Money

How To Redeploy Stuff You Don't Need

If you do spring cleaning properly, you’ll end up with a stack of objects that are perfectly functional but have no place in your life anymore. Whether you want to sell them or give them away, we’ve rounded up your options.

Picture by Mark Tee

We’re not talking broken or defective items here; we often cover how to repurpose or recycle those, but the objective here is to find ways to effectively pass on things that you don’t need to someone who can actually use them, rather than just chucking them in the garbage or putting them out for council clean-up and hoping for the best. That gives you two main options: selling or donating. We’ve summed up the main options in the Australian market and briefly examined the pros and cons of each.

Selling Your Stuff

If your item is in good condition, then selling it is tempting: you get back at least part of what you paid for it. If your item is large, then you’ll be restricted to people who are willing to pick it up from you. For smaller objects, sending via post is viable, but that can be an added hassle. These are the main choices in Australia.

eBay

PROS: eBay remains the biggest name in auctions and online sales, with 7 million Australians visiting each month, so there will be an audience for almost anything. You can list many items for no up-front fee, so it won’t cost you if your item doesn’t sell.

CONS: eBay has shifted its focus to professional sellers rather than casual auctioneers, which means the listing process is more arduous than it used to be and competition is fierce. Many customers will want to pay via PayPal, which means you’ll lose more money in fees (unless you spend your windfall on eBay itself).

Gumtree

PROS: Gumtree has a more casual vibe than eBay, basic listings are free, and it places more emphasis on listings that are local to your area.

CONS: Gumtree is also owned by eBay, which makes it automatically unappealing to some people who haven’t enjoyed the eBay experience. Seller protection isn’t as strong as on eBay and you need to be careful of scam buyers for some categories.

The Trading Post

PROS: The Trading Post was once the iconic place to sell second-hand goods in Australia (think The Castle), and retains a strong presence in some markets (cars being the most obvious).

CONS: Telstra recently flogged the Trading Post to Carsales, which will cross-post adds to its Quicksales site. Not exactly a vote of confidence.

Other auction sites

PROS: eBay and Gumtree dominate, but there are other alternatives locally, of which Quicksales is perhaps the most visible. Other choices include Cracker, EasySell and Quokka. Craiglist (also owned by eBay) is another option, though it’s a dead-end in Australia compared to its popularity in the US.

CONS: None of these sites has a particularly wide reach, so your odds of selling will be lower. If you’re going to the effort of an online listing, you want a reasonable chance of those goods actually selling.

Your local paper

PROS: Some local papers offer free or dirt-cheap classifieds for individuals, which can reach a different audience to online sites. It’s worth checking to see if your local rag fits into that category.

CONS: Be honest: when did you last look in your local paper? It’s definitely an older-skewing market.

Garage sales

Check out our guide to holding a killer garage sale for detailed tips on garage sales.

PROS: If you have a lot of items to dispose of, then holding a garage sale is an easy way to offload the majority of them in one fell swoop. You won’t got top dollar, but you can still raise a decent sum.

CONS: People will start arriving at your house from 6am on the day of the event and will haggle ruthlessly. Stuff you don’t sell remains a problem at the end of the day. If you don’t have a garage or front yard, it’s very difficult to do (though you could grab a local market stall).

Giving Your Stuff Away

If you don’t want the hassle of selling items, then giving them away is much easier. Potential new owners are far more likely to go to the effort of picking items up if they’re not having to pay for them as well.

Most of the options here work on the same basic principle: you list an item you have to give away on a local site or in a local group, and interested people contact you directly. Whichever service you use, exercise caution when agreeing to give stuff away; at the end of the day, you are inviting strangers into your home.

Freecycle

PROS: The longest-established option for giving stuff away, Freecycle has close to 190 groups active in Australia, so the chances are good one will be operational in your area.

CONS: There may not be a Freecycle operation in your region, and you might need to sign up for a relatively arcane site to use it (Yahoo! Groups, anyone?) If you live on the boundary of two areas, you may need to list items twice.

OzRecycle

PROS: OzRecycle combines all its options in a single listing for each state, so you can easily roam between suburbs in capital cities.

CONS: The community appears relatively inactive compared to Freecycle.

Yoink

PROS: Yoink takes the unusual approach of tracking what you’ve given away, which can give you a warm inner glow.

CONS: You need to use your Facebook account to sign in, which will put some people off.

Local charities

Charity shops rely on donations, so they’re a good place to send items you can’t use but others could. Remember though: broken and useless items are no help, and dumping useless goods on charities means wasted effort on their part disposing of them. Most stores have specific policies around what they’ll accept (it’s rare for any to accept electronic items, for instance), so check before loading up the charity bins.

PROS: You can support a charitable cause of your liking.

CONS: Some outlets have limited hours; most have strict rules around what they’ll accept. (You can check the guidelines for the Salvos here and Vinnies here.)

Got any additional recommendations to add to this list? Let’s hear them in the comments.

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.