If I were a good travel blogger, the process of selling my stuff would go like this:
- Carefully research the most lucrative way to sell each type of item
- Start early
- List items relentlessly
- Use both online and personal sources
- Get rid of every last item I don’t plan on taking with me
And I really, really do want to be that kind of person-the kind who spends hours and hours cataloguing and photographing and listing each wayward object in my posession and squeezes out every last dollar.
But…I just can’t do it.
Hear me out-I started. Last month, when my travel plans began to firm up, I posted about ten items on Craigslist. I got many inquiries, but not a ton of sales. Most people who scheduled pickups cancelled at the last minute with no communication. I did manage to sell one piece at a profit over what I paid for it two years ago, which was cool, but most interactions were annoying and fruitless.
I can’t do it. I can’t go through and hem and haw over prices, research the best ways to price everything, and communicate with strangers and friends over the cost of each individual item. Not that I don’t love selling-I do it for a living. However, I have too many emotional attachments and memories associated with each object.
It’s draining to consider and reconsider each item in my posession. I went back and forth on whether to sell one dress three times. (Pros-it’s a great color and I like the fit. Cons-I was wearing it when I got engaged, so it feels weird to keep it. Pros-it’s great for travelling as it doesn’t wrinkle. Cons-I just saw a pic of myself in it and I don’t understand what it does to my boobs from some angles…an on and on).
So for the sake of my mental health, I decided yesterday to put a stop to the madness and wrote about it on Instagram:
My closet. 👗👝👠 Going through all of my stuff to sell individually turned out to be an emotional land mine. 😢😡😬 Today I found a consignment shop in town that's going to take almost everything in one swoop. Yes, I'll probably make a little less money, but happy to relieve the stress of making a thousand small decisions about objects that don't need to hold emotional power over me anymore. #itsjuststuff
Recently, I wrote about how going through my old travel photos was hard, and going through all my stuff has turned out to be a similar minefield. I flip-flop on each item multple times in a week. Sometimes I fantasize about getting a storage unit to stash the only coffee table I’ve ever loved. Then I come to my senses and start to post something, and then I get antsy. My axiety is through the roof on decisions that don’t matter a flying flip. When I started googling “how to get rid of axiety-causing stomach pain,” I realized exactly what I had to do.
It’s not getting rid of the stuff that’s causing problems-every time I’ve gotten rid of something I’ve felt more free. But the process is death by a thousand cuts. And I’m out!
I’m simplifying everything down into five categories with one major solution for each. I set a target of how much money I want to get for everything combined, and I will not mourn the loss of each thing.
Category One: Clothes
Problem: Clothes Hoarding
I owned a wardrobe 5 times bigger than anyone really needs. Many of the items are in great condition but don’t fit either my current or future lifestyle. I’ve done about three major clothing purges over the last decade. Evenso, I needed a double closet, two shelves, and a dresser to hold everything (plus a box of seasonal clothes).
ThredUp is one of several websites that let you mail in clothing and accessories for consignment. If the item is priced under a certain amount, you get an upfront cash payout. If it’s over that amount, it goes on consignment and you get paid when it sells.
You get a small percentage (typically 10-25% on more inexpensive items, up to 80% on designer items). They mail you a bag to return the clothes in, and they cover the postage.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been purging items a few at a time. I haven’t regretted a single item once I’ve actually mailed off a bag. So far, I’ve sent in 10 bags and 3 of them have been processed.
I plan on keeping a wardrobe about 2x larger than I need for the road and store the other half at my parents’ house.
To keep an item, it has to meet the following criteria:
- I love it
- It looks good on me
- It will travel well
- I can wear it for long periods of time
Gone are the work blazers that won’t make sense on the road, jeans one size too small, purses I haven’t used in years, all but three pairs of heels, bathing suits that don’t fit my new attitude, half a dozen cocktail dresses, all things frumpy or lumpy or fleece. (That last one is just a personal preference-no judement).
I probably have two more bags worth of stuff to cull by the time I’ve moved out. Am I getting the best money I can get? No. But I fear without ThredUp I would still own everything and my keep pile might be four times too big.
(Here’s a coupon for ThredUp if you’re interested in shopping there).
Made so far: $61.02
Category 2: Furniture and Decor
Problem: I love my furniture
When I think about selling all my stuff, the mental picture I have is someone handing me cash in exchange for various pieces of furniture. But I really, really like my furniture. My apartment right now is decorated exactly the way I want it to be. Once things start to go, my sanctuary will be torn apart. After my divorce, I decided that my apartment would be my retreat from the turmoil of the real world, and it was. (I even call it The Retreat in my head, but never out loud). I am excited to hit the road, but I am not looking forward to taking my place apart piece by piece.
At first, I dutifully listed things on Craigslist, answered every responder, dealt with all the flakes, and was relieved every time someone bailed on an appointment. At the same time though, the stress of knowing I need to start moving stuff or I’ll end up throwing it all away was eating away at me. Aside from a few things friends asked me to set aside for them, I’m looking at a roomfull of furniture with no future home.
