Decluttering/Letting Go Help Needed!

Updated on June 09, 2017
N.R. asks from Chicago, IL
19 answers

I want to get rid of all the stuff cluttering our home. Some of it is nice-ish and I am having a hard time just giving it away. I think, "We should have a yard sale!" and make some $ vs. just dropping everything off somewhere. Or Ebay! Or Craigslist! It's slowing me up and my guess is all of these things would take a lot of time and not really net that much. Anyone else in this boat and how did you do it? Did you just make a pile of all those functional/pretty dishes, candles, table linens, nice but don't work for you clothes etc. and drop it off somewhere? Was it worth it to have a yard sale? How did you just LET IT GO?! Would love to hear what method/thought process worked for you. Thanks!!

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answers from Springfield on

I'm a big fan of boxing it up and taking it to Goodwill. We are not the richest family in town, but we have more than we need. Some families depend on places like Goodwill just to get by. I'm happy to take things there that we no longer need - clothes the kids have outgrown, toys the kids no longer play with, extras of things, Christmas presents from my MIL that we never wanted anyway ... To me it's a win/win.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I want it out of my life and gone. So I don't do consignment and usually just give stuff away. Smaller stuff, we donate to charities/organizations which help transitioning families or Goodwill (receipts are great come tax time); larger things, I offer up to friends first on Facebook and then neighbors on NextDoor. I rarely want money for things... the value for me is having them out of the house. :)

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answers from Boston on

I have conducted yard sales with neighbors when I was younger. It was a bit of fun and netted a bit of money.

Now I bundle everything up and donate it. When it's tax time, if you itemize, you can deduct the donated value of these items, with proper paper work.

Since you're committed to decluttering, I suggest you just bag up 4 bags to start. Just do it. Donate it. Let it go. Then see how you feel about all that baggage you don't have holding you down. It makes it easier to do it again.

Donation suggestions:
jewelry and trinkets - your local senior center probably has a gift shop
clothes - St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I can relate exactly to what you wrote! This is my problem.

I tend to buy good quality things, when they go on sale - and then when my kids outgrow etc. I would like to pass them on, but we don't have anyone we know close in age that actually needs stuff. I ended up keeping it for a while and finally my niece had a baby, so was able to pass some on to them. But it meant hoarding it for a while - which drove my husband nuts and stressed me out a bit.

So lately I have been just packing it up and giving it to our local food bank - it also has a store for people who are in need in the community.

I did the consignment shop thing and it was just a total pain - the lady running our most known one here only wanted super current clothes (which makes sense as would sell better) so she'd return a lot of high end like new stuff - because she felt it wouldn't sell. So in the end, I donated that too. Also, once she took her cut - and then she'd have these massive sales - I barely made anything from that.

I have tried yard sales - even community ones where everyone has one at same time - we've never made enough for it to be worth our while. So now, I pass on to friends, family or donate.

*add - it feels good to donate, I find that I am able to let it go if I think someone will benefit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I sell things for other people. The #1 thing my clients talk about are their good intentions. They want to declutter but even though donation drop off (or pickup, when applicable) is easy, sometimes people feel invested in their objects and would prefer to see if they can get some money back.

The problem is that a lot of people simply don't have the time, and when they have some time they don't have the energy. Intentions don't get the job done, that is why they come to me. They get the stuff out of their house and make some money, but I do the work.

If you're at the point where you Can Not Stand the mess, and yet you don't have it in you to get busy selling things yourself, then my advice is to seek out local consignment options or donate and be done. Whatever you do, get started this week. Procrastination is the enemy.

It might amuse to you know that even though I sell professionally, I tend to donate the majority of my own castoffs.

