Whoa! After my last post, I took a few days to regroup, and am feeling a little better about the world in general. I still struggle with the issues I talked about, but for now I am putting a pin in them. Also, I might have a little something up my sleeve, so stay tuned...
For now, I want to talk about what to do with your clutter now that you are ready to let it go.
If you have something that you know someone else can use, ask if they want it. This works best for things you hardly used or didn't use, like art supplies or kitchen tools. Its also great for kids clothes and toys. Tread lightly here- don't be insulted if they don't want it, and don't pawn your clutter off on someone else who doesn't need it!
Alternatively, you can donate the items somewhere that they will really make a difference. I have been volunteering at Helping Hands, a free clinic in Gainesville. Thursdays are for women only- the ladies get a meal and showers, and are allowed to pick items from the clothes closet. These are women who actually have almost nothing to wear (unlike most of us, who stand in front of a packed full closet every morning when we say that), and each article of clothing is really treasured. I feel much less guilty about getting rid of something I bought and hardly wore when I know someone else will truly enjoy it.
Similarly, many non-profit and charity organizations have thrift stores to raise funds. In Gainesville, the Humane Society, St. Patrick's School, and Haven Hospice (among others) all have thrift stores. Selling your clutter helps them raise money to support the wonderful things they do.
Sometimes you can get actual money for your unwanted stuff!
The most hassle-free way is to take the items to a Consignment Shop or a Pawn Shop. I may be biased, but I think my friend Beth's consignment store, The Fashion Exchange (here's the website, http://feconsignment.com/) is the best one in Gainesville. You make an appointment, bring in your stuff (clothes and small housewares), and when it sells you get 40% of the purchase price as either cash or store credit. I stop by pretty often, and there is some other Clutterella who is my exact size and has been getting rid of a lot of Ann Taylor clothing recently. I can use my store credit from unwanted clothes to gets that stuff for FREE! Yay! For pawn shops, I recommend TB Goods in Gainesville and Alachua (http://www.tbgoods.com/), which is part owned by my buddy Chris. Send him your unwanted jewelry and electronics, he'll hook you up.
A garage sale is another option. Unfortunately, this Clutterella lives in a townhouse with no garage (or driveway) so its not a very good choice for me. Judi and Marj have some advice in Scaling Down if you want to explore that route. I also think the show Clean Sweep on TLC has some pretty great garage sale tips. So I am referring you to the experts!
I have not explored selling things on Ebay or any of the other websites out there, but I am seriously thinking about it. This guy Baker has tried it, and he has a lot to tell you about it in his blog Man Vs. Debt (http://manvsdebt.com/). He and his wife sold most of their possessions, paid of their debts, and are now traveling the world. Just last week he released Sell Your Crap, which is a guide to making money while getting rid of your stuff. I have not tried it, but Leo Babauta endorses it, so that makes it cool in my book. I'll let you know if I try it out.
I know we all hate this option, but sometimes its a necessary evil. Some of our stuff can't be sold or donated (ratty t-shirts, broken furniture, expired cleaning products). Recycle it if you can. If you can't, let it go. It's not doing any good junking up your living space. If you feel guilty about the big trash pile, vow to think twice before purchasing anything from now on. Move on!
This is by no means a comprehensive guide. I would love to hear from you about what you have done with your unwanted stuff!