Thinking Straight: Mutually Beneficial, or Taking Advantage?

Part of the reason I started this blog is for accountability. I feel like if I put my plans and goals out there for the world to see, I’ll feel more pressure to follow through on them. I also like the idea that people will weigh in on what I write about, and maybe I’ll learn something better, or see things in a new way. I’ve been working the last couple of years to acknowledge my faults and my weaknesses, and learn to overcome them, or at the very least, work around them.

But sometimes I find myself in a gray area. There are times I find myself feeling strongly about something, but then questioning my intention. Simply put, I don’t always trust myself to be making the best decision, or make decisions for the right reason. Let’s be honest, we’re all clouded by our feelings, experiences and beliefs.

The thought recently occurred to me: Why don’t I start putting these “gray” scenarios on the blog, and let others weigh in? I can give a little bit of background, and a description of what’s going on, and people can tell me whether my thinking is sound, or if I’m letting my emotions (or biases) taint my judgement.

Thinking Straight: Mutually Beneficial? Or Taking Advantage?

If you’ve read some of my older posts, you’ve probably figured out that I don’t always use the best judgement when it comes to my family. I’ve made a lot of very bad decisions to help family members out (especially my sisters). And in almost every case, it’s ended up hurting me, financially and emotionally.

So, I’ve been working hard on separating my financial life from my family life. I’m learning to say no. I’m learning that it’s not my responsibility to save my siblings from themselves, or to protect them financially. I’m still very close to my siblings, and spend a lot of time with them.

Recently my boyfriend called me out on something, saying that it was an example of me letting my sister use me. I disagree. But then, as I said, I don’t always trust my own judgement:

I’ve been working on getting my house ready to be put on the market. And, like most people, part of gearing up to sell (and move) means getting rid of a lot of stuff. Right now, I’ve been getting rid of a few things here and there: Clothes I know I’ll never wear again, nick-knacks that I don’t really care for, etc. Once I get closer to moving, I’ll be getting rid of a lot more stuff. When two adults decide to combine homes, there’s bound to be a lot of excess; Two sets of dishes, two couches, excess furniture. The list goes on and on.

Yard sales can be a wonderful way to make some extra cash. I had a big sale last year, and made some pretty good money. But they’re also time-consuming. And exhausting. And boring. I don’t mind doing them every so often, maybe once every 2-3 years. But in general, they aren’t my cup of tea. Plus, it’s not like I have tons of excess time; I have a full-time job, a ton of things I have yet to do around the house, a blog, etc. And I don’t want a bunch of boxes sitting around my house until I have a sale.

You know who does like having yard sales? My younger sister. The girl seriously has 3-4 yard sales a summer. She’s already had 1 sale this year, and plans on having many, many more. She doesn’t have a job right now, and has joint custody of both of her kids (who are both in school during the day), so she has the extra time to devote to doing a yard sale. We could get into a whole discussion about the choices she’s making in her life, right or wrong, but that’s a completely different discussion. The point is, I have stuff to sell. And she has the time, and the desire, to sell it.

So, we worked out a plan: I drop boxes off at her place as I clear things out, she marks it, sells it, and takes a % of the profit. Most of the stuff she puts in her yard sales, but I leave it up to her as far as how she sells it (Yard sale, Craigslist, eBay, etc). I also leave it up to her to decide how to price the item.

In my opinion, this arrangement benefits both of us. Sure, I could sell the items on my own and make more money. But I don’t have the time, or the desire. Some of the bigger items I may put on Craigslist or something myself, when the time comes. I’m on the fence about it; I had a really bad experience selling a bedroom set several years ago with a crazy lady who continued to hound me for a week, so I’m a little paranoid now. If it was all left up to me, I’d probably be dropping a lot of items off at Goodwill. Actually, I’d be rolling around with a car packed full of boxes for weeks on end, before suddenly having an urgent need to empty my car for some event, and rushing to Goodwill to dump everything, without a second to spare for them to make me a receipt. So I wouldn’t be making any money AND I wouldn’t get the tax deduction. Again, being realistic about my faults!

I make money from selling things that I would be getting rid of anyways, with as little time commitment as possible. My sister makes a commission for the time and effort she puts into selling it. Win-win, right? Yeah, the boyfriend says no. In his opinion, my sister is profiting off me. She’s making money from selling things she doesn’t own. He sees this as another example of my family taking advantage of me. He also feels like there are better ways she should be using her time, like getting a real job. I’m not disagreeing with that point. But, it isn’t like I’m dumping so much stuff on her that it’s becoming a full-time job. So far this year I’ve given her 4 small moving boxes worth of stuff (mostly clothes), which she marked the day before the sale.

What do you think? Is this a mutually beneficial arrangement? Or is my sister taking advantage of me? And am I enabling her to not get a real job, by supplying her a means to make some cash?

– Cindy W.


  1. Sounds mutually beneficial to me!

  2. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. If you don’t like having garage sales, it just saves you the hassle of dealing with it. But it depends what percentage she’s taking. Is she taking most of your profit, or just ten percent? That makes a big difference.

    1. I probably should have addressed that in the post, but right now, I’m not really sure what % she’s taking. In the past I thought she was taking somewhere around 10%. I told her this time around that I was fine if she took more, even as much as 30%, since I’d be giving her a lot more stuff overall, and she’d have a lot more work involved. Her reaction was kind of weird, and she said she’d have to get back to me on that. I’m not really sure if she was hoping for more, or if she was uncomfortable with taking that much.

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