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The Great £1000 De-clutter – The Results

Shortly after the turn of the year I stated one of my goals for 2015 was to have a massive clear out and sell £1,000 worth of clutter on ebay. Well it’s taken slightly longer than I hoped but we’ve finally hit the target. Here’s the proof:

The Great £1k Sell Off

 

Impressive you might thing but did I simply sell an old car or maybe some of the family silver in order to hit the £1k mark? Was this feat achieved with a one hit wonder? No, the most valuable item sold for £132.67 and the cheapest went for £0.99.

Here’ the full list of what we no longer own:

  • 12 x books
  • 1 x fishing/camping bed chair
  • 1 x coat
  • 1 x dress
  • 1 x iPhone speaker/dock
  • 1 x camera flash/speedlight
  • 2 x watches
  • 1 x board game
  • 1 x antique wooden cake stand
  • 1 x recipe card tin
  • 1 x backpack
  • 1 x china mug
  • 1 x bike crankset (the bits the pedals are attached to ;-))
  • 2 x front grill off old cars
  • 1 x pair of cufflinks
  • 1 x tilley lamp
  • 1 x set of egg cups
  • 1 x energy monitor
  • 1 x wooden shelf unit
  • 30 x glass tea light holders
  • 1 x big bag of fabric
  • 8 x fish bowls!

After a blistering start in the first month our progress slowed down considerably. We’ve been busy, we got lazy and other things came along but in the end we hit the target.

Lessons Learned

Money aside this has been a great experience. It has prompted us to begin a radical downsizing of the inventory of things we own, many of which we don’t use and are mainly stored in boxes in the garage and loft. When you start looking it is scary just how much ‘stuff’ accumulates.

A recent study by UCLA focussed on the accumulation of stuff highlighting some of the absurdities of this behaviour. IN that article it fascinated me that in the smallest house in their study they saw 2,260 things in just 2 bedrooms and 1 living room. Take a moment to stand in your living room and count how many items you can see…it’s a scary business.

If you’re not careful this will happen…

hoarders

Change of Behaviour

The whole exercise has helped us change our behaviour. Undoubtedly it has made us much more reluctant to bring/allow more possessions in to the house going forward. As proof both Mrs UTMT and I have recently had our birthdays. We managed to persuade all of our families that we really didn’t want anything for our birthdays. Instead of physical tat we managed to get a mix of donations to charity, a lovely meal out and a pension contribution to my nephews (aged 8) pension!

Time In v Time Out

The thing that stuck me most was how much effort it was to get rid of all of this stuff. Time spent listing things on eBay, time spent in the post office (though I did discover the ability to buy postage online from Royal Mail mid way through which saved a lot of time), time spent rummaging around the house…it all adds up. I didn’t have the heart to track this and calculate my hourly rate from this exercise but I know it wouldn’t have made fantastic reading.

The effort to get rid of all of this stuff was so much more than it took to acquire/collect it all. As it happens glancing through the list above just under half of the items were given to us. It is the stuff that we sourced/bought ourselves and used rarely that really grinds on me the most (ahem…camera flash that is not compatible with my camera). This process has already made us question futures purchases even harder than before.

Make a Stand

My brother in law is a fair bit younger than me. He seems to have an inbuilt mechanism whereby he hates owning too many things. After he moved flats recently we tried to give him some surplus kitchen appliances/gadgets to and he nearly ran away. He seems repulsed by possessions.

He openly says that he hates owning too many things and that the only possession he really seems to value is his laptop. His ‘ownership model’ is definitely something I’m going to aspire to more in the future.

It ain’t all about the $$$

During this process we ended up also giving away quite a lot of other items either to local charity shops or via the excellent Freecycle. While I’m sure there are some people trawling for items on Freecycle to sell them on ebay and turn a profit (quite frankly good luck to them despite it being slightly immoral/against the ethos of the community) it was really nice to be able to help out some local people.

As an example we gave away a spare bed to a local woman who had recently split with her partner and moved into a new place on her own. Not having a car I dropped the lot off for her and even gave her a hand assembling it. THe following evening we got a knock on the door and were greeted with her mother brandishing a freshly baked cake and home grown flowers to say thank you. You don’t get that from eBay!

Conclusion

So the the £1,000 has been dispatched to my SIPP where it instantly became £1,250. Come April I’ll be able to claw another £150 back from the tax man.

We won’t stop here. The purge is continuing, more funds will be raised, more item liberated to other people and less of our time/effort/money in the future will be spent accumulating  clutter.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Jonny March 13, 2015, 12:15 pm

    I had an eBay selling splurge last year, after delaying it off for years (I’d done it before, and vaguely remembering what’s involved.

    I agree, it really does take a lot of time and is quite a hassle (and the hourly rate is probably tiny – especially seeing as some of these items actually cost me money – which I was trying to recuperate).

    However, it also felt really liberating to get rid of the stuff! So much so that I plan on doing a six-monthly sale to get rid of the stuff I no-longer need/use. It can also be easier for the money conscious (stingy/tight) of us that might have stuff that we no longer use – but is worth too much to simply give it to charity.

    I too also invested my proceeds, and there’s a nice feeling of converting the (depreciating) rubbish I’ve accumulated over time into little workers that will continue to grow/dublicate themselves over time in the stock market.

