Juggling with decluttering decisions

2014-06-11 14.47.36

One of the ebay items I am procrastination about.

Do you ever find yourself juggling with the decision whether to donate or sell certain items you have decided to declutter. For me the items I most want to sell are items I feel the need to recoup some monetary loss on. Items that were relatively costly but I never did get much use from. These are items I most definitely want to get out of my house but my thrifty side says ~ “Sell, sell, sell!”  ~ while my I can’t be bothered with all the selling nonsense side says ~ Donate it and just get it the heck out of here, quickly and painlessly.

I have several craft items that I am juggling with this decision about right now. And I have had many such experiences in the past. What do I usually end up doing? I think it is about 50/50 sell v donate. And then there are the times when I have listed an item on ebay and it didn’t sell so I donated it anyway.

You would be forgiven for wondering why it is that, after all this time, I still find myself struggling with this decision from time to time. The answer with that is that question is that my desire to make some money back is equal to the amount I dislike going to the trouble of listing items on ebay.

I have done the pros and cons list and they come out about even…

  • Making some cash v feeling good about making a donation
  • Not having to pack up the item v Using up some of those pre-used packaging materials lingering in the garage cage.
  • Getting it out of here quickly v the tantalising anticipation of receiving bids and the joy of a successful sale.
  • Having to go to the post office v The extra exercise and nice harbour side walk to the post office.
  • All that bother v the cash in hand.

You know what I am going to do. Finish off this post and just list the darn things instead of wasting the next hour browsing Pinterest for more craft ideas when I have so many going on in my head already. Why waste my brain space procrastinating while I waste my precious time faffing about doing nothing important.

See you, I have work to do.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter plastic items, excess shopping bags, kitchen containers, broken toys…

Eco Tip for the Day

Try to replace at least a couple of meat meals a week with plant based offerings.


For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • 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 […]
  • Decide, divide & Conquer I want you all to read this post by David @ Raptitude.com before going on. Take from it what you will but this is how I applied the concept to decluttering. Before doing any decluttering […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I so understand this idea Colleen. I too have struggled with the sell/donate decision. Especially since my Mom has this really, really had time with “giving” something away. I finally decided to just give it away. Why? Because most of the time I really can’t find someone who wants to pay even half what I paid for it. It also means spending time and effort I don’t want to spend that way.

    • Hi Deb J, I am more like your mother in this respect I think. But only, as I said in the post, when it is something I feel I haven’t got my money’s worth out of. However sometimes I donate it anyway because I can’t be bothered dealing with the selling. However last night did as as said and listed the items as soon as I finished writing the blog post. Ebay have actually simplified the process and I also simplified it by not adding any unnecessary description. If people want to know more about the item they can google it for themselves. I was done in less than half and hour including some photo editing.

      • Colleen, we have very little that we have paid very much for. I look for deals on what we buy. I seldom pay full price. Added to that is the fact that we seldom get rid of anything we haven’t used long enough to get our money’s worth out of it. We take care of things so they can be 10 years old and look new or barely used. It’s really interesting how Mom wants it sold but expects me to do the work (and always has).

  2. Too true. I was relieved when I was finally able to sell my China Cabinet online but I still sold it for far less than I bought it for but it was okay and made me feel great to have it go.

    No one was interested in my antique dresser online so I did wind up donating that but it was okay too. Same with the metal shelves that I donated on Craigslist and much more.

    Donating feels great but when I paid good money for something I understand this post. I’ve made a list for what needs to go in my next downsizing and most, if not all of that, will be simply donated so I can move on… literally. 🙂

    I do try to tell myself if I paid less than $30 or so to just donate it and get on with it. Having written that I did struggle with donating a new pair of jeans last week. Sigh.

    • Hi Ron B, your last sentence there has the same struggle in it the I suffer from. That is that recouping monetary loss is more important to us when we didn’t get out money’s worth out of the original purchase. Perhaps we should just donate them to teach ourselves an important less about making bad purchases. We might them be more careful in the future. Although I couldn’t get much more careful than I am now.

