Deal-Seeking Dad: Tips to Turn Your Kid’s Clutter Into Cash

After stepping on, over, and around one too many of my 6-year-old daughter’s toys, I recently trashed some of her stuff while she was asleep. You can probably predict the inevitable outcome: What I had considered trash was, to her, priceless treasure. Not a pretty picture.

But what’s a dad to do? For many young children, every doll or action figure is their favorite, even though they have dozens. Tucking a kid into bed can be a battle to see which favorite stuffed animal has to sleep on the floor.

If you’re desperate to rid yourself of some of the toys and kids clothing in your house, rather than repeat my ham-handed move, here’s a better idea – have your kids clear their own clutter.

From garage sales to websites, there are lots of ways parents can help kids sell or otherwise dispose of their unwanted items. In addition to providing the twin incentives of money and room for new stuff, it’s also a way to teach other lessons, from capitalism to charity.

“As kids grow, it’s important to help them manage their things,” says Stacey Crew, author of The Organized Mom and a spokeswoman for Storkbrokers.com, a website that helps people sell used kids’ stuff.

And there’s lots of stuff to sell. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average child outgrows more than $1,000 worth of clothes, toys, and gear every year.

Crew’s daughters, ages 10 and 13, recently raised money to each buy an iPod Touch after doing more chores at home and selling their Nintendo DS games at a local game store. Local consignment stores, garage sales, yard sales, and swap meets are all potential sources for turning clutter into cash. And, of course, so is the web.

One site that does it for free, which we’ve talked about before (7 Creative Ways to Teach Kids About Money), is eBay and its free classified ads.

Storkbrokers charges a 6 percent fee. A similar site for used goods, thredUP, charges a $5 fee, then asks buyers to send a $10.70, flat-rate USPS box to sellers, who are supposed to fill it with at least $50 worth of gently used items.

Wherever you and your kids are selling their stuff, Crew recommends these steps to get the best price:

  • Set a fair price. Research what it costs new and used elsewhere, and sell it for 30-60 percent off the original retail price. “It’s important to remember that people expect to get a deal when they’re buying secondhand,” Crew says.
  • Photograph it. This includes photos of the entire item and closeup shots to show detail.
  • Highlight brand names. This can be especially important for clothes.
  • List the fabric type. Clothing buyers may want to know what it’s made of.
  • Be honest about the condition. Perfection isn’t expected with used items, but honesty is. If there’s a scratch or something wrong, reveal it. “If you’re not likely to buy it, then somebody else probably isn’t either,” Crew says.
  • Watch out for recalls. This should go without saying, but don’t sell something that has been recalled. For gear such as cribs, strollers and other such things, check the manufacturer’s website or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for recall information.

Of course, the best way to avoid a cluttered closet or playroom is to be organized from the beginning, Crew says. Every house with small children probably has one playroom that’s full of toys, which can make it difficult for children to decide what to play with. Like many preschools and kindergarten classes, Crew recommends having toys put in specific areas, so that dolls are in one spot and blocks in another, for example.

From 18 months old to 8 years, children can be taught the concept of trading one toy for another. That’s something I’ve been trying to do since my daughter was born: Get rid of one toy when a new one arrives. It’s easier said than done, and I may try Crew’s “goodbye box,” where an item is put for a month before it is donated or sold as a way to see if it’s something that can be lived without for a month. It can also be called a “vacation box,” with the proceeds used to fund a family vacation.

The key is to teach these skills now and make a decision to sell or give away used items while they’re still useful and relevant, instead of storing them in an attic for 10 years and then throwing them away.

And to keep the clutter from reappearing, take steps to avoid impulse buys, as Crew did. “There came a point,” she says, “where I stopped taking my kids to the store.”

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay area who writes about family finances. His 6-year-old daughter has a playroom that needs to be cleaned.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
This Is the Best Online Savings Account for 2021
This Is the Best Online Savings Account for 2021

The rate of return is just one of several reasons this account stands out.

14 Products That Keep Foods Fresh Longer
14 Products That Keep Foods Fresh Longer

We’ve rounded up innovative Amazon purchases to lengthen the life of your favorite foods and beverages.

7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early
7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early

The sooner you claim your Social Security retirement benefits, the more you — and perhaps also your spouse — stand to lose. Here are the stakes.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t
12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t

Thinking of trying to deduct a few of these things on your federal tax return? That could be a costly mistake.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19
Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19

It takes just seconds to take this simple preventive measure.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.