How I Funded My Move By Decluttering My Life

By | Thursday, June 02, 2016


I am a genderqueer person in the process of coming out. This year, I needed to move out of a toxic situation with housemates I didn’t feel comfortable coming out to, but I was low on funds. (Has anyone mentioned recently that even a nonmedical gender transition is very expensive?  It is; from replacing your wardrobe, to prosthetics and shapers, to going to conventions and conferences to be with your tribe, to the therapy and books you will probably need to understand your new situation, it’s very expensive.) I was able to scrape together enough for first month’s rent and a security deposit on my new apartment, leaving exactly $.69 in my checking account. The new apartment was more expensive, but a place where I can be comfortable emotionally, and also closer to work, so I will have more free time. I knew it was worth it, but it meant money would be tight for a while, and I didn’t want to put all my other moving expenses on my credit card and run up the balance. 

I was still trying to figure it out when I had dinner with my best friend. He gently but firmly brought up the idea that maybe it was time for me to get rid of the huge bookcases my ex had made me, because maybe somebody would pay good money for them. They’d always been difficult to move, took up a huge amount of space in an area where square footage is more expensive every year, and frequently reminded me of a failed relationship. He suggested maybe I didn’t need both of them anymore. I thought it over for a moment, then said, “Huh, good idea! But I think I’d get more if I sold them as a pair.”

This inspired me to begin examining what I had in my home and hadn’t used in a while. I had moved a bit less than a year before, so I decided anything I hadn’t used since my previous move was fair game. The bookcases were naturally filled with a huge number of books (possibly more than 500, including some beautiful coffee table photography books). I also had a massage table and a sex swing in the basement, both of which were bought by the same ex who made the bookcases.

The first thing I sold was the massage table. I did a little research on Craigslist to see what they were going for in my area. I set it up in my living room, took pictures, and posted on Craigslist and in a local Facebook group. I was honest about its dings and flaws, and let people know it had been in a home with pets. Much to my surprise, I sold it for $120 cash the very next day.

I was nervous about selling the sex swing on an open site like Craigslist. I wasn’t sure if posting it would attract negative attention. I wound up posting it on a few closed membership altsex sites, which felt safer to me. I got a few nibbles but nothing definite, and I resigned myself to moving it and trying to sell it later.  But in the end, it sold for $200 cash (less than a day before my move).

Next, I started working on paring down my books. First, I tried opening an alibris.com seller account. To be honest, this was useful only in terms of helping me price my collection. In the first month, I only made one sale. It was for just $5, and I didn’t get any more offers for several weeks afterward. I never recouped my annual membership cost of $25, but it was great in terms of helping me realize that many of my books had very low resale value and should be donated.

I amped up my usage of Paperbackswap.com, a website that gives you credits for sending your books out to other members.  You then can use your credits to order different books. I’m telling myself this will be used primarily to give books as presents! You can also use credits from the website on the same company’s CD and DVD swapping sites.

An unexpected windfall came my way in the form of a nice Crate and Barrel bookcase on the curb just a block from my house. I took it home and used it as a replacement bookcase. Best of all, it cost nothing, and unlike the old bookcases, it could be completely disassembled for my move!

To be honest, paring down my books was the most difficult part of the process for me, emotionally speaking. I get very attached to books. Also, packaging and posting them to send out to Alibris.com and PaperBackSwap.com was a nuisance. Furthermore, I got an Alibris.com sale offer for one book the very same day I had given up and donated it to a thrift store. If I could do it again, I would have only have listed the most valuable books on Alibris.com, and sold and donated the rest locally. In the end, I got rid of two thirds of my collection and still didn’t make that much — about $100 in total, which sounds like a lot until you realize it was less than $1 per book, and some of that money I needed to spend on recuperative self-care after lugging them all over the city.

Once the bookcases were nearly empty, it was time to sell them as well. Because it had taken so long to go through all the books, I only had two weeks left before my move, so I decided to underprice them to sell them as quickly as possible. I listed them on Craigslist.com, a Facebook classifieds group, some new apps (OfferUp, Close5, and 5mile). I got the most interest from the Facebook group, and eventually made $100 for the pair. I wish I had done that part earlier, even if it had meant donating all the books, because it would have been more money for less effort.

I also wish I had tried consigning some of my best old-gender clothes rather than donating them all to thrift stores and clothing swaps. But there’s always next time.

In total I made a bit more than $500, which was more than I needed to cover the moving truck, pizza for my friends, and everything else. The same friend who had suggested I sell my bookcases also suggested using a cheaper rental company for the moving truck, so I even have some money left over for a special treat for myself. I plan to choose an experience; something that can warm my heart without taking up space in the basement.

Hedge Stenberg is a nonbinary person living in the Boston area. Hedge enjoys Dr Who and riding their bike on the Charles River.

Image via Unsplash

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