How to get rid of unwanted items in your home without losing your mind...

Decluttering Conundrum: How do I dispose of all this stuff?

Decluttering is a tough job! If you are ready for this post, you’ve already accomplished a great deal. Congratulations on purging your belongings. You’ve made it through some tough decisions and a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, the process isn’t quite over yet. The next question is how to get rid of unwanted items in your home?

These days actually getting rid of unwanted household items can be as challenging as the decluttering process. This is particularly true for large items such as furnishings. 

Please note that I do have several “personal asides” posted throughout this page. These are anecdotes from my personal experience clearing out two households. They are clearly labeled and easily skipped in the interest of time.

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home – the 5 basic methods…

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home - PinterestThe details can be daunting but at the end of the day, there are 4 basic methods for getting rid of unwanted household items…

In my initial post on decluttering, I suggested that you have the following basic categories for your belongings: Keep, Toss, Donate, Sell, Not Sure.

So, now that you have made your decisions, you need to modify this just a bit. First, you should not have a Not Sure pile for this. At this stage, you are dealing with items that you are not going to keep. If you have items you still aren’t certain of – set it aside.

  1. Toss pile
  2. Gift to family –  memorabilia, art, jewelry etc.
  3. Donate pile
  4. Sell pile
  5. Hauling services

It’s pretty obvious what to do with the toss pile. But it is important to dispose of things like electronics and medications responsibly.

The gift to family pile are things that you would prefer to keep within the family.

The donate and sell piles are also obvious. You just have to figure out where to donate and what method of sale you will use for these items.

For the items that you can’t sell, donate, or easily toss, you will need to be hauled away. This can be very sad. But the reality of today’s life is that people don’t value things anymore and if you are doing a major clearing out for a move, there will be many things that fall into that category.

It sounds simple but there are a lot of alternatives in the donate and sell categories.

Check with family first…

An easy way to get rid of unwanted clutter in your house is to gift family treasures to family members. Although this is easier than selling things or finding an appropriate way to donate items, be careful. You don’t want to seem to be “unloading” your junk on family members who are already swimming in their own clutter. However, for major family keepsakes, you should always check with your family members first. Someone may indeed want a piece of family history that you are no longer able to keep. JUST DON’T FORCE IT. And don’t try to guilt them into taking things they have no room for.  Your family isn’t a repository for getting rid of unwanted household items. Just check and see if there is anything they would want. You should provide photos and dimensions, particularly for larger items. If no one wants an item, you will need to decide whether to sell it or donate it. 

A personal aside:

Over the last 20 years, it has become a lot harder to find a “new home” for most of your clutter – even within the family. 

My mother passed away at a very young age in 1995. As I would find out later, this was the golden time to sell antiques and older furnishings. Pre-war furnishings and decorative items were hot due to their timeless nature and substantial quality. If you had pre-war pieces in good condition, they would sell as surely as the sun rises in the east.

By the time my father passed away in 2010, everything had changed. No one wanted “old stuff” and it actually cost me far more money to have the bulk of his furnishings hauled away than I made selling the few pieces that I could get people to buy.

That trend continues to this day. In fact, it has accelerated. People’s lives have become less stable. Space has become ridiculously expensive, so everyone is crammed into smaller quarters. Substantial furnishings that last a lifetime have been supplanted by Ikea and smaller pieces that travel light and are easily disposed of and replaced when someone moves. Fewer people are putting down roots and the “living light” movement has supplanted the concept of buying it once to last a lifetime.

The list of ways for getting rid of unwanted household items can be seemingly endless. Which avenues you choose depend on the type of clutter you are trying to dispose of. If you are decluttering for a major downsizing or for an estate, you will doubtless use several venues. So here we go. I hope you find this list helpful and convenient.

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home...

Traditional Solutions – for selling or donating unwanted items in your home…

This section deals with traditional solutions (both brick and mortar and virtual) for selling or donating your clutter. These venues are set apart from the more targeted topics because they can be used to sell or donate a broad range of items. They don’t fall into a neat sub-categories that specialize in niches like clothing, jewelry, or furnishings.

