Get Out of Debt: 5 Things to Avoid Selling

So, you want to get out of debt? You have even written a budget and see that this really is possible, but it is going to take some time. That fact motivates you to do even more. Instead of just tightening the screws on the budget, you decide to take another step. You decide to sell something. In fact, you are so fired up about getting out of debt that you begin to look in every room, closet, box, and corner and you begin to think about just selling it all.

In many ways, this is a great attitude. After all, it’s just stuff. It isn’t eternal, and sometimes you have too much of it anyway. (To be honest, most of us – if not all of us – have too much stuff.) You should sell stuff as a way to help you “move the needle” on getting out of debt. However, are there some things you should not sell?

I think so. Here are 5.

1. Heirlooms

Even those family heirlooms are “stuff,” but they represent years of family history, and that time and heritage can never be replaced. There might come a time when these have to go, too, but hang on to them if at all possible. Some of them (if not all of them) have a value that goes far beyond a price tag. This would also hold true for items given to you by a dear friend. Though he/she is not “family,” that item still holds great sentimental value that may never be replaced if you sell it.

2. Items Likely to Rise in Value

Notice that word “likely.” Nothing is guaranteed to rise in value, but certain collectibles or pieces do have a certain appreciation over time. You may want to sell these at a later time. The warning here is to know the market. Do not just assume that these things will rise in value. In fact, it may be wise to have a certain date to check the value again. But, if you know a particular area well, you can usually predict with some credible realism that this item will rise in value.

3. Retirement investments

Unless you are literally facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, do not cash out a 401(k) or other retirement account to pay down debt. The penalties and taxes are horrible (normally a 10% penalty in addition to your tax rate), and basically cause this to be a very high interest rate loan. It’s better to slow or stop contributions to retirement while you get out of debt than to take money out of these holdings.

4. Items with Personal Information

Computers, cell phones, and other gadgets have a lot of information on them. You probably will sell at least a few of these in your lifetime. But I wanted to put this on the list because you are ready to get out of debt. Sometimes, in the excitement and emotion of the moment, you can forget to take a very necessary step: clear off your personal data! You do not want to sell an old iPhone, for example, with your entire contact list as well as dozens of apps that have your passwords and other information on them. Sell the phone, but not until you have gone through the steps to get it ready. [Note: If you are selling an iPhone, here is a good article of the simple steps to get ready.]

5. Your Soul

None of us will literally do this, but we might decide to take steps to get out of debt that will compromise our morals. In your excitement, don’t forget to stand firm on the Word of God. Do not steal to get out debt. Do not cheat on your taxes. Do not try to gamble your way out. It’s important to get out of debt. It’s far more important to keep walking with the Lord through the process.

What would you add to the list? Leave a comment below!

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  1. Kim

    Do not stop tithing or giving your offering. Continue to give unto the lord.
    Our commitment should be unto him first.

  2. [email protected]

    Good advice. Would be interesting in a related article of what you WOULD sell.

  3. Cory

    “Your saddle”, i.e. anything you use to help you make money. I’m a professional musician, and so many I know sell their instruments to pay off a debt, then have no source of income.

  4. Good tips. I recently sold an old camera and almost forgot to delete all the old photos. Although they certainly weren’t incriminating photos, I’d prefer the new owner doesn’t have those shots of me and the fam.

  5. Youngandthrifty

    Perfect list! There are so many little things you can do to make the same extra funds you may have received for selling priceless heirlooms. The guilt after selling them… I don’t want to think about it!

  6. [email protected]

    Good list. I have several old computers that I want to sell, but I don’t want to spend the money to buy software to remove all of my personal data. Do you know of a free or low cost program to help with the removal of personal information?

  7. [email protected]

    I generally agree about the heirloom thing, except for one thing. My family seems to have this guilt problem when it comes to getting rid of stuff. So when great grandma passed on, my grandma wouldn’t throw ANY of her stuff away; she gave it all to her daughters, etc. And then when grandpa died, my mother and aunts wouldn’t throw ANY of his stuff away; they gave it all to themselves and their children (that is, me). And so each subsequent generation keeps getting buried underneath all this stuff that my family claims is all heirlooms, but in reality, it’s just guilt about not wanting to get rid of stuff. My grandpa and greatgrandmas memories are not locked in all their stuff–their memories are in our hearts. I don’t think I need to keep grandpas napkin holder that he bought at Walmart right before he died. So I guess my comment is, make sure to differentiate between true heirlooms (they should be few in number) and random stuff that everyone just feels too guilty to get rid of. The love and memories you have for your deceased family members is in your hearts and minds, not in stuff.

  8. Sharone Mlenga

    I certainly agree with this post especially the part about gambling, I have had discussions with believers who think that gambling is okay.

  9. Laraba

    Regarding heirlooms, I agree with TB that we need to be cautious in determining what is an heirloom and what is not. I was bequeathed a set of silverware that was real silver (an heirloom) and my husband and I realized it was taking up space and that we would never use it. We just don’t have the personality to be polishing silver and we are parents of a large family of children. I didn’t sell the silver…I gave it to a relative who might actually use it. I get frustrated with anyone guilting me into holding onto stuff. We have so much stuff anyway. I really don’t want to hold on to any heirlooms unless they are useful to me in some way.