House Cleaning

I never used to understand yard sales. While my boyfriend saw them as treasure hunts, I just saw a bunch of junk spread over somebody’s lawn. Not that I minded getting a bargain or buying used—I like a good deal as much as the next person—but I didn’t like the idea of first wading through a bunch of stuff I didn’t need (but might be tempted to buy). Not only did I never attend yard sales, but I never held them either.

But when I recently decided to purge some of my belongings in exchange for extra cash, I had to let go of my reservations. First, though, I tried the Internet. Unlike a yard sale or pawn shop, eBay and Craigslist allow access to millions of potential buyers all over the world—so you can get prices closer to the true value of your items (that is, if there’s a market for them). One week I listed a lot of name-brand stuff in my closet—some still with tags—as well as some CDs and DVDs on eBay and made close to a hundred bucks! But the next week I just about broke even with some lesser known clothing, spare computer parts and other knick knacks.

Next up, I tried Craigslist. Unlike eBay, it’s free to list your item (eBay requires listing fees and takes a percentage of the sale), but in return it’s up to you to handle all the details. I decided to hock a treadmill—bought when money flowed a little more freely—that was just taking up space in my house. It took a few weeks and a few phone calls, but I got $300 for it (of course, now I have to exercise outside, where it’s a lot colder, but I don’t mind a little healthy discomfort in exchange for cash).

Now, the Internet hasn’t made yard and garage sales totally obsolete. All the stuff that wasn’t valuable enough to make it online is going on our front lawn as soon as the weather warms up. We’ll just make sure to post lots of signs and price everything a bit higher than what we expect to get. Don’t want to sell ourselves short!

If money is tight and the closets are overflowing at your house, I’d definitely recommend selling a few things. Not only has selling our stuff provided some extra padding in the bank account, it’s also cleared out our house. Even though we haven’t made any major home purchases in quite some time, our place actually looks better than ever because it’s less cluttered. We can better appreciate the things we really love and use because they’re not surrounded by junk. It’s like the famous quote by architect William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

That said, your home shouldn’t be totally bare. Though it’s admirable to let go of material things, everyone deserves some keepsakes and comforts. Stuff to remind you of the good times, stuff that you worked hard to earn. If you’ve reached that point where you worry you might have to get rid of it all—the furniture, the car, even the house—don’t hesitate to get help. At DebtStoppers, we have free tips and workshops to get you back on track. With our free debt analysis, we’ll get your situation sorted out and your finances on track—so you don’t have to sell the clothes off your back.

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