If possible, I like to score a win-win. That applies to relationships, but also making money. Can you make a living while also making a positive impact on the world? Can you earn a paycheck while being a good Christian witness?
A few notches lower on the significance scale, but a win-win nonetheless: Can you earn some extra cash while getting rid of things you don’t want? Or, perhaps as a ministry, can you give away things you don’t need to someone who can use them?
Yes you can, and it doesn’t have to be a major time suck. You’re not going to get rich either, but you can certainly finance a family trip to the movies on occasion. All while getting things that don’t “spark joy” (see Marie Kondo) out of the house.
An occasional purge is important not only from a joy perspective but also because things slowly dribble into the house without you realizing it. If you don’t reverse the flow occasionally, your walls will start to bow out and the roof will lift off its supports.
Want to earn extra cash and save money at the same time? Make enough room in your house so that you can empty your mini storage and eliminate that monthly payment. See my resolution post on eliminating monthly payments.
I’ve developed the following basic guidelines for success in finding a good home for unwanted possessions.
1. Find items you can live without
Be ruthless. If you haven’t worn something for 2 years, it needs to go. If you haven’t used a tool (kitchen or garage) for 5, it deserves an owner who can utilize it better.
2. Research item value
This will determine how much effort you want to undertake to sell an item. Generally, if something isn’t worth at least $10, I’ll give it away – it’s just not worth the effort otherwise. eBay is my go-to resource for this research, keeping in mind the relative condition of my item, and whether the eBay product has actual bids, versus just an optimistic asking price. When I’ve shorted this step, I’ve experienced two pitfalls:
- I’ve left money on the table. A certain Yakima kayak roof rack comes to mind.
- My products have languished unsold for weeks. Then they need to be repriced and reposted.
3. Determine the best platform for selling/donating on
Here are the ones I’ve used and recommend:
- Craigslist: My favorite – a lot of users, simple, no fees, and generally no shipping, as most everyone is local.
- Nextdoor: This neighborhood social network is good for hyper-local giving/selling – you might be able to command a slightly elevated price here, due to a better trust factor, and greater ease for the buyer to travel to you. Fewer users.
- eBay: Good for collectibles and anything easily shipped. A lot of users, no listing fee, simple 10% final value fee, help with shipping, and built-in seller protections.
- Amazon: Good for new and mostly new items like books and electronics. A lot of users, variable fees, and help with shipping.
- Local Thrift Store: Always a good option. Before you go, research what they’ll take and where proceeds go.
4. For online platforms, develop good marketing
Good marketing means a competitive price (or minimum bid for eBay), good copy, and awesome photos. You are going to have to do more research. Don’t be afraid to “borrow” good copy, but make it your own – people like to buy things with interesting stories. Embellish its origins a little if you have to, but don’t ever misrepresent the condition of the item. If it has a stain, say so. Your honesty will be appreciated and will lend greater credibility to the listing.
5. Collect payment and ship
Craigslist and Nextdoor are generally cash only – it’s up to you if you want to risk accepting a personal check. For eBay, I like the ease and security of PayPal. Both eBay and Amazon make shipping easy if you do it through them.
How about you? What good or bad experiences have you had selling or donating used items?