How to downsize, like really.

green wooden chair on white surface

Photo by Paula Schmidt on

I promised a few friends I would explain how we went about getting rid of just about all our belongings when we left the United States. The first time, we only had about two and a half months to do so: trying to strike a balance between efficiency and getting some cash.

  1. Post all our books and DVDs on . Our strategy: It was only profitable if the selling price was $2e or more. Everything else went in a weekly box to Half Price Books. Every weekend, we lowered our prices on-line, and everything that dropped below $2 went to Half Price Books. In about a month, we made over $200 (after being reimbursed for shipping). We loved that calculates and charges shipping for the seller.
  2. Make an eBay. Non-book Strategy: sell anything that will get the highest price on Ebay. These items include: big name food processor, PS2, Nike items, Snow boots, name brand baby items, etc.
  3. Participate in more than one massive garage sale. Our strategy: unload the small stuff, in mass, in two Saturdays. Two of our friends had garage sales the first month of our purge. We gathered up everything we could cram into our hatchback (sometimes five trips for one sale) and sold it. We hardly priced anything. If customer touched something, our goal was to get them to buy it, no matter the price. We had too much to sell to haggle and haul it all away at the end of the day. We made about $400 combined at both our garage sales.
  4. Sell our furniture and appliances. Strategy: Sell to all our friends, who will be nice, and let us keep using it for one more month until our apartment lease was up. We planned a big “dibs sale”, priced all our stuff, and waited. A few friends came and shopped in person. By and large, however, we sold 90% of our large items by posting simply pictures on Facebook with comments and pricing. People even mailed us checks so we wouldn’t sell the item to others. We are still amazed at how quickly people we knew jumped in and purchased our stuff, graciously letting us keep using key items (like our bed and microwave).
  5. Don’t cook the last month. Strategy: sell and trade things to friends leading up to our last month in the country in exchange for a meal. We ended up with over half our meals in July provided by friends who traded those meals for an item at our sale. Most people brought so much extra that we had too much food at the end. This is especially great since we will have little to no appliances or dishes within three weeks of moving out.
  6. Itemize donations. Strategy: everything that didn’t sell, donate it and list every single item. Keep this list for that year’s tax return. If you end up with over 6 totally full loads to Good Will like we did, you’ll be glad you kept the list and itemized for that deduction.
  7. Sell your vehicles. Good luck with that. Or just take it to Carmax the day before you leave the country. Take the money and run.

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