Getting rid of everything you own is easy. Load everything up into a truck and drop it off at Goodwill or other charity, or throw everything out in your front yard with a free sign on it. Done! But, to get rid of everything you own by selling it for a fair price is much harder. In preparing to travel round the world next year we are left with the daunting task of getting rid of everything we own, minus photos and other treasured items. We have tried the many ways that are available to sell your stuff and after a lot of trial and error, we believe we got it all figured out.
We purposely live in a small house to help save for our round the world trip. A small house keeps our expenses down and possessions at a minimum. This can be very challenging as every time we buy something new we need to get rid of something old to make room for it. So, every summer we have a yard sale to sell our unwanted items. We have tried various tactics with selling items at our yard sales, yet, every time we have one we are always shocked at what people will buy and not buy. Items that we think would be really desirable are ignored, while our knickknack junk sells like crazy. We have discovered that putting price tags on our knickknack junk, but not placing price tags on our other items can help sell those other items. When someone picks an item up, you can be assured that there is a good chance that they will buy it. If there was a price tag on an item, they may not pick it up, but if there is no price tag they will pick it up, turn it over, and then ask you for the price. Another tactic we use when someone asks for the price is to tell them to make an offer. Many times they will offer much more than we would have priced it at. The items that we have never had much luck in selling, no matter the price or tactic, are clothing and books. We have even tried selling very nice baby clothing, but never much interest. So now we take our daughter’s clothing that she has outgrown to a consignment resale shop and they mail us a check every 3 months as items sell. The one major problem with yard sales is that everyone is looking for a bargain. It is a great way to get rid of junk, but you rarely get a fair market price for anything. And when our yard sales are over, we usually take what’s left and drop it off at Goodwill. Yard sales are great for getting rid of things, but you will be taking a financial loss in doing so.
Ah Craigslist, how I loved you so. Now you just piss me off. When Craigslist first emerged it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It didn’t matter what I listed for sale on there, it sold quickly and usually for the full asking price. I would even place things on there that I thought nobody would want to buy and I would have it sold by the next day. And then things changed. Everyone discovered Craigslist and flooded it with so much crap that your post was soon buried and you only get emails from people making ridiculous low ball offers. But the worst part is the people that tell you they want it and will be over to buy it in a couple of hours, and then they never show up. No phone call, no email, they just don’t show up. And while waiting for them to show up, as promised, you are getting emails from other interested people, but after you realize that the other person is a no-show, the other people are no longer interested. It is very frustrating and only seems to be getting worse. But, Craigslist is still good for items that you are firm on the price and are willing to repost it at least once a week and deal with all of the no-shows flakes and low-ballers until it sells. We only use Craigslist for bigger items that are too big to sell on eBay or worth more than thrifty people would be willing to pay at a yard sale.
When trying to get rid of everything you own, we have found eBay to work the best for a lot of our items. We place everything that we deem worthy of selling on eBay (usually where the shipping costs do not exceed the value of the item) with a starting price of 99 cents and no reserve. Yes, everything! I learned this trick by getting rid of salvage items at my job. I have sold items for over $8000 that had a starting bid of 99 cents with no reserve. The trick to a successful auction is to get as many people as possible to place a bid and hope for a bidding war. If you place a high starting or reserve price on an item, people will pass it by and never look back. But with a ridiculously low starting bid people cannot resist and will place a bid just for the heck of it. Once a bid is placed they are committed and may raise their bid once they are outbid. Nobody likes to lose and it becomes a contest to see who can win the auction. The main goal for us is to get rid of everything we own and as soon as someone places a bid on an item that we have listed, we are happy to get rid of it no matter the selling price. The one really great thing about eBay, though, is that you will usually get a fair market price for the item. Many times we place too much value on our possessions and are reluctant to let them go for less than what we think they are worth. We know how much they cost new, but unfortunately, most everything depreciates in value and one must accept this when selling items. On the flipside, we have placed items on eBay expecting them to sell for $2 but ended up selling for $50. Some items sell for less than we expected, and others higher, which averages out in the end. And the United States Post Office has made selling items even easier with their flat rate boxes. This takes the guesswork of trying to calculate shipping costs, especially when you have no idea where the winning bidder lives until they win. The one important thing to remember when using eBay to sell your stuff is to research the item you are selling and give as much detail about the item as possible and use high quality photos and lots of key words in the title. Never oversell an item, or you risk getting negative feedback.
Like a yard sale on steroids, an estate sale is the ultimate last ditch effort to get rid of everything. While we would love to get rid of everything now, it would make life rather difficult not having furniture, dishes, or tools. Our plan is to place our house up for sale in the spring of 2012 and as soon as it sells, we plan to have an estate sale to get rid of everything that is left. It will be interesting to see how this will work out and I will update this post as soon as we actually have it. Wish us luck!