    P.S. I love the fact that there’s a sponsored add on this page where you can PAY someone else to cluttered your house. There’s a real irony to buying so much crap that you then have to pay someone else to declutter it! Seems very anti-mustachianism

    • Under The Money Tree March 13, 2015, 1:15 pm

      Jonny,
      Yes, the money is useful but it is the process itself that felt good for the soul. Knowing all that clutter will bring some benefit to me on retirement is also hugely satisfying.

      As for paying someone else to de-clutter your own self created mess….maybe i’m in the wrong business?!

  • Anon March 13, 2015, 12:26 pm

    “As an example we gave away a spare bed to a local woman who had recently split with her partner and moved into a new place on her own. Not having a car I dropped the lot off for her and even gave her a hand assembling it. THe following evening we got a knock on the door and were greeted with her mother brandishing a freshly baked cake and home grown flowers to say thank you. You don’t get that from eBay!”

    Among the usual negative news that surrounds (not on here) these little stories are nice, restore a little bit of faith in humanity!

    • Under The Money Tree March 13, 2015, 1:08 pm

      Anon,
      Fully agree. The gratitude this lady showed to us has made my year!

  • weenie March 13, 2015, 12:40 pm

    A big ‘Well done” – what a great effort! I meant to be selling stuff on ebay this year and have yet to make a start – you’ve put me to shame, so much so that I’m going to make an attempt at listing at least one item this weekend! It is a chore though, the main one being the post office one as I don’t have one handy near me at work so I can only post at weekend. I;ve used online postage for letters before, not sure how easy it is to use for parcels?

    • Under The Money Tree March 13, 2015, 1:12 pm

      Weenie,
      Using the online postage for parcels is very easy. You just need to be sure to weight the parcel correctly and measure the size in order to get the right payment option. After paying for postage and attaching the postage labels I simply gave the packages to our friendly post guy at work and he saw they were dispatched for me…no visit to the post office required. Naturally I returned the favour by giving the post guy a (quite nice) bike wheel I was going to sell anyway. For larger boxes I used myHermes, again you can prepay online, print your own labels. I found they have drop off points in lots of local shops again making the postage part very easy.

  • Dividend Drive March 13, 2015, 1:34 pm

    I started a similar thing many months ago which I have updated as I went along (you can read my little post on it here http://bit.ly/1mpDvDj if you’re so inclined!) . All in all I have so far brought in about £620 which is nice. Like you, it was volume rather than value which got me to there.

    It is very cathartic indeed. And you’re right, it does bring about a change in mindset (however slowly) which will hopefully keep things in check!

    Since mid-January the pace has slowed quite a bit (rather like you by the sound of it). After a flurry in December and early January the sales have tailed off to almost nothing. I plan to stir it all back into action when I get the time. I’d like to list many more things. I may well make my target a £1000 as well!

    Keep up the good work and long may the declutter continue!

  • Emily March 15, 2015, 10:17 am

    Thank you for the inspiration! I started with this after the new year, but slowed down again. I’ve just put two more things up, and I think there’s some stuff in my garage that could go pretty easily. It is so easy to be annoyed with the amount of money wasted and just get too caught up in that. Never mind! It’s going!

  • Judith Siess March 16, 2015, 2:11 pm

    If selling the stuff is too much trouble, I’m sure you can give it to charity. In the US we have Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore and St. Vincent de Paul, the latter two will even pick up. Clothes can also go to a resale shop.

    Don’t forget to recycle what you can.

  • Mr. FSF March 21, 2015, 11:55 pm

    Hello UTMT, great post. We have been thinking about/planning to downsize and will need to de-clutter some as well (we have been able to restrain ourselves in the past years, so have not been buying too much crap we need to sell). We’ve decided to also make an attempt at this (we already made list of what we want to get rid off) and will blog about it at a later date. Think our target will be more in the order of $500-800.
    Cheers, Mr. FSF.

    • Under The Money Tree March 22, 2015, 9:41 am

      Mr FSF,
      We’re generally no huge hoarders. We found that the more you look the more you realise just how much stuff is accumulated over the years despite being relatively good in controlling unnecessary spending. Good luck with the downsizing and related clear out….I’m sure you’ll smash that target!

  • Julie and Will October 3, 2015, 5:35 pm

    That’s a long list of lots of tiny bits of items! We applaud your persistence and hard work. We attempted to declutter with a local “flea market” and Craigslist (in the U.S.), but we were surprised by how difficult it was to sell some items we thought people would be very interested in. A racing bike had MANY immediate responses, but a brand new 2-bike carrier for a car didn’t get sold for some reason…

    Reading this post, we are re-energized to make another attempt at decluttering. You–and other commenters–are right that it takes a LOT more energy to get rid of something than to acquire it in the first place. We find ourselves donating a lot of items just to be done with some decluttering, but we are also getting smarter about not buying so much “stuff.”

    • Under The Money Tree October 5, 2015, 4:04 pm

      Julie and Will,
      As you’ve eluded to the most powerful part about process of de-cluttering is that it will hopefully change your future behavior when it comes to acquiring more ‘stuff’! Good luck!

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