Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How We Strategically Downsized

Today I start a series telling how we strategically downsized. By strategically I mean selling things at the optimum time using many different resources to get the highest dollar out of each item.  Today will be an overview.  In subsequent posts I will go into more detail on the particulars of each option, the pros and cons on selling online versus local, and tips I have learned on how to sell your items for the most amount of money.

I have sold things many different ways over the years.  When we decided to sell half of our belongings to move out to Virginia it was really quite simple as I had already been using these resources for years.  I knew how each worked, how to competitively price things, and how to close a deal quickly.  I used almost all of these in the 6 weeks that I had to sell our belongings before moving last summer. We were able to get rid of so much stuff and went from 3200 square feet of living space to about 1200! And we made so much money selling our stuff it paid for our move out here!

I am still getting rid of things! Some of the smaller things that did not sell because I did not have time or they were not in season came with us to Virginia, and I am making my way through the totes.  This is the way I make a little spending money on the side. J  Will I eventually run out of things to sell?  Possibly, but once we downsized I learned I do not need as much stuff to lead a happy and content life, so I am paring down even more.

So let’s begin……  The different resources I have used are:

  • eBay – Used to sell higher-end clothing, handbags, and shoes; smaller high-end or like new household items; gently used electronics; smaller antiques; books and home school books; yarn and craft supplies.

  • Consignment Stores – Nicer name brand clothing without flaws. The clothing would be ones you would like to get more than a dollar or two per item.

  • Children’s stores that buy directly from you, such as Once Upon a Child. These places buy brand name children clothing. The stores will give you less than a consignment store for your items, but the perk is you get a check the day you take your stuff in.  Perfect if you need fast cash and don’t have time to wait for a consignment store to sell your stuff or you don’t want to have a garage sale. Once Upon a Child is located all over the US and most likely there is one in your state.

  • Craigslist – Larger items like furniture or appliances, outdoor equipment, vehicles, musical instruments, and heavier antiques. I use this to sell things I know people will want to look at before they make a commitment to buy and heavier items that would not ship well.

  • Facebook Selling Groups – Used the same as Craigslist. Most towns have these groups available.  I usually cross-list the things here with Craigslist for a wider audience.  I also list things occasionally on my personal facebook page to let my friends know what I am selling.  I sold a bed headboard for $500, a sofa and loveseat for $750, and coffee table and end tables for $300 within hours because I posted them to my friends first. I have also bought furniture this way before.  Buying used is so much nicer when you know the past owner!

  • Garage sales – Everything else.  Remember garage salers are looking for a deal.  Rarely do you get a really good price for even high end items.  I usually use the resources above first and then have a garage sale with everything that is left over.

When using online resources there are a few thing to keep in mind; take good pictures, write a good description, and be prompt in answering any questions. The more information you provide the more likely you will be to sell your item at a good price! I will go into more detail on this in upcoming posts.

With everything it is best to sell things in season.  Sell lawn mowers in March- July, snow blowers in October- February.  If selling clothes, you’ll get the highest dollar if you sell things right before the season they are appropriate for.  I have made good money selling my kids’ Christmas and Easter outfits 4-8 weeks before the holiday.  If selling home school books or textbooks, list them in June or July when most people are looking for books for school in August. 

Also, be honest in your descriptions.  If there is a slight flaw don’t be afraid to still try to sell it, just be honest in how it works or looks.  Sometimes people will still be willing to buy it in less than perfect condition.  I once sold a coffee pot on a facebook selling group that had a small leak.  I still got $20 for it because I sold it to a man who was handy and thought he could fix it.  Sometimes my textbooks will have margin notes or highlighting.  These still sell, just at a slightly lower price.

Garage sales are the exception to selling in season because people shopping garage sales are usually thinking ahead and willing to buy off season items, if they can get them for a good price. But even at garage sales seasonal items sell best!

Next time I will go into the particulars of selling on eBay; such as how I amassed a small fortune selling yarn for one of Chad’s co-workers and how I got retail prices on used kids clothing.   I usually get the most questions on how to use and what to list on eBay.  I will try to answer the most common questions.  If you have any questions please feel free to email me or leave a comment and I will try to cover them in next week’s post!


  1. Hey Rebecca! Good tips!
    I'm spreading the blogger-love and nominating you for the Liebster Award. To see more information, click here:

    1. Wow, thank you for the nomination! I am honored! :-)