It’s that time of year when millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. It should come as no surprise that losing weight is number one. The number two resolution for folks is getting organized followed by saving more and spending less money, according to Statistic Brain.
One of the best ways to get organized is to simplify and de-clutter. There are psychological benefits to this as well. Studies show your physical surroundings have a direct effect on your psychological well-being. When your surroundings are clear, your mind is clear as well.
You can knock out two resolutions at once by clearing the clutter AND growing your savings by turning those items you no longer need into cash. So how do you do this? Sometimes the process can feel overwhelming. Here are the key steps to help you clear the clutter and put cash in your pocket.
Step one: Sort
Tackle one room at a time using three baskets or totes marked keep, sell and donate.
Keep: These are items you’re not ready to part with yet. When deciding what to keep, ask yourself a few key questions.
- Is there sentimental value to this item? If it is a family heirloom or something you want to pass on to your children, then keep it.
- Have we used this/worn this/played with this in the past 12 months? If the answer is “no,” put it in the sell or donate basket.
Take each item left in your keep basket and find a place for it in your home. If you cannot find a good spot for it, rethink whether or not it’s something you really want to keep.
Sell: If the item is something you’ve not used in the past year, or won’t be using in 2017, then it goes in this basket. Make sure the item still has some “life” left, and is in good condition, or will be with a little TLC. If none of those apply, then place the item in the donate basket.
Donate: Items that aren’t in good enough shape to sell, are outdated or out of style go in this basket. Mainstream charities will take nearly all items. For larger items, look for a charity that will come pick up your donation.
Now, go back to your SELL basket and get busy!
Divide the items in this basket into the following categories:
- Children’s items: These are often the most popular items to buy and sell because often children outgrow clothes and toys before they are worn out — there is still a lot of life left in them. Use some smaller baskets to sort these items.
- Separate clothing from toys.
- Separate clothing by gender and size.
- Separate toys by type and age appropriateness. For example: Infant toys, toddler toys and older kids’ toys such as electronics and games.
- Sort toys by type and popular brands. For example: Barbie items, cars and trucks, Thomas the Train, etc.
- Separate books by age. Books are popular so they should sell easily.
Creating these subcategories helps the pricing process run more quickly and smoothly.
- Teen items: Electronics, trendy clothes, shoes, books, games etc.
- Separate clothing by gender and size.
- Separate electronics by type and brand. For example, PlayStation, Wii etc.
- Separate books by subject and age appropriateness.
- Adult clothing & shoes: Again, separate by gender and size.
- Separate by brand and set aside any true designer items.
- Collectibles: Whether it’s an Elvis clock or a classic Coke sign, these are specialty items that you can sell.
- Separate by theme.
- Group like items together.
- Household items
- Separate practical from decorative items.
- Separate by room. For example: for the kitchen, for the living room, etc.
- If applicable, separate by gender.
- Separate by room: bedroom, living room etc.
- Separate large items from smaller items. For example: a lamp or wall hanging would be in a separate area from a couch or table.
Step two: Prep
Organizing your tools before you start and following a few simple rules will help make the prepping and pricing process a breeze.
- Supplies: Make sure you have the following on hand before you start:
- Cardstock, tape, Tide Stain Stick, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, Fabreze, Ziploc bags. Consider keeping these items together in a tackle box for easy access.
- Optional but very helpful: Tagging gun to secure your tags on items. This comes in handy if selling on consignment. You can find one online for under $20!
- Clean & prep it: This is where the supplies will come in handy.
- Look for stains that can easily be wiped off or washed away.
- Make sure there are no rips or tears. If there are, see if you can repair them.
- Check that all parts are in place for items with multiple pieces.
- If the item requires batteries, make sure they have them and are in working order.
- Inspect it: Take a step back and look at the items with a critical eye.
- Is it clean and appealing?
- Would you buy it?
- Ask a friend or family member for an unbiased opinion.
Step three: Price
This can be the trickiest part. But a little research and realistic expectations help.
- Price it right – Price items 30% to 50% off the original price. This is pretty much the industry standard. It’s tempting to price higher, but stay in this range to make sure it sells.
- Research online – Check popular sites (listed below) to see current retail pricing for new items. If a “new” version of an item is $15, then price yours accordingly (no more than $4.50 to $7.50)
- Groups sell better:
- Create outfits such as a shirt, jeans, and a hat. For infants you can group together common items such as onesies or baby blankets.