Selling your stuff – traditional brick & mortar solutions…

These are the more traditional solutions for how to get rid of unwanted items in your home.  They have been around for decades.

All of these options generally have some cost attached to them in the form of commissions. This is only fair because the person selling these items has a physical storefront to maintain and an overhead to be concerned about. They also take most of the burden of selling these items off your hands. Just be sure that understand the costs up-front, so you don’t have a nasty surprise.

Please note that these are businesses with reputations to maintain. None of them want JUNK. Don’t try to get them to sell things that belong in the garbage or recycling bin!

Consignment shops…

You can usually find a variety of these locally. Some specialize in things like clothing or toys etc. Just make sure you understand what they sell before showing up with a car full of things they don’t touch!  They evaluate and do the pricing for you. This is probably a good thing if you don’t know much about the items you are selling. As with antique shops, you get paid when an item is sold minus the commission. Once again, commissions can vary dramatically, so be sure you know what you are signing up for.  For more information on consignment shops click the link. 

Flea markets…

Many people enjoy going to flea markets that are local to their areas. They enjoy looking for hidden treasure and hoping to find diamonds in the rough. Having a booth in a flea market is WORK, but it creates a built-in audience for your stuff. Flea markets trend towards lightly used household items and clothing as well as vintage items, collectibles, and antiques.

There are basically two kinds of flea markets:

Long-term flea markets: These are usually locally owned and operated. You are charged a fee to have a booth. So there are up-front costs, but you know that is from the get-go which is a plus.

Short-term or traveling flea markets: These go from place-to-place for limited time-frames. Or they spend a bit of time in a specific area (maybe for a few days). These are more informal.

If your primary goal is how to get rid of unwanted items in your home, this is a very time-consuming way to go about it. This solution is primarily for those who really love this venue for its own sake. Since this is a topic unto itself, it goes beyond the scope of this article. So, here is a great post about making the most from flea markets.  

The garage/yard sale…

Everyone loves a great garage sale. And if you have the time and energy, putting on a yard sale can is the easiest way to sell gently used household items and clothes without having to deal with a middle-man. Granted, people who go to these sales expect a bargain! So don’t overprice things.

You can check  your pricing by going to other local sales and by following similar items on sites like eBay. Look for similar items that have recently sold on eBay.  That can be very informative. Just be sure to leave some room for haggling because buyers people who go to yard sales live to bargain.

There are several apps that diehard garage sale aficionados keep on their smartphones. So you should consider checking these out for promoting your own sale…

Bookoo states up-front, that it is made by yard sale fans for yard sale fans. You can indeed list your yard sale on the site. But Bookoo is also something of a  Craigslist alternative where you can buy and sell locally. However, on this platform, you can create a profile and friend other users. This builds a level of trust that is not possible on Craigslist.

Then there is YardSaleTreasureMap – Diehard yardsale fans keep this app on their phones to find sales in their area. You can post your sale on this app by simply posting your sale on Craigslist.

Yardsailr is an app that allows you to post your listing and photos of items you have for sale. It is free for personal use. The map app allows potential buyers to easily see your location. You can also share your listing on FB and Twitter – increasing your exposure.

There is also Yardsale.com, an app geared to sellers. It has the YardSaleGenie which helps you with pricing and values. You can also list your sale on this app. And items can be listed online in a “virtual garage sale”. The basics are free, but you can upgrade your listing for a fee.

The mechanics of putting on a garage/yard sale go beyond the scope of this post. But the video below has some excellent tips about running your own sale.

