This is part of a series called How We Saved Enough Money to Change Our Lives and How You Can, Too. Click here to get all the posts delivered directly to your email inbox or feed reader. You’ll want the inside scoop on how we saved $75,000 for the adventure of a lifetime!
So you’ve made up your budget and you’re on the way to financing your big dream. And then you look around your house and see the evidence of your past self, the one who spent all that money on stuff you don’t really need. What should you do?
Well, instead of looking at it and feeling guilty, why not make a few bucks? It will also clear your space, which will help you better imagine your new lifestyle.
Over the years we’ve made a few thousand dollars selling our stuff on Craigslist. The highest-priced item we have sold is a dresser for $500 that wouldn’t fit in our townhouse. The cheapest thing we’ve sold is a random box of cords for $5. You can really sell almost anything on Craigslist, and if you just want to get rid of something that you don’t think will fetch a price you can also list it as free. Believe me, someone wants your crap. (Freecycle is another option for giving away items.)
If you have smaller items to sell or live in an area that doesn’t have an active Craigslist audience, you can use eBay or even yard sales or consignment shops. We are planning to start using eBay to sell things like my purses, some jewelry, accessories, etc. I’m going to put a widget in the sidebar so you can see what we’re getting rid of every week to inspire you.
Again, you really won’t believe what people will buy. Oh wait, of course you will. You bought it first!
Here are some tips when selling your items on Craigslist:
- You get what you pay for. Ads are free and there is no online payment to guarantee the transaction until pickup. People are sometimes unreliable, and even when they show up they may decide the item is not for them. Keep in contact with at least 2-3 interested people so you don’t have to repost the ad later. Let #2 and #3 know that you are holding it for someone until X date and if they don’t show or don’t want it you will contact them.
- State “cash only” in the ad. Be very upfront about this and firm. You are selling to someone you don’t know, and an honest face does not necessarily mean honesty where checks are concerned.
- Specify whether you will help them load or not. An older person who buys a large piece of furniture from you may want your help loading. If you can’t do this or don’t want to, make sure you state in the ad that you cannot load so they know to bring help.
- Are you willing to negotiate onsite? Once someone is there to pick up, they will often try for a last-minute bargain. This isn’t necessarily bad, you just need to be prepared. My favorite tactic is to have a “staging area” of all my for-sale items and offer something else in addition to the main item and stay firm on the price (selling a chair – offer a small area rug or throw pillows). Then everyone wins.
- Be honest in your ad description. Not everyone who stops by will actually buy, so don’t waste anyone’s time by claiming something is in excellent condition when it really isn’t, or that it works when it doesn’t. Always include a picture. College students, the newly divorced, newlyweds – many of these people are looking for bargains and don’t mind a little wear and tear, but they certainly don’t want something that is not as advertised.
For those that need a little bit of help navigating Craigslist, you can download this handy guide. We normally sell this on our e-books page because we have a licensing deal with the author, but I really want you to make big bucks! So download it now while we have the pay button down.
Selling your junk on eBay
eBay is a great resource if you have quirky or more valuable items to sell. Maybe your collection of vintage lunchboxes is no longer serving your interests. This is the perfect item to sell on eBay. Or you have a beautiful vase that no longer fits your decor. Anything a collector would look for is perfect for eBay.
eBay is an auction, and your potential buyers have time to bid on your item until closing. You set the minimum bid so that you will never lose money. The flipside is that if your minimum bid is too high your item may not sell.
You will need to set up a Paypal account and register as a seller to be able to post your items, but neither of these are hard to do. If you want to bypass that and have someone do it for you, you can always look for an eBay reseller to do it for you for a percentage of the profits.
The same rules for Craiglist apply to eBay:
- Be clear and honest in your product descriptions and photos.
- Let potential buyers know about delivery (UPS, postal service, pick-up only, etc.)
- Specify payment options. Some eBay sellers take checks, but I don’t recommend it.
- eBay works on a bidding system, but you can also specify a “buy it now” price. This price should be between your minimum bid and what you expect it to sell for. The “buy it now” price is for the convenience of both parties.
If you need more information on how to sell on eBay, click here for a handy downloadable guide (also free right now because I want you to make money!)
Consignment shops are another option
It is a little bit harder to make money this way, especially when you can probably sell your best pieces on eBay for more money. But for the convenience, it can’t be beat. If you have clothes that are in good shape and still fashionable, you can sell them in a consignment shop. Costume jewelry and accessories are also good for a consignment shop.
Be sure to check out your consignment shop ahead of time to make sure they are selling what you have to offer. Some offer a little bit of everything, including furniture, but others cater to baby clothes or jewelry. Do your homework so you bring in the right items to make the most money.
Click on this article to find out more about making the most of your consignment selling experience.
If you have dishes, crystal, or silver to sell, check out Replacements to see the value of your items and the demand.
Yard Sales – if you have to!
We’ve all been to them, and most of us have held them. In my way of thinking, this is really an awful way to make a few bucks when there are so many other options that don’t require a late Friday night of pricing every little knick-knack for a Saturday morning sale. We don’t even have a yard anymore, so I guess I’m saved from ever having to do one again!
If you have a pretty active group of yard-sale shoppers in your area, it might be worthwhile to do this. You can also check with your city or county to find out if there is a group yard sale event during the year. You will have to pay a small fee for a booth if you do this, but you get guaranteed traffic, no weirdos coming by your house early, and most of the time your unsold items will be hauled away by the city for Goodwill. The downside is that you have to transport all your junk to a new place.
What can you sell?
You can sell everything from a car on down to measuring cups, but what I’ve found most popular are electronics, furniture, sporting equipment, and stylish things like purses, scarves, and jewelry.
The strangest thing we’ve ever sold is a set of 6 silver dollars, which you would think would sell for $6 (we almost gave them to the child of a friend before we checked the value). We ended up selling them for almost $100! So always check the value before you decide something is worthless.
We also sold our remaining 100 or so books on Craigslist for $75. We may have been able to get more money from a used bookstore, but all we had to do was take a picture of them on our bookshelf, list the ad, and then take the money while the buyer boxed them up to go. He was a homeschool dad and loved that we had a lot of classics. A good deal all around.
Last but not least, be sure to deposit the money in your savings account right away. We actually keep the cash from these transactions and just make a bank transfer from our checking to our savings account as soon as we get it. That way we aren’t tempted to use the cash and never make it to the bank. It is more convenient than an ATM if you sell a few things every week.
Now that you see how easy it can be, can you think of a few things you’d like to sell?