How To Sell All Of Your Stuff – Part 1

We all have stuff we don’t need.

When we decided to travel again, we knew that this time we wouldn’t return to the UK. After our last round the world trip we returned home appalled at the amount of stuff we owned. Not only that, but we hadn’t missed any of it.

Smart enough not to make the same mistake twice, it was obvious that this time it would all have to go. Turns out that this is a mammoth task. It’s a mammoth task with tusks – a woolly mammoth task, if you will. That guy in the picture? Nothing on us.

We’d accumulated so much junk over our twentymumble years that it was a time consuming and often emotionally difficult task to get rid of it all. But it has also been liberating and financially rewarding. We feel a lot freer – we haven’t missed anything (*cough*espresso machine*cough*) - and we earned a surprising amount of money towards our travel fund.

So, whether you are heading off to travel or just want to reduce your clutter, here are our top tips for offloading your junk.

TOP TIPS TO SELL YOUR STUFF

1) Start early - We started selling six months before we were due to leave and are glad we did. You own a lot more than you think you do, and it takes a lot longer to get rid of it than you think it will. Leaving it until the last few months is a bad idea because you’ll be busy with travel plans, so start as early as possible.

2) Take an inventory – The first step is to go around each room of your house and write down all of the items you could sell.  Don’t forget to look inside your drawers and cupboards for things that you never use. You may want to create two lists – Sell Now for items you rarely use (if you haven’t used it in a year it should definitely go), and Sell Later for things you use on a regular basis. Once you’ve sold everything on your first list, go around again and add more items – you can always find more to sell.

3) Try selling everything – You never know what will have value to others so don’t discount anything- it’s surprising what can be sold. Electronics are always valuable, even when they’re broken as people buy them for parts or to repair. Anything limited edition (check your CDs) or signed sells well, but even low value items are worth selling as it all adds up.

4) Don’t get attached – It is emotionally difficult to sell all of your possessions, but try not to dwell on it, and remember why you are doing this. As time passes it gets easier to sell things that you didn’t think you could part with, and watching your savings account grow is a great encouragement. You have to accept that things will probably sell for much less than you think they are worth. It doesn’t matter – the important thing is getting rid of it all.

5) Research – Once you have your list of things to sell, do some research online on the best ways of selling that particular item and see how much you are likely to get. In Part 2 of this series we’ll share our favourite selling methods.

6) Set targets – Set yourself a weekly target (say 10 items) of things to sell to help keep you focused. Increase the target as you get nearer to your leaving date and when you get quicker at listing items. Caleb at 100 Days of Less set himself the target of getting rid of all his stuff in 100 days and documenting it on his website.

7) Give to charity – Anything you find you can’t sell, or by the end when you become weary of selling many low value items, you can donate to your local charity shop or list on freecycle.

8 ) Clear out sentimental items – We took eight bin bags to the recycling full of photos, sketches, journals, school notes, letters, cards and other mementos. That’s a lot! Did we really need all of that for memories? We did keep photo albums with the best photos, travel journals and a few letters and drawings. You need to decide what’s really important to you. We aren’t as hardcore as Colin from Exile Lifestyle who threw a shred party before he left on his travels and got rid of absolutely everything.

With the right planning and enough time, it doesn’t have to be difficult – just remember not to buy more stuff to replace all the things you’re selling!

Still not convinced? For more on the benefits of selling all of your belongings read our post The Benefits of Selling Everything You Own, or Christine at Almost Fearless’s article on 10 Unexpected Costs of Owning Things or watch George Carlin talking about stuff.

In Part 2 of How To Sell All Of Your Stuff we share our favourite selling methods- setting up a ‘stuff blog ‘ and Ebay, while Part 3 looks at Amazon marketplace, car boot sales, where to sell old CDs and mobile phones, and other methods, as well as detailing how much we earned.

If you need some help with this often difficult process our friends fellow nomads Warren and Betsy have created a step by step online course called Declutter Clinic to help you get rid of your stuff and create the freedom to live the life you want. 

Declutter

Trail Wallet

Have you got rid of your stuff? Share your tips with us.

54 thoughts on How To Sell All Of Your Stuff – Part 1

  1. Hey Simon and Erin,

    excellent post, we’ve been selling bits and bobs for what feels like forever!

    Thom is naturally more sentimental than me, I think from 2000-2006 (uni and post-uni) I had a new home every 9 months, on average. I developed a system of ‘if I haven’t used it since I last unpacked it, I don’t need it’

    If it’s not bolted down I’m trying to sell it off!
    .-= sean´s last blog ..London – not for tourists! =-.

    • Simon found it harder to part with stuff than me, so I had to take control. He didn’t miss things once they were gone though, it’s just that first step. Good luck with your selling!

  2. that’s right, we didn’t realize how much junk stuff we accumulated over the years until was time to pack and had only a month to sell it all, which was a big challenge. the gumtree was for us a great resource but next time we will definitely take more times.

  3. Great post! I left on a bit of a whim after wanting to go for years, so I only had around 2 months to get rid of my stuff and it was challenging to say the least!

