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  • Writer's pictureMarni Jameson

In With the New Means Out With the Old First

“I better start looking for those twin beds,” I say to my husband, as I crack open my laptop to search. We want to turn the upstairs loft into a children’s guestroom now that we have – blink – four grandkids and counting.

“Better sell the daybed that’s in there first,” says DC, with infuriating pragmatism.

Dang! He’s right. The old daybed and trundle need to go to make room for two twin beds with trundles, so the room sleeps four kids, not two. But I’d so much rather shop than sell.

Wouldn’t we all?

Getting rid of old furniture before you buy new stuff is right up there with eat your vegetables before dessert, and don’t spend more than you make. Good rules to live by but no fun.

If you don’t get rid of the old to make room for the new, you set yourself up for Someday Syndrome, that default disease where you just stick everything you’re too lazy to deal with in the garage, or worse, a storage unit, until the proverbial “someday.”

Though I knew what I had to do, I didn’t want to. Besides the hassle of selling, I had to deal with sentimental attachment. Here I was, author of two books on downsizing, and a third on the way, reluctant to release.

See, I bought the iron beauty back when my youngest was still in a crib. Though a bit beyond my budget, the designer who sold it to me called it “heirloom quality,” and said, “it’s the kind of bed you’ll keep it in the family forever.” I fell for all that as well as the bed frame’s arched back, ornamental detail, and the dream of my little girl growing into it, then pulling the trundle out when her girlfriends came for a sleepover.

All that happened. Now that little girl is 22, living on her own with a bigger bed and no interest in this childhood relic.

But, but, maybe her kids will, says half my brain … don’t be ridiculous, says the other half. “Heirloom quality.” Yes. “You’ll keep it in the family forever.” No.

While I would like the daybed to go to, if not her, one of our other four grown kids, none of them needs nor wants an iron daybed right now, and I am not – are you listening? -- am not, going to store this for the day they might. After that is resolved in my mind, I move on to fight off the other arguments in the excuse parade: But the piece is still beautiful. It has sentimental value. It’s good quality. It was expensive.

These, my friends, are all reasons why one in four homeowners can’t park in his garage, and why the United States has more storage facilities than McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subways combined. We have 53,000 storage facilities and the rest of the world has only 10,000. What’s more, 90 percent of ours is full. Shame on us!

All because we’re really good at getting and really bad at letting go. And that needs to change.

So I will lead by reluctant example. I posted the “Iron Daybed – Heirloom Quality” on Craigslist. Five days later, I sold it to a lovely local couple, helped tuck it into the back of their SUV, and watched it go off to a new deserving home. In its place, I have cash instead of clutter.

While parting with furniture that you’re fond of but that is no longer a fit for your home isn’t easy, fortunately, today, it’s easier. Thanks to online marketplaces like Next Door and Craigslist, you don’t have to wait for the neighborhood yard sale.

However, though these online classified advertising sites are a great way to turn clutter to cash, they are also scam magnets. I fended off four frauds in 48 hours before finding an honest buyer. But don’t let that stop you. Here, according to Craigslist, are ways to avoid a scam when selling household goods:

  • Keep it local. Always deal with local people, face-to-face, and in cash. Do this, and you will avoid 99% of scam attempts. Don’t sell to (or buy from) anyone from out of town.

  • Accept cash money only. Do not accept personal checks, cashier’s checks, certified checks or money orders. Banks will cash fakes, then hold you responsible. Do not accept credit cards or funds through PayPal, wire transfers, Western Union, or payment plans. Take only cash. Here are three classic examples of scam texts I got:

Ø Can you accept cashier’s check? If yes please kindly drop me your name to be written on check and your mailing address, then once check clears I can arrange pickup. Cause I'm currently in Georgia, but setting up a new apartment in your area. Thanks.

Ø Can you accommodate my request? Probably I will send you a check for the sale and make arrangement for the pick up when check clears.

Ø Actually am not in town right now. Can I pay via cashier check and the moving company would come for the pick up after the check clears?

  • No shipping. Do not engage in any shipping arrangements.

  • Don’t provide financial information. Scammers often say they want to wire money into your account to try to get your bank account number, or PayPal account information. Don’t fall for it.

  • Meet buyers with caution. When meeting buyers in person, try to meet in a public place if possible. If the buyer must come to your house, have someone with you.

  • Have faith. The system works, and when it does, you meet the nicest people, and feel good about sending your cherished furnishings off to appreciative homes.

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