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The Key To Turning Your Clutter Into Cash

How to downsize and make money at the same time.

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Eden Weingart
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Want to downsize your clutter and build wealth all at once? Matt Paxton’s new AARP book, Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff, explains how to use online sites such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace (Paxton’s favorite—he finds it gets the most eyeballs), Nextdoor, or Offer- Up to get rid of things you no longer want while making money at the same time.

Here are Paxton’s eight tips, excerpted straight from his book:

  • The more complete the listing, the better. It’s wise to be totally honest about the condition of the item, including the flaws. 
  • Post as many pictures as you can. Sharp, high-quality photos are a sign of a serious, honest seller and help attract browsers to your listing. But make sure there is no personal information in the background of the picture. Posting a picture of a bicycle with your house numbers in view can be dangerous.
  • List the cost and any shipping and pickup options.
  • Be responsive. If you’re going to make the most of online selling, you have to play the game and respond to any messages as quickly, courteously and completely as possible.
  • Set the price a little higher than what you want to receive, but not too much higher — or no one will look at your ad. Paxton generally assumes he will be selling at about 25 percent less than the price he originally sets.
  • If the item doesn’t sell in 24 hours, drop the price immediately by 10 to 25 percent.
  • Don’t let your pride get in the way when negotiating. It’s a two-way dance and remember that you already decided you don’t want the item. Turning down a buyer over $5 or $10 may cost you an hour or more of your time, and your time is worth something. If you have a person who wants to buy your stuff, find a way to get it done.
  • If you don’t sell in five days, set your lowest price. If it’s not gone in a day, you’re done. Donate the item. (Paxton has a chapter on where and how.) The reality is that, at this time, there’s no market for your item. Don’t take it personally.

Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff: Declutter, Downsize, and Move Forward With Your Life, by Matt Paxton with Jordan Michael Smith (Penguin Random House/AARP, February 2022). Find the book at or wherever books are sold. Paxton also will be hosting a free decluttering session February 9 at 7pm through AARP’s Virtual Community Center. You can register now.

Blue book cover with stacked tea cups, of Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff