You’ve Cleaned It Out, Now Comes the Cash: Get into “Selling Mode”
Did you know “the average household has $1,000 to $2,000 of potential cash in stuff that they don’t use?”, according to HGTV Cash In the Attic’s Tim Luke, stated in a recent Consumer Reports article. Who couldn’t use an extra $2000 dollars? WE SURE CAN!!! Each and every one of us may not have exactly $2000 worth of odds and ends taking up space, but you get the point. This perspective provides a fresh, invigorating way to view our unwanted, unused stuff.
And now that you have decluttered and cleaned out your living space and specified what will be done with each item, it is time to institute the disposal plan. You should have several good boxes of stuff to get rid of. Which is the best way to get rid of it all, yet maximize the return on your money?
Where Will You Make the Best Money Selling Your Items Online ?
I’ll get straight to the point. You will get the lowest amount per item when you hold a Yard Sale because of less competition. But if you have a LOAD of stuff, then overall you could get a nice chunk of change, with little time invested, with a Yard Sale. The flip side of that is donating your items right off the bat. It takes the least amount of time and it will increase your tax refund, but only by 1/3rd of the items value. So for the typical household, every $3 of value you donate, you will get $1 back on your taxes (which is essentially what you would probably get in cash at a Yard Sale). The nice thing is that it is a guaranteed deduction. So that makes it a super easy back up plan — donate anything you can’t sell first hand.
Here are several viable options to help you make money online selling your stuff:
Facebook: Facebook is free and super easy so there is really no reason not to try Facebook first.
What to sell on Facebook: larger sized furniture, toys, & household items that you wouldn’t want to bother with shipping. Because this option is FREE, we suggest trying to sell large items here first.
After you have a Facebook account, search for a local selling Group for your area (search terms such as “Your City” then Yard Sale, Online Sale, Garage Sale). You will most likely need to request to “Join” the group (may as well join our Hot Deals Group too, while you are on there) then simply snap a picture and list a price. If you can’t find a group to join, just post your item on your own Facebook wall.
How to Successfully Sell on Facebook:
- Good Pictures – When taking photos, its okay to use your smart phone or a real camera. For the best results, use indirect daylight (not bright sun) and NO FLASH! Place your items in front of a plain, uncluttered background and take several pictures from every angle. You can upload several photos on Facebook to sell your item. People are shopping online, so multiple photos will sell your item faster.
- Great Description – Be as specific as you possibly can with the details of your item. I like to look to see if the item (or a similar item) is available for sale where I originally bought it, so I can use some of their accurate description. Make sure you mention the brand name in the title as well as the condition. If you are stuck for what to write, look up similar items that are currently selling for inspiration.
- Set a Reasonable Price – Do a quick search for your particular item to find out what other people are asking. We’d all like to think our stuff has held its value, but the sad truth is that used stuff isn’t worth all that much. By selling on Facebook, you are hoping to get more than you would at a Yard Sale.
- Leave Bargaining Room – Decide on the lowest price you will accept for your item, then price it 10-20% higher (pay attention to not ask too much)
- “Bundle” Similar Items – Consider selling a “lot” of similar toys or clothing. Its easy to group by size or age. It is a quicker route than trying to sell each item individually. Maybe you have a bunch of old VHS videotapes. Separate them into categories (action, drama & comedy) and sell them for one single group price as a “lot”.
- It’s Okay to Say No – If someone offers you less than you think your item is worth, don’t be afraid to hold out for more money. Facebook is free and you can list your item as many times as you want (within the Facebook Group guidelines). Determine whether it is more important to get rid of an item quickly or to get your full asking price.
If your items don’t sell there, give Craigslist a try:
What to sell on Craigslist: larger sized furniture, toys, & household items that you wouldn’t want to bother with shipping. You could try try selling your stuff here first, because it is FREE to list items, so you have nothing to lose.
Craigslist Specific Selling Tips (in addition to the ones listed above for Facebook):
- List Items on Friday Morning – Most of the Craigslist shoppers tend to be looking for items on the weekend. So if you post your items on Monday, and people don’t start looking till Friday, your listing will get buried and will be less likely to be seen. I would suggest posting on Friday mornings in time for the weekend crowd.
- Watch the Listing Guidelines – If you post your item too often, you will be flagged and ALL your listings will be removed. A common guideline is that it can be listed once every 7 days.
- When Meeting for the Sale, Exercise Caution! – Meet in a neutral public location (such as McDonald’s parking lot, a Library or Fire Station) or make sure you will not be alone if someone is coming to see an item at your home. Always better to be safe than have the sale.
If it doesn’t sell, try selling it on eBay:
How to Sell on eBay:
What to sell on eBay: Popular brand name items (think, North Face Backpack or Coach Purse) in very good or excellent condition or high value items that are specialized and hard to find (collectable items or small antiques). It is free to list items on eBay but you will have to pay a commission once your item sells. Unlike CraigsList, which is localized, eBay has a national reach so you will most likely need to ship your items. eBay even has an App in which you can instantly take a photo of the item and list it for sale online.
eBay Specific Selling Tips (in addition to the ones listed above for Facebook):
- Limited Number of Listings – With eBay’s FREE listing account, the first 50 to 100 items listed are FREE. This is another reason to consider selling a “lot” or “bundle” of similar items instead of everything individually.
- Include FREE Shipping – Especially for big ticket items, consider including the shipping fee in order to sell the item quicker. Buyers love when shipping is FREE.
- Answer Questions Quickly – Once your auction is live, be sure to pay attention to any questions that come in (always check your junk folder too!) and answer them clearly and honestly right away. If it is a question about item specifics then it is a good idea to post your answer publicly so that other potential buyers can see the answer as well.
