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Is Selling My Stuff Really Worth It?

When deciding to donate or sell an item, it can be tricky to decide which path is right for us. 

Often, we value our items at their purchase price (or higher, if we are sentimentally attached to it). So, if we decide an item needs to go, and it originally cost $50, we think we are essentially donating $50 to charity OR could “earn back” that $50. 

Typically, if an item surpasses a certain dollar amount, we feel like we should sell it so as not to “waste” money by donating or discarding it. This is how this process went for me recently: 

A set of dinner plates that cost $65 were gifted to us for our wedding. They are lovely, but too heavy for me to use on a daily basis. So, I decided they needed to go, but I thought $65 was too much to “give away” - plus, I felt guilty for putting them on our registry in the first place and then not enjoying them. In order to make up for that guilt, I chose to sell them. 

I planned to list them for $60 (just slightly lower than the store price because they were only used twice). 

Poshmark suggested these plates be sold for $27. I disagreed and listed for $50 (and I already felt like I lost $10…cue more guilt). 

After 8 months of waiting, I finally got an offer: $25 for the set. I couldn’t imagine selling for only $25 after waiting for so long, so I countered for $39 (which would give me $31 once Poshmark took their cut of earnings). 

The buyer accepted, so I washed the plates again, searched for packaging to use, and was ready to print my shipping label. Then Poshmark sent a reminder to check the weight of the items because I would need to pay to upgrade the shipping label if the package was more than 5 lbs. 

I scoured the brand's website, trying to find an item weight to no avail. I called the company, and they told me they didn’t know the weight, and “don’t have access to that information”. 

Cut to me stepping on and off our bathroom scale 20 times, holding plates individually, then as a set, trying to get their weight correct. The plates weigh somewhere between 8-9 lbs (depending on if I held them on my head or in my hands, fyi). 

The upgraded shipping label for 9lbs then cost me an additional $18. 

So, here is how all the math shakes out:

-Plates at acquisition: $0 (gifted)

-Price listed: $50

-Sold for: $39

-Listing Fee: -$8

-Cost to ship:-$18

-Cost of extra packing supplies to make sure they didn’t break in transit: -$3

For a grand profit of……. $10. 

As I was driving these plates to the post office, I couldn’t help but think about the time I spent on these plates and divide that $10 into an hourly wage. I made roughly $1.50/hr for this endeavor. 

Don’t forget the annoyance and guilt factor I felt each time I saw the plates in the 8 months that they were hanging around our house after I made the decision that they needed to go. It was a quiet, yet constant “you wasteful idiot” that the plates sang out. 

So here is my suggestion for you: Decide first what your time is worth*, not what an item is worth. Then, to find what an item is worth, you can check to see what it sold for recently by searching similar postings online.  

Finally, follow this formula:

(Current value of the item - Cost to ship) ÷ How many hours you will spend posting, waiting, packing, and shipping the item.  = ____ / hr. 

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