Go Radical: Sell Everything

by Kevin on December 26, 2009

In my last post on Radically Changing Your Life in Four Steps I told you I would provide some specific examples of radical change. The first post was more of the framework of how to change your life dramatically. Today’s post is the first post on a specific radically change you can make in your life today.

Empty Your House

Look around your home. Look at all the stuff. Things you’ve bought… some intentionally, some on a whim. Some are gifts that you didn’t really want, but since someone bought it for you on a holiday you kept it around.

Gadgets, furniture, nice clothes… many items which seemed so important when you bought or received them now sit in dark closets unused.

Now look at your financial situation.

If you are still in consumer credit debt (credit cards, second mortgages, home equity lines of credit, etc.) and you still have stuff… it’s time to rid yourself of both!

Sell Anything of Value

That’s right. Sell everything. Sell your TV, TV stand, and coffee table. Sell your digital camera. Sell things that you never use.

Raid the closets. Take all those boxes of stuff that you intended to use someday. Get rid of them. Getting $1 of value from the item is better than it perpetually sitting in your closet. That’s $1 to put toward your debt that you didn’t have.

How to Sell Extra Stuff to Pay Off Debt

So where can you sell some of this stuff?

  • I recently used Gazelle.com to sell an old digital camera. The camera was several years old and I wouldn’t be able to get a lot of money for it elsewhere. Gazelle bought it for $60!
  • You can sell (and buy) just about anything on Craigslist.org. My wife recently purchased a great working microwave for her classroom and negotiated a 50% discount.
  • There is always eBay. Craigslist is free so it usually get the nod from me, but you can also sell just about anything on eBay.
  • We have sold quite a few things on Amazon. Amazon takes a hefty cut of the price, but it is still a great place to sell some of those old books and textbooks.
  • Put together a garage sale. This is my last resort option. Garage sale shoppers are cheap and will try to negotiate on most purchases. Plus you have to organize everything, get up early, and stay until you officially close the sale (which can be over an entire weekend). I would much rather sell everything online and be done with it!
  • As a very last resort — if you can’t sell the items — you can donate them to a charity and get a tax deduction. Unfortunately the deduction will only be a fraction of the item’s worth.

You may not want to sell everything. You may have some favorite items. I’m a fan of keeping some of those items that you really use a lot.

But this is about sacrifice today so that tomorrow is better.

Are you willing?

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SailboatFamily December 26, 2009 at 9:00 pm

More good stuff. Here is how we did this very thing:
Create a five column chart called the Hard Asset Chart. In this chart, you need to list everything you own that is worth $1 or more. No matter how small, or how large, if it is worth more than $1, it goes in the chart. This may end up being a big chart.
Column 1: The Item # column is simply a running total of items.
Column 2: The Item Name/Description is used to identify the item.
Column 3: The Last Used column contains the date of the items last usage. If you don’t recall the date, list the month. If you don’t recall the month, list the year. If you don’t recall the year, list “>1 year”.
Column 4: The Potential Value column contains how much money you think you could get if you sold the item to a bum on a street corner. This potential value item is important. Don’t estimate its worth to you, as you’ve already paid that worth, estimate what it is worth to someone else at the dirt cheapest price. If you are unsure, our efforts on this task indicate that a good potential value to list is 10% the original asking price. Clearly, if you have a collectable, that is a different situation, but you must still not overestimate.
On strategy on getting everything is to go room by room.

Now, with this sheet:
a)Identify every item in the list that you’ve not used in a year or more and sell them right now! Yes, sell them now. Put them on eBay, CraigsList, your local newspaper, anywhere you feel comfortable. But you must sell them now. You don’t need them. If you did, you would have used it in the past year. Find a price point that makes the item move. Don’t make the mistake of setting a price point that you think it is worth… set a price point that others think it is worth. You will know if you did this if the item sells quickly. How quickly must it be? That depends on how quickly you want to be out of debt. If you want your dream in a year, then price accordingly. If you want it tomorrow, then price accordingly. Don’t be discouraged if you only get 10% of the original amount you paid for it. Sitting in your closet, it was worth nothing towards your goal, at least now it is providing real value as money for the dream! The blog has it right! Plus, you can put the money in an interest bearing account doing something the item never did, make you money.
b)Scrutinize the list of all items that you’ve not used in 6-12 months. With an extra critical mind, ask yourself if you are really going to use the item or need the item more than being in debt. This is now your job… turning the old stuff into money!

