Since making the move, we have been asked a lot about how exactly we were able to sell everything. This is just the beginning to how we got rid of everything we owned in six months, paid off our debt, and walked away with more than $27,000 from our sales.
Before we took the plunge and moved out of the country, we had to get rid of our stuff. Sometimes it was discouraging looking around our Northern Virginia apartment and seeing the stuff we had accumulated over the last four years, knowing that we had to get rid of everything except for a handful of things to take with us. The mental image of whittling down our belongings to a few checked bags was also daunting and it made us question whether or not we could do it all before our big move out of the country.
Yes, we felt overwhelmed. But in order to tackle such a huge project, we broke down the task by focusing on the method of getting rid of each object: Sell it, donate it, or trash it. First, we focused most of our time and energy on selling our stuff online or via second-hand stores and yard sales. By focusing on selling, we were able to maximize the amount of money we earned through nearly 200 individual sales, which went directly into our travel fund. Second, anything we couldn’t sell we donated to friends, family, and local charities. Last, things that had seen better days simply got trashed. The best thing was, we were able to reach our goal and successfully got rid of everything the night before we moved our of the apartment.
Most of our time and energy went to selling our stuff before moving out of the country. We sold the majority of our items through Craigslist, an online classifieds website which is perfect for selling electronics, household items, and anything too big or too expensive to send through the mail. Since we lived close to Washington DC (a major Craigslist hub) we had a high rate of potential buyers responding to our ads.
On the flip side, we sold small, yet expensive items (jewelry, college textbooks, etc) through sites like eBay, half.com, etc, since the cost of shipping didn’t cancel out the profit; those sites also broadened the scope of potential buyers from the local DMV (Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia area) to the entire United States.
We also participated in community yard sales and were pleasantly surprised at the knickknacks and cheap household items we sold. And rather than dropping off a bag of name brand clothing at the Goodwill, consignment shops bought several dozen pieces of both men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories. We ended up taking every dollar earned from the items we sold and put it directly into our travel fund. Seriously, every dollar, resulting in $15,000 in cash from household items and additional $12,500 from our car.
After sifting through most of our sellable items, we ended up giving things away to friends and family. We gave away clothes that were in still good condition but unwanted by the consignment shops to friends and family who wanted them. Any half-empty bottle of cleaning supplies, odd-ball cooking utensils, and dry goods were shared between parents and college-aged siblings. Anything else we donated to charities, such as Goodwill and Purple Heart, and were actually give a tax write-off for the estimated value of the items donated. We also donated our books to the local library.
If at first we tried to sell something and then again trying to donate it and there were no takers, we just threw it away. This included the old broom and dustpan, notes from high school, and old craft supplies. (Ripped) linens from college? Toss. Old Christmas wreath? Outta here! Our only advice is to make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to make multiple trips to the dumpster. Trust me, you have more “trash” in your house than you think. Sorry, we didn’t take any pictures of our trash.
And the result?
By the end our friends would joke and say things like “I bet you’re at home sitting on milk crates…” to which we responded with “No, but we do have a fully functional neon orange five gallon bucket.”
…Don’t worry, we were able to sell those items too!
By breaking the huge task of selling our belongings into more manageable steps, we were able to get rid of everything about six months after we started the task. Yes, it was time-consuming and inconvenient at times (we joked that it was practically a second job!), but it was incredibly rewarding in the end when we met our goal of fitting everything into two checked bags and a carry-on each.
“Sell it, donate it, trash it” just skims the surface on how to get rid of your stuff. There is more to come in future posts. We have some great tips to share for those of you who want to sell your stuff through yard sales and Craigslist! If you are planning to move within the next six months our best advice is getting organized and start today. This will give you more precious time with friends and family before you leave.