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answers from Springfield on

garage sale one time.. and the rest of the time i donated. my hubby is a pitcher though and he will secretly throw things in the trash just to get them out of the house when no one has used them in over a year

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I'm going through the same process at my house! Here's what I've been doing with my things:
1. True junk - toss it. No one wants it, it's cluttering your life, you'll feel better handling it decisively.
2. Things in good condition, that have a moderate sale value - post as you go. (see options below) Put it up for sale for a reasonable amount of time (I do 2 weeks - initial post, & if no response/sale, a second post after a week. Beyond that, it's not wanted by anyone else, therefore no $$ value, so then it's time to donate it.)
3. Truly valuable items (art, collectibles, specific name brand items, etc), large quality furniture pieces - attempt to sell as in #2 above, but make sure you do some research ahead of time to find out what something is worth. Consider using a consignment shop.
4. Avoid a rummage sale, unless you have a place to store all of your items, you live in an area where there is a lot of traffic to draw shoppers (ideally in a neighborhood that has a scheduled rummage event), and you have a ton of time to gather all your items together, put them out, price them, protect them from bad weather, secure them at the end of the day, spend an entire weekend sitting out trying to sell items, only to have people try to bargain your fair price down to 75% off... see my point? Not worth it, IMO. (FYI - a friend had a rummage this weekend, great location, neighborhood-wide with multiple families participating, 3-day event... I brought some stuff over, could've made >$100 if it all sold. I got $24, for 2 items, neither of which was full price. The other items didn't even have interest... only because my friend had the sale & offered to let me hock a few wares did I bother to participate...)

How to price items for option #2:
When pricing your items, make sure you price them at what they are currently worth, not what you paid for them, or what they would cost to replace with new items. For example, a set of everyday dishes for 4 would run $30-50 in the stores. Place it for $10-20 (depending on name, quality, age, condition) to make some good turnover. Remember, you are giving yourself some time to see if you can make some $$ & let someone else get use out of items in good condition - this isn't a time to hold-out for top dollar. I recently sold a bedroom set for $120. For an extra $25, we delivered it to them (I was moving out of my apartment anyway...) It was in OK condition, not real wood, with a crappy mattress/boxspring included. But it looked nice, & I had over 20 people respond - I probably could've gotten $250, but if I had PRICED it at $250, I would have had few, if any, responses, & might have had to find somewhere to store it in the meantime.

I don't find eBay to be a great way to sell items anymore, unless you have unique, collectible type things. Too many businesses use it, & people are more comfortable with Amazon when they want to order regular items from the internet. Also, difficult for furniture I think - too many people have turned to Craigslist for pick-up only items.
Craigslist has also gotten difficult, especially as a buyer. Too many people waiting to swoop in & pick something up immediately, too many sellers not willing to hold an item to the first responder so they can get there after a work-day. For sellers, it can be frustrating also - unless you have a really "hot" item (desirable, good condition, bargain price), people may respond just to tire-kick, or may not respond because they assume it's already gone & you forgot to delete the post.

I've had some good luck in the Facebook sale groups. There are many for various areas - do a search for "chicago sales" & I'm sure you'll find a ton. Some are better run than others, but I find there is usually an understanding that first to respond has first dibs, then when they pass, next in line is up. That is the format I followed when I sold some items recently, & it worked well. If I had a large number of responses, I'd let people know they needed to commit 1 hour after contacting me, & have pick-up arranged within the day (allowing some extra time if they needed to arrange a truck - in which case they made a cash deposit that day). The nice thing about these groups is that people can see who else responded - sometimes knowing there is interest sparks more interest, & it's not uncommon to sell items to the 3rd or 4th person. Be firm on your price, or know how much you'd be willing to bargain down for, which means setting a fair price to begin with. Be firm on your location for pick-up - do they need to come to you? Or will you meet in a public place? Are you willing to travel part-way to accommodate their schedule, & if so how far is reasonable for you? Don't bend over backwards to sell a $5-10 item, you know? (FYI - I've had easy sales where they ask where I'm located & come right over, other easy sales where they say they live somewhere else & I can meet them while out running errands, & ridiculous people who want me to be available outside of my area, during the workday, on a specific day only, so they can buy a $20 set of knives from me for $5... no thanks.)

So, long-winded... but hopefully helpful for anyone reading. T. :)

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answers from New York on

If you are asking how to part with your clutter, consider reading the kon Marie book - the life changing magic of tidying up.

Many good selections below re how to approach de cluttering and how to pass on that which you don't need.