      • True. I am trying to be more careful but even now am struggling with a purchase decision for something I want but do not really need (though it could become important when I move into an apartment). Sigh.

    • Ron B.,
      Quite awhile ago, I posted that my daughter and I each keep a hanging tag (that I made) on one item in our closet that we call, “What was I thinking?” We live 5,000 miles apart. It’s a funny reminder that we have all been there and done that. That is part of life. We need to cut ourselves some slack and not beat ourselves up over some purchase that didn’t work out as expected. Colleen even did a mini-mission week on the “What was I thinking” theme 🙂

  3. It’s a more complicated issue in our house. Hubby brings things back from the houses of dead people with a view to selling them online. Then he has to research a price and description. He has so much stuff that a year or more can pass without anything being even listed. He doesn’t seem to get “we haven’t lost any money because we didn’t buy it, so we can donate it”. And clearly we don’t need the money that much, if he can’t get round to selling the stuff (no it’s not thunder, it’s my eyes rolling).

    • Oh Tracey, you have my sympathy on this one.
      Quick story ~ A friend of a friend was once a secondhand dealer. She doesn’t seem to be able to stop herself from attending garage sales and thrift shops for bargains even though she doesn’t have a store to sell them on from any more. As a result her home has turned into one of those barns they show on that American Pickers show. She can barely move in there and her car can no longer fit in the garage. It is interesting that she can’t make the connection between her desire for a bargain and her lack of inspiration to on sell. I don’t see the point in a bargain if there is no eventual profit or if the item isn’t going to be used.

      • You have my sympathy too.

        My hubby does something similar, only it’s with garage sales. He’s always planning to have a yard sale during the summer, so he picks up free merchandise from the recycling center, junk that friends foist off on him (he doesn’t see it that way though) all year ’round, then is too busy to bother having the garage sale.

        I don’t let all that stuff come into the house. He has to keep it in his shop, and his shop is getting mighty full now.

    • I watch the show “Secret Dealers” it’s a British tv show but is on here in Oz – do l watch it because l love antiques? – do l watch it to see what things are worth? – ….hell to the no….. l watch it to see if people WILL actually sell their stuff…
      Usually they are middle aged to elderly people – some even former antique dealers themselves,………..so you can imagine how much stuff they have. To their credit most of the homes are clean and tidy but just have HEAPS of stuff in them…yes old stuff and yes expensive stuff………but it is still, just stuff…….
      I remember one episode a while ago, the woman seriously was in her 70’s or so….and she had a box of old sticks and things – that were her father’s – so yes old stuff ……….a dealer did offer her money for this box – and yes it was just a normal looking box of sticks and batons and things………just sitting in a box. Anyway a dealer did offer her money for it – she didn’t accept the offer. So that box is still just sitting there. It’s funny because 9 out of 10 people on this show say they want to declutter and get rid of stuff……….yet…….when offered money and sometimes it is really good amounts of money they don’t sell……….

      • Hi Felicity, I have seen this show myself a couple of times and you are right sometimes they just won’t part with the stuff unless they are desperately wanting the money to fund some other venture or acquisition. It is always interesting to see what the stuff is worth though.

  4. I find I have phases when I’m better at selling – usually times when I have much leisure time anyway, time to spend on the internet and at home doing stuff, so that arranging pick-up times or replying to e-mails doesn’t take much effort.
    At other times, I am already procrastinating about urgent stuff like paying my bills for no real reason – those are definitely bad times for taking it on to sell anything. Better to just donate straight away then.
    At the moment I’m definitely in the latter phase. Even to take the donation bags to the thrift store seems to be too much effort for lazy me these days! I’ll go tomorrow though.

    • Hi Sanna, I really have no excuse because I can easily find the time as I don’t go out to paid work. I can understand your lack of inspiration during busy times thought. However your admission of laziness inspires a little advice. When I feel lazy I generally force myself to do something useful and it usually makes me feel better about myself and leads to more usefulness. I always feel much better after taking the plunge into doing something than I do “relaxing” and doing nothing about it. It plays on my minds otherwise and reduces the enjoyment of my down time.

