what’s your perfect amount of stuff?

perfect-amount-of-stuff

I’m tired of stuff management. I just spent an entire weekend up in the attic preparing the kids’ old clothes and toys for consignment.

Nearly a hundred items had been accumulating there for several months in anticipation of this sale.

While sorting and pricing all this stuff, I have to admit that I questioned my original decision to get rid of some of it and had to get emotionally detached all over again.

I know how entrancing stuff can be, but I’m done spending too much time caught up with it.

My journey toward minimalism keeps me motivated to break free from my attachments. My excitement about this lifestyle has led to some pretty heavy-handed declutter sessions over the last few years.

There are days I feel a long way from the point I dream of. But I’ll be honest, there are also days I feel like I’ve gotten rid of too much, especially when I haven’t done laundry in several days : )

So how much stuff is the right amount? It undoubtedly varies for everyone.

There are stages in your life when your right amount of stuff will be significantly more, like when you have young kids or a hobby that requires a bunch of equipment. But you’re always free to choose what your perfect amount is. I truly believe that amount can be minimal and you’ll still have everything you need.

During my weekend in the attic preparing stuff to sell, I thought about how to determine what my family’s right amount of stuff is.

If I was hesitant to get rid of something, I tried to pinpoint why. I became aware of the crazy dialogue my mind was having while contemplating whether something should stay or go.

So I wrote some of these thoughts down to help me get closer to my perfect amount. If you’re trying to figure this out too, I hope these guidelines help you get closer to that liberating clutter-free lifestyle!

It should go

Someone close to you will think you’re crazy for getting rid of it. Embrace crazy.

Everyone has one and might think you’re strange if you don’t. Embrace strange as well. A lot of expectations of what’s needed to run a household are dated anyway.

It will be stored away waiting for the moment your future grandkids will get as much joy from it as your child did. Watch Jessie’s song from the movie Toy Story 2, have yourself a good cry, and give it to another kid that will enjoy it now.

Getting rid of it represents the end of an era in you or your child’s life. A new era is waiting but may not have space to happen if you hang on to the past.

You’re afraid that without it, you won’t be able to conjure the memories of a special moment in time. There are nonmaterial things that will remind you of happy times, so if the item doesn’t bring you joy, feel free to part ways.

It might make a nice heirloom if your kids want it one day. Leave them fun memories instead.

You or someone else paid good money for it or it might be valuable in the future. If this is the case, sell it and move on. Get help here.

It might fit again if you lose or gain weight. Likewise, it might come back in style again. The benefits of a capsule wardrobe far outweigh keeping “just in case” clothes around.

It might be useful in a future sewing/craft/art/school/scrapbooking project. This is the most impervious type of clutter in my opinion. Get new supplies when and if the moment arises.

Someone has borrowed it in the past and might need it again. Give it to them now if it’s no further use to you.

It would just be one more possession weighing you down, inhibiting you from doing something spontaneous one day, like move to Maui!

It should stay

It makes you happy, even if you can’t explain why and there’s no use for it.

You could use it again or there is a very good chance you will use it again in the near future.

So what’s your perfect amount of stuff?

No one can answer this question but you, and it may take some time and soul searching to do so.

If you’re on the fence about something because it could be reasoned either way, then consider this: the lightness and freedom you’ll feel after getting rid of it will far outweigh any reason for keeping it.

The best view you can take about stuff is that it is not permanent and it should be allowed to flow freely in and out of your life.

You’ll be amazed at how the space that’s left after getting rid of stuff that no longer serves you will help you decide what you do want in your life.

Do you have any tips to add for deciding what should stay or go that help you determine your perfect amount of stuff? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

does a decluttered home sell better?

decluttered-home

I had a great home buying and selling experience in the midst of a real estate recession several years ago.

We didn’t have our home staged, and my decor is pretty sparse as a minimalist. I think having a decluttered home was a big part of our success. Decluttered homes were also the most appealing to me when we were house hunting.

While looking for our new home and trying to sell our old one, I spent a lot of time searching online listings and reading books, articles, and blogs about selling a home.

The overall consensus from real estate experts was that staged homes sell faster and for more money than non-staged homes. This seemed to be the case no matter what the real estate climate.

While staging can help a home sell, decluttering has to happen first, so staging is really the icing on the cake more or less. Pretty place settings at the table and rolled towels next to the bathtub do help, but aren’t necessary in my opinion.

A home also doesn’t have to be completely empty to sell, but it helped in our case. The owners had moved out of the home we bought, and I was able to see every surface and imagine how our furniture would fit. The funny thing is that we saw the home several months before it was empty and we didn’t consider it a contender.

The owners kept the house neat, but we had trouble seeing ourselves living there until we saw it empty. This is probably not possible for most people while selling their home nor is it necessary, but it makes a good argument for the importance of decluttering.

