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Beacon Senior News

The digital age of classifieds

Aug 01, 2022 03:15PM ● By Karen Telleen-Lawton

The uncertainty of the pandemic reminded me of a name from my young adult years: Howard Ruff, author of 1978 sensation, “How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years.” Ruff’s book was a survival guide for personal and financial decisions. Among other things, the book advocated storing a year’s worth of food and water while eschewing stocks and bonds in favor of investments in precious commodities.


Disgorge and dispatch

While my husband and I didn’t follow Ruff’s advice to the letter, the book greatly influenced our outlook as a young couple. Whenever we suffered rough financial times in our 40-plus years together, our analysis of the situation tended towards doomsday thinking. 

In the last few months, I’m not exactly thinking, “What would Howard say?” but my thoughts have tended towards husbanding our resources in these times.

Husbanding resources means making efficient and effective use of the resources at your disposal. It also means determining what’s important, recognizing which needs are really just wants and slimming down your lifestyle.

My husband’s first COVID project was painting the garage. This, of course, involved a major clean out. In my mind’s eye, I’m efficient and not particularly materialistic. Our “stuff” shows otherwise. 

Even though we clean out every few years, there’s inevitably new accumulation. I have to laugh at some of the aging items that apparently seemed essential last time we cleaned out, but now are obviously surplus. 

This time, the discard pile burgeoned with building materials from previous remodels—a pair of framed windows, a cabinet and air return covers. Other bulky items included a wheelbarrow with a split tire, a gas can, and a chandelier from my folks’ house before they moved into a retirement home.

Now that we’ve reached this “disgorge and dispatch” period, I find myself turning to online exchange sites like Craigslist. Some other classified-type websites include: Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp.comWe.LetGo.comMercari.comPoshmark.comBookoo.comClassifiedAds.comOodle.comRecycler.comLocanto.comGeebo.comAdsGlobe.com and Trovit.com.

Millennials in particular are flocking to these sites and might be a good crowd for your old but serviceable household items. The more thinning you do as you go along, the less daunting the task will be if you decide to move to a retirement living complex or camp out at your kids’ house.

In the last few years, I’ve sold a dryer, musical instruments, a ping-pong table and a redwood deck. Well, technically we didn’t sell the ping-pong table (a bit of a sore point). I priced the practically new table at half the retail price and a potential buyer offered half of that. I should’ve taken the offer because we still have it. If it lasts another year or two, however, the grandkids will be old enough to use it.

 

The deck was a better story

After a wildfire came dangerously close to our home, we decided we’d prefer a tile patio to the existing redwood deck. The contractor’s estimate included about $900 to haul away the deck, including the dumping fee. I didn’t like the price or the idea of adding to the dump if the wood could be reused. I offered the deck on Craigslist, free to anyone who would take it apart and haul it away. Twenty-one people clamored for it, one of whom was a friend, so he won!

Because we live a bit out of town, I’m reluctant to give strangers my address. I make sure both my husband and I will be home when the buyer arrives.

My main goal with this past purge wasn’t earning cash but keeping things out of the dump. Free stuff makes you pretty popular. I felt joyous on several fronts: the pile dwindled to nothing, we helped people in these difficult times, and we kept it all from the dump—at least for the time being.

Is this worth something in real dollars? Direct savings for others, indirect savings for our entire community, and lower stress for me. Plus, my husband is endlessly pleased with the clean, spider-free garage walls, and I appreciate the shelves and drawers displaying a generous amount of empty space. 

We’ve developed a list of important caveats below to ensure a smooth transaction. 


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