Selling your stuff – virtual solutions… 

For those who would rather list their own items, there are many online options. These take some time. You have to price them, photograph them, and then the shipping is on you as well. On the upside, you have more control over price and promotion. In some cases, you can do this commission-free. So you might net more money this way. But that is by no means guaranteed. Here are the biggest players in this arena. Many of which you know well.

eBay… 

eBay is the traditional standby for millions worldwide. You can sell just about anything eBay. If there is a market for an item or product, you will almost certainly find it on eBay. People who love antiques and valuables flock to the site, so you are ensured that you will have an audience. You don’t pay anything to list the item. There is  10% fee when it sells.

There is also an option for “local pickup only”. This is great if you are trying to move bulky things like furnishings.

eBay Tip:

eBay is a great way to track pricing. Just follow auctions of items that are similar to yours all the way through the auction/sales process. This can give you a great deal of insight as to what market conditions are for what you want to sell.

Craigslist…

Craigslist is another old standby that has no listing or transaction fees. It is geared to local transactions, so the vast majority of purchasers will be local. For the most part, that means the hassle of shipping is removed. Since there are a lot of scammers on Craigslist, I would be cautious with items of high value.

FaceBook Local Marketplace…

Like Craigslist, FaceBook Local Marketplace is locally oriented and free.  I have had a good deal of luck with FB marketplace personally (better than I had on Craigslist)  particularly with household items. Not sure how antiques would fare, but since it is free of charge, what have you got to lose? People pick up the items they purchase, so this is relatively hassle-free in that regard. Buyers like to haggle, so leave some room to reduce the price. Satisfying that itch in buyers is often beneficial. But you don’t want to give it away either. 

Instagram…

Yes, we think of Instagram for sharing moments in time. But people sell on Instagram as well. Just take a photo, create a simple description, and include a price. Although Instagram is owned by FB, it caters to a younger audience. So you can hit a much wider demographic by posting to both.

OfferUp…

How to get rid of unwanted items in your homeOfferUp is another locally-oriented platform that is becoming popular for selling in categories ranging from cars and trucks to musical instruments. Once again, there are no fees for listing and the site offers a feedback page for buyers to use. This rewards good sellers who offer buyers a smooth transaction. The app allows buyers to bargain and make counteroffers (which explains the name). It is location-oriented – making it a bit like Craigslist but more interactive, which helps build trust between buyers and sellers. If you choose to stay local, you can avoid dealing with the hassle of shipping items. 

eBid…

eBid is similar to eBay and it’s been around almost as long (1999). The fees are lower – which is great. They are a skinny 3%. There are no listing fees – which is good. Since there are over 3 million items for sale, you still have a large audience – even if it is less well-known as eBay.

eBid sells a large variety of items, from art, jewelry, and clothing to furnishings. So it covers a wide variety of items.

Note to readers: I haven’t used this myself and I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback on this site either.

Decluttr…

Although I haven’t used it, I really like the concept of Decluttr. I will probably be using them for my large collection of CD’s…Decluttr has several specific niche areas.

  • CDs/DVDs/Games
  • Books
  • Tech (such as iPads)
  • Phones
  • Legos

It has a great rating in terms of security and it is an app that is geared to almost instant gratification.

You sell them your items and they resell them for you.  The app lets you enter the bar code each item you are selling and gives you the price you will be paid.  You then box your things up and ship it to them.

This has several advantages. First, unlike eBay or some other platforms, you don’t have to box and wrap multiple packages to many different people. Payment is quick, so your turnaround time is minimal. For people wanting to sell a lot of items in these categories without setting up a sales page for each item and shipping each separately, this is a great solution.

A Personal Aside…

One thing people don’t really know about me is that I have a background in music. So, during the early 2000s, I acquired a sizable collection of classical CDs. Over time, the collection exploded. I even purchased a cabinet just for them! When digital downloads took over, I still had all these CDs. In fact, now that I am downsizing, I’m DROWNING in them. But the thought of digitizing each one, setting up an eBay listing for each, and then packing them all up and shipping them individually to buyers was too much to bear. Decluttr, takes one big piece of that process and simplifies it. Admittedly, I only discovered Decluttr when I started the research on this post. So this is now high on my “to do” list.

