Need to Get Rid of Some of Your Junk? Don’t Underestimate the Power of Free

FREE If you’re like most people, you probably have some stuff collecting dust in your garage or basement. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to have some stuff you don’t use sitting around as long as it isn’t crowding you out of your home, but if you aren’t using it, why hang on to it? There are a lot of people who will tell you the best thing to do is to throw this stuff up on eBay or have a yard sale to recover some money. Sure, it is your stuff, and it can probably be sold for a few bucks, but is it really worth your time?

I guess that depends on what you’re trying to get rid of. If you have something that could be somewhat valuable, then the time it takes to run an eBay auction or put together a yard sale could be worthwhile. But even so, when you consider the time that could be eaten up with managing these activities, the money you make based on the amount of time spent might make it hardly worth the effort.

Just Give it Away

If you want something gone, and want it gone fast, just give it away for free. People are constantly looking for freebies, and they will do whatever it takes to get it. You don’t have to worry about packing or shipping anything, someone haggling you for a lower price, or even doing much work at all. People will come out of the woodwork to take almost anything off your hands, even if it is nothing but junk.

Take it to the Road

One of the easiest ways to give stuff away is to haul it out to the road. Many times, you won’t even need a sign that says “FREE” or anything. People will drive by and stop and pick up anything that looks like it has value, garbage or not. This method works best for larger items such as furniture, exercise equipment, tools, or anything that can be easily spotted from the road.

Just as an example, the other day we picked up a new BBQ grill. That meant we had our old grill to dispose of. It actually still worked, but it was too large for our regular trash pickup, and I really didn’t want to fuss around with taking phone calls or answering emails from Craigslist just to get $25-$50. So, we hauled it to the road. Now, keep in mind, we live in a very rural area with few neighbors, but as we were hauling it out, someone stopped before we could even tape the sign on it and asked if he could have it. Told him that it worked if you lit it manually, and it could obviously use a cleaning, and he was thankful and said it looked like an upgrade compared to his grill. So, it was a win-win. I got rid of my trash in less than a minute, and he was happy to get a new grill.

The same thing happened with some other “junk” we were getting rid of. We had an old torn up recliner, some rusty yard tools, and a few other items and just stuck them out by the road. By morning, everything was gone.

Using Other Methods to Get Rid of Stuff for Free

If you live in an apartment, you obviously may not have the option of dragging your stuff to the road or to the dumpster as easily. But, you probably have a community bulletin board or something where you can print off a quick ad that lists what you’re trying to get rid of. As long as you highlight the fact that it is free, expect to get rid of it quickly with little hassle.

Another option is to use some of the online services such as Craigslist or Freecycle. These are both great ways to get your listing out in front of even more people. If you live in an area with little traffic or few neighbors, this might be worthwhile. Just keep in mind that listing something on one of these sites will require a little extra work. You’ll have to monitor emails or phone calls (if you provide a number) and keep tabs on your Freecycle posting. This may not be a tremendous burden for some things, but other hot items can keep you busy.

Time vs. Money

When giving away stuff for free, it really comes down to your time vs. money. In some instances, spending a little time may result in a tidy little profit. But for many other items, you’ll be spending time to make little, if any money. So, you have to determine when it is worth it to try and sell something, and when to just get rid of it ASAP with little or no effort. But if you really just want something gone, you can’t beat free.

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Filed Under: Personal Finance

About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.

7 comments
Tim Pascual
Tim Pascual

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just don't know who to call?
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Todd the Bod
Todd the Bod

Take it to Goodwill, you can get a tax deduction.

Jeremy
Jeremy

That is certainly a valid concern, Sara. I enjoy our privacy at home, and our house is pretty far off the road, so I have no problem hauling the stuff out there since people will just grab it and go, never coming up to the house.

That obviously isn't possible for everything, but it is something to consider before you begin putting ads out there and inviting people to come over and pick stuff up.

Sara
Sara

I've been twiddling my thumbs on a closet full of decluttered crap. The latest I've heard from the accountant is that without extensive documentation, trying to claim a tax break from donated items is an audit risk.

I'm thinking Freecycle would be a good way to cut out any middleman and just get the items to someone who would find them useful.

However, I'm a little leery about inviting foot traffic to the front porch. Am I off base in my worry? I'm with you that at this point, free is the way to go as the money simply wouldn't be worth the time invested.

Candace
Candace

Lazy Man, I quite agree with you!
I utilize our local FreeCycle program all the time. And I encourage others to do so whenever possible. You never know when something you've been meaning or needing to clear out will be someone else's ideal new furnishing. It's also a great way to pick up that one missing item from a set of something...or maybe you finished fencing all but the 3 feet on the back corner of your yard because you ran out of chain link, post on FreeCycle you just never know when someone will have exactly what you're looking for, and in the small amount you needed. It's also a wonderful way to keep from throwing things in the landfill. If someone else can use it, and you don't need it/want it/use it, why not let them have it. It's a very useful program. :-)

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