Posts Tagged ‘decluttering’

26th May
written by Randy

On my minimalist path to owning 100 items or less this year, I have sold a lot of things on Craigslist — a lot! — and I’m starting to get kind of good at it. I’ve figured out a few tricks to getting good results, quickly.

The most important thing to do when selling something on Craigslist is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Ask yourself “would this ad interest me?” If you were looking for this item, would this price interest you? Would these details interest you?

Often when people list an item on Craigslist, they write a simple title, and an uninformative one-sentence description of the item. Many times they don’t even include a photo. I don’t know about you, but I want to know about an item before I buy it.

Photos are a must. There is a box on the search that lets people see only the results with photos. Don’t let your ad be filtered out before it ever has a chance. It takes a few minutes to snap a photo and attach it to your ad. Do it.

Use a descriptive title. List important details: manufacturer, model number, color, size. You’ll get more people to look at an add for “Apple iPad 16gb WiFi only” than you’ll get for “ipad wifi”, just like an ad for a “Canon EOS Rebel XSi digital SLR camera” will attract more attention than an ad for “Canon Rebel dSLR”.

Give a detailed description of the item for sale. Far too often I see people write a short, one-sentence description of the item for sale. Ads like that scare me off. Knowledge is power, give people knowledge and let them feel powerful.

When I list an item on Craigslist, I begin with a descriptive sentence, usually formed by copying the title I used, and adding “in excellent condition” to the end. Then, I add a bullet-list of information about the item, telling the important features and what is included with it. Details like “in original box”, and “includes original manual” do a lot to attract responses.

Check your spelling. Read, re-read, proofread your ad. Make sure you’ve spelled everything correctly, especially the important details like brand name and model number. These are details that people are searching on, if you misspell them, you may never show up in a search. But even if you do, spelling is still very important. People feel safer buying from someone who writes properly.

Set a reasonable price. Let’s be realistic. This is Craigslist. You’re probably not going to sell a used item and get back what you paid for it. If there’s not much difference between your price and the brand new cost, people will prefer to buy new and get the warranty.

As I said above, put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Would that price attract you? If a new camera is $250, I probably won’t buy a used one for $200, but at $175 it might be a good deal. A new iPad at $500 (plus tax) doesn’t cost significantly more than the used one at $450, and it’s guaranteed to have never been dropped, but I might take the chance on a used one for $375.

Expect attempts to negotiate. People want to feel like they got a bargain. Whatever price you set, make sure you’ve left room for the buyer to try to talk you down. If you’re willing to take $375 for that iPad, list it for $400. If you’re willing to take $175 for that camera, list it for $190.

Use the rule of give-and-take. Most people play their cards too soon. They will try to get you to reduce the price during the email or phone call. When they do this, they give you the upper hand! You’ve already priced the item with room to come down, so you’re not losing anything. When they ask you to take a reduced price, tell them “I can do that if you come today. If I have to wait, I know I’ll get what I’m asking.” Now this person will feel the pressure to come right away lest they risk losing a great deal.

Never deal with someone you don’t like. You don’t have to respond to every email you get. If you get offers you don’t like, just ignore them. If you don’t like the way someone writes, or you think they seem rude, don’t respond. Don’t worry… if you’ve written a descriptive ad, used a photo, and set an attractive price, you’ll get another response soon enough.

When I sold my iMac, it was more than three years old, yet I sold it in one day and got more than 70% of what I had paid for it. When I listed my original 16gb iPad for $375 (price firm), I got more than 25 responses to the ad in just the first hour!

Over the past few months, I’ve sold furniture, lamps, tools, DVDs, video games, cameras, film, lighting gear, darkroom equipment, video gear, and computer equipment… and I’ve continued to pay my rent every month, without a job, while I traveled all over the world. When you know what you’re doing, you can get a lot on Craigslist.

25th November
written by Randy

Over the past few months I’ve had a lot of attention on simplifying my wardrobe. I’ve already shared with you how I’ve reduced laundry complications and improved my peace of mind by getting rid of the whites, and how I’ve reduced the size of my wardrobe by only keeping what fits. The next thing I’ve focused on (and will continue to focus on) is convenience for travel.

I like to travel light. In fact, I prefer not to ever check any luggage. Even if I’m traveling for a month (or more!) I only want what fits into a backpack. But I don’t want to wear dirty clothes, and I’m not comfortable with the idea of wearing undergarments two days in a row. The key is fast-drying. If you have fast drying socks, underwear, and t-shirts, you can wash them every night or two, and live comfortably with only 2 or 3 of each item.

For many years, I’ve been the guy with 30 pairs of cotton underwear, 30 or more pairs of cotton socks, and dozens of t-shirts, all of which could only be worn once and had to be tuble-dried because cotton holds moisture, aka sweat.

Recently, however, I’ve made a point of buying undergarments with more synthetic material, rather than cotton. These synthetic materials do not hold moisture, which means they hold less odor. It also means they can be hand washed and they will easily dry overnight. This makes them perfect for travel, but it’s also pretty convenient at home, and it’s allowed me to significantly reduce the amount of undergarments I need to keep on hand.

Two t-shirts, one black and one gray, are enough to fit almost any situation. They can be worn alone, or layered for versatility or warmth. When you buy solid t-shirts with no prints or patterns, they work with everything and make your wardrobe more versatile. Two items go a really long way. And I can buy them to fit without worrying that they’ll shrink.

