Consider it a donation and let it go!

In quick response to last Monday’s Mini Missions I received this comment from Annabelle explaining how she had mastered the weeks challenge in one day. Her quick decision to donate the seven things that she had chosen to charity then and there reminded me of something that happened on the Sunday before.

A friend of mine has been decluttering her house for a while and I have offered to show her how to go about using ebay and giving her suggestion on how she can get rid of some things. Her husband and mine work together and they have both used the online notice board at their work place to sell several things. This friend has also given some things away to friends.

On Sunday she asked if I could come over to see what she had left and give her suggestions on what was sellable and what she should just give away. There was no doubt that some of the things she had were worth trying to sell but there was also many things that would just be a waste of time to try to sell on ebay. Like the general retail situation at the moment, I have found that ebay is also in a bit of a selling slump. People just aren’t buying unless you are just about giving the stuff away, and sometimes not even then.

My friend did not want to waste her time sitting at the local flea-market for six hours to try to sell her stuff.  She didn’t want strangers at her home so a garage sale was out of the question. And she wasn’t keen to do the ebay thing and would rather give me a commission to do it for her. But as I said I didn’t think ebay was the answer right now.

In the end I pointed out some things that I thought were worth trying to sell on the work notice board. As for the rest of the stuff, I asked her whether she had made any charitable donations this year. Her reply was “Yes, but not that much.”  but she also donates her time by doing a little volunteer work. I said to her “Well here is your chance to make a donation that won’t affect your bank account directly and/or you can consider it a free pass from volunteer work for a little while. Just give all this stuff to charity. It will be worth cold hard cash to the thrift store and you will be doing yourself a favour by getting it out of here quickly and painlessly.”. I even offered to have her bring it to my house and I would deliver it to the thrift shop myself.

It is ironic that we have no qualms about wasting our money on all this stuff we probably didn’t need in the first place but then when it comes to getting rid of it we suddenly want to redeem ourselves. I have done this myself as I am sure you all have. I can tell you one thing for sure though, I will be very careful that it doesn’t happen in the future. Be wise about what you buy then you won’t need to be wise about how to sell it when you don’t get your money’s worth out of it. If the item has surved you well but you don’t need it any more then call it even and donate to charity. Donating is a feel good effective way to get rid of your stuff.

Today’s Declutter Item

If I have used this declutter item photo before please someone let me know. I declutter in advance of my blog posts because life happens sometimes and it would become easy to get behind. I think I have gone to pot this item a couple of times but changed my mind. Anyway it is a book I read some time ago and then I loaned it to a friend. Against normal convention she actually brought it back to me but I really didn’t want it back. I have donated it to the thrift store. It was quite a good book by the way.

Read it don't need to keep it

Something I Am Grateful For Today

My little girl contacted us from Seattle to say she got their safe and sound. She is so happy to be “home”. I hope she enjoys her time there and doesn’t spend all her money before she get back and be calling us for a loan. 😉 That would be funny if it hadn’t happened before. Love you precious girl! ❤

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Disposing of this weeks mission yields In a post a couple of weeks ago that asked a range of question about your clutter issues and my blog. One of the readers asked for more information on how to get rid of the clutter that […]
  • Life moves on I received the following comment from Kimberley to one of last week's posts ~ Who Are You Now. Kinberley wrote: "Your post should be titled, “Isn’t this how clutter begins?”  We […]
  • Positive attitude to decluttering Here is a great comment from Kimberley that I didn't want anyone to miss... "Selling vs. Donating….. When we acquire an item, there was an obvious need for us to do so, real or […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I totally agree with you on this. I normally just donate stuff to one or more of the local charities but we have more than usual (daughter finally removed her stuff from the shed when she moved interstate but left behind some gear she didn’t want, plus we have some of our own gear). As we had more than usual we were thinking of having a garage sale but the more I think about the work involved for the low return it seems to make more sense just to take a box a week to the charity shop and get rid of it that way. I think I will spend some time checking out what I actually have out there and make a decision about it! Otherwise it just starts to weigh heavily on my mind……… would be great if it was all just gone!
    And isn’t it lovely to get that call or text letting you know that our travellers have arrived safely. My daughter is a travel agent and often travels overseas. So it’s always a relief to hear she’s arrived safely

    • Hi Judy,
      I love to put on a garage sale so I would enjoy that and give it a go if it wasn’t for the fact that this time around I have decluttered so slowly and wanted the stuff out of here sooner rather than later. The idea of it lingering in the garage until there was enough of it to hold a sale was just repugnant to me so it was either ebay, Freecycle o donate. So I would actually give the garage sale I go if I were in your situation. But like you say the quicker and easier it is out of there the better.

      It was good to know my daughter got there safely. We spoke on iChat so I could see her as well has here her. She was so excited to be there back in her beloved Seattle.

  2. You are right Colleen. To me it is just not worth the time and effort to have a yard sale to sell something on ebay or craigslist when you will get so little for it. In these times, people are looking for something for nothing or very little. I either give mine to the local thrift store or put them in the back shed to be used in the yard sale at church where the money goes to missions. Either way, I don’t have to do anything but take them somewhere. A bargain.