VarageSale…

VarageSale is a local no-cost way you can use to either sell or trade your items. They sell just about anything from soup to nuts including clothes, furnishings, electronics etc. Basically, you can sell anything that is legal and family-friendly.  They do emphasize safety through user profiles which are required to set up a meeting between a buyer and seller.

Chairish…

Chairish – as its name suggests, is made for selling furnishings and home decor items in general. I usually shy away from apps that are exclusionary. The app on Chairsh works exclusively with the iPhone. However, selling furnishings is one of the toughest decluttering tasks there is. So, I felt it was important to mention this platform since it is devoted to that niche. It also trends toward higher-end items which means that people with really nice pieces can ask for something other than rock-bottom prices.

The app categories include:

  • New and Custom
  • Furniture
  • Art and Wall
  • Lighting
  • Decor
  • Rugs
  • Outdoor
  • Sale

Although there is a 20% commission involved, this is a good option for those difficult to move items that you don’t want to trash. The higher-end nature of the site allows you to charge higher prices.

The bottom line is that if you have higher-end furnishings or home decor items AND an iPhone, this could be a good venue for you. They have several shipping options depending on the size and nature of what is being shipped.

Donating your stuff…

There are many ways to donate items. The caveat here is that many of these options are local and go beyond the scope of this post. If you are looking to donate specific items, use word-of-mouth, Google, and social media to find local venues that might want some of your stuff. These often include, but are not limited to:

  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Shelters
  • Community Centers
  • Libraries

This section will address larger organizations with chapters throughout the US.

Donating to Goodwill…

Goodwill is a not-for-profit that sells your gently used items in stores or on shop goodwill.com. They use the revenue to provide employment training and placement services for your community. They usually recommend going to a donation center that has staff. In a lot of cases, bins support competing for-profit groups. If you opt for a bin and want to ensure that it is indeed a Goodwill bin, There will be a clear name and logo as well as a  mission statement.

When I think of Goodwill, I generally to think specifically of gently used clothing. But they do take far more than just clothing.

Either way, you are responsible for taking your items to Goodwill. To find a Goodwill center near you, go to the following link. 

Just be aware that there are a lot of items Goodwill won’t take. This list is a moving target.  So don’t load up your car with every piece of junk imaginable and expect to unload it at Goodwill. Not only is it inconsiderate, but it will be a colossal waste of time and energy. In the end you will have to schlep the stuff back home and go through the effort of unloading it as well. Find out what they will take before going loading up the car.

Donating to the Salvation Army…

The Salvation Army has been around since forever, so it needs no introduction from me. Like Goodwill, I tend to think of gently used clothing for Salvation Army donations. Of course, they take a lot of other things as well, including cars. But they are far more particular than they used to be. They used to take just about anything, but as I found out when my father passed away, that is no longer the case.  So to find out in advance before packing everything up and expecting to unload it.  Here is a link to schedule a  pickup or find a drop-off location for the Salvation Army.

VVA (Vietnam Veterans of America)…

A friend of mine uses VVA all the time. She loves them and has had a positive experience using them multiple times.  These days (since the COVID pandemic) it can take a while to get an appointment. But when you do, they just come and pick everything up. The website is easy to navigate and takes you through the steps to the proper location. Furnishing are not generally allowed, although they might pick up small pieces like small tables and chairs. But they accept clothes, household items, and small appliances.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore…

Habitat ReStores accept donations of new and lightly used furnishings, appliances, and housewares, and even some building materials. These proceeds go towards the work done by Habitat for Humanity.  Some areas have pickup services available.

 

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home - furnitureHow to get rid of unwanted furnishings in your home…

There is perhaps nothing more difficult than disposing of unwanted furnishings. Most people spent top-dollar on their furnishings – and naturally think they should be able to easily donate or sell these items. Nothing could be more untrue. Furnishings are generally large items, they can be hard to integrate into another person’s home. Let’s not even get started on transporting large pieces. That’s a barrier in and of itself.  For family members, this is a very big ask. Most of us have more furnishings than they have room for. Asking a family member to take on the heirloom Grandfather clock or a sectional from c.1985 is just not realistic. Trying to sell these items, in general, can be very tough for the same reason. The truth is that if you can sell any of these things at all, count yourself lucky. If you have a lot of fine wood brown furniture to dispose of, you need to steel yourself for the reality that much of it may have to be hauled away at your expense.

