As the saying goes, ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure’. This sentiment rang true when I listed twenty items on Gumtree prior to my recent vacation to Thailand just three weeks ago.
Within 24 hours I had sold 15 items. 75% of my ‘stuff’ that I no longer wanted was acquired by other people, one item even sold within 60 seconds of posting (honest to god, I will explain later).
The remaining five items ended up selling within 7 days leaving me with cash in hand and three full storage crates of newly found space. I’ve spoken before about retrieving cash from items you no longer need to subsidise the purchase price (you pay one price, sell for another – the difference is what you actually paid for that product).
However, I don’t know what I prefer more; retrieving cash from things you no longer need or decluttering in a time when ‘stuff’ seems to own you. The sensation of purging your life of unnecessary belongings is cleansing, fulfilling and weirdly gratifying given that we spend most of our life wanting ‘things’ as a way to be happier.
Anyhoo, I digress. Today I want to share with you how I personally attacked my 7-day purge of belongings and give some insight into how it is I am now happier and wealthier as a result.
Purging your belongings is healthy
Before I begin, I wanted you to realise that decluttering is actually very healthy. In our modern day, it is all too easy to acquire incredible amounts of things that add little to no value to our existence. Items that are sometimes meant to help reduce stress in our life, in turn, create it. I was really inspired after reading an article entitled ‘Don’t just declutter; de-own‘ at Becoming Minimalist.
Think of the useless appliances in your cupboard; they are meant to simplify things but instead just take up space, rarely get used and fill your back of mind thoughts with ‘wow, I really should use this more often’.
Well, how about calling a spade a spade and admitting that the item is useless for you? Forget the past and how much you spent on it, if the item is truly useless (be careful not to justify keeping items, this can lead to ‘hoarding’) – sell it. Retrieve what you can for it and use the cash to do something smarter.
What is a smarter thing you could do with the money? Buy shares. Invest in a high-interest account. Pay off a credit card. Upgrade your old washing machine to one that saves water, saves electricity. There are a million and one ways to do something productive with the cash.
Here is how I purged my belongings in 7 days (giving myself extra space and extra money)
So without further adieu, here is what I did in my 7-day purge.
#1 – I opted to list all of my items at once
Let’s be honest, listing items to sell online, whether it be Gumtree or eBay is boring. It can be time-consuming if you decide to faff about.
I had previously filled up a number of storage containers with items to sell. I placed all of the basic, used items on Gumtree for a quick sale and placed the more expensive, brand new/in-box items on eBay for greater reach.
My tip to you? List every single item in one sitting. Get a coffee, get something to eat and then sit down and list every item you have before you next get up. I call this ‘batch processing’ whereby similar tasks are completed in one go to save time. Try it, it will change your life and help you get to the fun part faster. That is, getting sales!
#2 – I listed the items using my mobile phone
Given that listing items isn’t that much fun, I did my research and realised that Gumtree and eBay now have incredibly efficient mobile apps to make the list process faster.
I took 4 photos of each item, wrote unique and compelling descriptions that explained the product, why I was selling and the condition it was in – and then I posted.
For one piece of furniture (a set of bedside tables) – I hit submit, received a ‘Congratulations, your item is now live’ on screen just before my phone started ringing. I answered the phone, only to realise someone had just seen my ad and wanted to come over in the next hour to inspect / pickup.
I almost thought it was a joke given how fast it happened. It seriously happened within 30 seconds of posting online – $200 in my pocket like that!
My tip to you? Offer multiple ways for the buyer to receive the item; post, inspection and pickup from multiple locations. E.g. if you are selling a bunch of toys, offer pickup from your home suburb or work suburb.
#3 – I priced the items to sell (using quick research)
As I wrote the listing, I did quick searches on Gumtree and eBay for similar products. This helps guide you on price; for me, given the items were nearing ‘just hire a skip bin’ mode – I priced them to sell.
This meant I undercut the rest of the sellers, pricing better items at better prices in the bid to sell fast and easily. I’d prefer to get $5 for a half-empty bottle of aftershave I didn’t even like (true story!) then just throw it in the bin.
#4 – Methodically I scanned my home for excess ‘stuff’ and items I could sell (the bigger the better)
There is something incredibly fun about going from one end of your house to the other, looking for items that you no longer need.
I spent a solid 2 hours walking around, throwing rubbish out as I found it, collecting sellable items into storage tubs and doing a bit of cleaning as I went.
Here are some of the items I found that sold really well:
Old mobile phones
Using the Gumtree phone price checker, I quickly discovered that I could make some serious money from all of the old phones I had lying around.
I made nearly $400 by simply selling my old phones. Unbelievable.
- $290 for an iPhone 5C
- $110 for an iPhone 3G (the really old one)
This was easily the most exciting thing ever. I honestly didn’t think that my old phones, which I often just chuck in my stationary drawer, would actually be worth that much money.
I listed old IKEA items, desks, chairs and storage cubes. Every single item sold. Even the IKEA items that I purchased as a student for $80 five years ago ended up selling. In fact, in the case of the $80 IKEA bookshelf, I ended up selling for $50.
Pretty cool to realise that someone out there is getting nearly 50% off the retail price while you retrieve over 50% of the purchase price (on an item you don’t even want!).
Remember, furniture is really popular so the price is fairly but not too low. Students are quick to purchase, as are first time renters and share houses. A house full of students can now equip their flat with furniture for nearly $200 – a previously impossible task.
Perfume and aftershaves
I decided that this purge would have to include the numerous bottles of aftershave and perfume my wife and I have collected over the years. In fact, I still have bottles of cologne from high school and I finally realised that enough is enough. Minimal is more.
I listed a heap of bottles, many half full, for between $5 and $25. Each and every single bottle sold. It was incredible.
Suitcases and luggage
Take it from me, suitcases and luggage sell really well. Considering that they are nearly $400 a bag these days from David Jones, a sturdy old suitcase for $50-$100 is a bargain for many people.
Further to this, suitcases and luggage are notorious space stealers in homes. They are big, bulky and not easily stored. I opted to sell three bags, all old and replaced by new ones over the years and not only retrieved a heap of cash, I retrieved my sanity and a bunch of space in my second bedroom.
Other odds and ends
Check out my list of things to sell on eBay for some inspiration on what else you can sell.
So in 7 days, what was I able to achieve?
- 20 items sold
- $1,135 retrieved (largely thank to the mobile phones sold)
- 3-4 large storage tubs of space recovered
I not only cleared some serious space, I cleared my mind of clutter. The money I was able to retrieve helped me have excess funds in my account prior to going to Thailand.
I didn’t actually end up spending, however, I did need the comfort of knowing I had some backup cash in my account should the worst occur in Bangkok.
Regardless, upon my return I invested $1,135 into the sharemarket with intent to not touch it for 10 years. I wonder how much it will be worth in 3,650 days from now? Could the selling of some old bags, old phones and general bric-a-brac be one of the smartest investments I ever made?