Should You Have a Yard Sale or Donate Unwanted Items?

I often wonder what makes more sense: having a yard sale, or donating unwanted items to charity for a tax deduction. I think it varies in different seasons of life and for each family, but here are a few factors to consider:

1. Will Your Items Sell Well?
-I’ve found that all baby items, children’s clothes and shoes, toys, small furniture (such as chairs, nightstands, etc), and kitchen items (especially pots and pans and small appliances), are all big yard sale sellers. Other items, such as big ticket items, holiday decorations, adult clothing, and electronics (unless you allow your buyers to test them out to prove they work), don’t sell as well, or you won’t get much back for your investment. For example, you can usually claim a bag of gently used women’s or men’s clothing for a much higher tax deduction than you could get from a yard sale, especially if you’re selling things for $0.25 or $0.50 each. Since I have small children, I make quite a bit of money selling their gently used clothes, shoes, toys, and gear at our yard sales. But, once I’m out of that stage, it may not make as much sense to put the effort into a yard sale, especially if I don’t have a lot of “hot sellers”.

2. How Much Time Do You Have?
-Your time is worth something too. If you put 10 hours into yard sale prep (pricing, sorting, hosting, etc), and expect to make $100, you’ll have made $10 an hour. Is that worth your time, or is there something else you could do with your time that could save you more per hour? It depends on your perspective. Do you have more money than time, or more time than money?

3. If You Donate, Will a Tax Deduction Help You?
-Depending on your income and other deductions, donating could help you when tax season comes around by lowering your taxable income. (Remember to get a receipt for your donations, and check the maximum value you’re allowed to deduct!) But, if extra donations won’t matter one way or another for your situation, and you could use the extra cash, go for the yard sale. 

4. Do You Need Cash?
-If you’re saving up for something (such as a new couch, new appliances, a vacation, etc), and cash will help you out, or if you want to add a little something to your monthly budget or to pay a unexpected bill, then having instant cash from a yard sale might be worth the time and effort. If you don’t really need any extra cash and a deduction would help you at the end of the year, go with the donation.

What Do You Think? Have You Had More Success With Yard Sales or Donations?

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