Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ It All Adds Up



We’ve had many discussions on 365 Less Things about Selling v. Giving Away. At various times, I’ve come down on both sides of the argument.  I’ve agreed that selling recoups some of your investments. I’ve argued that giving away shares your blessings with others and relieves you of your clutter with less work and fuss. In general, I sell my larger or more costly items and give away my smaller or less costly ones. However, I’ve sold things on Craigslist as cheaply as $5, and given away things I could get $50 or more for.

In general, I don’t consider selling to be too much of a hassle, and now I have verification. Since 2011, I started putting all the money I made from Craigslist and Ebay directly to my mortgage. In that time, I have paid down almost $2000; $1000 a year. That’s not an insignificant amount of money!

Having a specific goal for my extra cash definitely adds motivation. Experience helps too. I’ve been Ebaying since 1999, when I bought a Baby Bjorn baby carrier for my now 13 year old. Back then, there was no Paypal, and you sent a check (!) to the seller then waited for the merchandise. Today, you can “buy it now,” transfer the money via Paypal, and request overnight shipping. How things have changed.

What hasn’t changed is the eagerness of the marketplace to buy and exchange goods. If you haven’t given Ebay or Craigslist a try, use these previous posts to help you on your way.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something plastic in your home. Last week I gave to my daughter two measuring jugs and a large Tupperware container which I no longer use. She was happy to take them and I was happy to be rid of them. I have also emptied and set aside a three tiered set of plastic drawers which she specifically asked if I had any of that I wanted to declutter. I rearranged a few things under my kitchen sink to free up one and she will pick it up this week.

Eco Tip For The Day

Try growing plants from seeds or clippings rather than buying seedling in plastic pots at the nursery.

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

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  1. I am coming to the end (I hope!) of the most major declutter I have ever done and I thought I was quite a good declutterer (I was not I was tidy!). I have a room full of things to go, a VERY large room and that is before we tackle the outbuildings. However I’ve gone for a mixture of giving and selling. The furniture we have sold which surprised us. Though watching a chesterfield sofa depart on the roof of a car was scary (despite the fact that is how it came to this house in the first place). Linen and duvets went to the Women’s Refuge today and the 400 odd books are going to a charity which distributes them free to refugee centres, refuges, students and so on. I sold some clothes on ebay and got a very mixed response and sometimes the effort of packing up a skirt that sold for 99p is a bit soul destroying. So everything else is going to the hospice shop. They have a van and they are going to come and pick up whatever they want. Anything left after that is going to the skip. I have yet to find anyone willing to take on three teenage girls and a grumpy husband but ever the optomist!

    • I never sell clothes on Ebay. I’ve tried and like you, found it to be too unrewarding. In addition, the time it takes to describe the item is not worth the effort, IMO.

      • Calico ginger

        But I do find it rewarding – most times! Young women’s wear sells well I find and anything with a nice “Label” to it. The bonus is it is easy to pack and post in pre-paid plastic satchels here in Australia.

    • Hi Gillie, I only had one teenage girl and that was enough for me. I gave her away for free in the end. The husband I will keep.

  2. I have sold some things, but there were also times when I didn’t have the energy and/or persistance to sell things. I think, selling is worth the effort but when you’re just not up for the effort, that shouldn’t hold you back from decluttering either. Giving away for free is always better than procrastinating endlessly about selling.
    At the moment I’m not selling much, as I’m travelling quite a bit and it’s difficult to keep up with pick ups or shipping.
    It is great to get some money for the stuff, though!

  3. I get a good feeling about donating things to lots of different causes in the UK, from Save The Children to the local animal shelter. Furniture in good condition goes to a charity that helps young people who were previously homeless set up home for themselves which makes it easier for them to obtain work. Anything I feel might make some money I give to my married son who puts it on E-bay and keeps the proceeds for their “Baby Fund”. Keeping it in the family. Anything else is recycled through our local council where the money made is ploughed back into the community. Win, win, win.

  4. Wow!! Good for you, Cindy, putting that money on the old mortgage!!! If we had anything of value left to sell, we would, but at this point in the decluttering game, it’s all give-aways. We did make a few hundred last year with an old grill, auto ramps, old software and the like and you’re right, it was nearly effortless. Have a loopy doo fun day, Cindy!

