5 Reasons to Skip the Yard Sale and Give Away Your Extra Stuff

Nesting on 01.12.12
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Photo: Frugal Mama

If you're like me, you have bags and boxes of unused stuff cluttering the basement, attic, and garage, and cramming up drawers, cabinets, and closets around the house. You may have spent good money for that stuff, and you feel you should try to recoup some of the costs by selling it -- on eBay, Craigslist, or in a garage sale.

But every time you walk by the bags and boxes, your shoulders tighten at the idea of having to sort through everything, clean it, find all the pieces, figure out where to sell it and how to price it, and then mail or deliver it. That's the way I feel too, and the solution is simple: Give it away. Don't try to sell it. Just get rid of it. Here's why.

1. Giving Away Relieves Stress

Photo: Frugal Mama

Even if you aren't planning on selling your stuff, sometimes the idea of finding just the right new home for each thing you have to give away is overwhelming. After reading a manifesto on minimalism a few months ago, I herded everything up that was causing me anxiety and guilt, piled it in my car and sent my husband off to Goodwill. (Places like the Vietnam Veterans of America even take stained, ripped clothing and rags because they can sell it by the pound for textile recycling.) Within a couple of hours, we had cleared out enough space to create a rec room for my kids.

Some people fill out receipts to get a tax deduction on donated goods. I don't even want to fuss with itemizing and valuing all those little things, because I feel the potential money saved is not worth the trouble. (If you are interested in trying it, see Goodwill's Donation Value Guide.) When you simply give stuff away, there is no organizing, no pricing, no e-mails back and forth. It's a gift, and it's gone.

2. Giving Away Saves Time

If all you are doing is throwing everything in a bag for a charity or a church, you are clearly saving a boatload of time. You can save even more time and hassle if you sign up for home pick-up. Where I live, charities like Vietnam Veterans of America, Salvation Army, the National Children's Center, and Purple Hearts will come to my house and take the stuff off my porch (or garage, side yard, or front door). I don't even have to load it in my car, look up donation hours and locations, and drive out there. You can't get easier than scheduling a home pick-up.

3. Giving Away Means More Space, Now

Photo: Frugal Mama

If you wait to declutter until you have the time to organize and sell your things, it might be months, even years, until you feel that sigh of relief. If you do it now by simply giving it away, you will feel instant peace and a sense of liberation. You will reclaim your spaces. You will free up the time you once spent tidying those things. And you might even save yourself a ton of money if you realize that you no longer need to move, renovate, or buy furniture to hide all your stuff.

4. Giving Away Builds Social Capital

Photo: Frugal Mama

When you give something away with no strings attached, you are building something called social capital, or mutual goodwill. Let's say you have a bunch of kids clothing and gear to give away, so you send an e-mail offering it to your neighborhood group, school listserv, or mom's club. By participating in a spirit of sharing, you are accumulating invisible points. No one is keeping score, of course, but let's say you need maternity clothes or a crib down the line, or you want to borrow a luggage rack or an electric saw. If you have shared before, you will be comfortable asking, and people will come forward to give.

5. Giving Away Fuels Abundance

Photo: Frugal Mama

When you give stuff away, instead of trying to squeeze every last dollar out of it, you are exuding an attitude of abundance. The law of attraction says if you feel abundant, you will attract abundance. When you give, you will receive. You know this works with love, and it also works with things. Of course we don't want more and more things -- or else why would we be decluttering? But if you really need something, you won't have to look far if you have been giving. And by reusing things, you'll not only be saving money, you'll be saving the earth.

I used to try to sell larger pieces of furniture, but I don't bother with it anymore. I know that if I list it on Freecyle, someone will come to my house within a day and take it off my hands. I've given away dozens of boxes and bags of household goods, clothing, gear, and toys. And not only have I not regretted one ounce, I feel a million times better.

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