I’ve always heard that buyers need some sort of furniture to be able to picture the function and flow of particular rooms. I can see where this would help if the house has an open floor plan in which rooms are hard to differentiate.

When my brother sold his house, he chose a realtor who was one of the top sellers in our area. He had already moved to another house, but left some key pieces of furniture behind for that reason.

It didn’t sell as quickly as he wanted, and the realtor told him to move the rest of the furniture out because empty houses usually sold better. He did and it sold shortly after.

Unless your home is professionally staged, your furniture and belongings may not appeal to the masses. It’s impossible to please everyone’s tastes, so eliminate as much stuff as possible. Rooms will look larger when a bunch of furniture and stuff is not crammed into them.

Features that are too personal can destroy potential buyers’ ability to see themselves in a home. The fix can be as easy as boxing up knick-knacks and taking pictures off the walls. You’ll be that much ahead on moving day!

Personal items such as family photos, wall hangings, and collectibles should be packed and stored out of sight. This might mean renting a storage unit or borrowing space in a friend’s garage.

If the thought of paying extra money or asking for favors to house your belongings bothers you, you might want to make a fresh start and get rid of as much as possible.

In my opinion, nearly every surface should be clear. Don’t worry about decorating the space as much as presenting a clean, clear space that leaves room for buyers to imagine as their own.

From a buyer’s standpoint, I had more trouble looking past clutter than I thought. I knew the house would look different when empty, but a cluttered house truly was an obstacle in imagining the potential that was there.

The work you put into your home to prepare it to sell will help you get the best possible result when it sells. Decluttering will help your home show well, appeal to more buyers, and give it a winning edge over the competition.

If you’re interested in selling your home, please check out my eBook, From a Buyer’s Perspective: 5 Steps to Help Your Home Appeal to More Buyers. It includes tips on making smart updates, easy ways you can help market your home, and more.

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3 tips for selling used stuff online

sell-used-stuff-online

It’s a lot easier to donate a box of old stuff you’ve cleaned out to charity rather than try to sell it. Plus, it’s a generous and helpful thing to do for your community.

But in some cases, you may have something that might be valuable or your own family could benefit from having the extra money from selling it.

So to make the hassle of selling your stuff worthwhile, you need to find the right place to sell that will give you the most money. This sounds obvious and fairly simple, but can be very time consuming if you don’t know where and how to look.

Here are a few shortcuts and tips to help you find the best and most reliable buyer more quickly and get the highest return for parting with your old stuff.

Cover all your bases

Make sure you’ve looked everywhere before settling on a price. The directory on this site is a quick and easy way to make sure you find all the places available for a particular category of items you’re selling. A google search with the words “sell used camping equipment” or whatever you’re selling can also help.

Comparison websites are a great way to help you speed through this step. They allow you to enter your item and view a list of quotes from several buying sites to help you quickly determine the highest price you can sell.  Here are some reliable sites:

Sometimes the price online won’t be as good as trying to sell locally because shipping costs are a factor. I sold a dozen DVDs at our local movie store for a total of about $5 more than any online offers for the bundle. It would have been $8 more if we accepted store credit instead of cash.

Sell in bulk

It’s most efficient to sell smaller items like books, DVDs, collectibles, and clothes in bulk. Wait until you have a good amount of these items before searching for a place to sell to make it worth your while, unless you have something rare or valuable.

A lot of sites allow you to enter multiple barcodes, ISBNs, or UPNs at once. Look for a button near to where you enter the number that says something like “sell in bulk” and click on it to enter multiple numbers.

Here’s a tip for moving through this step quickly: Open a word processing program or notepad on your desktop. Type the numbers from your items, placing a return between each. You can copy and paste the numbers on multiple sites without having to retype them each time.

Some book or DVD-buying sites require a minimum quote of $5 or $10 before you can sell so it makes sense to wait until you have a bunch because they usually aren’t worth much individually.

Investigate

I’ve come across some innovative companies while compiling the directory for Minimal Me. Some are fairly new and others have been around for a decade or more. Most of the sites look legitimate, but there have been a few that look questionable.

With a bit of research, my suspicions are usually confirmed. I don’t include these sites on the directory and wouldn’t recommend sending your stuff to sites that look untrustworthy.

If you find a site that looks suspicious, a quick Google search of the site name with the words “legitimate” or “scam” will give you more information as to whether it’s a trustworthy company. It can reveal bad reviews from customers, Better Business Bureau ratings, or incidents where people haven’t received payment after sending items.

In my experience, legitimate-looking sites have some of the following things in common:

  • professionally designed website
  • social media pages with a good following
  • email address and phone number or contact form
  • pre-paid postage for submitting your items

These aren’t absolute indicators of authenticity and lack of these things won’t discredit a site. They’re just some good guidelines. The URL Void Blog has a post with tips for checking suspicious sites that apply to buying sites as well: How to Identify Fake Shopping Websites.

