Two bits of advice on de-cluttering

I’ve been sounding like a broken record lately with my clients so I thought I would put out this advice to the universe. With 10 years of experience in organizing and helping my clients de-clutter I’ve learned a few things that can save you some time and energy in the long run. Here they are:

DO NOT HAVE A GARAGE SALE TO SELL YOUR JUNK – Despite what you see on TV about people doing a clean sweep and getting lots of cash to redecorate, this is not the norm. Remember those shows have a TV production crew drawing people to their sale and most times, they come up short anyway. Yard sales & garage sales are a lot of work for the owner. You have to get up early,set your stuff out, price it, haggle about those prices with everyone, spend a day outside and then you have to do something with all the left overs at the end of the day. You also have to get people to show up which is no small task. My only “unless” would be that if your community or neighborhood is doing one big sale and it’s going to be social and someone else is doing the marketing for you or if you live in a heavily trafficked area, then go for it. It might be fun and you’ll earn some spending money in the process.

I told this to one client who was downsizing and her husband insisted on doing the sale. He and a friend looked forward to it. Then the Saturday came and it rained. They sat out all morning made about $50 and had to haul all the junk back to the house or put it in the trash. I went back on Monday and they said,”It really was a waste of time.”

DO NOT THINK YOUR OLD CLOTHES OR FURNITURE ARE WORTH $$$$$– Yes there are a lot of consignment shops popping up. Clothing consignment stores are very particular about the brand name, condition and style of clothing they will consign. Do not be offended if they don’t take your stuff. You many have paid $300 for a suit in 1985 but it’s not worth that today. Consignment shops sell stuff cheap. And even if your items get accepted by the store, there’s no guarantee they will sell.  Case in point. I have a client with well- made dresses from the 80’s. They served her well and she thinks they are worth something. Actually they were worth, on average, $40 a piece at a local consignment shop. But in two months, only one item sold. So now she wants them back to try to sell somewhere else. This could be a vicious circle, taking my time and hers to move clothes around that she does not wear anymore.

The same goes for old furniture and household items. As one auction director said to me, “It’s a simple case of supply & demand.” Just because your grandparents told you something was worth a lot of money, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is true today. People are not buying antiques the way they used to even 20 years ago. And the baby boomers are downsizing and flooding the market with this stuff so supply is high, demand is low. That’s the hard truth.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Donate the items or don’t expect to make a ton of money. Be thankful to find someone who will come pick up all your unwanted household goods and clear out your house. Whether you’re downsizing or staying you will feel lighter once they are gone.

Clothing is the easiest thing to donate. Don’t be picky about where your clothes go. Trust that the homeless or less fortunate will appreciate your old clothes and put out some good karma. If you have a specific charity that helps people get back to work like Dress for Success or a half way house, they would love dress clothes – male or female.

Furniture is actually a little easier to consign. If you think you have some treasures, by all means have an auction house in to do an assessment. Get a couple quotes and then choose your best. Someone who will take the whole lot, not charge you for the pick up and give you one price is the most efficient way to go. It’s out in one day and you’ve got a little mad money in hand.

You can waste a lot of time second guessing your organizer, the auction house or consignment shop. If your goal is to eliminate clutter, downsize your home and move, then don’t loose sight of your goal. You’ve decided you don’t want or need these things so “Let it go!” What you see on Antiques Roadshow is not the norm.

Can anyone identify with what I’m saying? Please share your story.

3 thoughts on “Two bits of advice on de-cluttering

  1. How do you get your spouse and kids in the habit of putting things where they go and keeping this neat?

    • Debbie

      Ahh! The spouse is harder than the kids. But with both we make it part of a routine – daily or weekly. Straighten the bedrooms in the morning, the main living areas in the evening. If I cook, my hubby cleans up the kitchen and vice versa. If daily is too much, try weekly. Some good options: Sunday night before bed to start the week off right. Saturday morning before everyone goes their separate directions or Friday night before you let your teen-agers out! I also tie it to allowance – no pick up, no money.

  2. KellyAnn Fisher

    I have to say it took me more than few garage sales AND being “insulted” about the said value of my items to realize that it is sooooo much more rewarding to pay your things forward! However I still have too much crap, lol….

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