I really enjoy a good deal, and I hate feeling like I wasted money. However, at a certain point in my life, I found that time has a value, and space has a value, and that needed to be calculated into how much time I put into trying to make money and how much space stuff took up as I stored it. I discovered the world of Buy-Sell-Trade when I was still in college. With the west coast take on reuse and recycle everything, it was easy to find consignment stores where I could bring used clothing and trade it for new ones or go to a designer clothing swap and get rid of the old and bring something new home. When my world opened up to cloth diapers and baby carriers, I also learned the art of swapping pretty much anything. With it though, I also found that I wasted a lot of money.
In 2011, there were multiple sites where you could swap anything from baby stuff to designer handbags. This was before the era of Facebook groups and Facebook Selling pages. Swap.com was great for swapping designer items. Make Up Alley was great for swapping make up. Swapmamas was a decent site for pretty much any junk you didn’t want, and Swap Baby Goods, was pretty much swapping baby stuff. Diaperswappers was great for cloth diapers, and The Baby Wearer was great for swapping baby carriers.
Purging through a file of paperwork that I kept from when I had time and was swapping stuff to get new stuff, I spent over $2500 in 1 year on postage. Not counting the hours I put into photographing stuff, looking up current market price, and then trying to work out details for a new pair of shoes or 1 single lipstick. It was ridiculous. Now that I look back to 4 years ago, I shake my head and wonder, what was I thinking?
Now that I am taking another look at my life, my space, and the amount of product I have to insure and also take into account for my will and trust, I am looking at different options on what to do with all of this stuff. Part of me screams, trade it for stuff you want, the really big part of me says, sell it and move on, and another part of me that is slightly larger than either of the others is saying that I should donate it all and take the tax deduction. So I am considering all my options and what is even available now as an option.
Recently as I was reading through threads on Facebook, I was amazed by the amount of opinion on trading/swapping items for items. The generally agreed upon opinion on the subject really made an impact and had me reflecting on what might have been the biggest mistake of my life, two years of non stop swapping. With the amount of scammers out there on the internet, hiding behind a computer screen, preying on those who are trying to recover from a recession and stretching their dollars, it’s hard to see what good swapping really it anymore. With no guarantee that you will get your stuff, and no guarantee anyone is going to be punished for their actions, it really is a shoot in the dark with a hope that your partner is a good human being. Often times, if its too good to be true, it probably is. You also are accounting for the cost of postage, that just recently went up again January 17 of this year. Swapping is not only slightly wasteful its also really risky. Reviewing Diaperswappers, which is now a dying website with little movement, its sad to see not only the swapping pages dead, but also the forums that used to be filled with useful information and support. Swapbabygoods is completely gone from the internet, Swap.com has changed from being a swapping place for designer goods, and it is now a premium online consignment store with fees and an overhead for everything your heart is willing to sell. Swapmamas is still a website that exists, but looking at it, there is minimal movement, and the items are a collection of holiday rejects and used dollar bin clothing and items collecting dust in the garage that might be light enough to ship for cheap, which has always been the site, but now without many participants, and a $22 a year premium and no protection whatsoever, there really is no reason to be a part of it if you have anything valued at over $15. The movement that seemed to sweep the country when the economy had crashed and money was tight, is no longer a thing, and with an increase in the amount of inconsiderate human beings and creeps hiding behind a computer screen, I can’t see there being any reason why you would spend the $5-10 to ship an item, just to get an item of similar value back, (if you get it). Sorry swap sites, but you are out.
Buying and Selling online from person to person versus Retailer to Consumer has become so normalized, especially in the collector communities or specialized interest groups that within the last 6 months, Facebook has gotten on board with the way their Groups are being utilized that they designed a selling application without the groups to make transactions easier. You can now ever pay through Facebook (although I don’t know how that works with banking, cashing out, and withdrawals). As I considered my options with trading, it came down to the conclusion that I am just not in need of anything and trading would ultimately bring more useless stuff into my home. So selling is one of the more favored options now as I try to streamline my life down and minimize the amount of space where stuff is stored. While I might lose a few dollars on stuff that is brand new due to fees and shipping, it will be money in the bank, and space in my house.
Donating my stuff is the last option, and while I used to think everything I had was of value and somebody wants it, I am now older and wiser, and time is worth so much more to me. So while many items will be sold, anything that is more than 15oz in weight and can’t fit in a poly mailer will most likely be donated to a worthy local charity that will benefit people trying to get back on their feet. The tax deduction is worth more than the time trying to make a few dollars.
Life is full of lessons, and money saving is one of them that should always be a continuous learning opportunity. While I look back at the money wasted shipping useless to me stuff to someone else to get more useless stuff in return, and a sliver of me regrets it, I have to be grateful for the learning opportunity of being burned multiple times by horrible human beings, and about the experience giving me a reason to treasure my time now. You don’t know what you’re missing until its gone, and now that I am 4 years wiser, I am also a lot happier and conscientious about my money and my time.
So what are you going to do with all your stuff this year?