As you know, my wife and I are getting rid of 25% of our possessions. The goal is simply to rid ourselves of the clutter and abundance, but making a little extra money while we’re at it would be nice. After all, the more money we make, the more money we have to buy new stuff to replace the items we just sold! (Just kidding)
There are several ways to make money while clearing clutter. Your method should be chosen based on the type of item and its value. We’ll discuss this in more detail later.
6 ways to sell your junk
Though time consuming, garage sales are still the best way to discard an abundance of possessions. If you only have a handful of items to get rid of, there’s no sense in setting up a sale. This is for major overhauls only.
If you’re going to have one, make sure you’re on a busy street or advertise your sale accordingly. It’s never fun to go through all the work to set up and price hundreds of items, and then, in turn, talk to only a few poor souls all day. Also, make sure you have a couple of large, marquee items at your sale that draw people in from the road. Our last sale featured a stainless steel grill that caught people’s attention. You’ll notice shoppers driving by at approximately 2 mph, scanning your sale from the road to determine whether it’s worth it or not to stop. Make it worth it. If all you have is men’s clothes, dishes from the 80’s, and a few VHS tapes, no one is going to bother stopping. Also, talk to your friends and family about joining you for a multi-family sale. The more quality items at your sale, the better the traffic, and the better chance that your 20 year old dirt devil finds a new home.
Ebay has been a trusted reseller for over 10 years. It’s most people’s first stop if they’re searching for something unique or just looking for a good deal online. If you’ve never sold on ebay before, you’ll need to register for an account. You’ll also need to set up a paypal account in order to accept payments. They have a quick start guide to lead you through the steps.
There are, of course, fees associated with selling on this format, so you’ll want to be aware of them before listing anything.
In my experience, there are 4 keys to successful selling on ebay.
1. A good picture – This is essential. The better the picture, the better the return.
2. A clear and detailed description – Don’t make people guess and don’t act like an imperfect item is perfect. If they don’t have enough information, the customer might get frustrated and move onto the other 10 identical items listed that day. If you give a glowing description about how it may be the most pristine copy of War & Peace ever printed, but in reality it has pen marks all over it, you may end up with this particular sale, but it will probably be your last after you get your feedback. (See #4)
3. A reasonable price – There are several options when it comes to setting a price, so research them before you begin, but if you forego the traditional auction style for a higher starting price, make it reasonable. Start your price too high and you may not get a single bid.
4. An excellent seller rating – Your customers will rate you based on their experience. Make sure you send the item out in a timely manner, are accurate with your description, and practice your customer service skills. The better your rating, the more trusted you become, and the more items you will sell.
Cash4Books.net is just one example of the many book resale websites that currently exist. You enter the ISBN number into the search engine on the site and it will tell you whether or not they are willing to purchase your book and how much they will give you. At that point, you can print out a free shipping label and ship your book(s) to them free of charge.
They are fairly picky about what books they will purchase. They obviously need to be in good condition and they tend to lean toward newer publications and classics. I’m sure that’s because they’re the easiest to resell, but that means your old Hardy Boy books probably won’t be eligible. However, it doesn’t hurt to at least look up the ISBN before you attempt to sell a book at your next garage sale.
Recent text books are also readily accepted.
We’ve used Craigslist several times and have had some pretty good success. I sold my last vehicle at a reasonable price and have both bought and sold household appliances like washers, dryers, and chest freezers. We also sold a futon last year.
My favorite aspect of Craigslist is that it’s free to use and easy to set up. The drawback is that it’s meant as a local service only. You’re probably not going to sell your couch to a family 2,000 miles away. Shipping it would be far too expensive and they’re not going to be willing to come and pick it up.
Generally, you list an item (a good picture and description is important), someone emails you or calls you depending on what you prefer, and you set up a time where they can pick up the item if you agree on a deal. Pretty simple.
Classified ads have been around a lot longer than Craigslist, but they both essentially accomplish the same task. They both advertise to the local population – one online and one through the newpaper. Sometimes classified ads are free, sometimes they aren’t. Your local newspaper probably reaches a different demographic than Craigslist, so using both is not out of the question.
Get Your Antiques Appraised
Technically, this is not a way to make money. It’s simply a method to determine an item’s worth. There are many ways to do this. You could seek out a local appraiser, you could attempt to use online services like Instappraisal, or you could apply to be on a TV show like Antiques Roadshow (my favorite). I’ve never tried any of these methods, so I can’t make a real suggestion, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to attend Antiques Roadshow – especially if you make it on TV. That means there’s about a 85% chance that your items are pretty valuable. Every once-in-a-while they single you out as a “what not to do” example, but that’s pretty rare.
We’ve all daydreamed about the worth of Great Grandma’s pearls or the old, wooden chair that your family swears is from the 17th century. It’s time to find out the truth.
Who knows? Maybe this will be you…
Or maybe this (he’s one of my favorites)
Summary – My Suggestion
If you are selling…
Small items worth more than $10 – Ebay
You can certainly choose another threshold if you’d like. I just don’t like to waste my time with a $4 DVD when I know I can get $2 or $3 for it at my next garage sale. Another option, however, if you’re not planning on having a garage sale any time soon is to sell all of your DVDs together in one large “lot” in order to cut down on the amount of time spent writing descriptions and taking pictures.
Large items worth more than $10 – Craigslist
If you don’t get a bite the first time, continue to relist it every couple days to catch the right person’s attention. Relisting is very simple.
Books – Cash4Books.Net
Try Cash4Books.net first to see what they are willing to pay. If it was an expensive text book, but Cash4Books won’t buy it, don’t sell it at a garage sale. Find another avenue like ebay, amazon, or craigslist. You’ll get a much better price that way.
However, if I got tired of my “Trees of North America” guide, I could toss it in with the rest of my used books at a garage sale and maybe get $0.50, or I could sell it to Cash4Books and get $1.98. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.
Legitimate Antiques – Antiques Roadshow or another appraiser
Is it worth something or not? Stop in and see. It should be an enlightening experience either way.
Most everything else – Join together with another family for a good ol’ fashioned garage sale
Garage sales are a pain to put together, but it’s still the easiest way to get rid of hundreds of items and still make a little money in the process. Giant bonfires are fun too, but you won’t make any income in the process.
Donate the rest.
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