I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of minimalism. Carrying everything you own in just one or two bags certainly has its appeal. The increase in mobility. To spend less time tending to things. The savings made from avoiding every latest marketing gimmick. To have bought only things of high use and that are necessary.
This appeal, which admittedly borders on an obsession at times for me, is exacerbated by the daily ritual of packing and unpacking the minivan with bottles, jumpers, shoes, toys, books for my fours kids.
Occasionally, I get hit by the decluttering virus and almost everything is up for grabs. My wife, Hayley, might argue that this occurs more regularly than I’d care to admit. Entire cupboards emptied onto the floor, a waste bin piled high, back and forth car trips to goodwill collections or strangers knocking at the door to collect various items are symptoms that I am hit from the decluttering bug.
From my perspective, the benefits of decluttering are as follows:
- There is less to clean up, tend to, fix and maintain.
- It gives you a perspective on the ever diminishing value of an object and prompts you to be a selective spender. Ever thought “Man, I paid $1,200 for this computer and now I’m lucky to get $50 for it”?
- You have a more visibly appealing home.
- The clutter can be sold to recoup some of your prior spending or to bless someone who might need it.
As Joshua Becker of ‘Clutterfree With Kids’ says “Owning less is better than organising more.”
Post-Christmas I was again hit with the declutter bug and Hayley patiently supported me through the latest wave of house upending. I was able to piece together the substantial pile shown in the picture above.
It’s actually not the largest of piles and some of you might be able to easily discard triple the amount without so much as a second thought. Bear in mind that this is something I tend to do quite regularly. About double the items in the photograph ended up being given to goodwill or thrown out entirely, and about 30% of the items have yet to be sold.
I use Gumtree as my sales vehicle of choice for two reasons:
- No postage hassles. People come and inspect the item and pay on the spot.
- No sales fees.
Reason Number 1 is my favourite. I often just tell the buyer my address, leave it by the door and ask them to put the money under the door. It keeps things simple for both of us and have never had a buyer betray my trust. Gumtree is great for its simplicity. Give a brief description, photograph on your phone and then your ad gets posted.
When I talk to people about on selling their old iPhone 4, their dusty gym equipment or their old set of rollerblades, people cite hassle as one of the greatest reasons. Gumtree is about as pain free as it gets. For example, I wanted to get rid of an unused swing set. Take a photo, post the ad and it’s gone and picked up within an hour from an extremely grateful buyer.
You’d be incredibly surprised how the things that you think have no value are actually sought after by someone out there. The haul you see above netted $525 with a few remaining items still up for grabs. I was able to bless people like my new buddy Mamman (I guarantee I spelt this wrong), a student from Bangladesh, who needed the free electric frypan I posted. I chucked in one of my unused laptops too which felt substantially more fulfilling than the $525 I’d earned.
It would be an understatement to say that I’m a big fan of Gumtree and decluttering. My house is back to the stage where I am proud of it again. I met some great people. I blessed people and was in turn incredibly blessed. The $525 is really just an added bonus.
- If you haven’t tried Gumtree, consider giving it a go. It’s really easy to set up and to use. If you don’t have the time to wait for buyers, just allocate a set time and say you’ll leave it out by the front door.
- Items that you view as unusable items are completely usable to someone else. For example our older concrete tiles would have cost over $300 to dispose of at the tip. Instead someone came to collect them for use outside their onsite van.
- My decluttering advice is to consider getting rid of anything that hasn’t been used in 12 months or more. Are you really going to wear that Hawaiian shirt again? Do you still need all your old CDs when you have a Spotify account? Will you use any one of the 5 old mobile phones that you have sitting in your drawers?
If you’d like to read a little more about decluttering, Leo Babauta has some great tips you might find interesting.