When a military move is looming, it’s time to get down to business so you are ready for the packers. You want to do the PCS purge and get rid of stuff, but this can be difficult in the winter months. Early spring months are the best for yard sales, followed closely by the summer. In fact, the second Saturday of August is National Garage Sale Day – which of course makes that nice post-summer PCS move yard sale feasible. This isn’t incredibly helpful for those of you gearing up for a move in February or March though, so here are a few suggestions for getting rid of the extra clutter when it is just too cold outside for a pre-PCS yard sale!
1. For Sale Pages on Facebook
I am constantly amazed at the number of Facebook Pages and Groups designated for sales. I live at a smaller installation and there are probably a dozen here, both on and off post, covering all sorts of varieties and themes. These groups can be a great place to sell off some of your unwanted things. If you have some time to devote to this, it can be a good money maker for your PCS purge.
I’ve found that there are so many people who want to bargain or want you to meet them during inconvenient times, that it can get quite tedious. It can be time-consuming and frustrating, so this method is probably better suited for larger items. Always keep your safety the first priority. Meet folks in a public area during the day.
2. Inside Sale
Get together with some friends and have a sale inside. It doesn’t have to be your house. There are lots of options both on and off the installation for groups to get together. Get together with others who are in the same boat and rent a place, or check out your base housing neighborhood community centers. You can start an event on your installation by making it a unit-wide activity. People will always come out, even in the cold, if they think a good deal is to be had. Of course, make the place easy to find, have change ready, and be prepared to make a deal to get rid of stuff. You do NOT want to load it all back into your car and bring it back into your home.
I am a huge fan of donating stuff. The military community is tight and helpful, and I love nothing more than to give back to it. I’ve been given things throughout my time as a spouse and I thoroughly enjoy returning the favor. Finding a neighbor who might need your extra stuff is great, but might not always be possible. There are many places to donate both on and off the installation when moving. The Chaplain usually has a place for household goods (and food!) and Family Services would take donations of household goods for the Lending Closet. There may be an on-base Thrift Store that supports lower-income families. Off post possibilities might include a local church, Goodwill, Thrift Store, or Salvation Army. All of these places are open to the public and would benefit the community as a whole. They might even serve as a tax write-off if you get a receipt.
4. Separate and sell later
This tip is not exclusive to military moving during winter months, but could also come in handy for moves that have a short suspense date. When purging throughout your house, with no time or way to offload it, consider grouping all of those items together. Then they will be packed together (in theory) and you can label them any way you like. Don’t unpack these right away when you arrive at your new home, but wait for the next installation-wide yard sale or the popular yard sale months and then haul it all out. This gives you time to price things, prepare things, and even re-evaluate whether you’ve missed it in the time elapsed. Of course, if you are dangerously close to your weight allowance, this option could make things difficult. The PCS purge might be necessary after all, and you may decide that the stuff you are willing to part with at a yard sale can be donated instead.
5. Ebay, Etsy, Craigslist
If you are not willing to spend the time on Facebook For Sale Pages, then Ebay may be appealing. I really like some of the features of Ebay. For example, now they have an option to allow buyers to make an offer and you can counter offer. A huge plus is that the site is monitored by someone other than a Facebook admin. PayPal is secure, and you can easily print a shipping label from the comfort of your couch. Etsy is slightly harder to use, but for all those craft items you have, this is a great place to offload them. Probably my favorite place for selling furniture or electronics is Craigslist. Yes, you do have to watch for scammers, but that is really true about every site. Local sales on Craigslist are usually quick. Again, safety should be a high priority here. Never give out personal information to a stranger, and always meet in a secure location. There are other apps and websites that help you make money from your PCS purge.
Military moving often leaves you feeling like you’re out in the cold and doing it when temperatures are frigid only makes it worse. Don’t let the winter blues keep you from being productive in your pre-move purging. Follow one of these steps (or all of them!) to reduce the literal and figurative weight of your next PCS move!
Rebecca Alwine is an Army spouse, freelance writer and mother of three. She’s a regular contributor to ARMY Magazine, Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can read her blog at www.whatrebeccathinks.com.