Tradeoffs in getting rid of stuff

In advance of our move to San Francisco, Jordan and I are getting rid of almost everything we own.

There are only a few ways to get rid of your possessions: sell them, toss them, or donate them. I am using donate loosely. As long as you are not throwing it in the garbage or getting money for it, I will consider it a donation.

I immediately realized there was a framework I was operating under when deciding what to do with each of the things we owned.

Time: How much time will it take to offload this item?

Value: Does this item have good resale value?

Effort: What is the effort involved in getting rid of this item?

For me, most high value/high effort items were furniture and appliances. Our couch is practically brand new and I knew its resale value would hold. So I was willing to invest more time into getting it sold and out of the house. On the flip side, my random collection of wrapping paper and mason jars were much low value/low effort. I could easily toss them or donate them without taking much time.

Examples of low value/high effort items are large, broken things. Think of your grandmother’s garage with two TVs from the 90s. No one wants these things but getting rid of them will involve some effort on your part. As you go through your life try to jettison these items or avoid them all together. It makes moving much easier.

I made a spreadsheet of our high value items with the understanding that it would probably take more time to get rid of these things. I immediately listed our dresser, Vitamix, KitchenAid, etc. on Craigslist so that I wouldn’t be in crunch at the end trying to offload this stuff.

I think the biggest mistakes people make when moving are underestimating the sheer amount of stuff they own and the time it will take to organize/pack/get rid of the stuff they own. If time is on your side (which it usually is) then start the process as soon as you find out you are moving. Jordan thought I was nuts for immediately culling clothes and books but it has made the whole experience way less stressful.

Another mistake is that people totally overvalue their possessions. A good rule of thumb for selling items is 50% off the retail price. Sometimes lower. It cracks me up when people list couches that were purchased for $1200 for $900. People buy used stuff because they want a deal. Understand your target customer.

You also need to remember: You are balancing between the desire to get paid and the desire to get rid of it. I might not have gotten top dollar for everything I sold but I got it out of the house and made some money so I considered it a win.

Tactically, what does getting rid of stuff look like? I leveraged Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, my friends/colleagues, and my local Buy Nothing group.

Some things like stationery, books, costume jewelry, and small decorations are low value/low effort. I could just toss them in the trash! But that makes me sad, so I’ve actually increased my effort by offering these small things to friends and colleagues which sometimes means I am a lugging stuff around to its new owner. However, I happen to value gifting/donating this stuff over throwing it away. That’s just my preference.

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