Throwing an E-Yard Sale

Growing up, I remember my parents doing one yard sale.  They probably did a lot more than one, but only one made an impression.  We set up every folding table we had in the yard.  Laid boards between them to make extra space and labeled dozens of well-loved trinkets for sale.  Bargain hunters trickled through and we sold a tiny portion of what we had set out.  Then we had to haul it all back into the house where it sat and sat, and sat, and sat.

Somewhere in my life journey a switch flipped and the thought of clutter became unappealing.  I grew up in a three bedroom house with five siblings.  Clutter was unavoidable, but now that I have a choice in the matter, I am a clutter phobic.  Thankfully, Shae is also a clutter phobic and we actively work to keep our house clutter free.

So what is clutter?  My general rule of thumb is that every item must serve some purpose and have been used within the past year.  If a box hasn’t been opened in over a year, its contents are clutter.  The box itself is clutter.  The whole shebang must go.

Last week we were both feeling a strong itch to clean out some of the detritus so I set aside an hour a night to go through a dresser (misc electronics, stationery, etc.) drawer by drawer.  Shae went through several boxes in the attic.

I generally make four or five piles as I sort through a box.

  1. Recycling
  2. Give Away
  3. Sell
  4. Trash
  5. Keep

If at all possible, I like the piles to go from largest to smallest in that order.

Recycling and giving away are nice because it diverts material from landfills.  At the same time, I make a conscious effort not to bombard family and friends with stuff.  Do my nieces and nephews really NEED temporary tattoos or 10 beanie babies.  Probably not, that is just making more work for their parents.  Some items are valuable but no longer used, I’ll get to that in a second.  Finally there is always something that can be thrown away.

In the course of a week, we set aside a number of sellable items with the intention of having an E-Yard Sale.  Shippable niche items were listed on eBay, the popular online auction site.  Larger general items were listed locally on Craigslist.

On eBay, I sold 2/3 items that I listed.  I sold an old graphics card for $59 and a set of RAM modules for $20.  A brand new A/C pressure switch for our old Nissan Altima did not sell and was tossed in the trash at the conclusion of the sale.ebayI sold 1/2 items listed on Craigslist.  I had picked up a pair of end tables off the curb while walking around our neighborhood.  I sold them for $35 to a woman who was ecstatic to get them at that price.  The folding tv tray table has not sold yet, but Shae might have found a buyer through a different classifieds website.

All told, I made over $100 by cleaning out some clutter from our house.  Shae has made over $40 so far and still has some big ticket items pending.  We also have three large boxes of toys, books, and misc crud that we will be donating to charity.

It feels so good to clean out our house.  Working through sentimental attachments can be difficult, but donating to charity makes it easier.  Isn’t it better to let someone else enjoy an item than to let it sit unseen in a box or drawer for years?  Focusing on selling only items worth $10 or more online is also easier than setting up an entire conventional yard sale.  You can set up an E-Yard Sale in your underwear!


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