Weekly Quick Tips

It Might Be Worth Something: What Is Best For You?

An episode of a TV show about a pawn shop was on the other night. A guy came into the store with an item he said was ‘appraised’ at $500, so he expected to sell it to the pawn shop for that amount. The pawn guy looked at him in dismay and said, “Look, fella, I’m not a collector and I don’t want to buy your junk to keep for myself. I have to sell it and make a profit. I’ll give you $100, take it or leave it.” Maybe diplomacy was lacking, but that pawn shop guy was dead right!

As Professional Organizers and Senior Move Managers, we are usually the bearer of the bad news to our clients that their unwanted stuff is not worth anything. They have been deluded by these TV shows into thinking that because it is old, it is a treasure and could be worth thousands. Even the stuff that is rusting in their garages or basements is sure to be a treasure! Despite what these items were paid for many years ago, the reality is an item’s worth is based on how unique and rare it is and/or what someone is willing to pay for it. The cold hard truth is that many of these items have lost their value because the market is becoming flooded with them and the younger generations do not want them.

Even antiques can be tricky. It’s all about what’s hot and what’s not on the current market. A sudden flood of items of a certain period can dilute or completely deflate the value. That 100 year old wood carving by Grandpa or the painting by Uncle Al is only valuable to you, unless Gramps and Al were famous. Most used furniture is just that – used. In addition, your kids don’t want what dealers call ‘old brown furniture’. Younger generations prefer to buy things from IKEA or other stores of that nature. They are not interested in buying furniture that is 20 or 30 years old. They don’t want dishes that cannot be washed in the dishwasher. They want what is new, hip, inexpensive and easy to care for. In addition, older generations that have established homes don’t want extra furniture, dishes or glassware. They have what they need and adding to it would just take up space already consumed by other things.

Of course, there are exceptions and stories abound about treasures found in the attic. That’s why it is imperative that you invest in a professional appraisal for anything you might suspect to be of value. Your fears about watching a TV episode about antiques and realizing that you gave away a fortune can be put to rest. Don’t live with ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’. An auction house or estate liquidator can help you get your questions answered. Remember, they will display, market and advertise it as well as pay staff to sell it. Expect to earn approximately 30%-50% of its actual cash value. Or, do your research by hitting the computer and find out what items of that nature are selling for online. Be sure to compare of like kind and quality including the brand, the maker or designer, the year of production, etc. It may take a bit of time to research but you’ll have a better understanding of how to price your items.

Be realistic about your ‘treasures’.  Many of us believe items are worth far more than the market is willing to pay for them. Despite your high expectations, items will sell for what someone is willing to pay. Be realistic and know that the items are going to someone who wants them.

Here’s what you can do next:

1. Keep what you love. Just be sure you have room to display and/or use it. If not, let it go. Nothing is honored in dusty attics and storage sheds.

2. Don’t be greedy. Unless you are really strapped for cash, a garage sale is a bad idea. They are labour and time intensive and can be downright frustrating and insulting. You got up at 6 am on a Saturday and spent two days to be insulted by people offering you next to nothing for your stuff. In the end, you have to take away what wasn’t sold to charity. Give it way now and be done with it.

3. List On-line Garage sales, Craigs List, and Kijiji are good choices, but they attract criminals as well as customers. It’s a great opportunity for burglars to case your property. Be careful. You are opening up your home to strangers.

4. Give it away to loved ones. Most likely, you have things you are planning on ‘leaving’ to somebody some day. Leave it to them now. What a pleasure to know they have it, see the pleasure and gratitude in their eyes. Don’t deny yourself or them the pleasure of it now.

5. Donate to charity.  Any local charity is recommended. Non profits offer jobs, training, and a variety of services to the dying, poor and disabled. What a privilege for you to pass on your blessings to others. In this current economy, charities are really suffering. Be part of the solution.

6. Let it go, one way or the other: This may be a tough one especially when we are attached to a value we expect or a sentimental story about the item in question. Know that with this transition, comes new opportunities. Letting the items go will free up space, allow for less worry and concern and maybe bring in a little money. Be open and curious as you go through this process. Having an optimistic approach to selling items that have been in the family for years can be emotionally taxing. Know that by downsizing and ridding yourself of the items that are no longer needed or wanted you are creating the space for good things to come.

Do you think you have to keep something because you paid a lot for it and now it seems a shame to just give it away? Here’s our answer. Did it serve you? If so, did you really expect a full refund after using it for years? You got your money’s worth. Let it go and be grateful that unlike others, you have more than you need. There’s an old saying that whenever you let go of things you don’t need, you make room for new blessings in your life. Make room for new blessings. Now, that’s really worth something!Copyright © 2013 Organizing Lives ® All rights are reserved and no part of this article may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means unless expressly stated otherwise, or except with the written permission of Organizing Lives®. Enquires should be directed to: info@orgliv.mybusinesshub.ca