Barbara Reich, aka “The Queen of Clean”, simplifies decluttering projects for others by having categories they can use.
Give. Pass family heirlooms to your kids as holiday or birthday gifts, except for things that have significantly increased by value, such as art work or a vintage sports car. Leave it to an heir in your will so a receiver doesn’t have to pay capital gains taxes.
Sell. Beyond garage sales, there are consignment shops and the Internet. Fairly new electronics like cellphones bring money on uSell and Gazelle. A used book store can determine the value of your books.
Liquidate. A liquidator will run an estate sale. Julie Hall of the American Society of Estate Liquidators suggests interviewing several. Hall is the author of The Boomer Burden: Dealing with Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff. Ask for references, fees (an average of 35 percent) and a copy of the contract.
Trash it. Before renting a dumpster, call a junk hauler or local bulk-trash pickup service and drag your trash bags to the curb. Don’t include electronics, which contain heavy metals. Some recycling sites charge a few dollars for handling old computers and such, but at least they aren’t damaging the landfill.