One step I took earlier on in this process of decluttering and unstuffing was researching the best places nearby to take my excess. I didn’t want to throw perfectly good, usable items into the trash. I wanted to make an impact.
I wanted our excess to become someone else’s blessings.
I asked in a Facebook post what others thought about places that receive donations. I located a local church that has a thrift shop, I contacted the YWCA in a nearby city, I dug around for information on women’s shelters, I looked up the ways places like Goodwill and The Salvation Army actually help people, and I contacted friends and family who I thought could benefit from some of our Stuff.
Although it would have been much, much easier to just load everything up and drop it off at the Trinity Mission, I felt compelled to take the extra step to know in my heart I made a good effort in finding the best way to help others.
Where is it needed?
I encourage you to do the same when you begin unstuffing your life. Find out who needs help and how you can help them. Look into the local charities around where you live. Personally, we live in a small community in a county with a small population where the majority of people have very low incomes. So I’d like to help my neighbors, as it were, not just savvy shoppers in the city.
It wasn’t about my Stuff finally having meaning; it is about meaning to help with all the Stuff.
I took all the unopened frilly bath products to the YWCA. I donated our extra sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and other linens to the homeless shelter. I dropped off lots of kitchenware like silverware sets, glasses, crockery, etc. at the Salvation Army. I gave bags and bags of women’s professional attire to a women’s shelter that gives what it doesn’t use to a women’s prison. Now I just need to figure out where to take all these paperback books*…
Let us not forget about SELLING our Stuff!
My goodness, you don’t have to look at it all as a complete loss. I mean, the Things you donate should leave you with a sense of peace and that you’ve done something good and generous. Let’s not discount the intrinsic value of this!
But we can be practical and say that some of your Stuff could be sold. Have a yard sale if you want. Personally, that is a no-go for us. I see that as a lot of work for little return; the BHE sees that as an open invite to people we don’t necessarily want coming onto our property to look at what we have, can afford, and may possibly have better versions of in the house. Yes, I think he’s a bit paranoid and overly protective, but yes, I can see his point. Me? I think it is much easier to snap some pictures with my smartphone and upload them to Facebook yard sale groups I’ve joined.
And don’t forget Craigslist and Freecycle!
Let me give you a pointer, though.
When it comes to those yard sale groups and Craigslist, price your Stuff low. Not just reasonably (so many people on Craigslist are unbelievably unreasonable with their prices) but I mean loooow.
I sold two dresser sets for $30. TWO! I think I posted them both for $20 but since the first buyer to contact me wanted both sets and was coming that day to pick them up, I was ok with $30. The FIVE PIECES of furniture that I wanted gone were gone and done so quite quickly. And I made 30 bucks. It opened up the space in our room for the bedroom suite we acquired when my grandfather passed.
Today, as I type, someone is meeting the BHE to purchase a stand mixer that I received as a gift, used twice, and have kept on a shelf for a couple years. It was new at about $40. I saw another like it on Craigslist for $30. Are you kidding me?! Go low, people, if you actually want to sell the Stuff. I don’t care about the money so much as getting rid of the excess. Five dollars! Yes, five bucks for the mixer. Get it out of my house!
Now I’ve got $5 I didn’t have yesterday AND that unused Thing taking up space is GONE. Woot!
Thoughtfully seek out that which you don’t need or use.
We are trying to get ourselves back on the path to a better diet. Our dietary lifestyle has derailed a bit since the arrival of our second child. Convenience foods are more than that when you’ve got a toddler and a breastfeeder in the house (both the baby and the mommy need more). Sadly, convenience foods are rarely good for you. I’m not saying those pretzel sticks are unhealthy to the point they’ll kill me, but they are a processed wheat product and they are not organic.
We needed to dig through our pantry and the extra storage (the coat closet has boxes on the floor where I put the dry goods I buy in bulk… out of sight, out of mind means the chips last longer!) to pull out the things we really shouldn’t be eating. We are blessed in that we can be particular about the foods we consume. We are fortunate to have the options of buying organic or eating fresh vegetables rather than state-approved cereal.
There is a food pantry in the nearby city that happily and gratefully accepted the grocery sacks of dry goods that, if I were adhering to the dietary lifestyle we have determined to be the healthiest for our family, I shouldn’t have bought in the first place.
Where can you take your excess Stuff?
What is worth the time and effort to try to sell?
Who truly needs what you only want or even don’t want?
How can you help with the Things you’ve already bought?
And consider those donations not just for tax write-offs but also for that tithe the Holy Bible talks about. And consider that the tithe is only ten percent, where a true Christian would give much more than that.
*Yes, your local library wants your books. If you have really nice copies of popular books, maybe they can replace their well-read ones on the shelf. Maybe they can turn around and sell your books for 25 or 50 cents and use the proceeds to buy back-to-school materials for local kids or a new resume creation station for the unemployed. Seriously, libraries love your books. But they also have a lot of other people that do the same thing. And the extras, the books that don’t go on their shelves, the ones that don’t sell in the monthly used book sale? Those go to a recycling center (if we’re lucky) or the dump (at least paper is biodegradable). I guess I’m hoping to find, like, a prison that needs to stock its library with paperback mysteries published 10 years ago.