Selling stuff online has evolved a great deal since the early days when eBay and Amazon cornered the market. There are a growing number of sites that will pay you instantly for a wide range of used stuff. Plus, they make the process extremely easy!

No longer do you have to wait on a buyer to bid on your listing or deal with collecting payment and estimating shipping costs. Some sites take care of everything for you and will buy your item so they can resell it on their site.

Of course, you always have the option to list your items classified-style, which might earn you more money in the long run. In addition to the original giants, there are now many niche selling sites that help you reach a highly targeted market when listing classified-style.

If you’re ready to declutter your belongings and would like to earn some extra cash, I hope these tips help you get the best outcome. Do you have any strategies for successful selling? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

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Disney-inspired declutter

disney-declutter

I love getting rid of stuff, but not everyone in my house shares this sentiment.

The only thing I love more than cleaning out is making money off the stuff we don’t need. It thrills me!

So this year I’m setting a lofty goal that will motivate my family to declutter and move us one step closer to the minimal lifestyle I dream of. All the money we make from selling our stuff will go toward a Disney World vacation. This goal has lit a fire under us!

Having motivation like this is tipping the scales when it comes to letting go of stuff. I realize it’s not likely we’ll make enough to pay for the entire trip. With plenty of selling experience in the past, I know that used stuff rarely brings the amount I hope it will.

But it’s worth the effort because it’s bonus money that can be used for a fun experience that we’ll all enjoy. An added bonus is that the old stuff stays out of the landfill because we took the time to find someone who wants it.

I’ll share what we’ve sold so far and where to help you determine what might be worth your time and effort as well when it comes to selling your stuff. Here’s a breakdown of our progress:

Consignment event = $243.08 profit

This is a great alternative to having a yard sale if you have kid’s clothes and toys to sell. The profit is much better than a yard sale, even minus the consignment fee. I used to take these things to consignment stores, but a disadvantage was the amount of time I had to wait for my items to sell.

Consignment events are fast-paced and your payout is quick. The best part is that you don’t have to work the sale unless you want to in exchange for some perks, such as a discounted fee and shopping privileges.

There is still plenty of prep work though so it helps to be prepared for that. Clothes have to be clean and secured to hangers with safety pins. I pick up free hangers from the dry cleaners so my supply cost doesn’t cut into my profit too much. Items must be entered into an online database where you can set the price and print a label to attach.

I sold a total 70 items, including video games, a doll house, mostly clothes, and that picnic basket I’ve been hesitant to get rid of. After years of yard sales, this is more money than I would have made and I didn’t have to sit out in the heat and haggle over a few dollars all day.

Kiiboo = $203.67 profit

After researching several sites that buy used electronics, I chose Kiiboo and made way more money than expected. I sent in six used devices, some of which were broken that I had considered recycling because I didn’t know what else to do with them.

The process was easy. Just click through a form on the site, selecting the category and condition of your device. Kiiboo is committed to reducing landfill waste, as well as supporting charities that make a positive difference, so 1% of the sale or more if desired will go to a charity you choose from their list.

They will send you a free shipping kit, or you can choose to use your own box. Either way, shipping is covered. Once your item sells through their patent pending method of reverse sales, you will receive an email, then a check in the mail shortly after that. They are great about keeping you informed at every step. There is a 19% consignment fee when your item sells.

My most surprising sale was a broken Kindle for which I received $10.42. I also sold some headphones without the foam ear covers for a profit of $14.43. An old iPhone that wasn’t in perfect working condition made a profit of $62.55. My success on this site has inspired me to go back through the house and look for more electronics to sell.

Plato’s Closet = $21.70 profit

This isn’t a large amount to report, but the return on what I bought was a nice surprise. I was expecting to receive about half this amount for the few shorts and couple of tops they traded. Not everything I bought was accepted, but over half was.

Unlike consignment stores, Plato’s Closet will inspect your items while you wait and if accepted, you leave the store with cash or you can shop for new-to-you items while there. The store only buys gently used brand-name clothes for teen or tween girls and boys. This includes shoes, jewelry, and accessories.

Plato’s Closet has over 400 locations nationwide. My recent interest in zero waste has made me consider the benefits of shopping second-hand, but I’ve been reluctant to try. The great selection, appealing display, and overall cleanliness of this store was better than most retail stores, so I look forward to shopping there as well.

Total = $468.75 profit

We still have a long way to go to reach our goal, but this is a good start. It’s time to declutter some more and research where I can sell the most profitably. I look forward to sharing the new places I find with you.

I’ve lived minimally for a while now so I can tell you for certain that there is freedom in getting rid of stuff you don’t need. Plus, if you can trade the stuff for an experience your whole family will enjoy, that’s just icing on the cake!

Have you found a great place to sell your used stuff? What about hard-to-sell items like collectibles or larger things? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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