  5. Selling vs. Donating…..
    When we acquire an item, there was an obvious need for us to do so, real or imagined. It may have served its purpose where we feel we “got our monies worth”. Then again, some acquisitions are what we needed at that time in our life whether we “got our monies worth”, or not. I have found over the years that everything that has come into my life, came in for a reason, sometimes very temporary and all at some cost. Our lives are constantly changing as we grow as individuals. I have always donated my “goodies”. I feel so fabulous knowing that things that are no longer useful to me are the very things that other people actually need. I also take tremendous pride in how I prepare the items I am donating, knowing that my discards will be someone’s blessings. It’s part of the circle of life, in-out, in-out.

    • Beautifully put Kimberley. I will use this as the base for tomorrow’s post.

    • Wow this is a good way to think about it. The circle of life.

      Again my Mum always tells me we’ve “used it and now it’s time to let someone else have a turn”. Hopefully we got what we needed/wanted out of the item.

  6. I can’t be bothered with selling most times. The price somebody would pay for an item just isn’t worth the hassle. I’d rather have the clear spot where the item was.

    I’m the same way with garage or yard sales. I refuse to HAVE a yard sale, and I don’t shop at them either.

    Hubby is the complete opposite. He LOVES yard sales, both having them and buying at them.

  7. I usually donate, although husband sometimes sell stuff. I am with Kimberley and agree with the circle of life. I only did one garage sale many years ago.We made good money, but I hated every minute of it until we had the money and the rest of the stuff was donated. I am now at the point in my life where I consider how much effort and time selling stuff takes – I do not usually want to deal with it. Time is money and is one of my most precious commodities. I pass the donation place at least once a week, so going there to drop stuff off when I have a stack is easy.

  8. Ebay – or here we have Trademe. Yes you can make some money and if you have enough of the right stuff to list, you can make back a lot of money. However there is a lot of ‘sweat equity’ involved. Mental sweat equity, that is, obviously physical labour isn’t a bit component.

    I have sold a lot of stuff on trademe in the past – mainly sports gear and ballet costumes. At the same time I was donating stuff to Goodwill. An outgrown tutu has no use to me but could be bought and sold every year for the duration of its life. Everyday clothing, my girls either swap or hand-me-down amongst their friends, and what is left over goes to Goodwill. General household items I tend to freecycle.

    Yes selling things takes a lot of effort. It has played a part in my decluttering and will probably again sometime in the future but at the moment I have one thing listed on trademe that I took about 2 months to get around to listing.

    I tell myself that I should just list one thing per day. It doesn’t seem to work that way for me. In the past I have seemed to prefer to list a heap of things at the same time. I guess it gets all the transacting and posting out of the way in major burst, but it can be quite crazy and time consuming at the time.

    I do have a heap of stuff that I will list around Feb next year – Feb is the start of the season and when I will get optimum money (more ballet costumes). I would have listed it Feb this year but I needed to look after someone and as I said it can all be quite time consuming. Maybe if I find myself with time to spare and twiddling my thumbs I will drag it all home and start the photographing and measuring and writing the description process and have it all ready to roll next year.

    Do I have a rule of thumb for what I try to sell on trademe? Well, if it would yield less than $20 I generally prefer to donate it. Then its out of the house and gone, gone, gone and it gets to live a useful life elsewhere. If something doesn’t sell on auction and its had the two extra free re-lists and still no takers – then I offer it on freecycle and it gets to live a useful life elsewhere. If something definitely has value and doesn’t sell on the first listing, I give it 2-4 weeks sitting in unsold and then re-list it and generally there are enough new shoppers circulating to generate a buyer. I definitely consider if it was the right time of year to be selling ie ski stuff at the start of Winter versus the end of the Winter. Or did my listing coincide with school holidays when households have their budgets stretched entertaining kids, paying for holiday, on vacation etc etc.