Sell it all! It is just stuff. You are losing ground. Sell! Sell! Sell!

George December 27, 2009 at 9:13 am

Great idea. I got rid of about 80% of my stuff, and am totally happy about it. There is not a single thing I have needed or repurchased!

Amazon is awesome for selling stuff. I have sold books and software, and got much more than eBay. In fact, I bought a software new on eBay and sold it after I used it on Amazon, for more than I paid for it!

Also, I used Craig’s list, but prices are low. I got 10% of what I paid for my furniture. I think the real benefit is getting rid of stuff, and not making a lot of money.

Giving stuff away is a preference for me. It is super fast and easy, plus you get a tax deduction. For many items, the tax deduction is equal to or greater than the money you get anyway, so it is a good deal.

Kevin December 30, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Wow — 80% is a LOT! Did you downsize your living space as well?

Abigail December 28, 2009 at 1:02 am

We went through this recently when we moved. For over a year on my blog, I talked about how little “extra” we had to sell off for money. Then we decided to move 1,500 miles. The most affordable option was a 7′ by 8′ by 9′ cube. Suddenly, things matter a lot less. We took a few goodies in the car, but most everything had to fit in that cube, including our beloved sofa and bed. We left a LOT of things behind.

I wish we would have had more time to hold some garage sales. On the other hand, even my conservative estimates put the value at over $2,000. And that was after getting over $200 from a garage sale. Not bad for a one-bedroom apartment!

Kevin December 30, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Wow fitting everything into a 7x8x9 foot cube… would be difficult for us to say the least. It is experiences like this that really make you stop and remember what is important though!

Christina December 31, 2009 at 8:36 am

Good advice, I haven’t really tried that, but you are right. Instead of letting it sit on my closet, it could help me lessen my debt…Good idea thanks.

Mrs. Money December 31, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I have been decluttering and simplifying for the last year. My mom thinks I’m crazy and won’t have any possessions left. That doesn’t sound too bad to me! 😉 I’ll have to check out Gazelle. Thanks for the tip.

Melissa January 11, 2010 at 7:24 am

Another tip is to use consignment shops for clothing, jewelry, accessories, and even some electronics.

I’m a big fan of using half.com to sell textbooks, CDs, DVDs, video games, etc. as they don’t have a listing fee. They take a small cut of the sell price and shipping charges are automatically reimbursed at a set amount. It’s faster to list a stack of books on half.com versus eBay, as you don’t have to load photos or write descriptions.

A couple years ago I sold a huge collection of CDs for around $1000 on half.com. It was a lot of legwork to ship them all, but I don’t regret it. It made me some serious cash and cleared off my shelves.

Lynn October 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Well, I love this idea so much, but my husband needs to be on board. I seriously could do without clutter of stereo items, speakers, extra tvs cookware I’ll never use, even items like Limoge purchased on trips. Anything taking up space and energy, I have no need for. I don’t know where to begin. I want this partly for the energy reason, but also partly because we could sell thousands of dollars worth of items and throw this at our Second mortgage/and or pay for “arrangements” needed much later in life. I want to downsize my home, rid myself of books and put them on a Kindle, and figure out how I went from one closet to two walk-in closets and a regular closet along with containers filled with clothing. Where do I begin without feeling like I’m ripping the rug out from underneath us, and what does this mean for crazy holiday shopping? Help!

Tamara September 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I recently turned 30 and I am going through this entire process now. I started just over a year ago. It takes a good while, a lot of time and energy and focus, but I never felt better. I feel physically, mentally and emotionally lighter and more in control of my finances. With less stuff comes less responsibility, less maintenance, less stress and worry, less cleaning, tidying and sorting = more freedom to up and leave when I feel like it, (to have ‘experiences’ over ‘material possessions’) without the burden of carrying everything around. Once upon a time, I was addicted to buying and felt overcrowded with stuff and junk. I am now addicted to selling and have not ventured into a mall or department store in a very long time. Best of luck to everyone trying to de-clutter their lives, and discover a more simplistic way of life.

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