Too Much Stuff: Who Wants It?
Last time we looked at reasons why it’s hard to let go of our possessions. Now that you’ve decided to clear out the extra belongings, you need to know what to do with them.
One note of caution: If you own inherited items or items you’re not familiar with, do an internet search, consult an auction house, appraiser or local gallery, or use a site like Value My Stuff before you give them away. You may not have a long-lost original of the Declaration of Independence, but that painting in the basement could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Here are five ways to dispose of your unwanted items:
Family. Is there a family historian who will organize and preserve all the photographs? Is your niece particularly fond of your grandmother’s teapot? You don’t want to create the perception that you’re playing favorites, but if you can distribute family heirlooms and keepsakes equitably now, you may save hurt feelings later. (Of course, you may not be around to suffer the angry emails from your brother who wanted the brass doorknocker collection.)
Sale. There are multiple ways to sell unwanted items, from the old stand-by yard or garage sale to consignments stores or online sites like Craigslist and eBay. If you are clearing all or most of your home, consider hiring an estate sale company to come in and run the event, or you may be able to find an auction house that will clear the property down to the last glass jar of nails. An internet search will give you tips and warnings about each method.
Non-Profit Organizations. There are many groups that can use your cast-offs, either for resale or for their own use, and if the group is a registered 501(c)(3) organization, you may be able to take a tax deduction. (Note: Consult your tax advisor for information about charitable donation deductions.) A local school might be very happy to take musical instruments in good condition. Clothing and bedding can go to a shelter. Be responsible about what you donate. Don’t create a problem for these groups by giving them junk they can’t use. They can’t sell broken appliances or holey socks.
Recycle. Your 20 years of National Geographic and 6 out-of-date iPods can find a better home than the landfill. Check for paper and e-waste recycling in your area. If you have vintage computers (think an original Apple), check for value before you recycle. The art department at a local school or college may welcome magazines and greeting cards. Don’t get hung up on this to the point that you don’t dispose of things, but try to keep recyclables out of the waste stream.
Landfill. Some things just need to go in the trash.
Now you’re committed to shedding your excess baggage and you’ve looked at where the items can go. Next time, we’ll tackle the final stage: Clearing out.