That Time I Made $4 an Hour

$4 (1)He paid off his student loans flipping furniture. They paid off their mortgage re-selling estate sale finds. I made over $1,000 decluttering my closet. We’ve all seen the headlines. Some of us have even written them (guilty). But you know what? That’s not real life. Not all the time, anyway.

When it comes to selling my clothing, shoes, and handbags, I’ve found a great deal of success with online platforms like Poshmark, Tradesy, and even Craigslist. But when sales get slow, I take my goods to local consignment-like stores like Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor, or I donate them. Scratch that. From here on out, I donate them. Why? Because I don’t ever want to work for $4 an hour again.

Here’s how this played out. I bagged up about fifty different pieces to sell. I knew I wasn’t going to make big money. At this point, I just wanted it all out of the spare bedroom. Still, the items were quality. Heck, I hadn’t even worn most of the things. Which can sadly be said about much of my closet. You don’t wear it if you don’t see it. And when you have over 150 pairs of shoes spread out in three rooms? You don’t see most of them. You don’t want to see them.

Anyway, I neatly folded a bunch of different items. A few pairs of heels that I had to have only to realize I couldn’t actually walk in. A half dozen tops from the LOFT that no longer curried favor when I got ready. A suede jacket I received as a gift but it was one size too big and I never returned it. The list goes on. And on. And on. Afterwards, I carted my goods to Clothes Mentor.

The idea of Clothes Mentor is sellers get paid cash on the spot, generally between 20-30% of the prospective list price of your items. The real bonus to this model is payments are not contingent on sales. No second trip to the consignment shop. Drop it off once and you’re done. The drawback, of course, is they pay you less. But still, every little bit counts. Right?

Of all the things I should have seen coming, it should have been this. I was the second person in the store–which I have sold at for years–but the wait was already an hour. Whaaaat? I dropped off my items and decided to go run a few other errands. When I had run out of errands, I decided to see if my items had been priced. I walked up to the counter which had my items in that same neat pile that I dropped them off in, the woman looked at me and said, “Yeah, we’re just finishing up. I’ll get your money.” If by finishing up, you mean taking my items out of the bag, setting them on the counter, and then doing other parts of your job instead of looking at my items, then I agree. That’s exactly what you did.

Out of all the items I brought in, they took ONE cardigan. Their inventory was overflowing. I had to battle to get up and down the aisles, where I notably pushed aside a black wristlet from Walmart that had the original price tag of $7 on it and the Clothes Mentor tag listing the item for $12. Of course, they weren’t actually looking to add to the chaos. But if you had asked me to guess, I would have never selected that item. It was a top from White House Black Market that had metallic accents on it that had actually worn off up and down the sleeves.* I only tossed it in as an afterthought. They paid me $4.40 for it.

Now, it’s true that the free space in my home is priceless. It’s also true that I got a fair amount of other errands run at the same time. But the truth of the matter is I actually made less than $4.40 an hour. I’m not talking about gas. I’m not talking about wear and tear on my car. I’m not talking about the fact that I could have run all my other errands at other stores closer to my house. I’m talking about my time.

The time I initially spent going through my closet. The time I spent listing my items on Poshmark and other selling sites. The time I spent editing my inventory, bagging up parts of it, and carting it over to Clothes Mentor. That’s a lot of time. And it’s time I won’t get back.

So that’s the truth, folks. Sometimes, you have a goldmine in your closet. And sometimes, those items you’re trying to sell are a waste of time just as much as they were a waste of money.

*That’s right, Dad. I WORE SOMETHING OUT. BOOM.

So Tell Me…What’s your favorite way to declutter or resell? Have you ever short-changed your time? 

That Time I Made $4 an Hour

30 thoughts on “That Time I Made $4 an Hour

  1. Wow – definitely have done this myself too! But I’ve even lost money doing it too when something never sells. I am all about donating now unless it is something that I know will sell. All clothes get donated and I don’t ever worry about tax write-offs either. Many of those loops have closed as well and for a few dollars on taxes? I’m happy if someone can just use the clothes. Yesterday I gave away 12 matching glass vases I had on Craigslist. The young bride showed up and said she was going to use them for her wedding and she was so appreciative. It was a win-win in my de-clutter and for her planning 🙂

    1. I love that, Vicki! After giving some away to friends and family, I sold some of my wedding items, but I always included a bunch of freebies of the bride-to-be’s choosing. I bet you made her budget breathe so much easier!

