The following question is one that was asked in a previous session of Quick + Simple Clutter Control. It has to do with the (very common) desire to sell items as part of the decluttering process or in other words, convert clutter into cash.

Question mark I have a large collection of items that could make some money online, at a consignment sale/shop, garage sale, or something of the like. I donate a lot of items and enjoy doing so, but often times my thought is to try to sell it first. With this rationale, nothing is moving and more is piling up. How would you suggest sorting and handling all these items knowing that time is a huge issue? Money is a big issue with our family now too and I know that we have some valuable stuff and you would think that we could carve some time out to commit to this, but it’s difficult when it seems like it’s a HUGE project.

I love this question because it’s something I see with clients and workshop participants all the time. It really is hard to let go of things when it seems like you could make money on your stuff. What I would suggest is to first decide if you want to have a garage sale. The upside to a garage sale is that you could get rid of a lot of items all at once, but garage sales are still a big time commitment. An additional downside to garage sales is that you may not get as much for high ticket items at a garage sale as you would if you were to sell the items on Craigslist or eBay.

Yard sale

But selling via Craigslist or eBay requires a lot of time. You have to take photos, write descriptions, and interact with potential buyers. Then, if you’re selling on Craigslist you have to meet with the buyers (and hope they show up.) Or package and ship your items if you sell on eBay. This packaging and shipping also can add to the clutter in your home, since you have to stock boxes, tape, mailing labels and packing materials.

If you decide to have a garage sale, set a date, and go through your home with a fine tooth comb to maximize your inventory for the sale. If you’re going to do it, go all out, and really make it worth your time. Then, try to sell everything via that sale. You can always know in the back of your mind if you’re not willing to negotiate on price and hold some items back to sell via consignment, Craigslist or eBay. But the more you can sell at the sale, the more you maximize the investment of your time.

If you don’t want to have a full blown garage sale, then another approach would be to set a dollar value for selling via eBay or Craigslist. What dollar amount is worth your time to sell an item via these online sites? Alternatively, you could start by selling your highest value items first and see how much money you make for the time invested. You can then decide when to stop selling and start donating based on the time invested for your dollar return.

Are you considering having a yard sale this year? If so, you may be interested in these posts:

How to Organize a Garage or Yard Sale

How to Organize a Garage or Yard Sale – Part 2

To Garage Sale or Not to Garage Sale

I’d love to hear from you. Are you planning a yard sale this year? If so, what do you do with your yard sale items before the sale? What tips do you have to make the most out of your selling efforts?

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.