By: Ev Greenberg, NAPO Illinois Chapter, R-Cubed, Wilmette, IL
Do you have young adult children who have recently graduated and will be living on their own? Or maybe you have one who is finally ready to move out of your home, and into an apartment? Yes – that does eventually happen. Or maybe you have someone moving home, but you have already filled the extra bedroom with stuff…
Are you like my former self? Thinking that you should keep that extra couch or desk or bedroom set, for your kids? Have you moved it to your basement, attic, or even a currently spare bedroom? Maybe you are even renting an off-site storage locker for all those extra things! When I moved to my own apartment after college, I was thrilled to get some furniture from my mother. It made no difference to me that the décor was a bit off or it was somewhat scratched. But times have changed.
Unfortunately for those of us who have saved many items over the years, the majority of Millennials don’t want our stuff! Nothing personal; it just doesn’t work for them.
This is the social generation! The 20 and 30-somethings are not defined by their possessions, other than their latest-generation cellphone (Washington Post, 3/28/15). Memories are kept in photos, all shared in the moment with their numerous on-line friends. Sports trophies and T-shirt collections have become much less meaningful.
Take Kelly and Josh…, who rent a small 700-square-foot apartment in Washington, D.C… The couple frequently sells things on Craigslist and calls an Uber instead of owning a car. “My parents are always trying to give us stuff,” says Kelly, a 29-year-old real estate marketer. “It’s stuff like bunches of old photos and documents, old bowls or cocktail glasses. We hate clutter. We would rather spend money on experiences.” “I consider myself a digital hoarder,” says Josh, 33… “If I can’t store my memories…in a computer, I’m probably not going to keep them around.” (Washington Post).
According to Stephanie Kenyon, owner of an auction and appraisal company in Chevy Chase, Maryland, younger people aren’t really that interested in filling shelves with collectibles. The under-35 set has always had eBay to find exactly what they wanted and aren’t as nostalgic for former decades.
What to Do?
Have you heard the new term – ‘brown furniture’? The furnishings industry has coined this for the big, dated wood-finished and upholstered pieces that no one wants anymore. Stockpiles of “brown leather and brown ultra-suede couches have nowhere to go,” says Jeffrey Brooks, an interior designer from New Jersey. (Wall Street Journal, 7/1/2014)
The looming question – what to do with the brown furniture and other extra stuff? Start now! Don’t wait until you need to move, or some unforeseen event occurs, forcing you to downsize quickly. The more time you have, the more likely that you can find ‘homes’ for all your extra things.
If you are looking for some cash, hold a garage sale. Or if that’s too much work, hire a company that specializes in home sales and/or on-line auctions. We recommend finding a reputable organization with excellent recommendations. A consignment shop is another option. They typically take 50% of the proceeds. Most are particular about the types of items that they accept. It’s very easy to send a photo and description ahead of time via e-mail. From that, they can tell you whether it’s acceptable and give you an estimated selling price.
Donate! And don’t forget to track your donations for a tax write-off. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Savers take many types of items. If furniture is questionable, e-mail them a photo. Note that many charitable organizations have become more particular in terms of the furniture pieces that they will accept. In spite of this, Major Davis, head of the Salvation Army, states that their furniture donations are growing by about four percent annually. Check out your local thrift shop. Talk to charitable organizations in your area. If the process becomes overwhelming, hire someone to help who is familiar with resources in your neighborhood.
Give away the items that you are unable to sell or donate. Ask people with whom you work; don’t forget your cleaning lady or lawn service people. If your contacts do not need or want your items, it‘s likely they may know someone who will. Use social media to get the word out! If you don’t mind talking to strangers, post on Freecycle or your local Craig’s List. Many communities also have local swaps and exchanges.
Check out events in your community! Some towns have pick-up days, where they will take anything that you place out on your curb. Recycling events are a great way to dispose of scrap metals, tires, paints, electronics and other items.
For more information contact Ev at firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you like to share your blog here? NAPO members can sign-up to become a NAPO blogger.
Need help getting organized? Visit NAPO's Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultants Directory to search for professional organizers or productivity consultants in your area.