    • Hi Deb J,
      decluttering is so much easier when i don’t insist on trying to sell the things. If I wasn’t such a scrooge I would probably have achieved my goal sooner. Even as I say this though I know there are still at least a few things around her that I will still try to sell regardless.

  3. Colleen, this is one of your best. If it weren’t so long I’d tattoo it on my forehead. Or my hubby’s! As we travel we are discussing items to release. Maybe it is the distance that makes it easier to consider letting things go. Anyway, I’m making a list so I don’t forget it by the time we get home.

    • Hi Wendy B,
      I am so proud, you are travelling and making declutter lists as you drive along. How did the travel packing go? Tell hubby that he has cured me of putting my bag and phone in the wrong places. I sort it at the door and put things away properly every time now. I hope he is doing so well with his keys and wallet.

      • He says to tell you he’s doing very well with keys and wallet. At the moment, he has no choice. If he loses the keys we’re locked out of the truck or the trailer and we can’t go anywhere til we find them!!!! But he’s doing great on all other fronts, discussing stuff to get rid of, attacking the boxes in the basement when we get home. I’ve even heard his say to other people, “now that we’re downsizing…..” Hooray! And I added two or three more clothing items to my “get real, you’re never going to wear it, get rid of when we get home” list.

        • Hi Wendy b,
          I think you have reformed him completely. Not only is he saying the word downsizing but he is even using it in conversation with other people. As we say in Australia, Crikey! Next thing you will find you have created a monster and he will be saying to you, “Are you really using that or should we declutter it?”. 😆

          • Ian says that I am to tell you he lives in fear of the day I declutter him. He’s safe for the next five weeks, though. I need him to drive the truck!

            • hi Wendy B,
              tell him he is safe. It has taken you this long to get him this well trained why would you give him up now. Better the devil you know right! 😆 I am sure you also love him to death. 😉

  4. Hi Colleen! As I never sell anything just give it all away I fell that it is good to give people stuff. Selling the things I had was so not worth it. I don’t give away useless junk, but things we don’t use anymore that they can use way better. Still I have to find places to donate some of the stuff that is still lingering in my garage. As we have a two day holiday coming up, it should be gone by Friday ;-).

  5. I have come a long way about donating. Last week, I donated all my children clothes to my favorite local thrift store. Well, not all, they don’t go to school naked, just the ones they have overgrown in the past 5 years! I had 2 huge moving boxes full. It felt so good. We (the kids and I) tried to sell on craiglist some of these during the summer, and some (few) sold, but everything is now gone and will be soon available for others to enjoy 🙂 Next time, I won’t bother with craiglist. I hate it when someone who is emailing me from his/her iPhone is trying to lower the price to next to nothing and then comes pick it put in his huge SUV. At least, when I donate it to a non-profit organization, I know that this will give a temporary job to people in need and might end up with someone who really needs it.

    • Hi NatalieinCA,
      I posted some items for sale on craigslist last week before I realised that even though my town is on the list I don’t think anyone ever advertises of buys anything here. I keep going over to my second email but there has been no contact. Oh well it is about time I gave up and Freecycled that stuff anyway. I am over it!

      I am glad that your children aren’t going naked by the way. 😉 😆

  6. This week I have two options to declutter:
    1. through our church garage sale on Saturday – which I have been putting things aside since I started decluttering a month ago, I do like to make this contribution to my church
    2. through our local council clean up. Trying to get hubby to empty things out of the backyard that he has accumulated from previous council cleanups is a hard one.

    I have come to the conclusion after reading so many posts from everyone that donating is the easiest way to get rid of things, and after the garage sale any items will be going to my local thrift store

    • Hi Wendy,
      those council clean ups can be very tempting for handy people. Good luck with convincing your husband to part with his stuff. I feel, by the tone of your comment, that you might be fighting a losing battle there. For all other things donating is a very effective generous way to get it out of the fast.

  7. I found that I would have a big sort out, get up at 6am, stand in a field in the cold at a car boot sale (bigger than garage sales in the UK), try to occupy the children without them buying back as much stuff as we were selling and listen to people quibbling over 10p. I’d come back with half of the stuff I went with and have to do something with it.

    I also felt I ought to be giving more to charity, and selling stuff in order to have more money to donate to good causes seemed the hard way of doing things!

    I decided a while ago to just donate the stuff to a local charity shop . When we have more cash because we’re buying less stuff in the first place, I’ll up my financial contributions.
    In my local town, there are 8 or 9 different shops, all supporting different charities, so I donate to them in turn. Because I’m a tax payer, they can claim back the tax and I get an email telling me how much money they’ve made through selling my donations. And I get the stuff out of my house as soon as I like, without standing in a windy field!

    • Hi Hazel,
      that whole email telling you the tax claim value of your good is very civilised. The folks from the USA can also write this type of donation off against their tax but I don’t believe we can do that here in Australia. I will have to ask the manager at my thrift store tomorrow and see what she knows about this.

