Downsizing Part III: Selling the Good Stuff

In the last of this three-part series on downsizing, let us consider some ways to make money on the stuff that you no longer want to keep. With each of these options, I will cover the upsides and the downsides to help you decide which options are best for your situation.

* YARD SALE / ESTATE SALE. If you've never held a yard sale, let me tell you that it takes a LOT of work to pull one off successfully. First, you have to gather all the items together. That is no small task for most people. Then you will need to clean and price everything (and for goodness sakes, don't use cheap labels that can only be removed by using Goof Off!), place advertising, post signs in high-traffic areas, obtain tables for displaying items, have potentially valuable antiques appraised, and sweet-talk your friends and family into helping you.
You get to keep all the money when your stuff sells.
All of the steps I listed above. But if you have enough high-value items, you may make enough money for it to be worth all the trouble.
ALTERNATIVE: Hire an estate sale company to do it for you, but know that they will keep a large percentage of the sales.

* CRAIG'S LIST / EBAY AUCTION SITES: There are lots of internet-based auction sites out there now, but the most popular ones are Craig's List and Ebay. Before you go this route, I would encourage you to "shop" the auction sites to see how much similar items are selling for. You may be surprised to find that people aren't paying much for old Star Trek books, National Geographic collections, or record albums. If you decide to sell through Ebay, you'll first need to set up an account. Then take digital photos of each item, write a detailed description of the item, and determine your minimum acceptable winning bid. After you post the item on the auction site, be prepared to answer any questions potential buyers may email to you. After the auction is over, it will be your responsibility to mail the item to the winner. In most cases, you set up the auction so that the buyer pays you extra for postage. Ebay charges a listing fee regardless of whether the item sells. It is currently free to sell on Craig's List.
You could get lucky and get a couple of people who REALLY want the item(s) you are selling. The competitive bidding mentality can really jack up the price of an item.
Timing is everything with auction sites. If your timing is off and there's no real interest, the bids may come in pretty low. Also, it can be time consuming to answer all the questions and then mail each item to its winner.
If you can find one in your area, you could take your stuff to an online auction resaler who will keep a percentage of the selling price after posting the item, answering questions, and shipping the items to the winning bidder. Try your local phone book or Google to find an auction resaler in your area.

CONSIGNMENT: One of my favorite ways to make money on used household goods and nice clothing is through consignment stores. All you have to do is set up an account with the store and drop your items off. In my area of Decatur, I have a great relationship with Finders Keepers in Avondale Estates, GA. After I help my clients purge, I take their nicer household items to Finders Keepers (2753 East College Rd., Decatur, GA 30030. 404.377.1944) and set up an account under the client's name. Then when the client has a minimum amount of sales, Finders Keepers sends the clients a check. Other popular Atlanta-based consignment stores for antiques and household goods are Now and Again in Buckhead (404.262.1468) and Kudzu Antique Market in Decatur (404.373.6498). Check with these store for more info on their policies and the percentage of the sales that they keep. Normally, consignment stores keep between forty and fifty percent of the sales price.
UPSIDE: It is easy and convenient to make some money off your castaways if you have a good consignment store nearby.
DOWNSIDE: Most consignment stores can afford to be very particular about the quality of their inventory, so do not be surprised if they turn down some of your items. Also, you generally have no control over the price of the item, and the price goes down if the item does not sell within a set amount of time.
ALTERNATIVE: If you have a large quantity of high-quality antiques and collectibles, it may be more cost-effective to rent your own space in one of the antique consignment malls.

CLASSIFIED ADS: The last alternative that I sometimes suggest to my organizing clients is that they advertise in their local newspaper's classified section. In Atlanta, you can advertise household goods in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (online and paper version) for free.
UPSIDE: You control the price and you get to keep the full sales amount.
DOWNSIDE: Strangers will be coming to your home. I generally do not recommend this option to my elderly or single female clients.

In this three-part series on Downsizing, I have given you some steps to get you started on the purging process, some ideas about where to donate the things you no longer need, and now some ways to make a few bucks along the way. Just remember, the ultimate goal when downsizing it to purge what you no longer love and what is no longer serving you. Let these things go to make space for a calmer, less chaotic home.

What other ways have you made money on your "junk"? Please leave comments and let us know!

Downsizing Part II: Donating What You No Longer Need

In our last issue, I gave you tips to help you begin the downsizing process if you are preparing to move into a smaller space. Once you start to purge what you no longer really need, you'll want to create a few different piles:

  • a trash pile
  • a recycle pile
  • a donation pile
  • a resell pile

It's pretty obvious what happens to the trash pile, though I've given you some junk removal sources below if your pile is too big. Let's look at some Atlanta-area donation and recycling options.

Donating Clothes and Household Goods

Thrift Stores: If you haven't been to a thrift store in the last couple of years, let me just tell you that the quality of the merchandise has improved. I believe one of the reasons for this is because we are buying and getting rid of more "stuff" than ever. Clothes and household goods have a shorter life span so items often are not as worn out by they time they are donated as they may have been in years past. That said, make sure that the items that you donate are at least in fair condition. Spare the urge to donate clothes with stains or tears, shoes with holes, or chipped dishes. A couple of the more popular and more reputable thrift stores in Atlanta are Goodwill and Salvation Army. There may be others in your area, but check to see how much of their revenue goes to the needy before donating.

Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta ( - Offers free pick-up in Cobb, DeKalb, most of Fulton, and most of Gwinnett counties. Does not accept office or outdoor furniture, large appliances, pianos, or water beds.

Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities ( - Accepts clothing and household goods

Atlanta Union Mission ( - Accepts clothing, furniture, household goods, toiletries, large and small appliances. Will pick up in many metro-Atlanta counties.

American Kidney Fund ( - Will pick up clothing and household goods or you may search for nearby drop-off boxes through their web site. - Great recycling, donation, & disposal site searchable by your area. They included DeKalb Farmer's Market, Whole Foods, and nearby county and city recycling programs when I searched using my Decatur ZIP code.

Freecycle ( - Site where you can sign up for your local Freecycle group, post the item you'd like to give away, pick which member you'd like to have it, and schedule a time for them to pick up the item. No money can exchange hands.

Junk Removal: Just Trash It ( and 1-800GotJunk ( offers residential and commercial junk removal.

Did I miss anything? If so, please leave me a comment. Be on the lookout for Downsizing Part III where we'll cover lots of ways that you can make a little money off of the things that you no longer need in your home.