So, maybe you have you’ve been inspired by the Marie Kondo movement and have started your mass declutter. You may have completed a #Minsgame or two, or jumped on board the ‘capsule wardrobe‘ train, but you have hit a roadblock.
What exactly are you going to do with all of that junk? It is all very well having a good tidy up, but where does all that clutter go? As I have gone through my stuff I have been pretty ruthless and I will freely confess to having binned the vast majority of it. However if , like me, you live in England, you may have a problem like mine; the council only empty your bin once every two weeks and the bin can only hold so much… and as for visiting the local tip, I’m pretty sure the guy there recognises me and eyes me suspiciously every time I go there.
I have been trying to recycle when possible, but I am still left with a pile of ‘too good to bin’ stuff. What do I do with that? There are basically three things you can do with the stuff if you are not putting it in the bin: Keep it, Give it away or Sell it. This post will go over those options.
Despite ALL I have said about decluttering, you will come across something that you don’t particularly want to get rid of, even though you have no use for it yet. Maybe Christmas or seasonal items, sentimental things you are not ready to part with, or just something you know will be useful once you have your home how you want it (like that sewing machine that is still in the box, but that you will TOTALLY use all the time once you have the space to do so).
Do not feel guilty about keeping hold of things – I’m hoping to write an article on this subject eventually; not wanting to get rid of something that might be useful ‘just in case’, while considered an anathema to many minimalists, is not the end of the world. Provided you are still getting rid of most of the clutter, keeping the odd thing is not going to completely derail the process. Consider what it is and why you are choosing to keep it. If you want it for Christmas, Easter, next summer, (insert your reason here), then just box it up, label it, and put it out of the way. If it gets forgotten about, then maybe you can actually think about getting rid of it when you next come across it, but if you want to still keep hold of it, then perhaps you may want to identify what is actually going on with this item and why you can’t let go of it.
I appreciate that this is the exact opposite of what the majority of ‘proper’ minimalists will tell you – but I am not proper by any stretch of the imagination, and if your hiding this stuff away and coming back to it later is going to keep you moving rather than discourage you from proceeding, then it is better to step around a boulder in the road and carry on, than waste time trying to smash it up (got bit ‘metaphory’ there, sorry about that)
Pro-tip: If it’s taking too long to decide if you want to keep it or not, keep it for now and worry about it later – just keep moving with the clear out process!
Give it away:
I don’t know about you, but we get bags asking to be filled with donations through our letter box every other day. Some are for real charities, others are chancers hoping to get your old things and then sell them on. Either way if you are happy to clear your clothing clutter that way, go ahead. If getting it out of the house is your main priority then that is an easy way to do it and once it is gone what the people collecting do with it is their business.
Some charities will come and collect large amounts of clothes, books or furniture if the logistics of getting your items to the shop is the part of decluttering that is posing a problem. You may even have decided, while going through things, that some of them would be perfect for certain friends or family members. Who ever you intend giving the item to, there are 2 main rules when giving things away:
- Is it good enough? Consider why you don’t want it anymore. If it is because it has been outgrown, or read, or you now realise that 50 cushions for your 2 seater settee is a tad excessive, then by all means ask if others would like them. However, if you are getting rid because, the buttons are missing, it is stained, or a bit saggy, consider if your ‘gift’ is really going to be suitable or well received.
- Does the person you are giving it too really need it, or are they going to accept it out of politeness and you are now cluttering up their home? I will confess to having taken things from people before now as they said things like “it is going in the bin if you don’t have it” and because that seemed like such a waste, I took the items even though I had no need for them. Do not pressure people to take things they don’t want.
Pro-tip: If you didn’t want it, be sure it is actually good enough to give to someone else. Charity shops do not want your jeans with broken zips, or puzzles with missing pieces. If it is rubbish, chuck it, don’t pass on your junk to others if they can’t make use of it.
When it comes down to it, it would be great if we could sell all of our old stuff and make a bit of money back on what we have spent out, and nowadays there are so many ways to do so. There are online sites and apps, from Ebay, to Gumtree or Depop. You could put up ads in local shops or in papers, or you could hold a sale of your own.
Again there are rules to selling your stuff, much like giving it away, the most obvious being that it should be good quality, even more so than if you are giving it away, because this time you are expecting people to part with cold hard cash for it.
- Be organised. If you are selling online, or at a bootsale, ensure that you have cleaned up the item, made it look presentable and have clearly indicated how much you would like for it. One thing that puts me off of bootsales is asking how much something is – I can’t help it; Brits don’t haggle! Tell me what it costs and I will decide if I want it! (Some people won’t agree with this, but I certainly don’t like asking ‘how much’? and then not buying it!)
If you are having a table top style sale, presentation is key – folded and pressed clothes, or a neat rail are more inviting than a pile of clothes to rummage through, and people will have price expectations in their heads based on how you have presented your items. (I did read a few sales articles to research this point, trust me they were very boring, but the main takeaway was, your stall is judged before the customer gets there, if it looks like a jumble sale, the customer will expect prices to match).The same goes for online sales. Take good photos, from a number of angles, be very descriptive about the item, and be sure you have taken weight into account when choosing a price for the postage.
- What is it worth? If you are unsure, look it up online. If it turns out you have something valuable on your hands, this may have an impact on where you will then choose to sell it. The most important rule of sales is that an item is only worth what someone will pay you for it, but if you are selling a diamond ring at a bootsale, don’t expect to find someone willing to pay thousands for it. Know what your item is potentially worth, go to the right venue and price accordingly.
- Is it worth haggling over? This may seem like a complete contradiction to the previous point, but if you are sure that your slightly worn trainers and old board games AREN’T worth hundreds, and you are just after a few pennies, then be willing to take an offer. Standing at a folding table flogging your old stuff is a fairly thankless task and at the end of the day, it is better to come home with some cash than all of your old stuff. Choose your battles; is it worth haggling over 50 pence when not selling the item means bringing it home to clutter up your now (possibly!) tidy house?
Pro-tip: Your stuff is only worth what someone will pay you for it, decide what is more important: making money, or getting rid of your items. If you were getting rid of it , the cash is a bonus; be careful you are not left with all of your junk because you overpriced it.
What are you planning on do with your clutter once you have bagged it up? Got any decluttering horror stories or lucky finds to share? Let me know in the comments