Well, I have learned quite a little lesson here in the past few days, folks. (Besides the fact that I hate humid, high-90s weather, that is.)
For just about a year now, I’ve been talking about debt reduction on a low income. I’ve talked about frugal hacks — some quite small, really — and generally how Tim and I get along. Through it all, I’ve maintained that, unlike many PF bloggers, there aren’t a bunch of things around the house that we can sell to pay down debt.
Apparently, I’m a big fat liar.
I’ve been going around the apartment and realizing just how much extra crap we have. Well, technically, it’s called taking inventory. But the end result is the discovery that there’s a ton of crap that you don’t mind getting rid of — preferably for money.
In the last few days, I’ve been taking stock of various things we wouldn’t want to bring with us when we move. There’s a lot. And I recently discovered that eBay will now let you list 5 items free (as in, no insertion fee, final value fee still applies) every 30 days. It’s a good time to act!
- Books. Most of mine weren’t wanted by any place, but 6 did have some worth to a company down in Oregon. They provided mailing slip so I don’t have to pay for postage. When the order is approved, I’ll get $13.75. One of the more helpful websites in this endeavor was Bookscouter, which will show you the prices from 10-20 different bookstores.
- Clothes. I generally don’t bother selling clothes. I donate them. But as I was thinning out my closet, I came across a few that I think could get some money: a cashmere sweater from Club Monaco (worn once, definitely won’t be worn in AZ), a few formal dresses I haven’t worn in years, and a pair of Lucky jeans from a thrift store that I figured I’d eventually fit into… four years ago. None of these will net me a ton of money, I’m betting, but each one could get $10-20 and I’d be about $50-100 richer!
- Crafts. I really didn’t think I had that many beads. But it took me around 15 hours to untangle and sort all the beads into various baggies. Then I realized I didn’t want to put 70-100 listings on eBay. So I put an ad on Craigslist and have gotten some responses. Next, I’ll tackle the yarn.
- Sheets. Most of us just like nice sheets. For Tim, they’re kind of necessary. He needs sateen sheets, which don’t absorb heat as easily as regular cotton. So we have two or three sheet sets sitting around that we no longer use. They’re nice, queen-sized sheet sets (once I find the second pillowcases, that is) and so someone should be thrilled to get them for $10-20 each.
- Lighting. There are two or three lamps we really barely use for a variety of reasons. Two are definitely going; the other I’m debating. And then there’s the floor lamp which has barely been used in years. If it actually still works, it’s gone. Someone will happily snatch it up for $10, and I’m sure I can get $5-7 for the other lamps.
- Shoes. Like most women, I have shoes that I own and rarely ever use. This includes a pair of Angel Fluevog shoes, which have a guarantee if the soles ever wear out. They’re cute and served me well for the five or so years I first had them. Since they run around $100-200 each, I’m guessing someone on eBay will want them. There’s also a pair of Doc Martens I found at a yard sale years ago for $5, and then kept despite never wearing them. (Hey, in my defense, it’s a great yard-saleing coup!) Again, someone will want them.
- Chairs. Once upon a time, we had people over regularly. So we needed more chairs. A friend of our came to our rescue, leaving us with something around 5 of the damn things — including two ugly, beat-up ones we already had. We’ve already donated one and the two beat-to-hell ones got tossed. There are still two left, though, and I’m sure someone will gladly relieve us of them for $5 each. Then there’s the bentwood rocker I never use and keep mostly for sentimental purposes. I rescued it from neighbors who wanted to throw it out. I repainted it and my aunt talked to a few folks and figured out how to re-cane the seat and back for me, since those areas were broken. But I’m not dragging it to Arizona with me!
- CDs. Non-digital music is becoming alarmingly superfluous in this age. I had hoped to unload a bunch of my CDs, but found out that I needed to have saved the back cover art when I tossed all the jewel cases ages ago. Oh well. If you were smarter than me, though, you probably have $30-50 sitting around waiting for you to notice it.
- Unique decorations. We all have one or two items that we got to express ourselves, or because it seemed cool at the time. Now, while we still like it, that stuff doesn’t seem to have a place in our new home. For me, these include a Grecian urn and a metal horse from the Museum Store and a couple pieces of statuary from when I owned a house. These are fabulous items, but there’s nowhere to put them currently and most of them are too breakable to bother transporting across state lines.
- Art. Some of the stuff that I got and framed for my house just doesn’t look as at home in an apartment. I think part of it is the coloring. Most of the artwork around the house is mine, which I’ve always felt kind of weird about. (That’s what happens, though, when someone moves into an apartment you’re already living in.) So I think I want to pare down my collection a bit so we can choose newer stuff together. Most of the pieces aren’t worth much, but people will probably give us $10-20 just to get the frames cheaply.
I don’t really know why I never bothered with this stuff before. Abstractly, I knew it was there. I think I fell prey to the “only” syndrome. As in, well I’d “only” get about $5 and what good is that? Sometimes it takes a large, concerted effort — such as selling a whole bunch of $5-10 items — to realize just how quickly all these things add up.
The fact is that most of us have items we no longer use or want. But it seems easier to put off dealing with them, or to simply donate them. So the next time you find yourself thinking that your debt reduction is going too slowly, take stock of your living space. Ask yourself what you’d keep if you were going to move. You’ll probably find a lot more “junk” than you would expect!