When I first started getting rid of stuff, I listed it all on eBay. When it came to the decision between sell or donate, my reasoning was: why give something away that could make me some cash?
Partly this was because I was unemployed and living with my Dad, but also it was because I still had a very strong attachment to my things and I needed to somehow feel that I was getting compensation for getting rid of them.
Selling things however – as anyone who’s ever done it will know – takes quite a lot of time. Whether it’s a card in the newsagent’s window, a listing on eBay or the rumour mill of family and friends, getting rid of things this way is far from instant. There are item descriptions to worry about, photos, decisions on pricing, and then packaging up the item to send, or even dropping it to someone else’s house… it all adds up.
Selling Becomes Another To Do
Because it took time to sell things, I started hoarding piles of things to sell. So then I had an extra thing on my todo list.
My primary method was eBay, so I had piles of things in the corner of the room that needed listing. That pile would grow and grow and it would be in the way and clutter up the floor. It would turn into an annoyance.
But of course, I was always grateful for the cash that I got back.
Once I had children, selling things became even more of an inconvenience. Not only did I seem to have negative time once my first baby came along, but he soon turned into a crawling baby that enjoyed rummaging around in my selling-pile in the hope of finding a tasty morsel to put in his mouth.
Eventually, on maternity leave, I sat down and thought realistically about the time it took me to photo, list, wrap and post each item (with a baby in tow) and I realised it was working out to less than minimum wage for low value items.
And there was one other big realisation:
As long as I was spending all my free time trying to sell things, I wasn’t spending my free time achieving anything else.
So I stopped.
The End Of Selling
At first I decided that unless the value of the item secondhand was upwards of £30, or the item itself was particularly unusual (and thus might be appreciated by someone with an interest in that sort of thing), the best option was to just donate it to the charity shop.
Once I started doing this, I discovered something else.
I got a sense of doing something good from giving things away that I could have made money on.
For example, it felt great that I was donating really good quality clothes that I hadn’t worn for one reason or another, because someone, somewhere, would get a lovely item at a second-hand price.
Then I started to think about just giving away the bigger things. I joined Freecycle, which is a online board listing unwanted items and wanted items in your local area. Once you list an item, you hear almost immediately from people who can come and collect it, often on the same day. It’s a super fast way to declutter, especially bigger things.
(I have heard that some stuff on Freecycle is basically junk that people can’t get to the tip, like stinky old sofas and broken furniture, so be careful if you are collecting.)
The feeling of doing something good was greater for the things I Freecycled. When I Freecycled something, the people that came to our house were so genuinely grateful.
Generous Donations Feel Good
We gave a lovely family size fridge freezer to a couple who were so astonished, they seemed hesitant to take it because they thought we were trying to trick them and it wouldn’t work when they got it home.
We gave away items of furniture that were well looked after, but no longer needed.
I passed on a £200 fish tank and stand.
I gave a student my laptop (I already had a desktop computer).
Each time someone came to collect, they were so happy.
It was an amazing feeling.
And it saved so much time.
Which meant we were moving faster towards our goal of having a house with much less. A more streamlined and less cluttered existence.
And that was worth more to me than the money that we could have made from selling stuff.
And here’s the funny thing. In a strange karmic manner, I ended up gaining more than I’d given away.
A few years after I started getting serious about minimalism, I had my daughter. Out of nowhere people started to give me things. Overall I received so much, for her, from other people. There were bags and bags of lovely clothes from age 0-6, shoes, a bike, a scooter, and even school uniform, now carefully stored away for 2020!
I was simply stunned by other people’s generosity, even though they said I was helping them out. My daughter has worn almost all of the clothes and shoes I was given.
It honestly feels as though because I had donated so many things to help others, in my time of need it had come back around to me.
I think, without wanting to sound too woo-woo, that sending your goodwill out there into the world makes for goodness and kindness to come back to you.
What goes around comes around, as wise old people say.
Sell or Donate?
It’s very much a personal decision, whether you decide to sell or donate your things.
But if you’re wondering if there has to be an easier way than selling everything, donating has the following things going for it:
- It’s faster, which means less chance of you getting bogged down in the clutter of selling.
- It helps other people. Whether your things are sold at a charity shop, or given directly to another family, you are making a difference to someone else out there.
- It teaches you about the true value of buying things – giving items away makes you think about whether you got value out of what you paid for. If you didn’t, it helps you understand your mistakes and make better purchasing decisions in future.
- It helps you see the importance of charity. Since I started donating things I have given more money to charitable causes and regularly contributed food to food banks.
- It gives you an appreciation of how luxurious your life is.
- Bag up all those unworn clothes and donate them. Doesn’t it feel good that someone out there will benefit?
I think so ❤️