The Big Declutter - When to sell and when to donate?
Since I’ve been doing so much decluttering over the past few months, I’ve found that others are very interested in doing their own “Big Declutter” and they have been curious about my experiences and what I’ve been learning. Much of what I have learned is already shared in The Big Declutter – Lessons Learned So Far post, but there are a few questions that I haven’t yet covered. One of the more common queries has been: “when should I sell something rather than donate it?”. If you are wondering the same thing, here are some hints to help you decide.
Do you need to make some money?
In this case, selling stuff is the obvious choice. Even if you think you might only get a few dollars for an item, consider that you might have a number of similarly small-value items: $5 x 10 is $50! To ensure that you get the best price possible, take some time to take great photos, write a great product description and set a good price. If you will be shipping the item, don’t forget to include the cost of shipping materials and calculate an accurate delivery cost too. For more tips check out 6 Steps to Successful Selling – Part 1 and Part 2.
How much time do you have?
Selling stuff can be time-consuming, so if you don’t have much time or you’d rather be using your valuable time to do more fun stuff, then it would be easier for you to donate your unwanted items. On the other hand, if you’re time-rich and cash-poor, then get selling…
How soon do you need to get rid of the items?
Selling an item can take time. If you need to get rid of your decluttered / unwanted items as soon as possible (perhaps you have a deadline like a house move or you just can’t stand looking at them anymore), then I would recommend that you donate them. While you won’t make any money from the donation, the feeling of freedom when you do let go of these things may be equally valuable to you! However, if it’s a valuable item you might be able to sell relatively quickly by offering the item at a big discount – thus achieving the desired speed while also earning some money.
Is your unwanted item valuable?
If you have something that might be collectible, an antique, or is expensive, then selling it should be worthwhile. For less valuable items you may want to set a price limit that matches value to effort – for example, we initially set a $5 minimum on what we sold so that anything less than $5 we donated. We did increase that limit to $10 as we discovered that selling items can be time-consuming.
Is your unwanted item less valuable and very common?
When you look on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or any of the selling sites, do you find many other people are also selling your unwanted item? If so, then, unless you really need the money, you may want to consider donating instead of selling. Again this might depend upon the value of the item: If it’s something relatively valuable, you could likely undercut the price of other sellers and probably sell quite quickly.
Does the charity you want to support take donated items?
If your preferred charity only takes monetary donations, then you may want to sell your items and donate the cash. You could highlight that the item is being sold for charity when you post the it for sale as that may help you get a good price.
Hopefully these questions will help you to decide whether to sell or donate your unwanted things, but if you’re still not sure why not simply try selling them first? Set a deadline – for example a month, and if they are not sold within that time then donate them.
Also, you don’t have to do one thing or the other. You could decide to sell a few things and donate the rest, it’s really up to you and what works best in your life.
What are your thoughts on donating versus selling? How do you decide?