How to get rid of your extra stuff once you've decluttered...it's always not easy!
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Decluttering feels good, but what do you do with the excess? That can be a stumbling block for many of us. It's not always easy to actually remove those unwanted items from our home once we've cleaned out our cabinets! We're going to address a common struggles and a few ideas that might help.
"I paid good money for that!" We feel that an item has value, or we feel guilty that we spent money to purchase it, and that money will be wasted if we give the item away. Consider this: the money you spent is already gone. AND you have an unwanted item taking up space in your home and not contributing anything positive in return. If you give the item away, you won't recoup the money you spent, but you WILL regain some extra space. Extra space is valuable. You could also try to sell the item, to get back a little bit of the money you spent, but try not to get hung up on the money (we'll talk more about that in a minute). The benefit of freeing up some space in your home is very valuable all on its own.
"It was a gift!" So what? When I give a gift, it's because I want to make someone happy. If I expect them to keep it forever whether they like it or not, I'm prioritizing my own expectations over that person's happiness. If I give you a gift and expect you to keep it even if you don't like it or don't need it, AND I make you feel guilty, wouldn't that make me kind of a meanie? Of course you should always be gracious when you're given a gift and be discreet if you choose to part with it, but a gift shouldn't saddle you with guilt. If there are strings attached to a gift, or if a person is likely to be offended if they find out about the re-gifting, the problem is on the part of the giver, not the recipient. Your happiness wasn't their top priority when they gave you the gift, and that's kind of backwards if you ask me.
"I might need it someday!" If you have space to comfortably store something that you actually might use in the near future, great! If it's something that would be very very difficult or costly to replace, maybe you should keep it. But if it's something that is easily replaceable at an affordable cost, you're probably better off parting with it. Lots of valuable space in our home can be taken up by "what if's", and it's not worth it. Live your life with a feeling of abundance, knowing that your needs will be met, not from a place of fear, worrying about the what-if's, especially when it comes to something as trivial as household clutter. When we look at the big picture, stuff is just stuff.
"It can still be used!" Okay, but if YOU aren't using it or enjoying it, maybe it's time to pass it along to someone who will. It's not doing anyone any good by sitting in your closet. Here are a few ideas in this department:
If it's hard to part with something, a great starting point is to pass something along to a friend that you know will love it, or a family in need who will be really appreciative. The warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping someone else is really powerful and can help you become more comfortable about parting with your excess. This can be more rewarding that just dropping off a box at the donation center.
>>>>BUT<<<< make sure you keep this in mind: Don't saddle your friends with your cast-offs and make them feel like you're just unloading your junk on them. And don't make them feel like they have to keep all of it. Be really clear in your intentions. Say "Hey, I thought you might be able to use some of these hand-me-downs! But if there's more than you need, absolutely feel free to pass them along to someone else who can use them!" Being really up-front about that is much appreciated by the recipient. Don't make it weird.
Places like the Salvation Army, Goodwill and Savers will gladly take your unwanted treasures off your hands. Just make sure anything you donate is in nice shape. If you wouldn't give it to your best friend or purchase it yourself at a thrift store, don't donate it. They don't need junk. Put your trash in the trash, or find someone who likes to upcycle to give your broken treasures to.
Get creative. Humane Societies can often use your old towels or blankets, and possibly even some unused cleaning products. Church kitchens might welcome your excess Tupperware or utensils, and teachers sometimes like them for classroom organization as well. Young adults who are just starting out might appreciate some gently used household items. Thinking outside the box helps your unwanted items get put to good use AND stay out the landfill.
If giving your things away for free is a tough pill to swallow, maybe money will talk. There are lots of ways to make a few bucks on your unwanted items.
Have a garage sale. But only if you have a good location for a sale, and if you enjoy hosting garage sales. When you figure out what your hourly rate turns out to be for all the time you spend to make a little money, it really needs to be fun. Because it's not that lucrative when you do the math. Kids enjoy helping with sales (as well as the opportunity to make a few bucks themselves), so that's also a valuable consideration.
Consignment shops. My favorite consignment shop sells clothing and shoes for the whole family, as well as household items, books, movies and toys. I love to shop there, and I've recently tried consigning as well. It's been a simple way for me to make a few dollars on the nicer things that I might have otherwise just donated. It's great for a little extra spending money, or if you're saving up toward a goal. I feel like I earn a little more than garage sale prices using this method at my favorite store, without the work of a garage sale. The store looks over my items and hand-picks what they want to consign based on what they know they'll be able to sell (this is how they run a high-quality store that I enjoy shopping in), and then I take anything they don't want directly to the Salvation Army. It does not come back home with me. I just want the stuff gone, whether I sell it or donate it.
Selling on eBay, Craigslist or Facebook. Some people have great success with these methods. There is definitely potential for higher prices, but you also need to consider the work involved with replying to inquiries and arranging pickups, deliveries or shipping. The pros and cons will vary depending on the amount of time and flexibility you have.
This brings me to my last tip, which is to determine your time vs. money ratio.
Do you have more time than money? If you have some time to dedicate to selling your clutter and making a few extra bucks would really help your budget, then it's probably worth having a garage sale, selling on Facebook, or consigning.
Do you have more money than time? If you're ok with your financial situation and really short on time, making a few extra bucks by selling clutter might not be worthwhile. If you're in a really busy season of life, your time may be much more precious than the money. You might be better off boxing it all up and donating it, to enjoy the instant results of a decluttered home.
Do you have a TON of clutter and don't know where to start? When we had more clutter than we knew what to do with (due to having four little kids in one little house), it was very difficult for me to logistically even think about selling things. I didn't have a free space to set things aside while I waited to sell them. I didn't have free space to sort things out into categories and really think about what I could do with them. At that point, it was far more valuable for me to just ruthlessly declutter, box it all up, and take a carload to the Salvation Army. Yes, it's hard to realize that all those items I just gave away were worth a good chunk of money, but they were also taking up a good chunk of space and causing me stress. It was more valuable for me to just gain space as quickly and easily as possible. Now that we're living with less clutter and have more space, it's easier for me to designate a box where I toss unwanted items, and periodically determine what can be sold and donated. Once I got things to a manageable point, it gave me a little more freedom to deal with smaller amounts of household clutter.
Decluttering can be tricky and full of emotion! I hope some of these ideas will help you to gain a fresh perspective! If you have other thoughts, please leave them in the comments, and check out our other blog posts on the topic of decluttering!
Blessings from our homestead to yours!
Ang & Matt