Having given all the above caveats, Below are some of the best ways to dispose of unwanted furnishings without having it hauled to a landfill. One common thread you will find is that you should keep these transactions local. What you are looking for is a transaction where the buyer can pick up the item they want. This way, you avoid expensive and time-consuming shipping issues.

Selling your lightly used furnishings…

Here are some of the best methods for selling your furnishings. The following have already been described in the section on traditional solutions.

  • Garage Sale/Yard Sale
  • eBay – can be geared to local transactions
  • Craigslist – the traditional local, but virtual online marketplace
  • FB Local Marketplace – similar to Craigslist with a social media twist
  • OfferUp – another alternative to Craigslist
  • VarageSale
  • Chairish – particularly good for expensive upscale items although there is a substantial commission.

Donating your lightly used furnishings…

Donating furnishings can be a very local proposition. If you are looking for a local charity consider the following:

  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Shelters
  • Community Centers
  • Consignment shops

There are also the old standby donation centers. These have also been described in the section on traditional solutions.

What these organizations will and will not accept is a moving target. Most have local chapters and pick-up services, but they are very specific about what they will and will not take.

Hiring a hauling service…

Of course, services vary from place to place. There are several major national hauling services and local large franchises such as Junkluggers who work in the NY/CT area. But these vary in quality from place to place. Also, sometimes local services are excellent that are not large franchises. They are sometimes more reasonably priced. Word of mouth for these services as well as searches on local YELP sites or Angie’s List are really in order in making a selection.

A word of wisdom: Be careful to make sure that you catalog what you want to be hauled and have an estimate for those all items in writing. I have heard numerous horror stories about services filling up their truck and then springing a “surprise” bill on the customer because they were taking away “more” than was contracted for. So get clear parameters and be very specific. Nothing is worse than having to choose between being stuck with an extortionary bill or holding the bag with stuff you thought was being hauled away. Few people want to start the process over again.

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home - clothes

Selling or donating clothing...

If you have a lot of clothing to clear out, there is some good news. Gently used clothing is always in demand and there is a wide range of options. The caveat is that they are ONLY interested in your gently used threads. So please be realistic  Clothing that is stained, torn, or damaged in any way is not desirable for either donation or for sale. Clothing that is well worn and has seen its day belongs in the trash or a rag bin.

Selling your gently used clothes…

The following selling options have already been described in the section on traditional solutions.

  • Garage Sale/Yard Sale
  • Local consignment shops
  • Flea markets
  • eBay – can be geared to local transactions
  • Craigslist – the traditional local, but virtual online marketplace
  • FB Local Marketplace – similar to Craigslist with a social media twist
  • Instagram
  • OfferUp – another alternative to Craigslist
  • VarageSale – an alternative to Craigslist that emphasizes safety and social profiles.

In addition, there are several platforms/apps that are particularly good for selling used clothing.

Poshmark…

Poshmark is for clothing what Decluttr is for tech and legos.  You can list your clothes for free and when you make a sale, Poshmark will send you a prepaid shipping label. When you want to post a new item, you simply add photos to your “closet”. So it is relatively care-free. The primary downside is that the fees are higher than Craigslist (which is free). But, once, again, those looking to move on and get rid of their clutter quickly, with less fuss, this is a very convenient alternative.

thredUp…

thredUP is a no-fuss solution because they do the heavy lifting for you. You have to order a “clean out kit” and you send them the clothing you want sold. They do all the rest and your pay is based on the selling price they allot to each item.

For “unique” items, they may pay on consignment once they sell it.