Our church has a donation bin out back. This week we are casting off some toys, tankinis and 18 month clothes.

Once or as you declutter consider paring back on your purchases. No sense gumming up your home with more stuff.

F. B.

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answers from Norfolk on

I think this is a hard thing for just about everyone.
But you get to a point where you don't own the stuff so much anymore - it owns you.
I don't have time or the patience to hold any yard sales.
My neighbor did once, it took a lot of effort on her part, she did get a little money out of it (not enough to cover the time she put into it) but much of her things went to donation at the end of the weekend - her rule was - no matter what - it's not allowed back into the house.

Make 3 piles as you go through things:
1-broken, worn, torn - = garbage = throw it away
2-you haven't touched it in a year, it doesn't fit, you will no longer wear it, it has little to no sentimental value, it's not broken = donate it, get a receipt and write it off your taxes (use It's Deductible to assess it's value).
3- you use it, it fits you, it's not broken, you have room to store it = keep

Break the house down into areas that you will tackle one at a time.
It's too overwhelming to think about doing it all at once and that will keep you from actually doing it.
Do the kitchen one weekend, a closet next weekend, the garage another weekend, etc.
You can get boxes from Craigs List or FreeCycle often for free.

Deal with piles 1 and 2 right away - get them out of the house and don't think twice about them.
Then put away/store the things you are keeping.
As you have more space and less clutter, the house is easier to clean and you actually feel better.
You will be the master of your domain - and it will no longer be the master of you.

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answers from Boston on

Check to see if your town has a tag sale page on facebook. We've picked up some good stuff (like bikes, toys, etc) and a lot of people post things for sale all the time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Lots of good ideas already. I won't echo them but will add another that I didn't see mentioned (sorry if it was and I missed it). For the items that you don't care about making money on, seek out a Buy Nothing group in your community. The groups are usually on Facebook and are hyper-local. The goal of Buy Nothing isn't to just be an expedient way to get rid of your stuff - there are many yardsale and "free" FB pages for that. The goal is to connect givers and receivers and build community. Because of that, there are some rules that some people don't like, such as a rule to wait 12-24 hours before "gifting" an item (post it, let people respond and then choose a recipient). You can pick whomever you want for whatever reason you want. It's not first come, first served. Gifters often take an extra minute to package up what they're giving away - they might throw it in a gift bag or add a tag to it with the recipients name. For large gifts, recipients will sometimes leave a token of thanks in return - for example, I gave away a loft bed that was worth several hundred dollars. I tried to sell it, had no luck, and then just wanted it gone. A local family needed it, they were able to come and pick it up (it was huge a heavy, even taken apart) and left me a thank you note and some homemade jam.

I unloaded a ton of stuff when I was selling my house last year and moving into a rental - I had local families take big items like bikes, outdoor kid toys, lawn furniture, a lawn mower, snow blower, air conditioners, gardening supplies,etc. down to little things like knick-knacks, candle sticks, art supplies, organizers, books, toys, etc. It was very easy to let things go when I knew a little about who was receiving them - a family that had a yard for the first time but was too house-poor to buy landscaping items, grandparents who wanted toys for their visiting grandkids, an after-school program taking books and art supplies, a day care center taking toys, etc. Because we weren't exchanging money, I could leave the gifts labeled on my front porch (for smaller items) and people would pick up when they could.

On the other hand,,,I also received wonderful things that I needed. I was able to get some area rugs and artwork to stage my house for sale. When a basement flood ruined a box spring, I was able to get one that day. I got coffee tables, a wine rack, fabric to reupholster some thrift store dining room chairs, a Christmas tree stand when we switched to a real tree, home decor, jewelry, replacement cups for my Magic Bullet, crutches when one of my kids had a stitched knee, borrowed a leaf blower when I couldn't find mine, borrowed tables and chairs for a gradation party, and more. It's really been a positive experience and made it much easier to get rid of what I needed when I needed to and get things I actually needed without spending money. So many people have stuff that others can put to use cluttering up their houses. This is a way to connect people, put things to use instead of having people buy new things, and it isn't tied to charity. If there is a group in your area, I highly recommend joining!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Craigslist for the big ticket items like furniture.
Then a garage sale for the little things, knick knacks, dishes.
Then donate the remaining things

