These last few days Wendy and I have been redoing our condo layout. We have been putting in new bookshelves, getting rid of furniture and most of all trying to make space by ditching possessions we really don't need. The process of getting rid of stuff is a very educational one as different categories of things have completely different sets of rules. For example, we have an old stroller that is pretty beat up but served us well so I tried to get someone to take it through FreeCycle along with our old coffee table and got absolutely no bites. This is a new thing for me as every other time I have put something up on FreeCycle to give it away I have had people stumbling over one another to take it off my hands but this time only the sounds of crickets chirping greeted my post. I suppose our entirely functional though admittedly well worn coffee table and stroller will end up in the dumpster out back.
It was a different story with my old Magic cards. There have been several iterations of me selling all my cards for cash and last time I checked I was up about $1300 net on the hobby. I figured the stuff I had left was not worth much but I knew I had a couple of cards I could probably sell so I went online to find out what the local store was willing to buy and how much they would pay. It turns out I can hand them just a small fraction of my remaining collection (the valuable fraction, mind) and I should be carting home something like $2000 bucks. Even then I still will have thousands of valuable cards that they don't need right at the moment but may yet be worth something. So I have this crap that has been taking up shelf and locker space that I need to get rid of and somebody is going to pay me thousands of dollars for just a small part of it? Good deal.
I figured getting rid of old books might be a little like Magic cards. Surely mint condition hardcover books must sell for a fair bit right? Turns out the answer is no! Used book stores don't want hardcover books because they are too bulky and customers only want softcover. The local store in fact has a rule that they will not buy hardcover books at any price because they are so worthless. I did manage to carry 4 big shopping bags full of books down there and got $70 for them in total but at least half of the books I delivered I didn't even get paid for. The bookstore was willing to take them for free and put them on their 'any book for a buck' rack but they weren't willing to give me any money for them. I still gave them the books of course because it is far better to have them back in circulation than to throw them in the recycling bin but my expectations for how getting rid of books would go were obviously dead wrong.
Wendy has actually been on a 'get rid of stuff' project for a month or so now. Every day she finds a new object that we don't need anymore and shows it to me before pitching it in the recycling or garbage. We aren't particularly packrats but the sheer volume of things we have sitting around that we don't need is shocking. Medicine 5 years beyond expiry? Check. Objects we cannot even identify the use of? Check. Electronics that have not worked in multiple years? Check. Books we actively dislike and yet still have on our shelves? Check. The thing I found most shocking is she didn't get rid of anything even remotely questionable over the last month and yet finding a new thing to get rid of every day was dead easy, even in the 5 minutes before bedtime. We have not much space in our condo but I think we would be much better served purging our crap than thinking about how we would love a bigger place to live.