We’ve all been there. In the middle of boxing and bagging your possessions for a big move, you look around and think: What am I going to do with all this STUFF?
Decades of memories can add up to a lot of time sorting and agonizing about what to do with beloved possessions. It’s hard to let go of the things that have mattered to us over the years. The good news is that there are a lot of options when it comes to finding new homes for your things.
Give to People You Know
Most organizing gurus will tell you that when you clear out clutter it’s helpful to have four separate bins on hand. One bin for items to keep, another for donations, another for selling, and another for trash. Before you even start that process, though, you may want to ask your circle of friends and family to see who might enjoy having some of your things.
Hand off your lawn mower and garden tools to the young family next door. Know a young person moving into their first apartment? You may be able to find a home for a whole host of furniture and kitchen items. A special collection, such as sports memorabilia or art materials, can be passed along to a young person who shares your interest.
Seeing your belongings given new life with people you care for can make letting go of them much easier. Once you have some items cleared out, you’ll have more space to pull out those four bins and begin the next phase of clearing out.
Donate or Sell?
A stumbling block for many people is deciding whether to sell or donate items. There are plenty of options for both, but consider carefully how much time you want to spend on rehoming your items. In most cases, it is much easier and faster to donate items than it is to sell them.
When you sell your items, you usually get a fraction of what the item is worth. When you donate, you can set the value of the item and claim the donation on your taxes. You may even be able to schedule a donation pick up at your home, saving you the time and trouble of making an extra trip.
Where to Donate
There are many reputable organizations in the Cleveland area that accept donations of household items, furniture, clothing, children’s toys, and books and DVDs. Here are a few to consider.
The Gathering Place, a local organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families whose lives have been touched by cancer. They offer free programs and services to address a range of needs for patients and caregivers.
The Gathering Place accepts gently used household items, furniture, art, dishware, and more for their warehousewhich is open roughly once a month. Proceeds from warehouse sales benefit their free programs. Give them a call at 216-595-9546 to arrange for a preview of your items and to schedule a donation pick up.
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity is another worthwhile organization to keep on your donation list. Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to realize “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” They raise money and organize volunteers to help families build and renovate affordable homes. Donations to Cleveland Habitat go to their ReStore Facility, where items are sold at a discount to the Greater Cleveland community.
When you’ve made some progress and are really ready to make some traction on your moving preparations, get in touch with Cleveland Habitat. They have an extensive list of items they take (as well as ones they don’t) that go beyond regular household items. The ReStore takes all kinds of building materials—flooring, bathtubs, kitchen cabinets, lumber—and all kinds of gently used furniture. If you want to know what they accept, check out their list here.
A Word About Textiles
Before you toss your old clothes or shoes in the trash, thinking they are too worn out to have value to anyone, stop. In the past, donation centers such as Savers and Goodwill only wanted items in good shape. They didn’t want to bother with stained or ripped clothing that wouldn’t sell because they would have to pay to dispose of the unwanted items. Now non-profit organizations partner with textile recovery companies who encourage donations of any type of textile, even if it’s ripped or stained. They take towels, stuffed animals, pillows, and even underwear, as long as items are clean, dry, and not soaked in oil.
Textile recovery businesses work with charitable organizations to sort donation by quality. Items in good shape are marked for sale, and items that aren’t get shredded and repurposed for industrial uses like furniture stuffing and building insulation. Organizations then earn money for every pound of textiles that are collected. Check out Cuyahoga Recycles for more information.
Selling Your Stuff on Your Own
If you are willing to commit some time to selling your unwanted items, there are certainly a lot of options. You could hold a couple of yard sales or moving sales. It may take most of your weekend, but people sometimes make upwards of $1000 from a well-staged yard sale.
There are several apps and web options that can help you sell your stuff. If the transaction requires a face-to-face meeting, always use caution when meeting with strangers. Many police stations have a dedicated spot for such transactions.
Facebook has a marketplace for selling items and most cities and towns have page dedicated to selling items amongst community members. These local pages can actually be a lot of fun—you’ll meet a friend of friend more often than not—and a great way to connect with others in your community. Just don’t get tempted to buy the stuff other people are selling!
One of the most popular “letting go” apps is LetGo. LetGo requires meeting face-to-face, so again use caution when making your transaction. You can sell anything from clothes to cars, so it’s worth a look. Mercari is another app where you can sell just about anything. Mercari has the added benefit of having a UPS partnership, taking some of the hassle out of shipping items once you sell them and avoiding face-to-face meetups.
If you have high-end items, such as fine art (with documentation) or antiques, many appraisers will come to you to give you a price. Cowan’s auctions in Cleveland is a reputable establishment that will come to your home and give a quick opinion on your items.
Do-It-Yourself or Hire a Pro?
Yes, you can do all of this yourself to find the best homes for all of your things. Moving, though, is considered a highly stressful life event by medical professionals—on par with losing a loved one, or having a baby. So, you just may want someone in your corner who can help navigate all the steps of gifting, donating, and selling your items. If so, a professional senior move manager can handle many of these tasks for you, as well as measuring and planning for your new living space.