If they reject some of your things, they thredUp will either donate them to a charity or send them back to you for a small fee. Last I looked it was essentially $10.00.

Tradesy…

Tradesy isn’t quite as hands-off as thredUp. Like Poshmark, you need to upload your own photography.   But the Tradesy will upgrade them to a more professional level. The company also sends you a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping kit when items sell. In this case, you set the price and Tradesy takes a commission of 14.9% once an item sells.

Snobswap…

Snobswap is specifically for designer labels. You upload your own photos and your own descriptions. Snobswap will let you know if your listing is approved within 72 hours.  With Snobswap, you upload your photos and descriptions. In addition, Snobswap has boutiques in major cities such as LA and New York.

Donating your gently used clothes…

These days, I encourage people to take a look at local options for donating clothing. Some municipalities have some really innovative projects that get badly needed clothing in the hands of people that need it the most. These are often found by word of mouth. But you should consider contacting the following:

  • Churches
  • Shelters
  • Community Centers

These more traditional donation options have already been described in the section on traditional solutions. Here are a few links for your convenience.

CareerGear…

If you have  gently used  men’s business clothes, you might want to consider CareerGear. Their mission is to empower men of all backgrounds to find success and overcome obstacles that have held them back in the past.

Soles4Souls…

If you have gently used shoes to donate, you might want to consider donating them to  Soles4Souls which is dedicated to making a decent pair of shoes available to those in need.

Some thoughts on old linens, towels and small area rugs…

For linens/towels and small area rugs are often gratefully welcome animal shelters. You can check online for animal shelters near you.  I have found success Googling Animal shelter near me. This is one case where condition is not a big issue. The animals are greatful even if the towel they are lying in is worn and frayed!

 

 

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home - Antiques - Vintage

Selling Vintage items – antiques – fine jewelry…

When people ask about how to get rid of unwanted items in their home, they are often thinking specifically about high-ticket items.  Many items in this category tend to have some value associated with them. As a result, they are the go-to items that people think about selling when trying to raise cash. These are not things that you would generally donate. If you have some fine antiques or particularly nice jewelry that it is time to say good-bye to, this is a good section to consult.

Some traditional solutions described in the link include the following:
Local Brick & Mortar:

  • Consignment Shops
  • Flea Markets
  • Yard Sales (Be careful here about major valuables)

Online options:

Etsy…

In addition – you might consider Etsy for vintage items, particularly if you have a lot of them. People tend to think of Etsy for selling or purchasing handcrafted pieces. But they do allow you to sell antiques or jewelry under the “vintage” category. In order to qualify, the item has to be at least 20 years old. The range of items you can sell this way is quite broad. It includes clothing, accessories, jewelry, books, toys, and anything to do with home decor (this covers a LOT of ground).  As of 2020, the listing fee is a mere $0.20. The transaction fee is 5%, but that is subject to change, so you should check Etsy regarding current fees. Also, depending on how payment is made, there may be an additional processing fee.

Antique Shops…

You generally don’t get the bang for your buck from Antique shops than you would from some of these other methods. They tend to take substantial commissions. But they are a good alternative for those who don’t have the time to figure out what each item they are letting go of is worth. After that, you have to find an appropriate buyer, which also has its own challenges. So, in exchange for a lower price, you get that burden lifted from you. This saves time and resources in exchange for less money.

Antique shops are all different. Some take vintage clothing. Others, not so much. Some won’t take large pieces of furniture. 

Auction Houses…

These function in a similar way to antique shops except that people bid on the items. This is not the best alternative if you want control over what you get in the end. But for some antiques, they can generate excitement and bidding wars. If you have some large ticket vintage items, an auction house might generate a premium price. You just don’t know.

For the most part, auction houses are for higher ticket items.  Sometimes these are local. But for major valuables, sometimes it is worth it to approach the major auction houses such as Sotheby’s. But be aware that the major houses are only interested in very high-end items.

