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Yard Sale 2.0: Smart Ways to Get Rid of Stuff

Downsizing or decluttering? Try these ideas for moving out used items

Posted on 05/08/18 by Shira Boss

Vintage items for sale on a wood table

James Worrell/Getty Images

Even if you don't make money from selling your stuff, nearly everyone could benefit from tax deductions available for donating unwanted items.

En español | Almost certainly, you have items in your home you’d like to move along. Maybe you want to make sure they get to someone who can make use of them, or maybe you’d like to make a bit of money in the process.

Los Angeles resident Kelly Hayes-Raitt, 56, did. She cleared out her stuffed garage, filled mostly with some 30 boxes full of papers. Alongside, she unearthed office furniture, supplies, a dilapidated card table and even a backpack on wheels someone had left at her house. What she also discovered? “Other people wanted my crap — and were willing to pay for it!” she says. “I made nearly $1,000 selling my stuff on Craigslist — $15, $20 at a time; I couldn’t believe how it added up!”

And even if you don't make money from a sale, nearly everyone could benefit from tax deductions available for donating. But it’s easy to get stuck, not knowing the best way to move along unused items. Here are some ideas.

Sell locally, even via app

As Hayes-Raitt discovered, Craigslist still works — and saves you the packing, shipping and fees associated with selling something on, say, eBay (save that for your collectibles). But the Craigslist model of locally posting photos with a description of your item for sale has been picked up by other sites, too: Facebook Marketplace (use the app or click on Marketplace from your Facebook account), OfferUp (app), Close5 (app), 5miles (app or website). You can also search Facebook and join local “tag sale” groups for your location or area. Experts advise dealing in cash to avoid scams. These sites don’t charge fees.

Meladee Rudolph, 59, recently relocated from Southern California to Dallas with her husband of 40 years. For three months prior to the move, they used Close5 and OfferUp to sell household items: “For people of our generation — boomers — it was pretty easy to get used to using the sites,” she says. “People have come and moved the items out — we didn’t have to.”

Yard sale

Want to go old-school and hold a real yard sale? Some online advertising is key. Start with your local newspaper and ask about their online ads, and also check out the free online promotion available on Craigslist. And definitely take advantage of the free advertising available on sites like gsalr.com, garagesaletracker.com and yardsales.net, which exist to help users find yard sales in their area.

Donate 

Got extra boxes from all those online deliveries? Use them to help clear out clothing, shoes and household items in good condition. Pack them in the box, then go to givebackbox.com to print out a free shipping label automatically addressed to a local charity. They’ll even email you a receipt for a tax deduction.

Some local or national charities, including Vietnam Veterans of America and the Salvation Army, will pick up unwanted items from your doorstep in many parts of the country, then leave you a receipt you can use for a tax deduction. Check out donationtown.org to enter your zip code and find out which charities offer this service in your area.

Give away from home

Another route is to give away things right from your home, possibly by way of a trendy “house unwarming party,” where instead of bringing gifts, guests take away items you no longer want (but they do).

Valerie Poteete, 50, came to this idea while downsizing from her 2,800 square-foot house in Las Vegas. “After two garage sales, I never wanted to have another, but I still had three-quarters of a house full of stuff,” she says. She winnowed down what she wanted to keep and put it in her bedroom, then hosted two “get it gone” parties. “I set out snacks and invited all my friends and their friends to go through the house and find things they, or someone they knew, needed.”

She estimates she unloaded half of her household goods and 75 percent of her arts and crafts supplies. And she got something in return: “The best part is that I made new friends,” she says. “I still have people telling me what they did with what they received. That is such a great feeling.” 

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