9 ways to get rid of stuff when you’re downsizing (and make money, too)


Downsizing can be emotionally and physically taxing. This post, however, is about the practical side of things: where to sell your unneeded items, and how to get the most money for them. Of our eight ways to lighten your load as move day approaches, six of them will net you some cash. Two of them will supply the giver’s glow. And all of them will help you simplify your life. Let’s get started.

#1 Facebook Marketplace. Use Facebook’s new Marketplace feature to find local buyers for the items you’re downsizing. Tips for success: search the Marketplace for comparable items to help you set your price, give a detailed description, post lots of good photos and be honest about the condition of the items you’re selling. Price things according to what they’re worth, not what you paid for them. In some cases, that may mean drastically dropping your prices. In others, the item may be worth more than you paid for it—because you upcycled it or it’s hot right now.

#2 Kijiji. This is another great way to connect with local buyers, but items won’t sell themselves. Clean the items and photograph them in natural light and from flattering angles, but be honest about the imperfections and flaws. Offer good descriptions, give measurements and tell a good story to get attention. Bundle items together according to theme (“Fall décor”, for example, or “summer picnic”) to sell more at once, and make smaller items more attractive. 

#3 Bunz Trading Zone. A relative newcomer to the online marketplace scene, Bunz started as a Toronto Facebook group but now has its own app available from Google Play and the App Store. Instead of selling the items you no longer need in your life, you can trade them for something you do need. 

#4 The buyers of your home. Larger, desirable items that fit well in your current home may be of interest to your purchaser. Talk to your real estate agent about this option, and make sure you give your agent all the information, including photos, that he or she needs to help make the sale. 

#5 Garage sale. For every person who’s hosted a successful garage sale, you’ll get several more tales of woe. Successful sales are often done as a group of houses on a street, are well advertised, have a rain date, and feel fun (make snacks available for sale and have music). Items should be priced realistically (ticket them all the night before) and merchandised well. Slash prices as the day goes on, and give away anything that doesn’t sell.

#6 Consignment store. High value, high quality and designer items (think clothes, shoes, antiques) may be appropriate to sell at a consignment store. Do your homework first, so you know if your items are a good fit for the store—it’ll save you time in the long run. If the items still have their price tags on them, don’t cut them off (unless the price proves the item has little value!) Ask the consignment store about commissions, and whether they have a policy of discounting the price of items the longer they’re in the store. If you’re wondering about the value of the items, hire an appraiser to tell you.

#7 Auction. You can sell a small number of higher value items through auction, as well. The risk is that items you thought were high value may sell for less. The reward is that the opposite is sometimes true. Choose your auction service carefully (ask for their appraising credentials, their commissions and whether you can set a minimum bid).

#8 Donate. Donations won’t make you money, but they could result in a tax receipt. Old maps, greeting cards, postcards and matchbook covers may be of interest to a local museum. Thrift shops are a good option for practical items with no historical significance. Some charities will do household pickup. 

#9 Give it away. This is the least lucrative but potentially best feeling of all the options. Invite friends and family members to take stuff off your hands—you never know what might have sentimental or other value to your kids, sibs or pals. You can also put items at the end of your driveway, or set up a table outside to greet passersby with an intriguing sign that indicates the items are free.

Regardless of where you sell or give away your items, start your downsizing project early and take your time. The rushed downsize is more likely to result in rash decisions, regret and deeply discounted prices. Another recommendation is to make a spreadsheet of all the items you’re getting rid of to keep yourself organized. Include prices, measurements, important details and photos. Last tip? Start with the easy stuff. Don’t try to sell your heirloom dining room set (emotionally difficult) or your used office supplies (niche item) first. Instead, start with things people want that you aren’t particularly attached to, and develop your momentum from there.