Our family has been on a bit of a minimalist kick lately particularly with household items, toys and clothes. With that effort comes a big pile of items to sell or donate to charity. Whether you’re going through an effort like us or simply doing some spring cleaning, let’s look at all the various options to see what the best option is for your situation. There are many options to sell or donate, but I’ve listed below the 5 best ways to sell or donate all your unwanted stuff that work best for me!
What type of items are you purging?
The type and quality of the items you’re getting rid of should factor into your decision of the best platform to utilize to get rid of all that stuff. Some items are better off being sold on some sites than others. If you have a bunch of kids clothes from Old Navy they probably won’t fetch much money on eBay but would be a great choice to donate to charity. If you have a dress from Lily Pulitzer you’re better off selling it on eBay or a speciality site. The easiest thing to do is to check eBay to see what your items are selling for to see if its worth selling.
I suggest you start by looking at the items you want to get rid of and separate them into three categories: high end or expensive items, good quality items and lower quality items. This makes it easier to then decide what the best platform is to sell or donate the items.
Sell or donate?
The two biggest considerations besides financial between selling or donating is time and effort. You could easily take all your stuff and put it in boxes and trash bags and drive it down to your local charity that accepts donations. If you have very little time or do not want to put in the effort to get some extra cash then donating is a great option.
If you can put in a little bit of time and effort then you can pocket some cash by selling your unwanted items. However, if you don’t really need the cash then it is worth comparing the financial benefits of donating versus selling.
Tax Considerations of Donating
As most of you probably know, you can get a tax deduction for donating items to eligible charities. Depending on how much you have to donate over the course of a year, the value of your donated items can really add up and make an impact in reducing your tax bill.
If you’re interested in reading all of the details on this you can read IRS Publication 526 which outlines all of the details of charitable contributions. There is also an IRS Publication 561 for Determining the Value of Donated Property. Unless you’re really bored and have nothing better to do, its really not exciting reading material. If you have specific questions about donating items to charity, consult your CPA.
Luckily, some smart people that work for some tax software websites have developed some handy tools to help you keep track of all the items you donate and the IRS approved fair market value of those items. The two best applications I know of are TurboTax Its Deductible and TaxAct’s Donation Assistant. If you know of any others, please comment below and I will update this post!
Comparing Donating to Selling
Lets take a look at an example of donating compared to selling an item:
Sample item: Ralph Lauren Mens Polo shirt in excellent used condition
On the Tax Act Donation Assistant I added a new donation, then navigated to Clothing, Shoes and Accessories then Men’s Clothing then Casual Shirts. I’d consider the Polo brand “Best” and you can see the donated value is $19.90.
Looking at the same type of item on eBay the average price is about $15.00.
If you’re married filing jointly and in the 25% tax bracket then the shirt with a value of $19.90 will give you a tax savings of $19.90 x 0.25 = $4.98
If you successfully sold your item on eBay for $15.00 plus $3 shipping then eBay would take a 10% fee as a commission ($1.80) and if you took payment with PayPal you’d be charged another 2.9% plus $0.30 or approximately $0.82. Your total fees in this case would be approximately $2.62 and you’d have to pay $3 to ship the item. Your net proceeds would be $18 – $2.62 – $3 = $12.38.
In this situation selling the item on eBay is more of a financial benefit. Depending on if you have 1, 10 or 100 items like this might factor into your decision on whether its worth selling the items (with multiple trips to the post office) or just making one trip and donating them.
One more quick example: Lets say you have a bunch of kids t-shirts in good condition. Selling something like this at a yard sale might get you $1. (Yardsalers are hard negotiators!). A “good” condition girls t-shirt size 4 and up is valued at $4.50 in the TaxAct Donation Assistant. A $4.50 donation in the 25% tax bracket gives you a tax savings of $1.13 compared to the $1.00 if you sold at your yard sale.
The analysis above is just a financial one to you, the donator. Of course there are other non-financial benefits to donating to a charity which cannot be quantified on paper. If those benefits are of more value to you then taking the donating route is absolutely the best way to go!
I recommend keeping track of all your donations in your personal budget for quick reference during tax time!
5 Best Ways to Sell or Donate All Your Unwanted Stuff
eBay is the worlds largest auction site and will get your items in front of millions of eyes all across the country (or the world). There isn’t a fee to list items, so if you think you can get more for a certain item in your pile of stuff then it can’t hurt to try to list it on eBay first. As of the time I’m writing this, eBay charges a 10% fee on the total final value which is the item cost plus the shipping cost. Keep in mind if you also accept payment via PayPal there is an additional fee of 2.9% plus $0.30.
Craigslist is the worlds largest online classified ad site. With local sites in over 700 cities and 70 countries there is a good chance there is a Craigslist site near you. Depending on how close you are to a major city, you may not have a ton of luck selling on Craigslist. Different parts of the country seem to view buying and selling on Craigslist differently. We’ve lived in New England where people come to your house to pick up items. From experience I know people in the Southern United States are much more skeptical and always met in a McDonalds parking lot.
Instagram is known for being a place for people to post pictures and videos. Hashtags are used regularly and there are #hashtags that are used to sell certain items. People then usually pay with PayPal. There are, of course, fewer controls than eBay so use your best judgement. The only items I sold on Instagram was when Lily Pulitzer for Target was released and I sold some extra items that just happened to fall into my cart 🙂
4. Facebook groups
Facebook is of course this social network that a few people use. There are a number of designer/brand specific Facebook groups where people buy and sell items. I’ve bought a few things from a Boden group before (cute kids clothes). There are also many local groups for the town or city you live in. Search on Facebook to see if there are any local groups that might be a good place to sell your items.
Tradesy is a website/app to sell designer clothes, handbags, shoes and other similar items. If you have some higher end items, this may be a better fit to sell your stuff rather than some of the other groups on this list.
ThredUp is a website/app that lets you sell women’s and kids clothes, but not just designer clothes. You can send them your stuff and they take care of the rest. They may not accept everything you send in to them though, so keep that in mind.
Best Options For Donating Your Stuff
There are hundreds of worthy charities out there, but some are more efficient with spending on overhead versus money towards the cause they are supporting. Not every charity wants your old stuff. Some are only prepared to take cold hard cash. I’m listing below the charities I know of to take household stuff and clothing. Please do your own research if you are concerned with the reputation and financial condition of charities you donate to. There are two great sites that let you research charities: Charity Watchdog and Charity Navigator.
1. Goodwill Industries
Goodwill Industries website.
2. Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Habitat for Humanity ReStore website.
5. One Warm Coat
One Warm Coat website.