I’ve always been frugal, but now I’m downsizing–trying to reduce what I own to just the things I actually need and use. This process can be difficult to begin, but let me assure you it gets easier, even FUN–Except when I look at the box of items I’m ready to part with and think about what I spent. It feels like throwing away money. I’d like some of that money back or at least know that they won’t just go to a landfill. So here are a few ideas for making some of that cash back on items you already own but don’t need:
The first place to start may be a yard sale. In truth, I love going to them but not giving them. On the other hand, it’s a perfect way to get rid of your stuff and make a bit of money. If you can get a multi-family yard sale going, you will be even more successful. Things to think about: do you have enough stuff to make it worthwhile? Will there be somewhere to display the items without letting people into your home? Can people find you and can they park once they do? If you are going this way, here are two articles with solid advice: Yard Sale Queen & Get Rich Slowly.
I don’t have a place to give a yard sale, nor do I have adequate parking. My best option would be to throw in with a friend’s yard sale. But here are other options I’m investigating.
I had a surprising number of DVDs and CDs, but where to unload them, at a profit? Amazon began buying these items about a year ago. It’s also worth comparing prices on trade-in sites such as Buy Back Media, SecondSpin.com and Ultimate Buy Back. Because I had a personal connection with musicMagpie (their new warehouse is just north of Atlanta) a service that just expanded from the UK, I gave them a try. They purchased over 30 CDs and DVDs and paid for shipping. Their phone app makes it easy to scan bar codes. But the payback was low (I averaged about a dollar a piece) and they were slow (9 days before they received and checked my package, 21 before I got a check). Plus, they need to get used to their new market. For example: It’s “check”, not “cheque.”
I’ve got a couple old computers. Usually I give them to a less fortunate friend, but what if I wanted to sell them? In A Hustler’s Guide To Selling Used Gear Online, Drew Prindle says he sells his electronic equipment on eBay or Craigslist. “Don’t toil with any of those skeezy used electronics buyback services like Gazelle or Glyde. These are the pawn shops of the Internet…Use Craigslist and eBay to get the most back for your stuff.” And, “Craigslist is local and eBay is global.” He follows up with great tips on how/when/pricing and lots more. Personally, I might consider those sites to sell stuff. At least see what they are paying.
Last year, I sold most of my used furniture at a consignment shop. This is a good option if you have a truck and a couple friends with strong backs to help you deliver the items. I don’t. After I’d paid for a mover, my profit was hardly worth the trouble. In hindsight, it would have been better to donate to a not-for-profit that would come pick the items up.
Three more Articles: This Consumer Reports article focuses on auctions and consignment shops and what does well at both. This Frugal Living article stresses using Half.com, advice I may take for my pile of books. This one from Wise Bread is the most down to earth, mentioning 15 possibilities.
If all else fails, donate your items to a worthy cause. Try a women’s shelter (particularly for clothes or children’s toys) or Goodwill will take most everything. Your library may take used books to sell for a fundraiser (mine doesn’t). But donations only help you financially if you itemize your taxes. You’ll want to document what you gave with the value (and possibly how you estimated it) and it’s a good idea to take photographs. As a rule of thumb—something I learned in my H&R Block Tax School—I add up my cash donations, then make sure the value of my donations of goods does not exceed that number. Have I mentioned my complete and utter fear of the IRS?
Don’t forget to share “pre-loved” items with friends and family. Or swap things on FreeCycle. Money isn’t everything and your time/frustration is worth something too. But just a reminder, don’t give broken or useless items. That’s just wrong.