To Sell or Donate?

I get giddy over community yard sale day. Just as I love looking into people’s grocery carts, I also love walking around my neighborhood and looking at all the stuff for sale that people let into their lives that’s no longer of use. I actually get disappointed when I miss this day. But this year I tried something new. Instead of donating it, I tried to sell stuff I don’t need. How did it go? Is it better to sell or donate?

My father is selling his home and moving into an RV. We will be taking a lot of his furniture and need to make room.

I’ve never sold anything at a yard sale, Craig’s list, etc. Usually, we just donate anything we’re not using. But starting this year, it will be harder to claim the tax deduction for charitable donations.

Tax Law Changes

Under the new US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the standard deduction has increased. While the fact that the standard deduction nearly doubling is a good thing, it means that our itemized charitable donations would need to be more than $24,000. I doubt all our furniture (and vehicles) together are worth that much.

2017 Standard deduction 2018 Standard deduction
Individual $6,350 $12,000
Married Couple $12,700 $24,000

Why Not Try to Sell

Since we have some big items to put out (couch, table and chairs), I thought we’d try to sell them at this year’s community yard sale.

Saturday 10/20/18: Yard Sale Day

It’s going to be a busy day. We have two parties, a Cub Scout event, errands to run, plus the community yard sale.

I got up at 5:00 this morning to get started. I cleaned the furniture, went through closets, and tried to make myself look presentable (my toddler of course demanded I hold him the entire time, so mind you that I’m doing all of this one-handed).

My husband went to two stores to get gifts for the two parties so that we can have the car back in the garage before the yard sale starts.

There’s a history of people driving around casing out people’s garages during yard sales, then coming back later to burglarize them. Not that anyone would want our 15-year-old vehicles or kids’ toys, but I wanted the garage closed before the sale started.

When he got home, he carried the table and chairs outside. Then we had the not-so-fun task of trying to get the couch out the door. I am very fussy about my house and flip-out whenever there’s a scratch on the wall (which has been happening a lot lately). Luckily there were no scratches getting the furniture out. Let’s see whether we are just as fortunate getting it back in.

We hurriedly got all this accomplished in time. I was all set up by the start of the sale.

Here’s what my day was like

8:30 am. I’m sitting in my driveway with my computer as I await a customer. So far, not one person has even driven down my street. Some sort of scary bug just flew around my head and my neighbor’s dog is trying to bust through the fence to capture a squirrel.

8:42 Neighbors are driving by. They stop to say hi. I wonder what they think about me. “Why is she trying to sell stuff?” “Look at all that crap they have.”

9:07 Someone just drove by! A woman in a Mercedes-Benz SUV. Hmm, she slowed down, but didn’t stop.

9:12 I just spoke with a neighbor. She said she participated in one yard sale in her 20 years of living here. She sold one thing (a carpet cleaner).

9:16 Another car! Never mind, it’s just my neighbor.

9:19 My oldest¬†child came out to sit with me. He brought his journal in which he’s writing his book (about ninjas). He’s telling me all about his characters and storyline. I’m very proud that he wants to write like his mommy. Okay, this time together with him made today worth it.¬†

9:22 Reconnaissance: A neighbor just came back from a walk and tells me all the traffic is at the first street in our community. There’s only one other house past that street participating in the yard sale.

9:38 Two more cars just drove by and looked at my stuff (without getting out of their cars). One guy did stop.

Guy: “Just kids’ stuff, right?”

Me: “Kids stuff and furniture!

Guy: “Okay thank you.” He drove away.

9:43 Husband comes out to say I have 20 minutes to get ready to get to our first party. He’s coming to take the stuff back in.

We debate. Do we leave the couch outside for someone to take or bring it back in?

Do we sell on-line?

Some people suggested trying to sell things on-line. But that would require meeting up with strangers (either at my house or loading up all the furniture and meeting them somewhere). For my feelings on this I’ll just point you to one of my previous posts My Friend Has A Stalker!

Money with a Purpose has written about how to make money decluttering. They were able to make some money selling things on-line. But I don’t have the time to wait for the right buyer or enough faith in humanity to meet up with strangers. One of the downsides of being a psychologist is that you spend everyday listening to people’s traumas and hearing about their darkest secrets. I will not be giving out my phone number or address to anyone I do not know well.

We decided to bring the items back in. And yes, the couch did scratch a couple of doors.

Final Thoughts

Yes, making money would be very nice. As you know, even $60 can feed my family for a week. But once you’re debt free, how much money is worth the time and stress (and possible dangers of meeting up with strangers) trying to sell something?

We’ve decided it would be best to donate the items to a charitable organization. Even though we won’t have any tax incentives, it feels good help someone in need.

Once you’re debt-free, how much money would you need to make it worth the time and hassle to sell your stuff rather than donate it to people in need?

 

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