    I don’t like losing money on items that are targeted for decluttering, but as someone said here, the sunk-cost happened when I bought it not when I decluttered it.

  9. I usually make the sell vs. donate decision based on effort vs. profit. If it’s going to take more effort than is worth for the money it would bring in then I donate it. If it’s going to bring in a good bit of money for a little bit of effort then I’ll sell it.

    I don’t consider the amount of use I got from an item. If it take too much effort to sell it for too little cash, then it gets donated.

    A couple of examples. Clothes almost always get donated, because they don’t bring in a lot of money. Video games get sold on ebay because they are easy to list and ship. Large items like bikes or stereo equipment get sold on Craigslist. Craigslist is more work, so it has to bring in more income, meaning I mostly reserve big ticket items for craigslist.

    • Hi Eric, I understand your logic on this, it makes a lot of sense. I don’t seem to have a logic when it comes to what I decide to sell. I donate most stuff but there are just some things, for one reason or another, I insist on making at least one attempt to sell. It is an oddly selective thing for me. Generally I hope to make at least $10 though but that isn’t really much.

  10. Hi Colleen – just a quick note to let you know, I changed my commenting name and so it has put my comments in “awaiting moderation”. Thanks!

  11. Timely post!
    I have a number of “valuable” things listed online right now and am agonizing whether to re-list if they don’t sell. I love donating and most of the time I am happy to pass it along for the next person to discover, but these items are just not the kind of things that will do well tossed together in a bargain bin, I guess I am afraid the value of the things being “complete” is in jeopardy? Silly I know.
    Also, I am selling some of my son’t toys that he has outgrown with the promise that he can keep the proceeds. So if I want to donate them, he may reconsider getting them out of his life!

  12. I don’t think that sounds silly at all Creativeme. Usually my valuable items are small so I just put them aside and try again later. Bit items, I just take what I can get and get them out of my house. As one of the other readers said, in that situation the space is more valuable to me than the item.

    Funny you should mention selling your son’s toys. I was always more keen to sell and at a good price when it was for my kids. They need the money more than I do so I always want to do the best for them.

  13. I’ve found that my threshold for how much an item has to be worth before I will consider selling it keeps going up over the years. I’m not sure any amount of money is enough to make me try Craigslist again!

    I am too easily bogged down in the sell/donate/give to a friend decision process. It turns out that I am much better off putting my unwanted clutter in a trash bag or recycling bin and being vigilant about not buying more junk. The point of decluttering is to make my life less chaotic and more enjoyable. Worrying about finding the perfect home for the stuff I no longer want is too overwhelming and leaves me too much room to change my mind about removing the item from my home.

    • Hi EH and welcome to 365 Less Things. I understand what you are saying about selling, it can be a royal pain. However I am not a lover of the idea of just throwing things away. That always seems terribly wasteful to me. A quick trip to the thrift shop usually takes care of anything I don’t want to be bothered selling. Perhaps that would work for you to instead of letting them go to waste. I do however love that it is making you think twice about acquiring the stuff in the first place. That sure will keep the clutter down in the future. It sure works for me.

      • It took me a long time to become okay with throwing things out instead of donating them.

        Part of my tossing philosophy comes from my employment history. I was a manager at one of the largest thrift operations in the country. In my region, 1/3rd of what was donated made it onto the sales floor. Another 1/3rd was sold overseas and the rest went to the dump. Unexamined truckloads were routinely tossed, simply because there was no time to process it or room to store it.

        Since the smaller thrift shops in my area send their overflow to this larger organization, I feel like I might as well throw the stuff out at home and save everyone the bother. I also have a problem with some of the missions and money management at some of these places.

        I donate to non-thrift organizations when I can. I do find that it is just so much simpler if I put the item in a bag/bin the night before I take out the trash. I can’t go back and fish it out of the box later (which I do). I’m not tempted to buy more by stopping at a thrift shop. We can recycle just about everything, so I don’t even feel too bad about the waste 🙂