Written by: Colin
Be free. Go minimalist. Whatever your mantra, parting with your home goods can be invigorating and frustrating. Our goal was to avoid needing to rent a storage unit for two years while we travelled and it was a good opportunity to simplify and reset furniture and wardrobe-wise. We used Craigslist, Ebay, and our friend network to sell most of our furniture and electronics. The rest we gave away or donated
Craigslist for Furniture
Surprisingly, the IKEA furniture was the quickest to sell. Within 2 days of posting on Craigslist, nearly all the IKEA was gone. Big ticket items were slower to move, and Craigslist was not an effective platform for higher end items. $200 was the inflection point for furniture on Craigslist. Furniture under $200 sold within a few days but we had to field a lot of silly questions for information already listed in the posting and persevere through a lot of spam and scam attempts. Our advice for Craigslist posts is to list out all applicable information about the item in bullet format. Avoid hollow superlatives like awesome, perfect, gorgeous and do not overuse capitalization or punctuation. Convey the information clearly and concisely but include a little personalization so your post doesn’t seem computer generated.
Regarding scams, by adhering to cash or Venmo only and in person transactions, you’ll avoid the common ones. If a story or request seems fishy or too good to be true, it is, and don’t waste your time or expose any information. You’ll get some odd stories and requests to mail items or be paid with certified checks. These are scams and the typos make them even more sketchy. If the person isn’t willing to meet in person, it’s not worth your time. Also, though it’s not common, watch for counterfeit cash. We didn’t have a problem with this, but there are fake bills floating around.
Overall, Craigslist is really not as sketchy as the internet hypes it up to be. We sold the bulk of our items on Craigslist and met a lot of interesting people who genuinely just wanted decent used furniture. It’s an effective platform but requires some maintenance and patience for communication. In the end, if you still have things to get rid of but can’t donate, listing these for free on Craigslist will make your phone melt with texts and calls. This is a good option over hiring someone for junk removal.
Build a website
Selling through friend networks was the better option for higher end furniture. We built a website for free through Weebly and posted links to Facebook so that it was easy to browse through what we had left. This generated consistent and reliable interest on higher end pieces of furniture and we kept some of our favorite pieces within friend networks so we know they went to good homes! Out of consideration for folks, keep this updated with what’s already sold so that you don’t waste folks’ time asking about items that were no longer available.
Donating and giving away
Habitat for Humanity is a great option for furniture while Goodwill will take your extra clothing and assorted home wares. Make sure to get receipts from these folks to back up the donations on your taxes if you itemize. It’s a good feeling to donate these items and a lot easier than haggling with individual buyers but be wary of the financial tradeoff as well. For tax purposes, items are generally valued on a generic scale so if you haven’t been able to sell an item for at least the value you’d get on your tax return, you’re better off financially to donate the item.
We had a lot of fun parting with our clothes and knick-knacks we’d collected over the years by throwing a “house-cooling” party. On our last day, we set out everything we’d planned to donate in flea market style and invited friends over to take whatever they wanted. We handed out shopping bags and koozies at the door and anything in sight was up for grabs. We loved seeing how excited folks got finding some of our treasures and were glad to pass along the enjoyment to our friends.
Craigslist for Cars
We successfully sold a car on Craigslist! This type of transaction is much more serious than cash transactions for furniture and should be treated accordingly. Do your research online for methods, procedures, paperwork, and potential buyers. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is a great place to start to give you a ballpark value for your vehicle if selling to a dealer or private party. We got a quote from a Mazda dealer and they did a terrible job. They had the wrong engine size and specs and gave a silly low quote as a result. KBB got us closer since we entered the specs ourselves. The caveat though was the after-market improvements to the vehicle aren’t handled well by KBB. By comparing to other similar cars, we were able to get a solid price estimate building off the KBB quote.
The beauty of Craigslist is that it opens up a much larger market for the sale of your vehicle. It ended up that there was a buyer a state away looking for the exact color, model, engine, and after-market improvements that we had to offer. As a result, the transaction was swift and clean. Check your specific state’s requirements for private vehicle sales. You may have to take a trip to the title and tag office to get a lien-free title and close your vehicle registration. Plan ahead and allow ample time for the government so that this isn’t the bottleneck for the transaction. Also, do your research on the buyer. It’s very easy to dig up folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. By the time the guy came to buy the car, we already knew what school he went to and who his parents were in case something didn’t work out the way it should’ve. Our last word of advice is to complete the transaction during bank business hours so that you can call the person’s bank to verify that the certified check is valid and there are sufficient funds to complete the transaction.
Sara & Colin
We are figuring out our travel as we go along, and we'd love to help you out with yours! Here are some tips, tricks, and how-to guides.