When life imposes its own plan for you and you have to move ASAP, the thought of sorting through your things can feel overwhelming.
Forget things like change-of-address forms or hiring movers for a moment. If you can picture yourself throwing open a closet door and thinking, “What am I going to DO with all this stuff?” then this post is for you.
With just a little deliberate planning, you can make a molehill out of your mountain of stuff. This will make it easier for you to make item-by-item decisions about what you want to take with you, what you’d like to set aside and what you’d like to give a new home to.
This post will explore that decision-making process and offer some moving tips to make your transition go more smoothly.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Things
The team at Houston-based moving company Classic Moves has a handy four-point checklist that will help you decide whether you should get rid of something.
- Do you like the item? If your answer is an emphatic “yes,” consider taking it with your or putting it in storage.
- Do you have a sentimental attachment? The trouble with selling something of sentimental value is that you’ll never command a sale price that measures up to your feelings. And if it’s something you’d like pass along one day — like an heirloom — definitely store it.
- When did you last use the item? The team says if it’s been more than a year, this is probably something you won’t miss. Go ahead and make plans to toss, donate or sell it.
- What condition is it in? If it’s “seen better days and is beyond repair,” they write, you probably shouldn’t even try to give it away, let alone sell it. Find a way to recycle the thing if possible; otherwise, toss it.
Applying This Method to the Big Things in Your Home
For most of us, the bulk of our possessions break down into four categories:
- Consumables such as food, toiletries or anything else you go through at a regular clip
- Clothing and accessories
- Electronics and big appliances
When you’re moving, don’t spend too much time on the consumables category. Unless you’ve stockpiled food or bathroom supplies, it’s going to be easier to re-stock once you get to your new place.
That frees you up to concentrate on the three other piles.
Clothing and Accessories
Start with the first two questions: Do you like the item, and does it hold sentimental value? Clothing and accessories are a little different from other possessions because likability and sentimental value don’t necessary have to overlap.
Perhaps you have a necklace that you don’t like to wear, but it was a loving Christmas gift from long ago, and you could never part with it. A good rule of thumb: If you haven’t worn something in a year but want to hang onto it, put it in storage.
If something doesn’t pass either the likeability or the sentimentality test, then it’s a good candidate for sale or donation. Whether you can sell it is often a matter of condition. But if you have some things in your closet that you’re not attached to, that you’re not likely to wear and that are in good condition, you might be able to sell those things online quickly.
Rebecca Safier at Student Loan Hero has an excellent list of all the places you can sell used clothes quickly. Besides reliable sites such as Etsy or eBay, this includes:
The rubric applies pretty much the same way to electronics: If you like it and you use it, take it with you.
If you don’t use it often, consider selling if it’s in reasonably good condition. Caroline Thompson at Brad’s Deals recommends big online marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist or even Amazon for moving old electronics quickly.
She has another excellent idea if you don’t have the time or inclination to sell something such as an old laptop on Craigslist — donate it. A few of the organizations she recommends include:
- The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- The World Computer Exchange
- Computers with Causes
- Purple Heart Pickup
- Recycle for Breast Cancer
- The Make-A-Wish Foundation
By all means, keep the furniture you love, especially the furniture that has sentimental value. Either take it with you to your new place, or put it in storage until you move into a more permanent home.
But if you’re not in love with some of your furniture, and it’s still in good condition, there is a financial case to be made for selling it on Craigslist or some other local marketplace. As one writer at Cablemover points out, it can be cheaper to sell furniture online (rather than shipping it), then replacing it with new and used pieces once you reach your destination.
We will actually explore this question in much more depth in an upcoming post.
images by: ninamalyna/©123RF Stock Photo, Hannah Morgan