A personal aside:

My grandfather had a collection of Tiffany Favrile vases. When my mother died, I decided to sell two of the larger vases because they were too large for me to keep safe (there is nothing more horrific than a broken glass vase worth over $3000.00!) It was better for them to have a good home without the dogs my mother and I had that could easily knock them over when I moved to a smaller space.

Anyway, I had them up for auction at a small local auction house. The person who “won them” decided not to take one of them and that vase mysteriously became lost. I never saw it again…nor did I get any money for it. The point here is to BE CAREFUL.

I fully admit that I dropped the ball. I was overwhelmed at the time. What happened was that I didn’t check the receipts carefully enough. I thought the amount that I had gotten seemed low. But I was so sleep-deprived that I didn’t double-check what items had been sold.

when you are dealing with an estate, there is so much stuff going in so many directions, that this is an easier mistake to make than one would think. I was grieving for the loss of a parent,  settling my mother’s estate, working in a lab that demanded 60-70 hours a week out of me. I was clearing out a 3000 sf house that two hoarders had packed with stuff all while getting ready to go to graduate school for a doctorate.

Working with dealers…

Whether it’s an antique dealer that comes to your home or you bring it to them, you are entering an arena where wheeling and dealing are part of the package. Some are very honest, others will always try to gouge – so try to get a ballpark figure for what your things might be worth BEFORE trying to cut a deal for anything of significant value. Also bear in mind that many antiques, collectibles, and even fine jewelry have taken a big hit on value over the past 20 years.

Back in the good old days (~1990-2000) there was a healthy market for antiques and large ornamental furnishings and accent pieces. If they were of good quality, they could be sold. Today, that is not so much the case. Be prepared for a much lower price than you think your things will be worth. I was shocked at how little some of the things I had were now worth. Several pieces had appraised for thousands more just a decade ago. People just don’t care about heirlooms and antiques the way they did. I address this issue in greater depth in another post on decluttering. If you are interested, read Decluttering tip #2.

One good tactic is to get a second opinion. If the two offers are within a ballpark of each other, then you are probably being treated fairly.  If you need to declutter these items and you have two offers that are of similar value, chances are, you are most likely at the pricepoint that the current market will bear.

A personal aside…

Here is some heartfelt advice on this topic: Please don’t go crazy running around trying to get an offer that matches a 20-year-old appraisal. If you go this route, I can almost guarantee that it will be a giant time suck. And it almost certainly won’t get you a better price. I know, I know, your mother told you that several items in your home were “real treasures”. And they may have been far more valuable in different economic/social times. I often look longingly at what a lot of our family treasures were appraised for in 1995. If only! Many of the items I kept are worth only a quarter of their appraised value. It can be heartbreaking and you also feel like you are being scammed. But that’s the reality of the times we live in.

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home - Books

Selling or donating gently used books…

When people ask me how to get rid of unwanted items, books become a major issue. It wasn’t always this way. During the 1990s, I had a gap in employment in my field. In the end, I landed a temporary job in a bookstore. Bookstores were a big deal back then and sales were booming. The store I worked in was always full of customers. It didn’t matter what shift I had, there were customers everywhere. Little did we know that it was (perhaps) the last gasp for the big booksellers. Of course, people still collect books, but as we are downsized into smaller spaces, the appeal of digital downloads on a device becomes increasingly compelling.

As digital downloads have exploded,  the ability to sell or even donate physical books with real paper and real binders has gotten harder. Even book-lovers don’t have the space they did for so many books. I too have pared way back. With very few exceptions, I’m settling for digital downloads in the interest of saving space.

So how do you sell or donate books? Fortunately, there are options.

Selling gently used books…

The following selling options have already been described in the section on traditional solutions.

  • Garage Sale/Yard Sale
  • Flea markets
  • Consignment shops
  • eBay – can be geared to local transactions
  • Craigslist – the traditional local, but the virtual online marketplace
  • FB Local Marketplace – similar to Craigslist with a social media twist
  • OfferUp – another alternative to Craigslist
  • Decluttran easy solution when dealing with large quantities of books
  • VarageSale – an alternative to Craigslist that emphasizes safety and social profiles.

