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Is it Trash or Treasure?

You may have heard a story about a man who bought a cardboard box at an auction full of old magazines and books. He paid $46 and kept the box in drawers for 20 years until one day he removed a postcard-sized painting of trees and a meadow from the box and noticed a faint signature on the back. The card turned out to be an original painting by the famous English artist, John Constable. “The Lock” became one of the most expensive British paintings ever sold, fetching 34.8 million.

So when you clean out your drawers and cupboards, what do you find? It’s unlikely to be something worth a lot, money-wise.  But depending on the item, it could be priceless in terms of the memories it brings back. 

Sometimes it is hard to know whether or not to part with items piled up in our attics, basements, cupboards, even under the bed. Here are some things to consider:

Does it have monetary value but I don’t want it?
You may have items from furniture to jewelry that you don’t want but you feel are too good to just give away. 

This is tricky because what is considered “valuable” can change. For example, pine furniture used to fetch a high price, now everyone wants “mid-century teak”. Don’t hang on to something just because you assume it is worth money: ask an expert, or check on eBay.

Be reasonable, once you find out the value. If you run an antique store, you could charge full price. But you’ll have to settle for less if you’re selling it to someone set up to sell to collectors.

Could someone else use it?
Regardless of the value, perhaps someone else can give the item a good home. Most of us are less interested in getting a few dollars for an old piano, but thrilled that it might go to a home where someone wants to use it.

There’s a big difference between a necklace made with real gold and gemstones (like topaz or a diamond) and a necklace made as costume jewelry. Ask a jewelry appraiser if in any doubt. 

It’s important and I can use it
A set of dishes from your grandmother is worth keeping even if they aren’t finest bone china. What matters is that you like them. Consider using them everyday. Your grandmother would love it!

It’s worth something but I want to donate it
There are many charities that take unwanted items to resell or recycle. Most have experts on hand to redirect any truly valuable items elsewhere for sale. 

It’s ugly but I love it.
We all have items that others might question but we love, like that mug that your child painted at camp with the heart on it. It is possible to be too ruthless when you declutter. Our memories are triggered by events and items that are important to us. If you love it, keep it.