As I said earlier, yesterday I snapped. I googled how to relieve anxiety. Then I started googling how to sell my stuff besides Craigslist. I made a few calls to different places around town. At then, all the anxiety left my body as the answer became clear. Consignment Marketplace-a local consigment shop in Philadelphia-agreed to take everything (furntirue, knick-knacks and decor, small kitchen appliances, and even Ikea stuff). They are going to pick it up all in one go a few days before I need to be out of my apartment. I’ll get a check the month after things sell, and they’ll list and promote everything for four months.
I’ll get 45% of their selling price, which is less than I could potentially have made on my own. But who am I kidding, I don’t have what it takes to ruthlessly get every potential dollar out there. I imagine they’ll sell a lot more of my stuff than I would have been able to, but I’ll get a smaller cut. Overall, I’ll probably get 60-75% of what I would have made doing it on my own. But I’ll save the therapy co-pays on re-entering therapy to deal with this new bout of anxiety, so I’m calling it a giant win.
Made so far: $200
Category Three: Homegoods
Problem: The consignment shop won’t take them.
Homes are full of objects that aren’t decor but still have some value. Wooden coathangers, shoetrees, colanders, dishes, seasonal decorations. Most of these things don’t have emotional pull over me, but don’t deserve to end up in the trash.
Solution: Craigslist/Facebook/Store Returns
The emotional block doesn’t apply to these items, but I can’t send them to the consignment shop. These are the kinds of things that are perfect for me to sell myself. I’m going to list them after the consigment pick up, accept the best offer, and move on. Whatever doesn’t move can be left in a final post as free stuff. Plus, some of this stuff is not even opened or never got used in the first place. I was able to go through and return a few things for cash/store credit.
Made so far: $108.00
Category Four: Books and Media
Problem: I own dozens of (mostly unread) books
Physical books and media take up a much smaller space in my apartment than in the past, but they still exist. Selling them individually is annoying, but selling in bulk can be difficult. The books I do have were the ones I took with me last year, so they either are my favorites or I haven’t read them yet. These days, if I am reading it’s most likely on my Kindle, but it’s weird to sell books you bought to read and never got around to.
Solution: Bookfinder.com and a local used bookstore
Amazon Trade-In, Textbooks.com, Abebooks, etc-there are so many places where you can sell books online. The caveat is that prices fluctuate across sites and they don’t take every book. Bookfinder.com lets you search across multiple sites at once to see where you’ll get the best price. I was able to sell about 20% of my collection this way. Putting in individual ISBN codes was arduous, but actually selling the items was very easy.
For the rest, I’m putting them all in a big suitcase this weekend and driving to the Harvest Book Company, a local used book company that’s only about 20 minutes from my apartment. Whatever is left over after that will get split into two categories: gifts for friends and a few for the road.
Made so far: $42
Category Five: Old Tech
Problem: I’m totally clueless
I have two old laptops, an old kindle, an old iPhone, a cd player, and an old iPod shuffle. If I had any idea what to do with this stuff, I would have gotten rid of it years ago. The one piece of tech I have that I’m having no trouble getting rid of is my tv. For some reason, every dude in my life has put in an offer on the tv. Don’t they want a second generation iPod shuffle instead?
Solution: Amazon Trade-In
After seeing how easy Amazon Trade-In was to use for selling books (priced on Bookfinders obviously), I’m going to use it for all of my tech that isn’t already being held for someone. The big thing here will be wiping the devices so my personal info isn’t on them.
Made so far: $100
Total So Far: $512.02
What I’m Doing with Everything Else
Some stuff is obviously coming with me-my travel gear, current tech, photography stuff, etc. Then there are a few boxes of sentimental things that I can’t part with now that I am going to store at my parents with my extra clothing.
But there is one giant thing that I can’t sell, can’t move to Oklahoma, and can’t take with me–my art collection. I have been collecting art forever (one of the my favorites I bought at an art fair when I was six but the bulk is from the last decade). My art collection chronicles my life. Many pieces were bought at either my local art gallery or on various trips. Everything is framed, most of it custom. I buy art like Carrie Bradshaw buys shoes-there were many times in my life where I might not have money for groceries but I would end up with a new painting. I know that when I’m done traveling and settle down again, even if that is in decades, I will want to pick up collecting right where I left off.
So my ex-husband is going to store it for me. I’m grateful that he’s willing to do this (plus he loves it as much as I do). I am happy to know I don’t have to worry about transporting 36 or so fragile pieces across the country or wasting money on a storage unit. Art is meant to be enjoyed, and he can enjoy it while I’m travelling. If this arrangement needs to be reassessed down the road, I can always move it to storage.
In case you’re interested in how other people have gone through the same process, check out some of these guides from other bloggers:
Got any other lazy or all-in-one solutions for getting rid all or part of your stuff? Please share!