“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:33-34
I am not saying to sell ALL your possessions and give it ALL to the less fortunate, but I know firsthand that decluttering your life by getting rid of some of your material stuff is both refreshing and cleansing. Even better, you will also feel good about giving a portion of the proceeds to those who are truly in need while at the same time setting a little cash aside in your savings. That sure beats having these old items just sitting around taking up room and collecting dust.
So where do you start?
First, you’ll need to come up with a game plan. You need to pick one room to start with and if the room has a closet you get extra points! Many times we have great intentions but can get overwhelmed very quickly so don’t try to go through all of your rooms at once.
Sell, Give, Purge or Keep?
I believe in Giving first, but since this is a finance piece your time is money so you need to identify first the items you want to sell. Your next step is to identify the items you want to donate. I always say the people who have the most are the ones who usually give the most. Now the next category is purge! If you have an item that you can’t sell and you feel that it is truly junk, throw it away. Don’t take this the wrong way but if it is truly junk, don’t give it away because nobody else wants your junk either. So now it is time for the stuff you want to keep. A general rule is that if you haven’t wore it, played with it, or touched it in over 18 months, you most likely shouldn’t keep it!
Show me the money going old school!
After you have identified the items you want to sell you’ll need to figure out how you are going to sell it. You can go old school and have a good old fashioned garage sale. If you live in a neighborhood you may want to talk with your neighbors and organize a large neighborhood garage sale. If your neighborhood is large enough you can advertise through your homeowners’ website or possibly a neighborhood Facebook page. If you live in the sticks, you can still have a garage sale but attracting enough buyers may be challenging. Finally, make sure you do your research on the items you are selling. Over-pricing will turn buyers away but you don’t want to give your valuables away either.
Show me the money going new school!
Maybe you don’t feel like lugging all of your stuff outside and then having to bring it all back in afterwards. You may consider selling your stuff online. There are many online sites so I will just talk about Craigslist. Just as before you want to do some research when it comes to pricing. Once you have a price you want to take photos because a picture is worth a thousand words. Your next step is to write a clear headline by using good keywords. For example, “Sony Cybershot DSC-H300 Digital Camera, Silver, LIKE NEW”. Next you want to write a good description of the item and be sure to include technical specifications, especially is you are selling any type of electrical gadget. As a friendly disclaimer, if you are going to sell on Craigslist, there are some safety precautions you must take. For example don’t have strangers come to your house. Instead meet at a public location and always have someone with you to cover your back!
Steve Repak, CFP® is a Financial Literacy Speaker, Army veteran, and author of 6 Week Money Challenge: For Your Personal Finances (January 2016) and Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training For Your Money (January 2012). Steve has helped many people turn their finances around with his inspiring financial literacy presentations and one-on-one financial coaching.For more information about Steve, his books or if you would like him to speak at your or next event visit www.steverepak.com
The Life of a Single Mom is a national organization headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that focuses on seeing no single mom walk alone. The organization serves more than 50,000 single mothers annually from around the United States and more than 2,000 in Greater Baton Rouge through their support group network, outreach event, educational classes, online communities, and more. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com