Just before Christmas, my wife and I decided to go through the kids' toys and get rid of the stuff we didn't need. With Christmas coming and the inevitable influx of new toys, we figured we'd need to make space. And so we decided to do some heavy-duty toy cleaning. (Which is just another way of saying "we used garbage bags.")
Anyway, just before Christmas we tackled this project and were surprised when the kids actually helped us fill up 8 garbage bags with dolls and playmobil toys and stuffed animals and other assorted things. All of that stuff went to the mission. Besides that, we simply threw away a ton of trinkety things the kids collected over time as well as some old, broken GIJOE vehicles from my childhood. It took a while, but when we were done, we felt great. Lighter. Happy. For a while. Until I found something on EBay.
See, I was cruising around on EBay, looking for something, and I ran into an auction for some old GIJOE items. I started scanning over all the figures and the vehicles and the memories of my childhood flooded back. It was great...until I scrolled down to a listing that showed a picture of the great big GIJOE hovercraft vehicle I had just thrown away.
The listing read like this: "Up for Auction: 1 GIJOE VINTAGE HOVERCRAFT. Some parts missing. Some pieces broken, but still great for scrap parts."
Yeah, there it was: a broken hovercraft toy that was WAY more broken than mine. And it was up for sale. Which really doesn't mean anything, because everything can be up for sale. The big question is this: was it creating interest? And the answer is: YES! There were 10 bids on the stupid, broken hovercraft with some parts missing. What's worse, the current bid was $49.00. $49.00 with 3 more days of bidding to go!!!
Well, from there, I couldn't help myself. I searched the other toys we'd just given away or tossed out and I discovered that all together, I probably threw away anywhere from $300 to $500 worth of "vintage" (which is just a fancy way of saying "broken") toys.
Now, that's not a big deal...if you hate having money. But if you'd like to have money or could use money for something, well, then throwing away $300 is like a dagger through your heart.
However, it was a done deal. The toys were gone and I couldn't get them back. I could either sit around and feel depressed about what I'd done, or I could take the lesson to heart and learn from it. I chose to do that second one. (After doing the first one for about 2 weeks).
The next time I did some cleaning around the house, I decided (rather than throwing them away) to put some of my items up for auction on Ebay. It took a little bit of reading to figure out how it was done, but after a couple hours, I had about six items listed. 7 days later, five of those six items had sold and I'd made a cool $150.
Oh, the things I sold were junk to me, but somebody out there in the big, wide world liked them, wanted them and was willing to pay for them. It was exciting.
And I bring it up here for a couple reasons: first, I want to remind you that there are places like Ebay and Craigslist and who knows what else--online places where you can hold virtual garage sales. Secondly, I mention that so that you realize you can do it, too. All you need is a computer, a digital camera (probably) and a little bit of a willingness to learn. Or, if you don't have those things, you can do what my parents would do and just ask your kid to sell your stuff for you.
Whatever you do, be aware that the junk you're sorting as you go through your home, getting rid of your clutter, might have value. Before you toss it or donate it, why not spend a couple minutes bouncing around on Ebay. Search for the items and see what's going on. See if similar items are drawing any kind of significant money. See if they're creating interest or generating bids. If they aren't . . . well, then it's off to the mission or the dumpster with no regrets. But if they are--if they seem to be worth something to somebody--why not take advantage of that and earn some money?