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answers from Denver on

My dd and I have sold thousands of dollars of things on Craigslist... Yes, it takes time, but making money is a motivator to get rid of stuff. I find that the things that sell are usually specialty items or designer items, furniture etc. Regular old clothes without designer labels usually don't sell. I donate all that stuff.
We did sell room decor (ie comforters with matching curtains and pillows) and matching bathroom decor.
Knick Knacks are a hard sell unless they are collector items.
I don't like garage sales because you have to sit there all day.
Anyway, I usually make 1-2 trips to Goodwill per month just to get rid of stuff and it feels really good to declutter the house.
My FIL was a big collector and he recently passed away and we got stuck liquidating all his stuff
Ever since then, I get rid of everything that I'm not using. It really is just "stuff".
One technique I use on cluttered up rooms (like in the basement) is to go down there every day and get rid of 1-2 things (I just stick them in the back of the car for my next donation trip). By the end of the week, I have 14 things out of there and it didn't feel like work.

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answers from Seattle on

I love the idea of donating to Goodwill......BUT.....
Sometimes it's nice to donate directly to a non-profit in your area. A woman's shelter, a youth shelter, foster care...Then you know it's going directly to someone instead of in the pit of the store, maybe never coming out of the back.
I do yard sales, donate, or do buynothing in my area.It's hard to let go of the nice stuff! Sometimes I will put it up for sale on a Facebook community group that I am part of also.

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answers from Chicago on

I mostly just donate to the salvation army or the veterans organization that comes by on occasion. I find most things are not really worth the time and trouble to try to sell. I will not do a garage sale because I feel it is just too much time and work for what you end up getting and have to deal with. I used to sell an occasional item on ebay but got rid of my seller account since they have pretty much become anti-seller and the place is being taken over by retail places and zillions of sellers from China. I have had good luck with craigslist on many types of items. If you price realistically and have good items, you should do well. I mostly would meet in a public place and never had any issues. I did have larger things or things to plug in that I sold from home and it was ok. I just made sure to be in the garage and never sell from the house and have at least one other person with me.I have also used the local paper in the past when they had free or super cheap ad listing prices (like free listings for items under $100).

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answers from Boston on

I find Craigslist and Ebay are tough - you have fees and shipping or you have to wait for people to pick up at your home. If you have a lot of nice stuff, it's a little risky to have your house scoped out by people who read all your ads, and you have to sit around and hope they come when they plan.

A good guideline: if you haven't used it in a year, you probably won't. When I put out my change-of-season clothes, I hang the hangers backwards in my closet, then turn each one when I wear the item. Any hangers still backwards next year are holding stuff I didn't wear once. Donate those.

I'd consider some triage:
1) a good consignment shop for the good stuff that will fetch a decent price. You have to wait for the money, but someone else does the work and the stuff is out of your house.
2) a good yard sale for the medium value stuff as well as any furniture (we often do a multi-family sale) with a good ad to bring in a lot of traffic. It's a pain to get ready and people do show up 1-2 hours before the official start time, but getting motivated with your neighbors can help you focus. (We do the sales at our own homes but advertise them as a multi-family so it's worth it to shoppers to come by.) Price things to sell, and don't be afraid to give stuff away in the last hour. You can google all the yard sale how-to instructions that help you organize, protect your home, and have enough change for people.
3) Donate lesser value stuff or things that didn't go in the yard sale. Big Brother/Big Sister - because they send a truck on a designated day (you can choose from available dates) and you just put your stuff out in the garage or the top of the driveway, and they take it. They don't take furniture or electronics but they take anything resealable. (If you schedule a pick-up for the week after a yard sale, the unsold stuff can be put in trash bags or boxes (liquor stores give out free boxes). Once you decided to put it in the sale, if it didn't sell, DO NOT bring it back in!
4) Support an organization you believe in. I don't, for example, give to the Salvation Army because they exclude a segment of the population from their services.
5) Textile recycling - our Girl Scouts do this every 6 weeks, and they take the stuff you can't donate: ripped or stained items, stretched out items, ruined stuff animals, single socks, shoes, purses, backpacks, bedding, towels, etc.
6) Join Freecycle if there's a group near you. Put stuff up and let people come take it away. You'd be astounded at what people will take off your hands!

