Less Stuff, More Life: When (& how) to Sell Your Stuff Online and When to Give it Away

As I pointed out in my last post, in order to put our house on the market we had to clear a LOT of stuff out of our house! Much of it was things like out of season clothing and non-essential appliances, but too much of it was stuff that was just cluttering our lives. 

I’ve been busy contemplating The Minimalists’ 20/20 theory: 

Could you live by this? Get rid of all the clutter that you can replace in less than 20 minutes for less than $20

I haven’t been able to commit to it, yet. I love ‘just in case!’ items. However, I also love living in our now-minimalist house, so who knows what’ll happen in the next year? 

Even without adding in all of my ‘just in case’ items I had a GIANT bin of things to get rid of, and little time or energy with which to do it. I am way too cheap to donate it all, it wasn’t yard sale season, and online sales can really drag out for weeks. So, I set a couple ground rules around quality of product, pricing, and timing. 

How to Sell Things Online

One by one, I went through the items in the PURGE bin:

1) Is it in Gently Used Condition to Like New Used Condition? Yes? Sell. No? Thrift store.

2) What is this item worth in the store? What is it selling for on Kijiji? Now list it for $2-$20 less than the lowest used price. We want this stuff GONE, and gone FAST!

3) Take a few nice photos of the item. Preferably on a blank white canvas or on the pretty hardwood flooring. Don’t include messy floors, piles of junk, or anything else in the pictures. People judge your item based on the environment.

4) List the item on several Facebook buy & sell groups AND Kijiji / Craigslist all at the same time.  Copy & paste the text from one ad to the next, use the same pictures. Don’t forget to include nearest local intersection, smoke/bug-free home, AND a caveat that you’ve cross-listed the item. People get VERY upset when they think that they’re next in line but you’ve sold it to someone else!

5) Place the listed item in a new box specifically for LISTED ITEMSIf you’re selling multiple items together (children’s books, candle sticks, etc), bag them together and label the bag with the amount you’re asking for. 

6) Use a whiteboard to keep track of who is coming when to pick up what AND how much they oweIt gets confusing, even for the best of us. And if, heaven forbid, you should forget to tell your spouse that someone is coming while you’re out, they should be able to figure it out with the help of the whiteboard.

7) Set a Date. Everything that has not been sold / picked up by NEXT WEEK SATURDAY is going to the thrift store. This puts a little bit of pressure on buyers to actually come when they SAY that they will, and you’re off the hook after a week. You will NEED an end date, because – trust me – you WILL be driven crazy by the chaos of this process.

You might say that the time and effort of listing a $1 or $2 item is simply not worth the small change that will come from that transaction. I would like to counter that with my most recent experience: when I counted out all the ‘small change’ from The Great Purge, I had just under $100 in coins. Maybe to you that’s nothing; to me, $100 is a great date night out with my husband, a house cleaner the weekend before the listing goes live, or part of a little weekend getaway! Want a few more helpful tips on how to sell things online? Check out the article I wrote for Save.CA last month!

When all was said and done, I had cleared over $500. $175 went to pay our Home Staging Consultant, $75 went to pay someone to clean the kitchens & bathroom after our home improvements & before the house went on the market, and about $100 went to some incidental expenses. The rest is saved for mom-to-mom sales and household purchases from online buy & sell groups. 

Once again, is it really worth the effort to sell things online? That depends on how you live your life – for me, the resounding answer is YES!

 How to Sell Your Used Stuff Online (Minimalist Tips)

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Jenn vanOosten

I live in Hamilton, Ontario, and love my city. I'm a Netflixer, choral music geek, bookworm, inventor of recipes (I take Artistic Licence on EVERYTHING that I make), wife of one, mother of two, and owner of a neurotic Schnauzer. I respect people who respect others. I love good food that's well done, but my favourite lunch is KD & hotdogs. With ketchup. I'm addicted to Clearance Shopping. I will ALWAYS get the product that I want at the price that I want, eventually.

2 comments

  1. You would also have to take in account your location. We live in the country and I find that smaller items don’t sell very well unless they happen to live close by. Most people don’t want to drive 10-15 minutes to pick up something small. I’ve started sticking to bigger items to sell and have more success.

    • Good point – though, I often have people drive from Burlington or Stoneycreek just to pay $1 for something that’s not too big! I suppose it depends on how big of a market there is around you for buying your stuff.

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