Downsizing Part 2: We’re not done yet

As promised, here is a follow-up to January’s tips on downsizing via scanner. If you’re actually following my advice, you are probably in heavy scanning mode, so don’t worry about reading this until March or April or next year. You’ll need to pace yourself. 

In case you’re an overachiever and have already scanned all your papers, or in the unlikely case that you are just reading my articles and nodding politely but not spending every evening with your ScanSnap, I’ll go ahead with some more advice.

In January, we learned how to get rid of old journals, photos, school materials, and user manuals. This month, we’ll take it a step further. Let’s look around and see what else is taking up space.

Note: These steps are much less time-consuming than scanning. Hallelujah!

What else can you get rid of?

CDs. If you’re from before the pre-ITunes era, you might have a bunch of old CDs sitting around. It depends on the last time you downsized! If you find a sentimental mix CD, rip the mix to your computer. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime or Pandora or Rhapsody, aren’t most of the albums you want already at your disposal? Keep a list of albums and artists you like and then recycle the CDs at Best Buy or sell them to Amazon. See if they’ll buy yours; if so, they pay your shipping and give you a modest Amazon credit in return.

Cassette tapes. The same applies, of course. Now, what if you have a cassette tape of, say, a concert you gave in your living room when you were four? Digitizing cassette tapes involves hooking your cassette player up to your computer and downloading a program to convert them. It’s not super difficult, but difficult enough that it’s worth googling rather than having me explain it here.

DVDs. Same deal. Netflix and Red Box have almost everything you could need. So does the library. Do you really need to hang onto all of them? Not to sound like a broken record, well, DVD, but old DVDs can be recycled at Best Buy or sold to Amazon.

Books. Are you getting the idea yet? The library has the books. You don’t need to have your own library in your home. Keep a list if you want to remember what books you have read or want to read. Then take them to Half Price books. They will pay you a small amount, but more importantly, they will take all of your books. They don’t give any back. I assume and hope that they recycle the ones they don’t resell. But need I say it again? You will go home book-free, and maybe even with a few dollars in your pocket. Now that feels good.

Textbooks. Same idea; though I doubt if you’ll want to reread them. Though Amazon won’t buy normal books, they will buy textbooks. You can also post them yourself on half.com. But then you are responsible for selling it and shipping it, and you risk someone writing a negative review. So be diligent.

Old tech. Best Buy will recycle it – for free! You do not need a bunch of obsolete laptops and hard drives sitting around. Be sure to copy your old scanned journals over and erase your bank records first. I know, consolidating these is a pain. My husband took care of it for us. It wasn’t fun. But it is fun not looking at old hard drives in the office closet.

Old videos. Transfer them to digital. I’ve seen coupons for this service posted on Amazon Local. Unfortunately I didn’t see the coupons before I spent days converting old childhood videos, but honestly, I was a pretty charming two-year-old, so it wasn’t all a waste of time. You have to take old videos to the Hennepin County recycling and hazardous waste drop-off facilities – not the garbage, and Best Buy doesn’t take them either.

Downsizer’s Dilemna: What is it worth?

Are you holding onto something because it might have monetary value? Jeans you never wore that you paid $60 for? What’s worth more? A clean, streamlined closet, or holding out in the hope that someone on Ebay will buy those jeans? For me, the answer is clear. If you have lots of time and ambition, go for it: try selling them. As in, you are going to do it this week. If not, cut your losses, and donate them. Someone else can use them, and you can use the mental and physical space freed up by getting rid of them. I find that saying “I think I’ll sell this on Craigslist” is a way of procrastinating the act of disposal. And the sooner you get rid of it, the sooner you can enjoy the space freed up.

If you’re going to sell it, sell it now. If not, be honest with yourself and donate it instead.

Caveat: If you don’t have an easy way to transport something, it’s always easier to sell it on Craigslist. I successfully sold a futon on Craigslist; they came to get it. Thank you, Craig! And, Craigslist is a great option even if your stuff isn’t what might be considered “worth anything.” I once gave away an old patio table that I posted as “FREE!” After two eager emailers failed to show, the third came through and picked it up, therefore taking care of my problem for me. And, good news; this is how my mom finally got the treadmill out of her basement (See “Weighing Workout Options”)! If you’re at home alone when the strangers come to pick the items up, be sure you have someone calling to check in on you. Safety first.

Tools of downsizing:

1)   Scanner – Fujitsu ScanSnap

2)   Computer for:

a.     scanning, obviously

            b.     keeping lists of books/music/DVDs

c.     storing music you rip from CDs

3)   Back-up drive

4)   Netflix and a music streaming service to replace hard copies of music/movies – optional

Locations of downsizing:

1)   Best Buy – Recycle your old electronics.

2)   Hennepin County recycling and hazardous waste drop-off – This really is an impressive place. Once I took my brother-in-law when he was visiting from California. I suppose that tells you how entertaining my husband and I are. You probably don’t want to come stay on our couch anytime soon (See: “Tis the Season of the Houseguest”).

3)   Half Price Books

4)   Hennepin County Library: Think of them as a free storage locker for the books and movies that you no longer store on the premises. They’ll lend them to you whenever you want. Get the HCLIB app on your phone, and thank them for storing so many materials for you by returning everything on time and paying any fines.

Other resources:

1)   Amazon – Ship them select DVDs, CDs, and textbooks and they’ll give you a small credit.

2)   Craigslist – If you have the time and motivation, sell it! Today.

I hope that you have found my tips on downsizing either useful or amusing – or even better; both. Don’t let your New Year’s Resolution slip as the year goes by. In case you don’t remember, it was downsizing.

If you don’t remember making that resolution, it’s because I made it for you.