Rubina Ahmed-Haq: Parenting by the Numbers


How Tidying Up is Saving Me Money

I'm selling my junk and it feels great!

I'm selling my junk online and it feels great! | Money | Organization |

You know that saying, "one man's junk is another man's treasure"? Well, I'm living that, right now. 

I just got off the phone with a lady that wants to come buy a pair of crutches I advertised.  They have been sitting in my basement for 7 years (and another 10 in my husband’s apartment). I posted them on Kijjiji, and voila! someone can use them and pay me money for it.

$20 I never knew I had.

This has been my spring cleaning story this year: finding valuable unused items in my home and selling them fast. It's resulted in two things - a clutter free and more organized home, and extra money in my pocket.   

As a personal finance expert, I always promote working smart and getting the most value. For this reason, until now,  I've stayed away from selling things on line for small amounts of money. My theory before was all that coordination is not worth your time. As a freelancer, time is money... literally. In the past I’ve opted instead to donate. But there’s the issue, after 7 years of living in this house, I've been unable to donate enough. Generally speaking, my “to get rid of” pile has never been big enough, and I end up resorting and storing the same stuff year after year.  It’s hard to give away something that might still have value, even if it has no purpose to you.

So this year I decided to take a different approach and sell it. Motivated by a few minimalist friends and reading the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” by Marie Kondo, I've been on a mission. (FYI, this post is not a book review, but for anyone looking to live a more minimalist lifestyle, this is the book for you.)

I started by joining every Facebook buy and sell group in my area, I registered for a Kijjiji account and I went for it. With a smartphone, selling online is super easy. Snap a pic, post it, and go.

I have to admit that now that there's money exchanging hands, I’m much more honest about how useful my stuff is to me and if I’ll ever have a need for it again. Money is always a great motivator.

I’ve been taking entire cupboards and closets of stuff out and only putting back what I truly need and love. The stuff I don’t love, I try to sell, and if not, I send it to donation. For example,  I have donated all my newborn clothing to a new mom. I heard her story and realized she's struggling to afford all the things she needs.

One-to-one is better for the environment, too. Whether selling or donating, there's a better chance that person will use it, and the item will not end up in a landfill.

My attitude towards material things has always been cut and dry. If I need it, I will keep it; if I don’t, I will give it away. But the problem is I have way too many things that I think I need, and that has kept me in a constant state of organized chaos.  Often people come over they say, wow you don’t really have that much stuff in your house, but the truth is that its all put away in a drawers, closets, or storage bins, waiting to be used “someday.”

I’m not doing this to make money, but it shows me how many of us have much value lying around our house.   Getting rid of the extra stuff has also opened up more space. All of a sudden, things are off the floor and my 1800 square foot townhouse is starting to fill bigger.  

With my house feeling less cluttered, I feel like I have more time to write, spend time with family, and basically do anything but tidy and organize.  I’ve also convinced a friend who’s been thinking about getting a pool in the back yard to find the money by selling her stuff.  I went into her basement, and there must have been $40,000 worth of stuff down there. I gestured at the mountain of things and told her, “You want your pool? Here's how you can pay for it.”

The process feels good. It feels positive, and it’s putting a bit of money in my pocket.  

If you’re thinking of selling stuff online, here are some of my pointers.

  1. Take good pictures. No one will buy your junk if it looks like junk. Find a neutral background. A dining table is a good choice. Take clean, clutter free photos. 
  2. Price competitively. This exercise will not make you rich, but if you truly want to have someone pay you for your stuff, you have to price it low. I suggest searching online to see how much its selling for and price it just below. The item will go fast.
  3. Be safe. Goes without saying: don’t meet alone, at night, or in an alleyway.
  4. Join local Facebook groups. There are ton of groups that are category specific. Baby stuff, strollers, furniture. Search the words “buy and sell” in Facebook to see what groups are set up in your area. My favourite group in Toronto is the "Junk in da trunk" site. Almost 30,000 members, admins are firm about rules, and it seems everyone has mutual respect for each other. Speaking of rules, be sure to read the rules of any FB buy and sell group before you start using it.
  5. Get to know buy and sell lingo. BNIB means Brand New in Box. XP means its cross posted across many sites. PPU stands for porch pick up, meaning the seller is willing to leave it in front of their house for you to pick up and leave the money in their mail box. There are a ton more; learn them.
  6. Download the kijjiji app, its super easy to use and you can post ads in a matter of minutes.

Have fun! 

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