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Jason Ogaard: De-cluttering through technology

Years ago, a person would buy a computer much like they would buy an appliance. An appliance is purchased and kept for as long as possible.

The first computer my family owned we purchased used and kept it for more than seven years.

Today, a computer is just one piece of our technological bubble.

Most of us also have a smartphone and a lot of us also have a tablet to go along with our computers (of which we probably have more than one).

Electronics have become a commodity, being upgraded and replaced every few years.

After the holidays, you can bet a lot of people have old stuff to get rid of.

But what do you do with that old stuff? I don’t keep my old stuff. I like to keep my life free of clutter and old clothing, furniture, electronics, etc., seem to take up space while never being used.

I have a system for getting rid of that clutter. Miscellaneous clothing goes to goodwill, when you donate clothing you can get a receipt and deduct the amount the clothing is worth from your taxable income. For most other things, I use an ad.  

Chances are your local newspaper will let you put a short ad in for free, some communities have dedicated web pages (or Facebook pages) set up for selling items. There is also Craigslist  is an online version of the classifieds section of your local newspaper.

Posting an ad online has the benefit of being free and anyone in the world can see it.

I’ve sold a few dozen things online and have yet to have a negative experience.

If you’re looking to buy something used, look in these local ads, chances are someone is selling nearby.

I bought my piano used for less than half the price it would’ve cost new.

It can be daunting, but if you choose to meet people in public places like fast food restaurants or stores you should be fine.  

The first sale is always the most nerve-wracking, but most people are harmless and not looking to rip you off.

If you use common sense, selling things yourself is a great way to free yourself of stuff you don’t need anymore while making a little extra cash.

While local ads are a great way to reach people locally, you may have trouble selling some of your gear for the price you want.

 Yes, people from anywhere on the world can see your online ad but there is no built in mechanism for buying and selling goods that need to be shipped.

You can set it up yourself, I once sold a set of wheels and tires online to someone 3,000 miles away.

I shipped them via UPS and required a money order on delivery. UPS took the money order and sent it to me for a small fee.

Doing something like that isn’t always worth the hassle, though.

I usually turn to eBay for cheaper items I can’t sell for a good price locally.

There are a lot of scammers on eBay, so you need to be aware.

I only ship items I sell on eBay to the United States and Canada and I don’t accept Paypal as a payment method. PayPal greatly favors the buyer and doesn’t require any evidence to refund the buyer money that was exchanged during the purchase.

While eBay can be more of a hassle, its reach allows you to find a wider audience for your items, increasing the chance that you’ll net a higher price.

JASON OGAARD was born in Bemidji and is a software engineer for FICO, a Minneapolis based public company providing analytics and decisionmaking services, including credit scoring credit bureaus.