If You Wouldn’t Buy It Today, Then Sell It

If You Wouldn’t Buy It Today, Then Sell It

We all have clutter, but we tend to assign value to things we spent a lot of money on, or that were given to us. Finance blogger Mr Money Mustache has some simple advice for combating this: “If you wouldn’t buy it, you should probably sell it.”

Picture: Dylan Parker

He uses some pretty big-ticket examples, like a car:

In the introductory story, the brand-new Mustachian is currently burdened with a money-burning 2010 Mazda CX-9 SUV, which would fetch about $12,000 on the used market. If she were starting from scratch with $12,000 in the wallet and no car, would she buy the same vehicle? Or perhaps the far superior 2010 Honda Fit which handles better, will cut the running costs in half, and costs over $3,000 less?

The $3000 cash difference plus a savings of $2500 per year in fuel, depreciation and maintenance will compound to a wealth difference of over $30,000 per decade, just from this one decision. Not many people realise the staggering effects of a poor vehicle choice, which is the reason SUVs exist in the first place. But now that the new knowledge has been acquired, it is time to act on it. Since she wouldn’t buy the SUV right now, she should sell the SUV right now.

This applies to small stuff too, though. For example, I recently got married, and someone gave us a very nice waffle iron as a gift… that I knew we would rarely use, despite my wife’s excitement. She was torn on whether to keep it, so I asked: “If you didn’t have it, would you buy it?” She immediately said no, which was a clue that we should exchange it for something we actually need.

So the next time you feel like you need to keep something because you “might use it”, or because someone gave it to you, or because it’s already in your cupboard, ask yourself if you would buy it again today. If not, maybe it’s time to sell it. Check out Mr Money Mustache’s full analysis below.

If You Wouldn’t Buy It, You Should Probably Sell It [Mr Money Mustache]


  • I’ve got heaps of stuff I’d love to sell that fall into this category.. If I put it on something like gumtree I get scalpers trying to buy stuff for a third of the value of the product. Ebay people do similar and on top of that ebay takes a massive chunk of your selling price too. So things just tend to sit around collecting dust…

    • Define value. Things are worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.

      If your head says something is worth $100 but you’re only getting offers at $50, ask yourself if you’d buy the item for $50.

      • The answer is yes.. because I wouldn’t put it in for that value if I didn’t believe they were worth it.

  • I don’t completely agree with the premise, using the waffle iron as an example – if it cost you $0, and you use it occasionally, why sell it? You are getting free value out of the item every time you use it, even if that’s only a few time a year.

    I think with some tuning, this ‘(inputs) then sell it’ idea would be very worth while, and would serve to de-clutter space and free up some emotional attachment too. I also think there might be some value in considering what good could be done with the item if gifted appropriately, or similarly with any funds made from sale of items.

    • Regardless of what it cost, the value is not free because of the opportunity cost of keeping the item.

      Doesn’t matter if it cost you $500 or $0, if it’s worth $50 to sell, the cost of you keeping it is $50.

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