Painless Ways to Turn Junk Into Cash

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Looking to de-clutter your home and make a little money from stuff you no longer use? Yard sales are the traditional route, but let’s face it: Folks who shop your front lawn are looking for bargains. They’re not willing to pay big bucks even if the items you’re selling are worth it.

Try a different tack, advises Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. In the following video, he offers information on venues – both brick-and-mortar and virtual – that you might not have considered. Check out his tips and then read on for more information.

An easy option is the neighborhood consignment store. Think of these as high-end thrift shops. Buyers aren’t likely to find a “10-cent Tuesday” deal, but they will pay considerably less than retail. Most tend to specialize, e.g., kids’ stuff only, or designer women’s fashions.

The upside: No need to pay for an eBay ad or to cover the cost of shipping. The down side: You have to split the take with the consignment store owner.

The virtual garage sale

If no such stores operate in your area, or if you’d simply rather keep more of the money, try a virtual sales outlet. An increasingly popular route is selling via social media. Try posting your items on your personal Facebook page or Twitter feed. Someone you know might make an offer.

If you’re lucky, you could become part of a private Facebook garage sale/swap site. These closed groups are gold mines, especially if you have children’s clothing and gear. Dallas mom blogger Courtney Solstad both buys and sells on such a site, which she says has an advantage over the traditional garage sale: You don’t have to wade through piles of stuff looking for the one piece you want.

“You see a picture and you buy it,” says the mother of three, who blogs at My Crazy Savings.

You have to be invited to join such groups, which she says are “very hyper-local.” So let it be known you’re in the market to buy and sell children’s clothes, books, sports gear, women’s fashions or whatever you’ve got.

Millions to be made

You’ll cast a much wider net if you sell at an online auction site or virtual consignment store. Of course, you might also have to pay for postage. But you can get a lot more money for fashion items or electronics online than on your front lawn. (Hint: No one will read your handbag or smartphone ad and respond, “Is that your best price?”)

Users of the thredUP clothing resale site brought in a cool $3.2 million in 2013, according to the site’s annual resale report. And that’s just one venue!

Opportunities abound, some of them quite specialized. For example, while BagBorrowOrSteal.com is best known for renting designer handbags, it will also consign your purses or buy them outright.

Looking to unload electronics? Sites like NextWorth, Gazelle.com, BuyMyTronics.com and RadioShack are thriving marketplaces, and accept a surprising number of items. Among them: computers, tablets, games and gaming systems, GPS units, iPods, Blu-ray players, cameras and audio gear. (However, not every site accepts every item.)

Some best practices

And of course there’s always eBay. No guarantees that your items will sell, of course, but you could be pleasantly surprised. A couple of years ago I earned $1,200 by auctioning off a plastic statue of a baseball player.

(You heard me right: twelve-hundred dollars. It might have gone even higher had I not made the mistake of listing a “buy it now” price.)

You can farm out just about anything on the Amazon Trade-In store. You’ll pay fees the way you do on eBay, but you can sell anything from tools to toys.

A few ground rules for selling:

  • Make sure it’s clean. Sounds obvious, but I’ve seen some pretty grotty stuff at garage sales. A bargain shopper might be willing to take it home and hope the jelly stains come out; a consignment store/website would refuse to accept this kind of thing.
  • Iron clothing. It will look better to the consignment store manager/online shopper.
  • Create a look. A little kid’s party dress paired with a pretty necklace will get more attention than either one would by itself. Presentation is everything.
  • Be honest. If the books you’re trying to sell have underlinings or slightly worn jackets, say so. A book site might not accept them, and you don’t need the bad karma of misrepresenting the goods to a private buyer.

One more thing: Decide whether this is worth your time and effort. If you’re a very busy person with a lot of responsibilities, how much time do you want to spend listing, shipping and mailing if all you’ll clear is $20?

Should profits be minimal and time investment high, just drop the stuff off at a local thrift shop – they need it, and you can never have enough good karma.

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