Simple Switches: The Goodness of Giving Something Away

Goodness of GivingMr. P and I are in the midst of a massive overhaul of our home. For the past few weeks, I’ve been a decluttering machine. Craigslist, Poshmark, Tradesy, local consignment stores. You name it, I’ve tried it*. I have also filled several trash bags to the breaking point and bequeathed them to my neighborhood Goodwill and a few other local charities.

But then it occurred to me: Donating an incredibly-out-of-date top to Goodwill mostly benefits me. Not Goodwill. Sure, I have some big-ticket items and designer duds that I’d still like to consign, but my time is worth something too, right? Was I spending too much time reselling things for pennies on the dollar? Couldn’t I afford to be a little more generous?

This week, I started using the “Free” section of NextDoor (it’s like Facebook for neighborhoods) to post some items. Like really nice items. A planter. Two trellises. An older outdoor glider and an end table that I knew someone would love. Some certificates for free frozen yogurt from a local eatery.** Some surplus veggies from our garden because my parents will only accept so many zucchinis I haven’t mastered the art of Pinterest I might die if I eat another one this week. And you know what? It’s been really nice way to meet people in the area and then strike up a conversation when our paths cross again on an evening walk.

I guess I figure that not only are Mr. P and I building some majorly good freebie-find karma for the future, but these kinds of relationships are worth more than the stress and time it would take to list some of the items. Plus, I got to peek at my glider the other night. It looks a whole lot happier on my neighbor’s front porch that it did crammed in the back of our shed.

*Except eBay. ebay is scary. More on this reselling fun at a later date.

**Even I have my limits. Try as I may, I can only eat so much froyo before the expiration date.

So Tell Me…Would you ever give something away for free even if you thought you might be able to sell it? Does your neighborhood put out good “freebie finds” on garbage day? What do you do with items you no longer want?



Simple Switches: The Goodness of Giving Something Away

5 thoughts on “Simple Switches: The Goodness of Giving Something Away

  1. Oh… I’m struggling with this at the moment. Partly because I’m so constrained for time and partly because I wonder if the $$ reflect the effort involved. Plus, getting pennies on the dollar will probably just reinforce the self recrimination over buying the stuff in the first place!

    I think the greater benefit (to me) is just to have it gone. If giving it away creates good karma, I’ll take that, too.

    Can’t wait to hear the eBay story. I’ve been selling professionally on eBay for over 10 years and I can tell you, it has become a nightmare.

    1. It’s been a really refreshing take on decluttering. There are definitely still certain things that I will try to sell or consign, but only if it’s relatively easy (i.e. Tradesy lets me print a shipping label with one click and I can stuff the item in a USPS priority box and hand it to my mail carrier). And you’re absolutely the right. Being rid of things is a much better feeling. I figure at this point, it’s a sunk cost.

      As for eBay, I’m not sure I have one particular horror story, so much as a compilation of little things that caused more anxiety than they were worth. It seems like a lawless land in a way. With your experience, sounds like you could write a book!

  2. I actually gave away my last car instead of selling it. Granted, it did not hold a lot of monetary value based on the make/model and the mileage, but I probably could have pulled in $800 to $1200 for it with limited effort (I believe in really making every effort to maintain a vehicle, and only stopped driving it because I was looking for something larger). Instead, I gave it to a friend on disability who had no reliable way to transport her daughter around. She lived in a small town, so even getting to the doctor was a challenge without a car and her disability was not enough to buy a reliable vehicle. I found more value in knowing I helped make a difference in their lives than I ever would have gotten from selling it.

  3. TJ says:

    I had my parents donate my from-high-school-age drum set and bass guitar to a local middle school a few years ago. I’m sure I could have sold them, but it would have been a hassle. Some of the schools have some pretty aged looking instruments, so I was happy to hear that it was accepted by the school and not collecting dust in a garage somewhere.

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