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answers from Washington DC on


You need to separate first what you know you haven't used in the last six months. If it's holiday stuff? then you decide what is being kept and put it in a specific box - preferably one that is meant for storage. Label it accordingly.

The stuff that's left over? Is it because it's YOUR stuff that you feel it has a value to it? I sell things for other people. One of my clients was CERTAIN her items were "valuable" - after research and showing her the market was NOT interested? She decided to donate the items and take the tax write off.

I don't know what your market is looking for in Chicago. Here in DC? Table linens do best being donated. You MIGHT get $4 to $10 for them at a garage sale. If they are a "name brand" and in Like-New condition? You MIGHT get more.

The items that you have researched and found to be of significant value? Sell on ebay. Don't forget to have it packed prior to listing so you know how much it weighs and can charge shipping accordingly. I can't tell you how many times people have underestimated the weight of something and get screwed in the shipping.

How do **I** let it go? I go through my stuff and see if it's something I NEED or WANT. If I haven't touched it? I don't NEED it. Put in a bag or a box THAT DAY - don't wait. Get your stuff in your car and take it away. Don't wait for a pick up. Find your closest Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. and donate it. The longer you wait - the more chances you'll feel like pulling it out....

Garage sales have been successful for me - always pulling in $300 or more AFTER expenses (signs, pricing stickers, etc.). Broadcast on your NextDoorneighbor website, craigslist and put your signs up TWO days prior to the sale. Make sure it's CLEAR and READABLE. ARROWS HELP!!

Hope this helps!!

Good luck!!



answers from Oklahoma City on

You need to sit down and figure this out. Making lists might help you see it differently.

I assume you are wanting to just have more openness and space and don't want to put the items in the attic or in the top of a closet for future use.

Make a list of give away, sell at a consignment sale/ebay/other venues, donate to a program that uses that sort of thing, etc....

I have a friend who loves to set a formal table at holidays. If I was getting rid of all my table linens I would call her and tell her to come take her pick, all of it is available and anything she doesn't take is going in the donation bin.

I have another friend that is starting over and needs dishes, bedding, and pretty much anything I don't want that has to do with daily living. I could give her anything from a carpet that fits in front of the toilet to soap dishes to plates to towels to hangers. She also has a dumpster at her new apartment and anything she didn't want she could find a neighbor that wanted it or toss it in the trash.

My daughter would also say that she gets first pick of everything. I can't disagree but some of my things are from her grandmothers and I'm sure the sentiment of it would make her want those items.

When I was younger I collected mice figurines. I have a couple of tubs of them that I put out near Christmas and make little villages...I'm old now but still like them. It wouldn't be unreasonable of me to give them to my daughter IF, IF she wants to use them. If she didn't want them then perhaps I could ask friends at church and other places, via FB, if anyone wants to look at them.

I will suggest that you search FB, hopefully you have FB, for 100% free pages. There are lots of people that post needs on those pages and they would appreciate anything you give away for free.

I have given away old bikes the kids have outgrown, linens, and more. Yes, there will always be someone that seems greedy but you're the one that gets that great feeling for helping someone. What they do with it once it's in their position is their business. You can always contact the admin of those pages and let them know you have a bunch of stuff, they often know the good people that have true needs.

I think it's admirable that you want to let go of things. I do. I also just want to caution you that if you are having a hard time letting go of some things then perhaps it's just not the right time to let it go. Seriously, you might regret something if it is really special to you. So store it for a while. Put all the holiday stuff up out of sight and only take it out near those holidays only.


answers from Boston on

I have several yard sales a year. I have more free time than most folk, so I do not mind a few hours on a warm Saturday sitting outside and making money while I read my novel and sip a soda. I never let things pile up, I sell as I get unwanted things.

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