    • I’m always surprised when I come across something that I want to declutter that’s high value, but I continue to do so. Some of that $2000 was big items, but some were $20 or $30 sales added together. Most recently, I sold two carved wooden knick knacks that – after an Ebay search – I discovered had a *ridiculously* high value. I made over $200 on the pair of them. If I’m uncertain about something, I always peruse the prices on Ebay before I decide.

  5. Cindy, I love the idea of having a goal. We too are currently paying a mortgage. Right after our car is paid off, we’re going to give that old mortgage the super smackdown. You are sooo right. $1000 makes a huge difference – especially when you think about being mortgage free. Now there’s a pop the bubbly night!

    • I dream about the day our mortgage is paid off. We’ve even chatted about moving to a cheaper house further out in the suburbs so we can pay it off quicker, but frankly, neither of us has any desire to move, so chatter is all it is.

  6. I do a mix of selling and giving. Just dropped off a bunch of items today at a thrift shop that is also a used homeschool book store. I love those ladies and they are trying to keep their homeschool shop in business by adding in the thrift part of things. I love that I can help them out by donating. Another cool thing for our area is that a local person started a silent auction facebook site. You sign up for the group and then each Sunday you can post pics of items for bid, list a starting bid amount and you can even set a max bid so if someone really wants the item they can bid full price immediately. Bidding ends at midnight that week on Friday night and then Sunday afternoon there is a set meet up place with all the sellers(it is at a car pool parking lot). it is a lot of fun and doesn’t take much work at all. You know where the meet up is and the time and its safe since so many show up. It is designed for smaller items, for instance you can’t sell a car on the site but it gets rid of a lot of smaller items at home. The only downside that I see with it is that it takes a lot of control not to shop yourself and bring back into the house more items. The great thing is that you can try to sell your items as often as you want but if the thing isn’t selling you know at that point to just donate it.

    • I love this idea Angel. What’s the site called?

      • its a local group because the meet ups have to be local, that way there is no need to mail items to people. I mentioned it today because it would be really easy for anyone to start it up in their local area. I can ask the start up person if they are ok with me posting their name/info for questions 🙂

  7. We have been able to sell a few things on ebay, but the majority has been given to Goodwill. I did get $200 for a scarf which we sold on ebay, I had put it into the Goodwill pile and decided to see if there might be any market for it and sure enough I’d had it long enough that it was vintage and in demand. I love your method of putting the money you make towards your mortgage, that is a very clear way of seeing what you have achieved.

    • $200 for a scarf! Wow! I once sold a blanket for someone for almost $400. I couldn’t believe it!!

      If I didn’t have a specific goal of putting the money toward the mortgage, all $2000 would just have dissipated here and there. I love knowing that it’s going to help me achieve my goal.

  8. Most of what we have decluttered has been given either to friends or to Goodwill. The few things we sold were furniture or storage type things. We have more “stuff” than “goods.” We got rid of the goods a long time ago and got good money for it.
    Have been reading a couple of books on decluttering with a Biblical slant–decluttering so you have less and need less so you can do or give more. I’m really glad I started doing this a long time ago because now I am at the point where it’s just stuff and Mom’s pretty well there too.

    • Deb J, if you don’t mind–what is the title of the book you’re reading? It sounds very interesting.

      • One is “Enough” by Will Davis Jr and the other is “More or Less” by Jeff Shinabarger. Hope you like them.

    • It is wonderful, Deb J, to be at that point where the stuff no longer has the same effect on you and your mom that it may have once had.

  9. Cindy – I too have done a mixture of sell and donate, and like you the value didn’t necessarily affect the decision which way it went on the day. Well done!

  10. My husband is the type who will save stuff “until he has a yard sale”. This means stuff has to hang around for months on end.

    That drives me nuts. If I’m done with an item, I like to have it OUT OF THE HOUSE. I haven’t sold on Ebay in years, and though I’ve tried to get my enthusiasm up for it again, it just hasn’t worked. I’d much rather Freecycle something, or bring it to the thrift shop.

    • My husband is a veritable minimalist in the house. But he recycles metal. He takes apart motors for copper and recycles plumbing pipes and fixtures from side-jobs. I know we need the income but it can be so aggravating with all that stuff hanging around outside till he gets to it. My two little mechanics love to make a mess of his unsightly stash.

