That is the question. Or at least that’s one of the questions I received recently after my garage organizing post. Here’s the question:

“I have a question about garages, and I hope you can help – I’m at my wit’s end. LOL.  My husband and I moved into our condo in October, and needless to say, we have more stuff than room. We’ve been weeding out ruthlessly and now our garage is getting taken over by “garage sale” boxes. We’ve planned a sale for June…. I was wondering, do you ever advise your clients to just donate stuff rather than messing with a sale? We had a sale last year and made $400, but it was a ton of work. I’m getting so frustrated every time I open the garage door and see all the boxes, plus, the garage has a whole bunch of boxes that haven’t even been opened.  Like Peter Walsh’s book…it’s all too much!!! I’m thinking about ditching the boxes (and the guilt), but I’m having second thoughts. Ever run into this before?”

What a timely question! Around here, garage sale season is just starting up again. I saw several signs this weekend for the first round of garage sale frenzy. So here’s where I weigh in on garage sales. First, here’s the advice I gave in last month’s newsletter:

If you’re deep in the midst of spring cleaning, a.k.a. doing the spring fling, you may be tempted to have a garage sale to make a few extra dollars off those items you no longer use, need or love. I say, hats off to you for lightening your load, and then, encourage you to draw a line in the sand in terms of your sale. Here’s what the line looks like: you set a date, you conduct your sale on that date, you make a few dollars, and then, anything and everything that didn’t go in the sale gets donated and leaves your premises for good!

While a sale can be a huge motivator for getting rid of things you no longer use, need, or love, be careful not to let the lure of the sale get in the way of your organizing progress. You go through the tough job of deciding to part with your belongings…only to end with them stuck in your midst until the day of the sale. And if that sale is some arbitrary day someday in the future…you’ve done the work without a benefit any time in the foreseeable future. By drawing a line in the sand and setting a date for your sale, you have the best of both worlds. You have a non-negotiable deadline for getting it all done, which can be a huge motivator for going through your home with a fine tooth comb. Plus, you have a bright light at the end of the tunnel…that moment in time when your unwanted items are no longer in your midst.

For myself and the clients I work with one on one, I usually don’t recommend having a sale. I make continual runs to Goodwill throughout the year, get receipts for my donations and keep track of what I donate so I can get a tax break. I use a free, on-line service called “It’s Deductible” to keep track of what I’m donating. While the process of entering all my donations on-line takes time, it’s nothing compared to the effort of holding a garage sale. I’ve had two garage sales in my life…and made very little money for a whole lot of time and effort. From sorting to staging to advertising to pricing to sitting in my garage for eight hours! I just didn’t find it to be worth it…but I have to be fair and point out that I really do get rid of things all the time. So my garage sale was quite puny and not super exciting to would-be bargain hunters. Which is another thing…the people who come to garage sales want deals!

So, to sum up an answer for my frustrated reader, you really have to balance your time and effort with the anticipated payoff of a sale. It’s really a personal choice. If stuff lingering in your garage is driving you nuts, you could consider moving up the sale date to early May instead of waiting until June. Simply sell what you have ready by that point in time, and donate the rest for a tax write-off. This could be the best of both worlds for you.

OK readers, where do you weigh-in on garage sales? Do you love ‘em or hate ‘em? Do you have garage sales to offload your stuff? Do you make good money? I’d love to hear your ideas for holding a *profitable* garage sale…or any good excuses you can think of to skip it altogether. ;) Can’t wait to your thoughts on this juicy organizing topic.

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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.

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