For all of these items, I’ve started with Under Armour products, which are easy to find at the local sporting goods store. They cost more than Hanes (or other commodity brands) but that price is easier to justify when you only need a few items. I’ve got three briefs, three pairs of socks, and those two t-shirts.

I’m aware that Thorlo is a popular brand for socks, and that Ex Officio is a popular brand for underwear, for their high quality, good fit, light weight, and fast drying. Perhaps in the future I will try them out and compare them. But for now, this is all new to me, and I’m happy so far with what I’m using from Under Armour.

It was a little hard to get used to at first, as I’ve always loved the feel of cotton. But since I’m buying slightly more expensive, higher quality items, I’m finding that I haven’t sacrificed anything in the way of comfort. The same would probably not have been true if I’d bought cheap polyester items.

8th November
written by Randy

In my last post, I began talking about how I’m simplifying my wardrobe and I talked about getting rid of my whites. Today I will talk about phase two of my wardrobe simplification: getting only keeping clothes that fit.

This probably sounds really obvious. It’s the same advice they give on all the tv shows and all the radio interviews and all the decluttering and minimalist blogs: “go through all your clothes and get rid of everything that doesn’t fit.” But what’s interesting is that nobody ever talks about how to do that!

The first step is the obvious one — pull everything out, and one-by-one, try on each item and see if it fits. Don’t keep it if it doesn’t fit; it’s only eating up space. At least if you donate it, someone will wear it. (You’re certainly not going to!)

Making that first pass through everything and getting rid of things that don’t fit will likely make an immediate reduction. You will most likely have a large stack or pile of clothes that used to fit before you gained or lost weight, or that have shrunk over time, etc.

But that’s just the obvious step. You’re not done.

The next step is to wear everything. Everything. In my case, I took everything out of the closet and left it stacked next to my bed. Each day, when getting dressed, I put on something from the stack. If if makes it back through the laundry, it goes back into the closet.

What I found was that a lot of clothes “seem” to fit when you try them on and look in the mirror, but when you wear them for a day, you realize there’s a reason it sits in the back of the closet or on the bottom of the shelf.

I had several shirts and sweaters that seemed to keep creeping up throughout the day, and I would keep pulling them down at the waist. That’s uncomfortable — I don’t want clothes that make me uncomfortable.

I also found that with my long-sleeved shirts, many times the sleeves were cut in such a way that they pulled up high on my wrist when I moved. *GONE*

A couple of sweaters had sleeves so long that they would hang down around my hands and keep getting in the way throughout the day. *GONE*

One sweater looked absolutely great on me when I first tried it on during step one, but when I actually wore it, I found that it bunched up and fit totally wrong when I would sit. *GONE*

When you take something out of the closet and try it on for less than a minute, you’re not really getting the experience that you get when you wear it all day. Those 30 seconds aren’t long enough for you to notice the awkward tailoring, the itchy material, or the fact that the edges keep turning outward leaving you fidgeting with your clothes all day.

I’ve recently worn almost everything I own, and I’ve gotten rid of all those items that made me uncomfortable. I noticed that the things I got rid of tended to be the things that were always on the bottom of the shelf, as if I subconsciously knew that I didn’t enjoy wearing them, but I couldn’t justify letting go of good clothes that fit.

Today, however, I have the confidence of knowing that anything I pull out of the closet is going to fit me nicely, all day long. When I meet new people, I make an impression with my personality, not with my fidgeting. And at the end of the day, I don’t feel unnecessarily stressed out.

It really gives to meaning to that old saying, “the clothes make the man.”

5th November
written by Randy

Over the past few months, I have been simplifying my wardrobe, thinning out what I own, mostly getting rid of what’s there, but occasionally adding something to make it all work better.

Completely changing a wardrobe makes for a really dramatic television show, but in everyday life it’s not so easy. Some things have to be done gradually for monetary reasons. Other things just need to be done slowly to prevent shock.

I’ve been going through the process in phases, and I think it makes sense to write about those phases separately. So I’ll have a few more posts coming on this topic soon.

Today, I’m going to start with color.

For most of my life, I’ve shopped for variety. I’ve always had black shirts, brown shirts, green shirts, white shirts, blue shirts… etc. I have black pants, brown pants, gray pants, khaki pants, white socks, blue socks, black socks, khaki socks, t-shirts, tank tops, and more.

My clothes had too much color. This may be less of a problem for other people — a family of four, may have no problem filling up a load of whites — but for a single guy, having to keep three separate loads for white, light colors, and dark colors means two things: having to own a lot of each, and always having something dirty left over.

All that variety wasn’t making my life better, it was making it worse. But I didn’t realize that until I started getting rid of it.

So the first thing I did is buy a couple packages of black socks and a couple of plain black t-shirts, and then I gathered up all of my white socks, white t-shirts, and white briefs, and tossed them out. Now, the only white things I have left are a couple of nice shirts, and those can be hand-washed or dry cleaned.

Laundry day just got much simpler! I no longer have to wait several weeks for that basket of whites to fill up. And I don’t need to own so many shirts or socks because I can wash them more frequently since the colored basket gets full faster.

I now have half as many socks and one-third as many t-shirts as I used to… and as an added bonus, everything matches! After a week or two of this, I realized I could get rid of all those other brown and blue and gray socks that I was only saving because they matched a particular pair of pants.

Just this one change has had a huge, positive effect on my happiness. It means less mess, less work to clean, less work sorting and folding and putting away… and less “stuff” that I actually own.