  2. I like the way you thought about this Penny. Time is money! Personally when I clean out my closet of old clothes, I donate them. I probably wouldn’t get much anyway for the clothes (usually old, nothing special) and I believe they’ll be going to someone who truly needs the clothes more than I do.

    1. That’s a great way to think about it. I think I try to sell some things because I sunk so much money into my closet. But as you said, time is money. I will just accept the sunk cost for what it is.

  3. I’ve always just donated or recycled clothes because generally by the time we finish with clothes I haven’t felt it was worth the hassle of selling. I do know from working at a used book chain that a lot of experiences are very similar to yours when dealing with a reseller. Not every buyer or pricer knows what they are doing, and sometimes what gets taken and why is confusing even to people who know the rules very well.

  4. Same here, Penny. We’ll sell (or try to sell) old phones or camping gear on eBay or Craigslist if they’re worth > $50, but we donate most stuff. It’s sooo much easier to just drop it off than to take pictures, create an ad, then wait, and wait, and wait, and then ship it or meet up with people who might not show.

    We hope that our old stuff is getting some use and staying out of a landfill for a while longer. Plus, I love shopping at thrift stores and on eBay, so it’s just paying it forward.

    1. Yes! That’s actually why I like Poshmark so much. Because all the hassle of shipping and whatnot is taken care of by the site. This other strategy was just a colossal waste of time.

  5. I hear you, Penny! I used to try to sell clothing individually or as lots on ebay or Craigslist and have also tried Platos Closet (same type of experience as you had!). I gave up on that when I realized my rate of pay was pretty low and started donating to thrift stores. But I’ve recently found a great consignment store in my rural town where I can drop off bags of clothing/shoes. She sells what she can and donates the rest, so I don’t ever have to deal with them again. Plus, I don’t have to wait for her to sort them. I usually net $30-50 for a kitchen size bag, which I just leave as a store credit so I shop for “free” (plus she only sells quality stuff). It’s a win-win, in my opinion!

    1. Oh, wow! I’m moving to your town. A lot of our consignment stores start out nice, but then the prices either go sky-high (and merchandise doesn’t move) or they just get overrun with inventory. Glad you found such a fantastic system!

  6. Iowa says:

    I’ve actually gone a different route. I’m on the smaller side, and can wear some of the larger children sizes. (In adult I wear shirt size 4-6 on average. If you do check out the kids section, the childhood obesity epidemic has resulted in LARGE kids sizes that can fit adults, just look for plain items, I could write an entire blog on this topic alone.) One of the groups that I am a mentor for has a lot of children that are homeschooled, but not a lot of money in the house. Since a lot of the clothing I own (actually originally came from GoodWill but still is Express/Ann Taylor, Loft, etc). I talk with parents with some parents who have kids my size, asking if they would be interested in some quality hand-me-downs. (Or not, but parents refuse to spend that money. Mine was one of them.) While the kids stay my dress size, I freely offer them up to those kids. (When they grow out, they are recycled to another kid in their circle of homeschoolers.)

    I actually enjoy this more than trying to resell – a pain. The one in our area, you have to come back to get the $, and they don’t send reminders. You don’t come in, you lose out on the $. And it makes me feel better than the tax write-off (mostly because I don’t itemize my taxes.)

    1. That’s a really great savings hack. I do that sometimes if I can find the right sleeve lengths and whatnot. Sometimes, kids clothes are just plain cuter! And I will forever and always shop for my workout wear in the junior’s department of Kohl’s. The difference in price in virtually the same items is shocking!

  7. $4 an hour and a lazy attitude – that’s my kind of fun. We give clothing to a veteran’s organization that picks up clothing. They send an envelope marked with the pickup date and a bright pink plastic bag. Clothing goes in the bag and the bag gets put out in our walkway. By mid-morning the truck comes by and the bag is gone. Easy peasy.

    1. Yes! That’s what I do with my clothes if I don’t get any takers on Poshmark. And other items I don’t sell. And all of my husband’s items. There is a pediatric cancer charity that works very similarly to that one. And they are getting four garbage bags FULL tomorrow morning!

