Monday, July 23

Give it Away!

I'm getting ready to move out of my house sometime soon, and in preparation I am trying to severely reduce the amount of stuff that I own. After considering various options, I will be getting rid of most of this stuff by giving it away - i.e., I won't be getting any money at all out of it.

Some of it is going to friends and family members, some is going to second hand stores that accept donations, and some of it is leaving through freecycle. (Aside: If you haven't found freecycle yet, you are missing out! This recycling initiative aims to keep usable items out of landfills by connecting people who want to get rid of stuff with people who can use that stuff. No money changes hands but both parties are usually very happy with the exchange. Simply brilliant! Visit to check it out.)

Now, some of you might be wondering why I am not trying to sell more items or have a garage sale or take it to second hand stores that pay for your items. I can answer that by telling a tale of used books.

A couple weeks ago, I cleared out a bunch of books that I no longer wanted. All were in good shape and I found a couple boxes and packed them up, loaded them into my car, and ventured down to the used bookstore. After finding and paying for parking, I lugged the boxes into the store, waited for about 20 minutes while the guy went through them... and then took most of them back, along with $10 for the few he wanted. The remainder went out in this week's recycling.

To put it bluntly, used goods have almost no economic value in our country. Most people prefer to buy new, and to compete with this the used stores have very high standards. You don't get much money out of used items, and you have to do a lot of work to get the little bit that is available. If the store is consignment based, then you don't get the money until the item sells, which means even more trips, wasting time and gas.

Garage sales are just as bad, in my opinion. Who wants to prepare for days, spend your weekend haggling over 25 cent items, and maybe bring in $200, most of which came from one or two items that you could have sold on their own with far less trouble?

I have identified two items that I will try to sell, both of which are worth over $100. I may also try to sell a couple of items of furniture, but I haven't sorted out what I am keeping yet so I don't know about that. The rest is all going for free.

Giving stuff away is good for you. It is good when it goes somewhere that it is wanted and needed. It is good when that person thanks you sincerely for giving it to them. It is good when it stays out of the landfill. And it is good to remind you that most of the money that you spend is permanently gone - your possessions that you worked so hard to buy are almost literally worthless once they leave the store.

But the best feeling for me, is the freedom. When an item leaves, I no longer own it, and it no longer owns me. I don't have to provide space for it, dust it, move it, display it, store it, feel guilty about not using it or anything else. Less truly is more, especially when it comes to owning stuff.

So what is the approach that I favour? Commit to save your money and space for stuff you truly love and need, and freecycle the rest. It will be the best commitment you've ever made.


Promod said...

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
-- Winston Churchill

I've never been keen on selling used items --- unless it's a car or a house ;)

We donate our used items to charity. Some will pickup the items from our doorstep. They call in advance, which gives time for sorting.

What we earn makes a living. What we give makes a life.
-- Unknown

Rositta said...

Thanks for that link to freecycle, I have stuff from my Mom, who just passed away to get rid of. I had already given away a mechanized recliner to someone who needed it but couldn't find anyone who needed a wheelchair and walker. So these things still hang around my house. I didn't want to sell them, just give them away...thanks again, ciao

Mike said...

"The things you own end up owning you"
-Tyler Durden

Wooly Woman said...

I have benefited wonderfully from people giving away items and try and do the same whenever possible. Good for you! Less boxes to move anyway :)

maria said...

I agree with you that here in Ontario,Canada, we don't get much money from doing a garage sale.

And all the work that is involved, you're right, one is better give it to someone who really needs it.

I frequently give to "The Diabetes Association" and the "Salvation Army".


Julia said...

I do one of three things with my unwanted stuff:
1-sell what I think will sell on eBay.
2-see if any friends or family wants the stuff
3-donate it.

I'm in the middle of doing the same thing too, still in my eBay sale phase. I've made a few hundred bucks so far, but the best part is just to be rid of the stuff.

Great blog by the way.

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