      I did a couple of car boot sales years ago and weirdly I actually enjoyed them and got rid of a lot of stuff and was very satisfied. I didn’t have to take the kids with me though because my mother-in-law took care of them while I was there. It think it is a weird little quirk of mine that I enjoys these sales and garage sales as well. That being said donating sounds a lot easier and more comfortable way to get rid of your stuff.

      • Just a technicality, but I think our system in the UK is slightly different to the one in the USA – we can’t write anything off against our tax (so there is no benefit to us as individuals whether we sign the tax reclaim form for the charity or not), but if we are tax payers and we sign a form for the charity giving them permission, the Gov’t refunds to the charity the tax they pay on our goods they sell.
        The charity are then legally obliged to write to us to tell how much they have made from selling our stuff so we are able to claim that money back form the charity if we wish. Obviously one doesn’t!

        • Hi Katharine,
          thank you for clearing that up. That is a very different system to the US. I suppose it would be interesting to know what they sold your stuff for but claiming back sounds a little weird. In the end the Australian system is the simplest, you just give it away and that is the end of that.

          • well, it is simple from a donators point of view really; you just have to sign a form once and then donate your stuff as usual – and the gov’t will donate another 20% on the profit made from selling your stuff which is very worth doing for no effort on your part.
            You just have to remind the staff every time you donate of your surname, or the ref number you were given.

            I’m not sure of the reasons behind the law which obliges the charity to confirm how much they have made and to offer you the chance to claim that money from them though.

          • even though here in the US you can count it against your taxes I don’t. I find it just one more thing I don’t need to do. I have enough ways to get out of taxes if I want to use them so I figure I just let this part go. easier.

  8. I find that if I’m selling, I want to get the best value for things, which rarely makes for a quick sale, or I end up with ill-feelings and want to whatever it is back and keep it! Therefore, unless exceptionally valuable (of which I have little , and love what I have), it is better that I donate it to a worthwhile cause (i.e. church fair, or local hospice shop) and let them sell it while I’m not looking, and let them get some benefit from it, while I am getting the benefit of more space at home.!!

    • Hi Ann,
      I know where you are coming from. Although I have never wanted any of the stuff I sold back I sometimes wish I had saved myself the bother that I went to for the pittance that I made on the deal. I would have felt a lot better about giving it to charity.

  9. Thanks for the reminder that giving stuff to charity shops is a great way to make a charittable donation if hard cash isn’t abundant. Another benefit of giving to the shops, is that they provide jobs, albeit voluntary for those who for whatever reason are not able to work regular hrs but need to get out and do something useful – those recovering from illnesss for example (and voluntary work is part of their recovery), or who might never recover enough to hold down a regular job. It is good to support that too.

    • Hi Katherine,
      there are paid staff as well at these places at least in my experience. The people from the manager up are paid as far as I know. But you are right it is a good opportunity to fill your day doing something useful. In Australia we also have a work for the dole system. Where if you are on unemployment benefits and you haven’t worked in a while you have to do unpaid work to continue to get the benefit. Sometimes it creates a problem that the people really don’t want to work and they don’t do a good job when they are there while others really make an effort. It is also a good way to pad out your resumé, a future employer will look very kindly on the fact that you have done volunteer work while you have been between jobs.

      In the end thought it is all about giving and sharing for me.

      • Yes, there is always a paid manager and assistant manager in our shops too.

        I worked in a shop as a way of helping my body’s recovery from illness and get used to some structure in my week again. It was wonderful to feel I was contributing to society again.

        • Hi Katharine,
          I do it because I like to help but also because I get a little tired of being at home so much now that I don’t work a paid job.

        • Hi Katharine,
          I checked with the store manager at my thrift shop today and she said we have no system for claiming material donations on our tax in Australia. She was intrigued by the system in the UK though. When stores donate excess product to charity they can claim the cost on their business tax.

  10. I love this quote from the famous Colleen: “Be wise about what you buy then you won’t need to be wise about how to sell it when you don’t get your money’s worth out of it.”

    So so true.

  11. I agree with both points of view. I give a lot of things to charity but I also have sold some things recently on ebay. If I can get a few dollars for something I wasnt using to me it helps pay a bill or somehing. ebay does take a percentage however so you have to take that into consideration also. since my husband and I have my 92 year old mom living with us for me it is just a little hobby I actually also have a blogtalkradio show I do as a hobby and coincidentally I did a show on my ebay selling. I am adding the link in the event you may want to listen.

  12. This is an excellent post.

    I’m one of those rare people who can’t stand yard sales/garage sales. I don’t go to them, and I will NEVER give one. If I want something out of the house, I either give it to someone I know who wants it, or it goes to the thrift shop or recycling.

    My hubby, on the other hand, loves to go to yard sales, and loves to give them. He loves to talk to all the people, make deals, find treasures.

    To me, trying to sell things I want out of the house is just too much work for too little return, and as others have mentioned, sometimes you end up with the items not leaving your house after all.

    It’s easier to pack it up and get it out of the house quickly in the first place.

    • Hi Becky,
      my husband would definitely agree with you. He hates strangers coming to our home and discourages yard sales and even freecycle. Like you say it is usually a lot quicker and easier to just donate the stuff or give it to friends or relatives.