What Is The Best Method For Sorting Stuff You Don’t Need? (Your Advice)

Too much stuff. Most of us can probably relate to it. Martha Stewart claims that we don’t use 80% of the stuff that we own. When it is time to clear out some it it, what is the best way to go about it? This is the question I received from this reader over the weekend:

I have been going through all my stuff and I have way too much! I know that I need to get rid of it, but I’m not sure what is the best way. How do you determine if you should try to sell it, try to give it away, donate it to charity or throw it in the trash? I know that the easiest thing would to just throw it all out, but some of the stuff probably has life in it for someone else. Does anyone have a method on how they decide which things are best to go?

If you are a veteran at cleaning out the house, have you come up with a quick and easy formula on sorting the stuff and determining whether to sell, give away or trash it? When you get to the point where you know you have too much stuff, do you have a specific plan on how to get rid of it?

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8 Responses to What Is The Best Method For Sorting Stuff You Don’t Need? (Your Advice)

  1. princessperky says:

    If you would buy it again donate it,

    if you would never buy it again cause it costs too much, sell it (if you know how, if not you would prolly make more donating and writing it off)

    If you wouldn’t buy it even if you knew someone who needs it, pitch it.

    If it is sentimental to someone other than you, give it to a sentimental relative…not your job to keep aunt Ednas favorite platter.

    If you really think it is worth something but don’t know how to sell it, put the word out..you would be surprised how many people will take what you offer (and how many wont)

  2. Karen says:

    I’m always looking for items that I could possibly sell, or get rid of to free up some space. I keep a laundry basket in a back closet, with possible sale items. If I don’t pull the item out within a couple of months, I guess I don’t need it! Since I don’t itemize my taxes (and can’t take a deduction for donating), I try to sell things on eBay if I can.

    I’ve found that selling on eBay is not that difficult. Once I’d sold a few items and gotten the hang of it, I could easily write up an auction and list an item in less than an hour. I usually list in groups of 5-10 items and I can do all the work in a couple of hours a week. The secret is to see if the item is “eBay-able” before listing. It’s easy to search completed listings to see whether an item has sold in the past, and for how much. Any item needs to be easy to ship (it’s not worth selling heavy items unless they’re fairly valuable). (I’ve never lived in an area with an active Craig’s List but that’s another option for heavy items.) I usually save up my best items and sell them in the months before Christmas, when sales are highest.

    If an item isn’t sellable on eBay (or Half or Amazon, which are better for books), then my goal is to get rid of it as quickly as possible. You can’t get too sentimental about it – if you don’t love it and value it, then is it worth the space in your house? I took pictures of a lot of my high school trophies and other items, and then got rid of the items themselves – it’s much easier to admire them in a photo album than when I have to dust them every week!

    The best way to “get rid of” extra items is not to buy them in the first place. My eBay sales have dropped to almost nothing, because I just don’t buy that much “stuff” any more!

  3. Mike D. says:

    If you have something packed away in your attic or basement it is unlikely that you actually need it.

    4 things:


  4. viola says:

    To right. 80% of what we have or even own we do not use.

    I believe in “travelling” light and I have the attitude “what you don’t use for 6 months should be given away to someone who needs it”…

  5. Lauren says:

    I just discussed this issue on my blog at http://goodorder.typepad.com/lawsoforder/

    Basically, I sort out the trash/recyclables first, then I separate out the valuable stuff to sell on Craigslist or eBay (my cutoff is a $20 value). Whatever is left over can be put in a garage sale, and then whatever doesn’t sell gets donated.

  6. Heather says:

    If I gave away anything I didn’t use for 6 months I would never have winter coats! 🙁

  7. viola says:

    If you lived in a warm country, you wouldn’t even have winter coats 😉

  8. Amy F. says:

    Get one of Don Aslett’s books from the library or online (should be pretty cheap). His books on decluttering helped me whittle down my stuff to a mere 6 boxes and 3 suitcases when I had to move cross country. There is very little of what I threw out that I wish I still had. For the most part, I can’t even remember what I got rid of!

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