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Why Giving Your Stuff Away is Better Than Selling

I’d like to start this post with a lovely before and after from my old days as an in-home professional organizer.

Normally, a transformation like took several hours, as the client and I made hard decisions about each item. But this one took just 30 minutes. Why? Because every item on this couch was something she had been trying to sell… for months. After posting and reposting on Buy/Sell/Trade groups and arranging pickups that never happened, my client had had enough.

“I’m donating all of it,” she declared.

I couldn’t have said it better.

Why? Because

Selling things is a waste of your time. Almost always, the cost of your time spent selling outweighs the cost of the item itself.

Let’s imagine you are selling a jacket for $5. You take an attractive, well-lighted picture of it, write a description, and post it online, which takes about 10 minutes.

Then you respond to several folks who are interested, including those who are NIL (“next in line,” for those of you not in the Buy/Sell/Trade know). This takes another 5 minutes.

You arrange pickup, trying to finagle your busy schedule with the busy schedule of your potential buyer. Another 5 minutes.

Finally, the day of pickup arrives! And you wait… and wait… and finally get a text like, “OMG! 😨 😨😨Totally forgot abt pickup today!! 😢😢 So sorry!!! 😣 OK to swing by in 1 hour?? Pleez??? 🥺🙏🥺” You’re annoyed, but all the excess punctuation and sad emoji faces in this message make you feel bad for this person. Maybe they are under some kind of jacketless distress that can only be relieved by this purchase? So you wait.

They finally show up to try on the jacket, and decide that–while they OMG LUV IT!!!–it is simply too tight in the shoulders and they have to pass. You muster the best smile you can manage, chirp “No problem!” through gritted teeth, and move onto the NIL… Only to do it all over again.

At this point you are getting paid about 3.8 cents per hour to sell your $5 jacket.

Unless you are a textile worker in the Industrial Revolution, this is not worth your time.

A better option? Donate it. All of it. Why? I’ll give you 4 good reasons:

1. Donating is good for your community. 

Donations benefit non-profits in your area that do things like provide housing, jobs, and education to the less-fortunate. Thus, your donations actually improve the quality of your community. Now there’s an investment we can all stand behind!

2. Donating is good for your spirit. 

There’s something about doing good for others that makes you feel good. Dropping off bags of donations should make you feel awesome. You are giving those items a chance to be useful to people who truly need them. Yay for you! Also, removing clutter from your home will make you feel calm and relaxed in tu casa… ahh…

3. Donating is good for your taxes. 

One word: write-off. (Or is that two words? Are hyphenated words one or two? Ah, the conundrums of English majors!) In any case, write those donations off and see the cash money in your tax refund. Now, I’m not an accountant, so if you choose this route, contact your tax professional and let them guide you through the fun ins and outs of tax write-offs. (And hey, while you’re at it, send them this blog post… They probably have a closet or two that needs cleaning out!)

4. Donating is good for your home. 

A few trips to the Goodwill provides an instant, no-cost facelift to your home. Also, it will be easier to find the things you do use and love when the unnecessaries are out of the way.

You may have a few questions, such as:

What about garage sales? I could sell a whole bunch of stuff at once! 

True, you could. Or you could not. Garage sale revenue is not guaranteed, as it is dependent upon such fickle things as the weather and whether or not my Aunt Carol is in your neighborhood. But if you have a lot of items to sell, it is probably a better option than posting individual items online. I recommend doing garage sales under two conditions and two conditions only:

1) You actually like hosting garage sales. Some people do. If you’re one of them, go for it.

2) You arrange a donation pickup of all unsold items the day the garage sale ends. This is probably the most important part of holding a garage sale. Remember: the goal is to get unwanted items out of your house. If they don’t sell, don’t put them back in the garage for next year’s sale! Donate them immediately to someone who can use them.

What about expensive stuff, like cars, electronics, jewelry and antiques?

These types of items are among the only exceptions to my “No Selling” rule: If the item is of significant value, by all means try to sell it. (To determine “significant value” though, do some research. Just because an item is old doesn’t mean it’s an antique with resale value. Consult an antiques dealer or check going rates on online auction sites. Important note: Check the rates these items are actually selling for. Not what people are asking.) If your item does have a valuable resale market, it’s probably worth the time spent posting, arranging pickups, or taking to a good consignment store.

I hope this post has made you think about the value of selling items in your home. Remember, the cost of selling is rarely worth it and your donations can make a very real difference for those in your community who really need it!

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