Of the above options, garage/yard sales along with eBay and FaceBook local marketplace are among your strongest bets.

Bookscouter…

Bookscouter is a terrific tool. You can use it on your desktop or you can download the app on your phone. Although it is geared to textbooks, you can input the ISBN number and find what current buyers are offering for the book you are trying to sell.

Amazon…

Amazon has a good buyback program. They often offer more than other book re-sellers (up to 80% of the original price). The caveat is that they pay you with a gift card and not cash.

In addition, if you have a local book re-seller, you should see what they will offer you.

Some general tips:

  • One thing that is emphasized over and over again, is that condition matters. A book full of highlighting or notes is just not going to sell. If you are selling online, it is also important to be very honest about the condition of the books you are trying to move. I
  • If you ship the books, make sure you package them carefully. If they are damaged during the shipping, it’s on you.
  • Don’t pay for shipping. The buyer should pay to have the books shipped.
  • If your books aren’t clean, this post on how to properly clean books is very informative. Doing it the wrong way can create more problems.

Donating gently used books…

The following donation options have already been described in the section on traditional solutions.

In addition, there are the following options:

Books for soldiers…

Books for soldiers has shipped over $30 million in care packages to soldiers serving overseas. Soldiers request specific titles and they try to make it happen.

Books to prisoners…

Books to prisoners is a wonderful service that provides books to those who are incarcerated. As of this writing, they are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. But that is a temporary situation.

Paperback Swap…

For those trying to declutter, Paperback Swap might not be the best solution, since swapping doesn’t lead to a net decluttering effect. But I include it for those who are interested.

How to get rid of unwanted items in your home - TOYS Children's things

Selling or donating gently used toys…

Children grow up quickly and they out-grow their toys even faster.  There are many ways to sell and donate gently used toys. But the operative word is “gently”. Children can be rough on their belongings. So being realistic about what is sellable is really important.

Selling gently used toys…

The following selling options have already been described in the section on traditional solutions.

  • Garage Sale/Yard Sale
  • Flea markets
  • Local consignment shops
  • eBay – can be geared to local transactions
  • Craigslist – the traditional local, but the virtual online marketplace
  • FB Local Marketplace – similar to Craigslist with a social media twist
  • OfferUp – another alternative to Craigslist
  • VarageSale – an alternative to Craigslist that emphasizes safety and social profiles.

Once Upon a Child…

Once Upon a Child has branches all over the country. You bring in your child’s gently used toys and they will decide what to accept or not. But it’s not just toys. They also take children’s clothes, shoes, and baby gear.

Condition is very important. They only want items that are like new or “near new”.  Looking around the web, I’ve noticed that Once Upon a Child is popular with parents.

Donating gently used toys…

The following donation options have already been described in the section on traditional solutions.

Toys for tots…

Toys for tots has been around since 1947. It probably doesn’t even need an introduction. They take your gently used toys and give them to children in need.

Stuffed animals for emergencies (SAFE)…

 Stuffed animals for emergencies (SAFE) is an amazing concept. It was founded in 1997. Their mission is to comfort children in traumatic situations or emergencies by providing them with donated stuffed animals, blankets, clothes, and more.

Final thoughts on how to get rid of unwanted items in your home…

Decluttering is only the first step. Many people get bogged down the logistics of removing these items from their living space. But your home can’t feel decluttered until you get to that final step. Many people use their garage as a stop-gap. Trouble is that 20 years later the garage is filled with everything BUT the car.

Most people will never read this entire post. The purpose was to have sections that could be read on their own. I’m hoping this format is helpful and informative.

Take care, and keep up the good work! It’s all worth it in the end!

Related Posts…

The art of decluttering sentimental items…

Getting started at letting go – 4 home decluttering hacks…

How to declutter papers, files, & photos…

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