I feel like I'm hearing that word, "downsizing," so much more these days. The mono-word turn of phrase is getting some social acclaim as of late, and as a de-cluttering pro, I can't help but do a little happy dance every time I hear or see the word in public.
Example: A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching an advanced screening of Matt Damon's new film Downsizing; what a great movie! If only we could shrink down our trash like those brilliant Norwegian scientists! My head was spinning from the imagined possibilities. Then the word popped up again! This time in a book title from one of my favorite people and clutter organizers, Peter Walsh. His new book Let It Go, Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier life will be in my hot little hands come January at the event his is hosting for NAPO-LA.
Practice what you preach: I did some serious downsizing myself over the summer. I moved from a 1000 sq ft, two-bedroom apartment, to a 400 sq ft studio, because "why-am-I-in-a-two-bedroom-apartment-when-it's-just-me-and-I-can-move-to-a-better-neighborhood-for-half-the-cost?" was a question that plagued me for a good six months. I didn't have room for the question anymore, and it was time to let go - of it, and my possessions!
I got rid of 75% of my stuff! Me! I'm already a minimalist by most people's standards, but even I was surprised at what I didn't truly need. So, what did I do with the 75%? I decided to have a yard sale while I was downsizing.
My clients often ask about hosting a yard sale with their purge, and having never done one in Los Angeles, I believed they deserved a first-hand account of the hassle and shenanigans involved. To give an honest answer from someone who's "been there," I decided to endure the process. And document it. For posterity. You're welcome.
Spoiler: We may have had fun making the video.
I walk you through the yard sale process in the video, but in case you just want to read the highlights, what follows are the steps and outcome from our endeavors (which I like to imagine printed up on a trifold pamphlet you might find at your doctor's office entitled):
So, You're Going to Have a Yard Sale...
1. Sort and stage - Here is where the bulk of the work comes in - good time to call your friend or family member (or trusted de-cluttering professional, ahem) over for the often overwhelming decision-making portion of your downsizing. Going through all of your belongings can be daunting to say the least, and I highly recommend the buddy system when going down the dark path to clutter freedom. If you have a garage, use it! The separate location can be a great staging area for your former treasures, plus you get the unwanted items out of your space sooner. Unfortunately, I didn't have a garage to keep things in neat, like-item'd piles, so I made due by opening up my organizing tables in my living room, and I stocked them with the goodies I wanted gone the night before the big event. Setting up the night before made the following early morning pretty easy; we just carried the tables out onto the lawn, ready to go.
2. Price - how to price it can be tricky. No one is going to pay what you paid for the item, or even what it's worth, so let that fantasy fly away with your limited-edition left-handed Frisbee. If you paid $100 retail, you'll be lucky to get $10 for it at the yard sale. (Side note, this part is sometimes painful, especially if you're forced into downsizing rather than choosing it. Haggling with strangers over possessions you're forced into giving up can be a truly horrible experience, and to me there is nothing more hurtful than feeling devalued. So going in, know this, you are not valued by your stuff-don't take it personal!) Use the round stickers to price everything out. I priced things out for a few dollars each, knowing people would talk me down. Speaking of down, get your wares off the ground; take care to place items on a table or blanket. I happened to have a clothing rack which came in quite handy for displaying my former wardrobe.
3. Advertise - Place an ad on Craigslist/your local paper, and put up signs in your neighborhood.
4. Get change - You will need some cash to start. Get $1's, $5's and even quarters. Yes, it will come down to change.
5. Have fun! It's going to be a long day, might as well make the best of it. Make a video:) and it wouldn't hurt to have some ice cold Coronas on hand; your comrades will thank you.
The outcome from my yard sale experiment: It turns out that I didn't have a lot of the items people were looking for at yard sales. Many would-be patrons came early, between 6-7am, looking for electronics, microwaves, jewelry, gold/silver, and men's clothes. If you're dripping with these items then I say go for it! Put on that yard sale and make that sweet sweet cash. As for me....I made a whopping $48.
Not everything sold at the yard sale (go figure). I ended up selling the larger items on Craigslist and OfferUp, which yielded $555. Adding the yard sale's $48 totaled me out at $603. But wait; there's more - I donated the remaining items to the National Council of Jewish Women and got a tax receipt for $768.
Downsizing = Worth it! Yard sale = Not! - Hindsight is alway 20/20. I would have saved myself (and my loving pals) a lot of time and effort if skipped the yard sale and sold my stuff on Craigslist/OfferUp and donated the rest. I would have, but now I can authoritatively say that unless you have the right items, yard sales are not worth it! Again, you're welcome!