CHANGE YOUR DAILY HABITS.
LIFE is for LIVING not amassing.
LIFE = MORE VERBS, less nouns!
Now get out there (take my enthusiasm and confidence) and SELL YOUR CRAP! Getting ManVsDebts Sell your Crap ebook changed my life!
YOU CAN DO THIS if you really want!

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800 Hope July 18, 2013 at 11:05 AM

This is so very inspiring! I love that one reply has a specific purpose. ‘Selling their stuff so they can travel.’ GREAT idea to give you a deadline, & a purpose.

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TookActionThisWeekOnMyRoomFullIofCrap July 18, 2013 at 12:47 PM

I like the idea of making it a party. I like the idea of getting a group, a team, together to help sort, move, photograph, post and sell this stuff. I have a goal to be debt free and I want this stuff I have kept to be worth something, but I have the “it is all worth so much” fantasy. I see now that just being done with the big piles, perhaps even donating more than I thought I would, is better so I can get my home and my life back sooner.

I see now how there is no such thing as closet equity. Or garage equity.

I also see now that I too look at the stuff with inflated prices, and that it seems all worth more to me than the $50 ro $20 I would get for it. Is it worth the hours of my life for that $20? Would it be a better use of my time to use one hour, load up the car and donate it? I will still sell some of it, but I see now the value of thrift stores and garage sales groups hold for their organization. They have the people, the time, and the space to deal with all of the stuff. I don’t have space for the stuff, that also means I don’t really have space to take pictures of it, keep it around, list it… That’s part of the overwhelm. Now I have to organize it and photograph it too? My stress level is high, but my stress level is very high I learned this week when I am actually having to touch it, move it, find a blank space to take pictures, start a notebook with information about the crap… I don’t know if selling all of it is right for me.

Yes some of it is worth selling.
But some of it — after dealing with just a portion of bins this past week I see that its not worth it to me to list and sell everything. I will sell the high value items.

I will be planning a party, like Bee suggested: one day deal with this stuff.
Thank you Joan for this post.

Thank you to all the people with all your ideas.
It has inspired me to take action. And now its time for a party. That idea is great. It changed a negitive into a positive.

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leslei July 20, 2013 at 11:22 PM

Funny I just came across this, last month I had to pack, sell, find a new place and move in 28 days. I did it in 17. yes, a 2400 square foot packed to the gills house and we moved one trailer load at a time. But that’s not why I’m writing… I made $408 over a 3 day garage sale. Big ticket items totaled under $200 and everything else was marked 25cents. Until it rained. The rain wasn’t forecast so EVERYTHING got soaked. Clothes, Pillows, well everything. I freaked (of course) but then realized, the point was to GET RID OF IT! I didn’t even want to move it back inside or to Salvation Army. SO I got on Facebook and posted 5CENTS–everything! Ladies bought trash bags full and the local rescue center made off with one pickup load at the end of the day. I made $108 on 5cent items!!! in ONE DAY! If I can, you can.

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Eve Nash July 21, 2013 at 7:59 PM

I commend to EVERYONE interested in stuff and why we hang on to it, and the issue of hoarding, to read the outstanding book: “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things”

It’s so excellent and takes a very compassionate view of even the most egregious of hoarders. It is a psychoanalytic view, but is fascinating, and not at all clinical or dry.

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Lindsey @ Cents & Sensibility July 22, 2013 at 11:37 PM

Selling stuff can be a complicated process if you’re attached to your things. If you’re patient with yourself and go in baby steps, you can minimize and make a profit at the same time. It can be pretty overwhelming when there’s a tonne of stuff! Breaking it down into smaller steps is key to success in this case. Thanks for the article!

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Monica September 3, 2013 at 5:20 PM

WHat about selling whole garage at once? I guess at sometimes it is better than selling every single item separately. Plus you save a whale amount of time.

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