  11. In my early decluttering days, I sold things on Ebay (my old Spirograph went for $60 😀 ). In April I began to ramp up my efforts and found that I needed to move things out of the house quickly to not be tempted with second thoughts. There will be a little tax benefit from the donations and I am trying to think about somebody’s thrill at finding a nice item for a good price. But I still have some anxiety about missing an opportunity for extra cash. When I finish my first major pass through the entire house will I regret not having things to sell or simply be glad that it’s gone??!!

    • When I get pangs about not having gotten money for something (usually when I see stuff that I used to have being sold at more than I thought I could get for it) I ask myself wether selling stuff is my hobby. The answer is “no” – though I enjoy it from time to time because it brings some money back and I think if someone pays money for it there is a better chance the person really wants it. (I sometimes fear that giving away for free results in a lot of grabbing it without thinking because, well, it’s free). I also try to remember that time is such an important factor. Not only the time I need for selling but also the time that passes from purchase to resell. Only few things are truly timeless. Fashion, decor, even books and toys … many things don’t sell well anymore after sitting for too long because even if they are perfectly usable or even super nice they are not up-to-date. Some things perish (Colleen covered that point well several times). And when it comes to old stuff I try to remember that though a few nice things (not even valuable really, more nostalgic or practical) came from my grandmas house when she moved into assisted living all the stuff that was neither nice nor sellable (except maybe for pennies …) was sooo much work to go through and take care of. If I have to keep a box of stuff for every item that might be valuable in 10, 20 or 30 years … I’d rather not have the box (or 10, 20 or 30) around.

    • You’ll be just glad, I assure you!

      I am for sure in a position where even a little money makes a difference, but still. Imagining I’d have to wade through masses of stuff for even longer and deal with that stuff for even longer, isn’t worth 200 or 300€ for me. You can maybe find other ways to make money once that stuff is gone (like renting out a room for a little while for example, but there can be various opportunities).
      Though the stuff is providing an opportunity to make a little extra money I think it’s wrong to think of the stuff itself as an investment. It’s providing the opportunity for a little side job (“second hand dealer”), but if that job isn’t the right one for you (and it isn’t if it just hinders your progress and makes you feel bad most of the time), you may as well get rid of the stuff fast and use the freed up time and room for finding another job that suits you better.

  12. Hi Cindy, I have had a love/hate relationship with selling my stuff. Love the money hate the hassle. But like any good relationships the good part outweighed the bad and sell I did. I stopped counting the cash after year one of my mission at which time I had made $1533 from selling our unwanted stuff. So who knows what value I ended up selling in the end. What I do know though is that one could pay a whole lot more off their mortgage if they hadn’t wasted the money on the stuff in the first place.

    • Well that last sentence is certainly true, Colleen. Knick knacks, duplicates, pretty clothes, unused gym memberships, uneaten food…not indulging in all those things could equal more $$ on the mortgage.

  13. Wow. That is an amazing achievement, and a good dent in your mortgage. I am glad you live your own advice, and it is inspirational to see the benefits of your decluttering process.

    • Well that last sentence is certainly true, Colleen. Knick knacks, duplicates, pretty clothes, unused gym memberships, uneaten food…not indulging in all those things could equal more $$ on the mortgage.

  14. Congratulations on paying down your mortgage early! Paying off debt as fast as possible is always my goal. That’s a great thing to do with money made from selling things. I do sometimes sell things we’re getting rid of to the used bookstore or clothing store, but most of the time I just give it away. I know it’s not that much trouble to sell online, but with working full time and the long commute I have, I give myself the permission to just get rid of our clutter if I can’t easily sell it at one of those two stores because I know it will just sit there if I don’t haul it off to Goodwill because I won’t make the time it takes to sell it/ship it/ make arrangements for pick up. That being said, I currently have a bag of stuff I’m taking to the used bookstore tonight sitting in the trunk of my car. 🙂 Anything they don’t buy I will donate to Goodwill on my way home.

  15. Cindy, that is great that you have been able to pay that much on your home just from selling stuff you no longer need or want. I have sold a few items on ebay and I have had three yard sales at an area flea market. Most of the things I sold I did not make much from them, around $300. The vast majority of the items have gone to Goodwill. I guess over time I have found that it is easier to donate most things. Hopefully someone will benefit from it.