Spring Cleaning

Spring is nearly here and with it comes a renewed sense of energy and possibilities. If you’re like me your garage could use some spring cleaning and once it warms up a bit more I plan to be out there digging into things to shed my life of items we no longer need or use. Now that I write this it would appear that I’ve happened upon the meaning of the word “shed” when it comes to getting rid of things as in getting things out of sight and mind is shedding them which merely puts them aside, outside in the shed.

Okay, that may be a stretch but it’s not far off so let’s run with it. If you have items in your possession that you no longer need and/or you’ve simply grown tired of seeing them every day then you might be inclined to move them out of sight. Doing so in the short term is easy enough and perhaps a good move but follow through is important. Sure, re-acquiring something can be more time and cost intensive than just hanging on but taking the time to evaluate an item right here and right now can save you time and might even make you some money as you go. The trick is having a plan and an approach. Here’s what works for me.

As you examine an item you just need to ask yourself a series of questions in a particular order to arrive at a plan. In reality it’s a decision tree which can actually be fun to follow.

Question #1 → Do I use it?

You may note the questions is “use” not “need”. Need can be clouded by emotion and to bolster that emotion it’s human nature to justify that you need it (nor really, it’s want) which means that you’ll lose and the thing will stay. Don’t be your own worst enemy here, just evaluate the use it or not question at face value.

If the answer is yes then easy enough, set it aside, decide how you’re going to store it, care for it and protect it then move on.

If it’s “no” then you need to step to the next question which is how to get rid of it. Getting rid of something can be as easy as tossing it a trash can but if the item at hand is useful – just not to you – then you should do the earth a favor by not filling up a landfill and yourself a favor by gaining from it’s exodus. The good part is you can gain without actually making cash in the process but more on that in a bit.

It really comes down to three choices:

  1. Throw it away
  2. Give it away
  3. Sell it

Tossing it
Throwing it out is the easy path but can be hard on both you and the planet. If you’re at all attached to the items and the once upon a time usefulness they had in your life then tossing it carelessly into the trash can well up emotions that trick you into wanting to keep it. In order to avoid that pitfall only toss something if it’s A) broken beyond reasonable repair or B) it’s not anything that anyone would be interested in taking off of your hands, free or not. If it passes those two tests then by all means get rid of it but in responsible manner. If it’s recyclable in any way then please do so.

Giving it away
Giving it away can help someone else and dependent upon the item and it’s value will make both you and the recipient feel good about the transaction. In short, it’s a win-win situation. Since “Free” is a popular price point there are many ways to rid yourself of one or more items.

  • Craigslist (People will even come take it from you saving you time to deliver)
  • Non-profit groups (Goodwill, Churches, volunteer fire companies, etc.)
  • Friends, extended family and neighbors

Selling it
If you’d rather sell it to get you closer to a full buffer or further on the path to paying off debt that’s okay too. It’s just a bit more work than giving it away, but not much. Here are a few ideas and I’m sure you can think of others:

  • Craigslist
  • eBay
  • Classified ads
  • Lawn sale
  • Flea market

The best part about selling items that you acquired long ago is that it’s all free money in a way. Sure, you spent actual hard earned cash on it long ago and now that you get to transform these items back into cash. All without any upfront cost so to speak making it seem like you’ve located an all night ATM that never runs out of bills or drains your account.

To summarize:
Use it? Yes → Store it
Use it? No → Toss it? Give it? Sell it?
Toss it? → Do it right then before you set it down, forget or give it time to grow on you.
Give it? → Who? Start through a mental list then set it in a designated area awaiting it’s trip out the door.
Sell it? → Where? Choose the path then take steps to get it listed or lined up for sale including proper storage until it actually leaves.

At the end of the day after the item has left you’ll find yourself with more freedom, more room, a sense of having done the right thing as well as perhaps a little more cash. All in all a good days work. ツ