- Group “like items” together. For example, put several Barbie toys together, a bag of toy cars or group decorative items that have a common theme.
- Include any original packaging or directions: Often you can find that information online and print it. This makes items more desirable.
- If selling items on consignment, find out the tagging policies: Many consignment stores and events have guidelines for creating tags. For example, at Just Between Friends, we have an online bar code system and specific guidelines for tagging items.
- One final inspection: Take one more critical look at the items to ensure they are in good shape and ready to sell.
Now…Where to sell?
There are several great options for both brick & mortar and online where you can sell.
- Consignment events and consignment/resale stores
- Consignment events are great options if you want to sell many items at once — particularly children and pre-teen items.
- Most consignment events pay 60% to 70% and often you can make more if you volunteer.
- Consignment stores typically pay around 30% to 40% on items they sell. Plus, stores may not accept all your items as they tend to be more selective.
- Most consignment events have an associated charity partner to whom you can donate items that don’t sell if you choose that option.
- Many consignment events are geared toward children’s items, so there can be limitations on accepted items (which could exclude other household items). Some consignment events do have sections where you can sell collectibles and furniture/household items, so check ahead of time to make sure your items will be accepted.
- Valet or VIP service is a good option if you have limited time. Someone else handles pricing and tagging in exchange for a percentage of item sales.
- Resale stores often buy in bulk. You still want to prep your items to make them saleable. This is a great option if you don’t have time to price and want cash right away. You won’t get as much money, but you will get some money and clear the clutter, so you”ll still achieve your goals. Some consignment events also offer this “on-demand” buying.
- Online groups
- There are many online buy & sell groups on popular social media sites such as Facebook.
- A good option to sell “nearly anything” and reach a wide group of people.
- Downside: Sometimes you can get lost in the listings when hundreds are posting their items at once.
- Stay safe: Make sure you research the site. If you are meeting someone in person to sell an item, do not go alone. Choose a “safe place” through your local law enforcement agency and take a buddy with you. No sale is worth risking your safety.
- One of the originals, eBay has been around since 1995.
- You can sell just about anything, anytime to people around the world.
- You have to handle packaging and shipping, so this may not work for larger items.
- eBay now offers a valet service and takes a percentage of the sale – typically 20% to 40%.
- Nearly 60 million people use Craigslist.
- This is still a popular option for selling items, specifically larger items.
- You can sign up and post for free.
- You can get text alerts if there is an interested seller but beware of scams and unknown or unfamiliar area codes.
- Safety: Again, if you are meeting people do not go alone and meet in a “safe place” set up by law enforcement.
- Other websites & apps
- According to Techlicious.com, there are some additional websites and apps that will help you sell items easily.
- Offer Up – Called a “cross between Craigslist and eBay,” this app allows you to sell nearly anything with no fees. There are safety standards set up as well.
- Gone – This is focused on consumer electronics. The app manages the entire listing process for you once you upload the information and photos. The app also offers price appraisal as well.
- Vinted – This site allows you to buy, sell, and swap items.
- Tradesy – This clothing reselling website is focused on top designer brands.
- LetGo – This app allows you to list and sell items in your area as well. May be a good option for your larger items.
By following these steps and researching your selling options, you could fulfill two resolutions before the end of January. Good for you! Happy New Year and happy selling!
Bonus takeaways for 2017:
- Sort regularly!
Once you’ve finished your New Year’s purge, try to sort on a regular basis. Keep two small baskets handy inside your house to sort on a regular basis. One marked ‘sell’ and one marked ‘donate.’ Then keep two larger totes in the garage also marked ‘sell’ and ‘donate.’ When the baskets in the house are full, place them in the garage. You can take the ‘donate’ tote to your local charity once it is full. You can also sell two to three times a year for extra cash. For example, late spring/early summer then again in fall before the holiday season kicks in.
- Store packaging for resale
Hold on to instruction manuals and original packaging as these can help your resale value go up substantially. Having the original box and having the manuals is a BIG plus! This is especially true for children’s items. Get a storage tote just for manuals and keep packaging in an attic or basement if you have the space.
Bonus: If there is a recall you have all the information and can take advantage of extra support or supplies from the manufacturer.