I'm not saying be a minimalist, but seriously, we had so much stuff.
This past summer we decided to do a major de-cluttering of our house and I was astonished at how much crap we had stored in places we forgot existed. I had an entire Rubbermaid bin full of purses stashed in the far corner of the crawl space. Upon opening this bin I was immediately reminded that I absolutely cannot live without these purses! (Even though I had been for two whole years... amazing how that happens.)
2014 is our year to pay off all the credit cards, and that means parting with the things we no longer need. Here are some ways we found to get rid of old stuff and even make a little profit along the way.
1. Garage Sale
After the de-cluttering session, we put in about 10 hours worth of sorting, pricing, and organizing to prepare for the sale. We had a decent turn out and got rid of a ton of stuff. The key was pricing things reasonably. The goal wasn't to make tons of money, but rather, to clean house. T-shirts and CD's for fifty cents, sweatshirts and jeans for one dollar, purses for two dollars, etc. We made a total of $257. With all the time put in setting up and sitting outside, we made about $7/hour.
2. Amazon Trade-In
You can sell back old books, CD's, games, and electronics and receive a credit to your Amazon account in return. You enter the product information and it tells you the estimated value of the products and emails you a pre-paid shipping label. Once the items arrive they are evaluated for quality and your account gets credited. Our last shipment earned us $45. Our record is $150 for some old biology books. We do most of our gift shopping on Amazon, so the credit gets used up for the next birthday present or holiday.
3. Facebook and Consignment Shops
These are by far the least time consuming options. Facebook garage sale sites take minimal time to post in, but as always, you never know who you might end up meeting in the process. I've never had a bad experience with it and I've found Facebook to be the fastest way to get rid of things for free (like an old grill that's not worth anything). Consignment shops are another option, especially for clothes. Anything they won't take I donate. It's not a ton of time wasted and sometimes you can get decent cash from places like Plato's Closet and Clothes Mentor.
4. Just Between Friends (JBF)
This is probably my favorite one at the moment. I've never sold with JBF, but I LOVE shopping their sales. You can sell your gently used children's items and maternity clothes using their pricing guide. You drop off your items at a specified location and they sell your stuff for you. You can choose to pick up the items that don't sell or have them donated. It's like having a garage sale, but someone else organizes all your stuff and runs it. We've scored some sweet deals at these sales. Each location usually has two sales per year (fall and spring).
5. When Push Comes to Shove, Sell Everything
As you might know from reading Using a Budget to Get Out of Debt and Well That Wasn't In the Budget, we are racing the clock to pay off our last credit card by December 15th. After September's payment we had a remaining balance of $4,275, so we decided to take inventory and see what big-ticket items we could sell. Zac had a trailer he had been storing at his parent's house for quite some time and it wasn't being used. It took a little convincing, but he agreed to let his dad list it on Craigslist and it sold for $1,400.
The trailer sale plus our usual $400/month credit card payment, plus the $300 we saved up in our gazelle envelope this month means October's credit card payment totaled $2,100… 53 days and counting to pay off the remaining $2,175. If you've gone through Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey talks about selling your stuff. We started small with household goods and it was actually quite liberating to clean house. There were a couple items that were hard to part with, but being completely done with credit card debt by December 15th will make it entirely worth the sacrifice. We kept reminding ourselves: "We bought this with a credit card, so we don't really own it anyway."
Whether you've just started your debt snowball or you're in the home stretch, be mindful of where each dollar is going. It ALL adds up. I am so thankful we said no to some of the items we really wanted earlier this year... a couple hundred dollars here and there could be the difference between paying off the card or not. Stay strong, it will be worth it!
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."