    I did scan some sentimental items like photos, a few letters, event tickets etc. Having a digital copy stored privately online made it a lot easier for me to let go of the physical copies. I may not ‘need’ them, but it’s an emotional security blanket I may want if / when I get pangs of homesickness.
    .-= Catia´s last blog ..Pre Trip Planning Tips for Backpacking Around The World =-.

  4. Great tips! Haha reminds me of when i was going to help mum selling some old stuff from the attic. She prepared for weeks, but a few days before the fleemarket she came up with tons of lame excuses not to sell anything. She was so relieved when the day came and it was raining, and ofcourse we didn’t have a shelter to stand under. Yes, everything is still in the attic…

    • I came up with some pretty good excuses myself – luckily Erin was more ruthless than me although she did have to resort to all the tricks to get me to relinquish my iron grip on some of my stuff.

      Tactics like bribery, extortion and throwing stuff out when I wasn’t looking were all employed, but to be honest I’m glad it’s all gone now.

  5. I was hopeless at getting rid of my stuff to begin with, finding an excuse for everything. As time progressed it was becoming obvious I need to get rid of the big things like table setting, lounge suite etc or I was faced with giving it away for nothing.

    I also had the luxury of being able to store items at home with the family for when I return. As I know I’m going to need the basics to begin life after travel I saw no point selling off items for nothing when they could be stored to save buying them again later.

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  9. @ Brian – wow I don´t envy you that! Our last few weeks were crazy enough without selling things too. Good luck!

    @ Adam – it definitely does get easier and ends up feeling great- not only because of the money, but now life feels simpler.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Photo of the Week: Akha Village =-.

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  11. Hey Erin and Simon,

    I’m just preparing to sell off just about everything I have so that I can bike around the US for a year. It’s kind of exciting and scary at the same time. Glad to see that other people are doing this. Thanks for the great post, information and motivation.

    Take care,
    John

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  13. Hi Erin and Simon -

    I found your website awhile back and have enjoyed reading your preparation posts. We are also in the process of putting our current lives on hold and planning on embarking on an around-the-world travel adventure in the next few months. Did you wind up selling or renting your house? We’re debating the pros and cons of both sides. I’d appreciate hearing what you decided to do and whether some months after that decision if you would do anything differently. Thanks.

    Karen.

    • We initially decided to rent it because the market wasn’t very good, but we had problems with the house and the tenants left early. It was a real pain to sort out from abroad so we put it on the sales market instead. We really wanted to get rid of it and be free of the hassle but over a year later it still hadn’t sold so we have just rented it out again. I would sell if you can.

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  16. Great post – i think the 6 months notice for selling is always important. You never know how long it will be before someone buys up your old items. Also it means that you wont necessarily have to accept below the asking price, you can simply wait a little longer for the right buyer!

    Duncan

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  19. “the stuff you own, owns you” (quote from the film “fight club”)

    i sold everything 15 years ago and have been travelling around drawing ever since.

    ive lived in thailand for the last 6 years

  20. Great subject! I haven’t ran into a set of posts like this yet.

    Helpful to me as well.. Like you guys, my first 4 trips had me traveling to 11 countries and I had yet to sell everything. I sold off about 70% of it two months ago when I relocated from Columbus to Minneapolis, but it’s time for me to get into the nitty gritty and ditch it all in a couple of months. I will be back for your helpful pointers ;)

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  24. Hubs and I are seriously considering selling it all- (or almost) and buy a catering truck to travel and work-
    Our children are grown and we love to travel and each other more than anything.
    What are your thoughts, tips to get started etc?
    Have read the ENTIRE blog- love it!!!
    Where are you presently? (March 2013)

    • Sounds like a great idea Melissa. We are actually launching a new site soon about getting started as a digital nomad. You can sign up for the email newsletter here which takes you through step by step: http://digitalnomad.co/. Mainly I’d say figure out what you need to do (save money, pay off debt, sell off possessions etc), calculate how long it will take and set a departure date to keep you motivated. Good luck!

      PS. We are currently in Mexico City.

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  26. The best way to get rid of sentimental items without also getting rid of their sentimental value is to make a digital scrapbook. I took pictures of my son’s baby stuff and saved them in Dropbox before giving the actual stuff to the mom of an actual new baby. Unexpected benefit: when we look at the pictures we feel so happy to think that these precious things are becoming someone else’s sentimental objects too.

    • Great idea, we took photos of lots of things too. Now we are travelling Simon takes photos of his drawings so he doesn’t have to carry loads of paper around.

  27. Hi,
    Do you know of any companies who will come to your house and make an offer and buy on ALL your stuff and haul it away? I may be moving to Italy and want to go with the clothes on my back!
    Thanks,
    Charlie

  28. PS
    Are there companies out there who will buy my home and all my possessions together so I just walk away?
    Charlie

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  32. I have a lot that I either need to sell or put in storage and just thinking about is stressful.

    I understand selling stuff that you no use or you have fell out of love with. But how do you determine if you should sell the lamp that you still love and was $300 but probably would only get you a fraction of the price?

    What is the best method of selling and getting a fair price?

    • We had to get rid of everything so we didn’t really have a choice. It was difficult to accept that things that had cost us a lot weren’t worth much to others but it got easier the more we did it. If you have a look through the series you can see all the different methods we used for selling things. Selling to friends via a website worked best for us.

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