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donation vs. selling

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

Often during the process of de-cluttering, clients tell me that they’re going to sell the items they’re letting go of. My response is always: are you actually? Please note that I have nothing against resale but in my experience people rarely follow through with selling and the ‘to sell’ items remain in the home F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

In order to figure out if you should sell or donate, please answer the 5 following questions:

1) Do you need the money? If the answer is yes, then go for it. If the answer is no, ask yourself, ‘how much is my time worth’? Is it worth it for you to spend hours listing, responding and facilitating the removal of items that will make you a small portion of what you paid for them?

2) Do you have the bandwidth to add another to do to your to do list? When listing an item on ebay here are some of the steps: create an account, link said account to your Paypal account to receive payment, pre weigh item at the shipping store to decide what to charge for shipping (ebay’s estimates are not always correct), take photos of item, list item, answer questions about listing, ship out item in a timely manner and pay ebay commission for the listing. I’m guessing you stopped reading on line 2…

3) How quickly do you want the item(s) gone? When I work with my clients, I take their donations (as much as I can put into an rideshare XL) that day. Items to sell can take weeks or months to get out the door.

4) Are you selling high-end designer clothing? It’s your lucky day! Welcome to The Real Real – depending on where you live, they will come to you if you have 10 or more items to sell. And if not, they’ll send you a box with a pre-paid shipping label. Do they take a hefty commission? Yes. Do they make it as easy as possible for you and do all the work? YES.

5) Are you selling furniture or appliances? Think about this: the bigger the item the more difficult the logistics. Ok, so you decide to list your couch on Craigslist, not so hard. How do you feel about strangers entering your home to look at it? How do you feel about them moving the couch out without proper insurance (i.e. if they bang up the wall you have basically no recourse for getting them to pay)?

Most often, the reason people struggle with this question is because they paid a certain amount for the item in question and they feel guilty just getting rid of it. Two points: 1) donating is not trashing; the item will go to someone who needs it and will appreciate it. 2) it’s a sunk cost; it has already been incurred and cannot be (fully) recovered. You can make yourself feel guilty all day but you can’t stop yourself from buying the item in the first place.

Now what do you do if you decide that you don’t want to sell? DONATE. Donate to the closest Goodwill, Housing Works, Salvation Army, church, soup kitchen or shelter! They’ll appreciate it, the stuff will go to a good home, it’s out of your house and you get a tax write-off! (win, win, win, win!).

Try my tips and tricks above and let me know how it goes! You can email me at and follow me on Instagram @toritheorganizer.


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