- Be Prepared to Prove Authenticity – If you are selling one of the “Hot Ticket” items, then you will want to review the rules to ensure you can prove authenticity for your product (it varies by category).
- Do Not Ship Until You are Paid – I know you will be excited to get the items out of your home quickly. But if you do not wait until the payment comes in then you may never get paid at all. If someone does not pay timely, there is an option to send an invoice to remind buyers to pay.
- Ship Quickly – Make it a priority to ship out your item as quickly as you can after you receive payment from the buyer. eBay makes the process very simple, you can even pay for shipping and print your label right from your home printer. Then all you have to do is pack the box, tape the pre-paid label on top, and let your mail carrier pick it up or drop it off at your nearest post office! Easy Peasy!
- Leave Feedback – eBay gives importance to feedback. Be sure to leave a positive note on your buyer’s feedback page. Hopefully they will return the favor to help you gain more successful sales in the future!
If it doesn’t sell on there, and it is an item that is 20 years old, why not give it a try on Etsy:
How to sell on Etsy:
What to sell on Etsy: Items over 20 years old (maybe that vase you inherited from a relative?) or handmade items can be sold on Etsy.
Selling on Etsy is slightly more complicated. This is not a short term solution because you need to set up an online “store”. If you are helping to clean out your grandmother’s basement, then this is definitely the option you would want to pick because the clientele pays more than Facebook, Craigslist or eBay. There are no membership fees but it does cost $0.20 to list each item. They will keep the listing active for 4 months, or until it sells. Then, once you sell the item, they charge a 3.5% fee on the sale price.
If that doesn’t work, you might want to try bringing your items to a consignment store:
How to sell at Consignment Stores:
What to sell at Consignment Stores: gently used clothing, kids toys, household goods, sometimes furniture. Specialized items such sports products, too.
- Contact The Store – Learn about their policies regarding condition of the items they will sell, length of time they will keep it, what they pay you, and all the other little details. Typical consignment shops will pay you 50%-80% of the selling price. That’s a great margin for simply dropping off an item and not having to find a buyer.
- Be Flexible with Pricing – Consignment shops have to MOVE product. That means your items will start at a certain price, and then the price could decrease over the following months (when they run sales).
- Best Products – Typical items that consignment shops sell are clothing (both kids and adults), toys and baby gear, jewelry and accessories, and furniture. You can find Sports consignment stores (Like Play It Again Sports) or baby specific stores (Once Upon a Child). They will usually only take items in relatively good condition. Typically for clothing, they will only will take items that are in season. However, that also means you can take a whole season’s worth in at once and don’t have to worry about shipping anything, which is very convenient.
- Set a Deadline – Since a consignment shop is available at anytime, that can delay getting rid of items in your house. Decide upon a date to make the delivery and work toward meeting that deadline in the cleaning out process. Several consignment shops in my local area only accept products from people who have made an appointment.
- Participate in a Super Consignment Show – Massive two day long consignment sales are popping up all over the country. There is a super consignment sale held on the Florida State Fair Grounds in October. It’s so big. Sell your stuff there!
If you still find that you have more to sell after visiting a consignment sale, then think about doing a yard sale:
Successful Selling at a Yard Sale:
- Join Forces – The best bet to make the most during a Yard Sale is to join forces. If you live in a neighborhood, find out if they have a neighborhood wide sale (if not, maybe you can suggest running one). Otherwise, invite neighbors, family members or friends to join you with their own stuff ~ the more the merrier! Our neighborhood holds a sale twice a year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. They do all the advertising and signs and we just contribute that morning to the advertising fee (usually around $5 per home that participates). We typically make around $300! I think that’s great! But we could make more money if we split up the items, and listed them individually on Craigslist, Facebook or eBay. The best part about a Neighborhood sale is the time it takes. You only give up one day, usually 7/8am to noon and then you’re done! Plus, afterwards, we load all the stuff we didn’t sell in my car and drop it off at our local charity (Lighthouse Ministries).
- Start Set-Up a Couple Days Ahead – Call on friends to borrow tables! Try to place items in the most attractive, uncluttered manner possible and try to use tables or other surfaces rather than the ground. Lots of people don’t enjoy bending or squatting to shop, especially for super cheap items 🙂
- Have Cash On Hand – Ensure you have plenty of cash on hand for making change during the sale and discuss with your family who will be responsible for taking and watching over the money during the sale. Your shoppers will also appreciate it if you have plastic grocery bags to put their stuff in so set those bags aside in the weeks before you have the sale.
- Rearrange During the Sale – Have you ever noticed that an item you saw and liked in a store was relocated or displayed differently the next time you came in? That’s a tactic retailers often use to help sell merchandise that hasn’t moved. Employ this in your yard sale. If something hasn’t sold in what you think is a reasonable amount of time, work on the display or move it. It might just sell!
Donate Everything Else!
Many charitable organizations, churches and shelters offer free pickup. They will plan to arrive at the end of your yard sale and cart away the rest of your stuff, not only for FREE but they can provide a receipt to use as a tax deduction! We strongly recommend making a few calls in your local area to make arrangements for this as it’s a sure-fire way to bless others with your stuff PLUS you have the added benefit of not having to take it somewhere, instant cleanup and the tax advantage. It’s a win-win situation for all involved. You can find some charitable organization resources in our Fox 13 Segment on Giving Gifts that Give Back.
What are some methods or resources you have used to sell your excess and earn extra cash?
Maybe your idea will help someone in ways we didn’t mention!
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