donating, money

Selling Your Stuff

I used to sell a lot online; this was when I was an undergrad and needed all the pennies I could collect. I would sell old textbooks on (RIP – that was the BEST site to sell on), and I sold a few things on eBay that took off in the last few minutes of the auction, much to my broke-student relief!

Since then, I haven’t sold much online. I used to list a lot of books on PaperbackSwap, but that’s a fair trade, not selling. When it comes to getting rid of things, I would rather get rid of them immediately instead of have them lurking around a week in hopes they sell. I try to match my items with the best donation center, like taking books to the library and baby clothes to Catholic Charities, who gives them to families for free.

I had a few days with no projects on the task list, so I decided to take time to list a bunch of items I had around the house. I had planned on donating them, but I thought they might be worth something to someone. A Squirrel Girl figurine, for example – just donating that might be a waste because they might not know what it is. Why not list it for a couple of bucks?

I ended up listing 31 items over 2 days. It took about 15 minutes to list each item, from photographing it and measuring it, to writing about it. I tried to write funny, engaging descriptions because I’ve seen auctions go well because of the writing. I wasn’t trying to go viral – I just wanted someone to want one of my things and bid on it because they liked the overall tone and wanted to buy from me over someone else.

Three items sold from my first day of auctions. Three out of thirteen. Not great.

Three more sold the next day. Three out of eighteen. Even worse.

I thought it was better than nothing – I wasn’t working those days, so at least it was something. You could say that I made about $70 on those days, for about 10 hours of work (listing, packing, shipping).

Then… the post office. I don’t know if I got ripped off, or if ebay shipping estimates are just totally off, or what. But I spend almost $45 on shipping! This majorly cut into my profits. I still made about $30 on junk I was going to get rid of anyway, so I’m trying to see it as free money. But I put so much work into it… just not worth it.

For me, it’s just easier to donate what I don’t want anymore. I know I paid money for it, but I got my use out of the item and don’t need it anymore, so what little I actually lose on it is fine, because I get peace of mind. I know the item is not cluttering up my house anymore, and hopefully it goes to someone who wants it. I will probably list a few more specific things, like camera accessories, but otherwise I’ll just donate the bulk of my unwanted items.

Have you had good luck selling things online? Is it worth the time and effort you put in?

home life, money


Moving is tough. After being born and raised in one house, I moved a lot in my 20s. I stayed in each apartment for about a year around Memphis, then moved away to grad school for a year. Then moved back, then traveled, and then moved around a bit more before buying my house. Though it was always hard, I got pretty good at moving. I still have my fingers crossed that I won’t have to move again, or at least for a long time.

Packing. It can be done in so many ways. Often I through clothes, pillows, and linens into garbage bags because you will get them out sooner than most boxed stuff, and you can smush those bags into the cracks between boxes to help with space.

Oh boxes. I used to move with whatever boxes people had left from packages (before everything was delivered from Amazon), or from grocery and liquor stores. The problem with those boxes is that sometimes they were carrying something that is packed differently than your belongings would be, so you start to put together a box and realize It doesn’t have a bottom! 

For that reason alone, I finally bought boxes when I was moving home from grad school. I went to Home Depot and bought a set of ten or so boxes for not-too-much money. A lot of people scoff at buying boxes, but you know what? I packed them and drove them in a U-Haul trailer from DC to Memphis. I moved them into my new home. I kept them in a storage unit for six months. I moved them into a new apartment. And I moved them into my house. There are still some holding things in my attic. I’m not saying they last longer than free boxes, but I’m saying they have earned their worth by lasting so many moves. It was worth the money to know I had the size and number of boxes I needed. If you don’t want to pay for boxes – don’t! It’s not a big deal either way, and I’ve moved with free boxes and moved with bought boxes and it’s all the same.

And it’s never fun.

The best thing about moving, besides getting a new place that you (hopefully!) love, is having the chance to look at all of your stuff. I have always downsized during moves. Whether it’s stuff you forgot you had and don’t need anymore, or you just get tired of packing and decide to get rid of the rest, it’s a great opportunity to get minimalize. Sometimes unpacking is a great time for that, too – when you get to the point that you just can’t look at another box – donate it!


Goodbye, Things

I read Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Saski in December. I previously wanted to read Marie Kondo’s book, but it was always checked out at the library, and eventually all I heard was hype. Plus, I’m pretty decent at getting rid of things that don’t mean anything to me, and keeping things that make me feel good.

In terms of Goodbye, Things, I liked that Saski had a rational grip on reality – not too extreme in getting rid of things, not too sentimental, but also not judgmental. He used to hoard possessions: books he never read, electronics he never used, and more. After realizing this didn’t make him happy, he started getting rid of things. It was hard and he admits that, so it was easy to relate. It was hard for me to get rid of things in the beginning, but now I almost feel like a machine – not extreme, but I am not overly sentimental and will settle for taking a picture of the item and keeping that. This is something Saski recommends, too. He took pictures of a lot of his possessions before he gave them away, and admitted that he never looked at the pictures again – so how much could he have loved the item?
I have started taking pictures of things before I get rid of them, too. I haven’t taken photos of items yet, because I’m usually ok with getting rid of those. I took some photos of elementary school papers my mom kept, though. I don’t want the physical papers, but I would like to have the option to look back on them in the future. I plan to do that with my old photo albums also – “old” as in middle school and high school, things that probably shouldn’t be seen again anyway!
I think this book probably tells a lot of minimalists what they already know, but sometimes it’s nice to hear your ideas re-iterated and backed up, and that’s why I enjoyed this book and found it encouraging on my journey to minimalism.