Store Locator

How to Get Rid of Your Stuff (and Make Some Cash)

Tips from a professional organizer on de-cluttering your home and selling what you don’t need

Hands are seen tapping on a laptop keyboard and on the laptop screen is the logo for Kijiji

With warmer weather just around the corner, it’s prime time to kick-start spring cleaning and give your belongings a second home. We talk to expert Christina Hidek, a professional organizer and de-cluttering coach with Streamlined Living, on the best ways to tidy your home and successfully sell your stuff.

Avoid being a pack rat and figure out what can go

Sort through drawers, closets, and cupboards for gently used items that you don’t need anymore. If you haven’t used something in more than six months, toss it into the “for sale” bin. The same goes for clothes that no longer fit, are unfashionable or still have tags on them.

“An easy way to get started is to tackle the tops of furniture and countertops,” says Hidek. “With the counters clear, you’ll have space to tackle drawers and cabinets.”

If de-cluttering seems overwhelming, set a timer for 15 minutes and clean out as much as you can within that time. Do that every day, and you’ll be amazed how much can be purged.

Evaluate your stuff and assess the value

One person’s trash isn’t always someone else’s treasure. When choosing items to sell, make sure it’s actually something people want to buy. Ask yourself: is it useful and in good condition?

An assortment of knick knacks including old electronics, collectibles, wires, clocks and games 

“Before spending time trying to sell an item no one wants, do a quick search for it on an online selling platform,” says Hidek. “Have others successfully sold it? If so, you can probably sell your item, too.”

If it hasn’t sold, your best bet is to donate the item instead.

Pick a place to post, with plenty of options from Craigslist and Kijiji to VarageSale

Consider posting a flyer on a local bulletin board or hosting a yard sale.

To pull off a successful garage sale, advertise at least a week in advance and list some of the “hot” stuff for sale (e.g. kids’ toys, a DVD collection, vintage furniture) to attract potential buyers. On the big day, clean off your items and organize everything on the driveway or lawn in a logical way to make shopping easy.

You can also sell your stuff virtually; there’s everything from online marketplaces, like Craigslist, Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace to newfangled phone apps like Letgo or VarageSale. For the speediest sales, Hidek recommends using a couple of online platforms.

“Posting items for sale on Facebook or Craigslist is the best and fastest way to reach buyers who are truly interested in your item,” she says.

Get the price right by scoping out other listings

If you’re going to the trouble of selling your stuff in a yard sale or online, make sure the price tag is spot-on and reflects fair market value. Overpriced items will take longer to sell, wasting precious time.

A closeup of hands writing in a notebook, a laptop just to the side 

“You can usually figure this out by scrolling through the listings on Facebook Marketplace,” says Hidek. “Price it too high, and you won't be able to get rid of your clutter!”

The bottom line? Do your homework beforehand to learn the going rate for your belongings.

Be specific when you dish on the details

In a sea of classifieds, including all the important details about your item will help your advert stand out to prospective buyers. Avoid being vague; list the item’s measurements or brand and, for online ads, write a very detailed description so your listing will pop up in searches.

“Don’t just write ‘pants,’” says Hidek. “Write ‘size 10 Ann Taylor red capri pants’ instead. It’s just a few more words, but it’s so much more likely to get a fast sale!”

There’s a little photographer in all of us, so make it picture perfect

Whether you’re running a print or a virtual ad, including eye-catching photos is essential to making a sale.

A pair of red converse sneakers on a wooden table, a hand in the corner is seen holding a smartphone, the camera app open and showing a photo of the shoes being taken 

“Pictures should be in focus and well lit,” says Hidek. “Blurry and dark doesn't sell, because potential buyers simply can't see what the item is.”

Another pro tip? Clean up the item and the surrounding area before taking a picture. Messy backgrounds are unappealing, and Hidek says immaculate-looking items sell faster and get top dollar.

Looking for other ways to give your home a seasonal refresh?

Learn about the five surprising things these gadgets can do around your home or the 10 must-haves to prepare for a power outage.

And while you’re giving your home a refresh, why not do a quick review of your home insurance coverage with CAA Insurance?

Does spring cleaning feel too overwhelming? Find out how CAA Members can save with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.

Image credit: iStock/ijeab