When I first started getting rid of stuff, I had a preference for selling over donating. Why give something away that could make me some cash?
Partly this was because I was unemployed and living with my Dad, but also it was because I still had a very strong attachment to my things and I needed to somehow feel that I was getting compensation for getting rid of them.
Selling things, however – as anyone who’s ever done it will know – takes quite a lot of time. Whether it’s a card in the newsagent’s window, a listing on eBay or the rumor mill of family and friends, there is a big time investment. Descriptions, photos, thinking about pricing, and then collection or packaging up the item to send, or even dropping to someone else’s house… it all adds up.
As time went by I found I would hoard things to sell.
Because my primary method was eBay, I’d end up with piles of things in the corner of a room that needed listing. That pile would grow and grow, and it would be in the way and clutter up the floor. It would turn into an annoyance.
Of course, I was always grateful for the cash that I got back.
Once I had children though, selling things became even more of an inconvenience. Not only did I seem to have negative time once my first baby came along, but said baby also enjoyed rummaging around among my selling-pile in the hope of finding a tasty morsel to put in his mouth.
Eventually, on maternity leave, I sat down and thought realistically about the time it took me to photo, list, wrap and post each item (with a baby in tow) and I realized it was working out to less than minimum wage for low-value items.
And there was one other big realization:
As long as I was spending all my free time trying to sell things, I wasn’t spending my free time achieving anything else.
So I stopped. I decided that unless the value of the item secondhand was upwards of $30, or the item itself was particularly unusual (and thus might be appreciated by someone with interest in that sort of thing), the best option was just to donate it.
Once I started doing this, I discovered something else.
I got a sense of something good from giving things away that I could have made money on.
A lot of things I bagged up and took to charity shops. It felt good to know for example that I was giving away decent clothes that I hadn’t worn for one reason or another. Someone, somewhere, would get a great item at a second-hand price.
But the best feeling came from the things I freecycled. Freecycling is one of THE fastest ways to get rid of stuff you no longer need.
You list the item on the site and within an hour or so you hear from a couple of people who can come and collect it, usually that day.
I have never used Freecycle other than to list our items, but I’ve heard rumors that a lot of the stuff on there is barely in a usable condition. Stinky old sofas and broken furniture can end up being advertised just so that the owners don’t have to take them to the tip.
I don’t know accurate that is, but when I Freecycled our things, people came to our house to collect them, and they were so genuinely grateful. We gave a large fridge freezer away to a couple who were so astonished; they seemed hesitant to take it because they thought it wouldn’t work when they got it home.
We gave away items of furniture that were well looked after, but we had decided we simply didn’t have room for. I passed on a $200 fish tank and stood. Each time someone came to collect, they were so happy.
It was a great feeling.
And it saved so much time.
Which meant we were moving faster towards our goal of having a house with much less. A more streamlined and less cluttered existence. And that was worth more to me than the money that we could have got for the item.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend that you give away your car, but if you just bag up all those unworn clothes and donate them, wouldn’t it feel good to know that someone out there would benefit?
I think so.