Side Hustle Series

Part Three: eBay, Pawn Shops and On-Line Garage Sales

A great source of extra cash can be found hanging in your closets and tucked away in drawers.

Regular deep cleans of your home have several financial benefits.  You can help minimize the urge to buy new by being content with the things you already own.  Stay satisfied with your stuff by keeping it organized, easy to locate and see, clean and well kept.  And anything you no longer use, need or want, you can sell or donate to put money back in your pocket.  Here are a few ways to do this:

Pawn shops – When we were planning and saving for our wedding and merging two households, we discovered the pawn shop down the street.  Things we sold here included an old iPod, a well-worn gaming system, and jewelry from boyfriends past.  In addition to electronics and precious metals, we also saw home appliances and yard equipment for sale here.

Craig’s List – Use the same sales tactics for smaller ticket items as the ones I outlined in my post Selling Your Car On Craig’s List.

eBay – There isn’t much you can’t sell on eBay.  Just a few of our things that found new homes through eBay include collectibles and sports memorabilia (that bobble head you got for being one of the first 1,000 into the stadium might be worth big bucks online) and randoms like the new door locks I bought but was too lazy to install when I moved into our house seven years ago.

If you don’t already have one, create an eBay account and familiarize yourself with their website by browsing the site and looking at comparable listings.  Once you understand their fee structure, return policies and payment processes, start posting your stuff!  Many of the same suggestions for selling on Craig’s List also apply to eBay, but here are a few key tips:

  • Title your sale in a way to maximize search results.
  • Draft an easy to read, detailed description.
  • Be upfront about the condition of your item.
  • Include good, clear photos from a variety of angles.

Consider the seasonality of your items.  For example, I have a leftover stack of last year’s Christmas card (swoon-worthy Paper Source letterpress loveliness) that I’m holding back for listing in November.

Also, think about combining items into sets or packages.  One of my recent sales included the welcome banners, table centerpieces and other décor leftover from a baby shower I hosted in honor of a friend’s baby who is now in Kindergarten.  Marketed as a “party in a box,” it was snatched up super quick.

Be thoughtful about pricing your items and how you’ll handle shipping.  You can very easily negate any profit or even end up costing yourself money if you under-charge for shipping.  And don’t buy packaging materials.  Save the boxes and bubble wrap from your online orders or keep an eye out for old newspapers in the recycle bin at work.

After the sale, follow eBay etiquette by shipping quickly and giving buyer feedback.

Resale apps – I’ve yet to use them myself, but there are lots of new resale apps like Let Go.  If you have experience with these, please share your thoughts!

Brick and mortar consignment stores – For clothes, you can try Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor.  I’ve never had good success selling to stores like this.  I rock a capsule wardrobe with classic pieces that have been in my closet for years (future blog post!)  I love them, but my staple J. Crew Tippi sweater has never found favor at Clothes Mentor.

Selling textbooks can be much more lucrative elsewhere, but Half Price Books will take your used fiction as well as old CDs and DVDs.  Again, not the biggest of money makers, I’ve always been able to net at least $1 per item.

Online consignment sites – Another option growing in popularity.  I’ve yet to try them, but have heard positive things about ThredUp and Poshmark.

Donate – Don’t underestimate the financial benefit of donating the stuff you no longer need or want.  Not only are you helping others, but you can include donations of clothes, household goods and other items among the charitable deductions when you itemize on your taxes.  (Did I mention I’m the daughter of a CPA?)

I’ve prepared returns using both H&R Block and Turbo Tax online and have found adding these deductions to be straightforward and simple.  It’ll be shocking the amount you’ll be credited for a used pair of jeans or an inherited set of pots and pans.

Before drop-off, make a thorough list of the items you’re donating.  And before you part with your goods, be sure that you get a tax-receipt for your donation.  Staple your list and the receipt together and store it with your other tax-prep paperwork.

However you choose to do it, start fresh and help payoff old credit card or other debts by selling or donating the stuff that got you into debt in the first place.

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