  8. Don’t forget the tax benefits of donating stuff. When you actually print off a valuation guide from somewhere like Salvation army, the tax valuation always ends up being way more than I would have thought! It’s easy to donate, fun to calculate, and great to deduct at tax time!

  9. Good for you for keeping it real. With clothes I generally donate. But I have a pile of, well, mostly junk that I’m planning to take to the flea market one of these days. Sure there are a few really good items in there, but most of it would best be tossed altogether. But I just can’t throw it away when it’s still useful to someone. So I will spend far too many hours with it and make something like $4 an hour when I’m done. At least that will be time spent out in the fresh air.

    1. Ditto for your honesty, Gary! It’s too easy to make everything seem smooth. That’s what gets the clicks and the searches, but there are a lot of swings and misses…at least in my experience. I hope you’ll post about the flea market when you do go!

  10. A friend and I were just talking today about how selling to Clothes Mentor is not worth the time. I’ve had somewhat better luck with Once Upon a Child (same company), but mainly I’m just trying to get the excessive kids stuff out of my home. Most of which I didn’t even buy in the first place.

    I agree that it makes more sense to spare the hassle and donate the clothes. Someone else is sure to appreciate them more than the Clothes Mentor associates.

    1. It’s really frustrating that it’s such a great idea but executed so terribly. I’m sad that your experience has been the same as mine…but a bit relieved too.

  11. OMG, I FEEL YOUR PAIN. I’ve given up on reselling my clothes for the exact same reason. We have a really similar store in San Diego (Plato’s Closet) and every time I bring my clothes there, they don’t take anything. It’s super discouraging and honestly, not worth the time. Donating works just as well and is a (painful financial) reminder that shopping should be minimized, haha. Also, have you seen the True Cost on Netflix? It’s a documentary about the fashion industry and really just consumerism in general. It was really eye-opening and definitely helped me to curb some of my shopping.

    Proud of you for continuing the de-cluttering! It will feel so good when you’re finally done 🙂

    1. I’ll have to check out True Cost. I’ve read a bunch of articles on fast fashion and the environmental impact. In a weird way, that’s more incentive for me to keep things to wear “one day”. As for decluttering, I’m afraid I’ll never truly be done. But hopefully I’ll be at a place in my life where my husband can put some of his stuff in our bedroom 😉

  12. I have been there before – took a huge bag into Clothes Mentor and was told that they couldn’t take ANYTHING!

    Besides toys, I think old clothing is one of the biggest clutter items in our house. I just have trouble donating it. We have so much debt and I spent money on this stuff, I just want to find a way to get something back for it. I have been trying to upcycle/refashion some of the items to use again. So now, I’ve got piles of things that I’m saving with ideas to rework them, but no time to do it.

    1. I wish donation places were more transparent. The reason I love Poshmark so much is the 1-to-1 connection. It makes me feel like I know the item won’t end up in a landfill right away. Still, Clothes Mentor was NOT worth my time! 😉 Someone should seriously use their business model and try to run it more efficiently. They need to be choosier so they get less but higher-quality inventory, IMHO.

  13. I focus my decluttering on my books. I love them, but they are so heavy when I move. Thankfully there are little give a book/take a book boxes in my neighborhood. I have never take a book from them, but I have given quite a few over the years.

  14. Melissa says:

    I’ve had a lot of success using for clothing. They send you a clean-out bag, you put everything you want to get rid of in it, send it to them (for free!) and if they take your items they send you the cash. I didn’t have a whole lot of high ticket items in my closet, but I do think it was worth my time since I would have had to bag the stuff to donate anyway. Win-win!

  15. I never found selling anything less than a large piece of furniture worth it time wise. I always think about how much time I could use working instead. Plus the savings for me is that as I reduced what I owned I became WAY less willing to bring in new stuff that I didn’t LOVE to take up space. So my spending is now reduced to mostly kids stuff while they grow out of stuff.

    1. I love that, Janet. It’s definitely better now that I’ve not been shopping for over a year. First, I figured I’d let myself replace things that I wore out. But now that I realize I don’t even need to do that, out it all goes!

  16. Ditties Morgan says:

    Thanks for the kick in the pants, Penny. I’ve been meaning to go through, inspect, launder, iron, and trek to a consignment shop to sell my fortune in clothes. Think i’ll donate them instead. You put things in a perfect perspective.

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