At the beginning of March, I had a grand idea to get the house cleaned up, get rid of a bunch of stuff we couldn’t/didn’t use anymore, and make this place feel all the larger for it.
Yeah, so, then I quickly got a new job and found myself busy again. Whoops.
Of course, I’m about as happy as someone could possibly be with my job, so there’s no complaining about work taking me away from my side projects. But I would like to start shifting some of my free time back to those to-do lists I created two months ago.
To go along with that idea, this is also the season where money gets tight. Mira’s birthday (and birthday party) is at the end of this month. Aaron, my mother and I all have birthdays in June. And of course summer camp costs are hanging over us, reminding me why we don’t pay for private school during the school year.
So I’m combining tasks to get rid of things and hopefully get a little extra money in the process. I do not have the patience for a garage sale; when we’ve done them in the past, I just got angry at how little people were offering for already freakishly cheap stuff. I’m also not a fan of Craigslist because I get nervous about having people show up at my house if I might be the only one at home.
In Columbus, we have several used clothing and home goods stores that accept gently used products and pay out cash for them. In other cities, consignment stores might be the way to go. I prefer the cash on the spot places because I don’t want to risk the items coming back to my house, and don’t want to wait forever to find out if they sold or not.
I’m fairly experienced at turning some of our old junk into money, so I thought I’d share my strategy for getting a little extra cash in exchange for freeing my house of junk, just in case you ever thought about trying it yourself:
1. Sort the stuff you don’t want. Anything in good condition – free of stains and tears, no missing parts, and no serious signs of wear – goes in one pile. Anything beyond use is immediately thrown away. Everything else gets itemized and boxed up for a donation to Goodwill.
Remember: donations are still money for you, even if it takes awhile. If you keep track of what you donate and get a receipt, you can use it for a deduction on your taxes.
2. Polish up all of those items in your good condition pile. A few minutes of ironing, dusting, and wiping down your items can increase your chances of it being accepted and possibly even increase how much you’re offered for it. Any clothing should be clean, folded and free of lint or pet hair. Anything with accessories or extra parts should have the parts bundled together to keep them from getting lost. Check the requirements for the store you’re going to – some won’t accept items in boxes or bags and request fabric bins or plastic baskets.
3. Drop off your items. At the stores here in Columbus, you can wait in-store or stop back later in the day or the next day to see the results. You’ll probably have to sign an agreement for them to look over your items and free them from any liability should anything happen to your items while they’re looking them over. It’s mostly just a formality – any reputable place will keep your items behind the counter or within eyesight to keep others from picking through your goods.
Depending on how many others have dropped off items before you, there may be a wait to get your stuff evaluated. You’ll likely be given a receipt or some other way to link you to your stuff so there’s no confusion.
4. Get your offer. The stores I’ve gone to will separate the items they’d like to buy in a different basket. They show you the items and give you a total for what they’d like to buy. If you have questions about how much they’re offering for any single item, just ask. If you’re content with the offer, you’ll sign an acceptance form and be given your cash. If you’re at an consignment store, you’ll be shown which items they want to display in the store – you won’t get any money until an item sells.
Note: Don’t expect a lot of money. It’ll be better than a yard sale offering, but probably less than Craigslist. Usually you’ll get anywhere from 1/6 to 1/10 the original price of the item. But you also don’t have to write up an ad for each item, take photos of it, or sit out in your garage in the heat all day while someone asks you if you have change for a $20 so they can buy your Jonas Brothers CD for ten cents.
5. Take the unwanted stuff and immediately get rid of it. There will probably be some things that the store doesn’t want. There are lots of reasons for this – out of season, no demand, they already have five of them etc. Don’t fall into the trap of taking it back home and letting it sit around more – grab a bag or a box, make a list of the items and then drop it off at Goodwill or another charity organization. You didn’t want it in the first place, right? Then why take it back home to clutter up your house again? Get rid of it, get your charity receipt, and plan to add it to your tax deductions next January.
I’ve used this routine several times to get rid of kid clothing that both girls have outgrown. Just last week I dropped off a basket of clothing, a few DVDs the girls no longer watch, and some baby board books to Once Upon A Child (one of the kid resale shops here) and received $51 for it.
I only put an hour of work into cleaning out drawers, sorting and selecting items – not a bad return on my time, and that’s another basket’s worth of stuff out of our house!
In the next week, my goal is to begin cleaning out my closet and getting rid of all of the clothing that no longer fits me. I have several nice dresses, blouses and dress pants that might earn a little money, and I’ll be thankful to have more hangers available for the clothing I DO wear!