You know what excites me?
Getting rid of clutter & making money at the same time.
Sure, it takes time & it can be a pain in the hiney.
But, in the end, you get the sweet satisfaction of:
- providing someone with something they need/want
- decluttering your house
- adding a little (or a lot) of padding to your wallet
The above three reasons are primarily why you should sell your stuff. But there’s more.
Why you should sell your stuff
Why should you sell your stuff when it’s much easier to just donate it or give it away?
Great question, I’m glad you asked.
Donating or giving away your stuff isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that there is no “awareness factor” when you conveniently & painlessly drop off your stuff.
When you sell your stuff, you have the opportunity to realize a few gems of truth (while also getting paid to do it).
First you get a lesson in hard knocks–you quickly realize that pretty much anything you buy new (with a few exceptions like Blendtec blenders & power tools) takes a straight nosedive in value the second you use that item. Once it’s been used, even “gently used,” the price drops at least 50%, but usually more like 75%.
In my experience, I can sell most things at 10-25% of the new, retail price. Some things, like children’s clothing, is even usually less than that. Of course, there are exceptions to this (a few things do hold their value & can be sold at a decent resale value), but after awhile of looking at craigslist ads, you realize people are nearly giving their stuff away for free & their happy to do it.
Another advantage to selling your stuff, rather than just dropping your bags off at the back of the Goodwill, is realizing how many people are less off than you.
It gives me a great deal of gratitude to realize how blessed I’ve been materially, & otherwise, as I interact with lots of single moms, struggling folks who send me texts: “I want to buy your baby clothes but I have to wait until next payday when I have the cash.” Makes me consider my own fortunate situation, & realize that I’m doing some good by giving someone a great deal while at the same time helping them meet their needs.
When you sell your stuff, something wonderful will happen in your brain.
You will realize that you really DON’T NEED TO BUY ANY MORE STUFF!
You will realize that you have more than enough, & this, combined with the above realization that everything drops drastically in value once you buy & use it (even just a little), you will realize that you, your husband, & your kids, don’t need more things.
It will cause you to be ultra-conscientious of all, I mean all, future purchases.
This is not to say you won’t ever buy anything ever again (let’s not get dramatic), just that you will gain a razor-sharp awareness of the opportunity costs associated with purchasing things, which will translate to greater frugality, more simplicity, & greater peace. Ah yeah, let’s get more of that happening, right?!
How to sell your stuff
I’ve been an active participant on the second hand goods scene for quite some time now, & I thought I’d share some pearls of wisdom. Just a few things I’ve learned along the way (feel free to chime in with your insights, in the comments below!) that will help you get the ball rolling in your own life & sell your stuff.
Since it can be overwhelming–where to start?, how to do it, what should the price be?, & how to conduct a transaction–I’ve decided to break it all down for ya, right here.
1. Begin by thinking & talking about it.
Start thinking about what stuff needs to go. Then think about all of the things that could go.
Every action starts with a thought. The brainstorming process of it all is a very important step. Even though you’re not actually doing anything yet, you’re planting the seed of greater frugality, awareness, & wealth. That’s an exciting thing!
Talk about it with your spouse or partner. Talk about why you want to get rid of certain items & why you want to keep others. See what your spouse thinks & begin a very open dialogue about what has to go & what should stay. You don’t want any big surprises.
I would love to sell our nearly brand new Kenmore Elite dryer (I line dry anyway), but Joseph wants to hold onto it in case we’re stationed in North Dakota or Alaska where outside line drying isn’t an option most months of the year. I recently purchased this (affiliate link) handy clothes drying rack from Amazon, in hopes of effectively drying clothes indoors this winter (& thereby showing Joseph that we don’t need the fancy & expensive dryer just sitting around taking up space). But in the meantime, he says it stays, so it will stay for now.
2. Just start doing it!
You don’t have to know everything you’re going to sell or get rid of, RIGHT NOW, in order to start. You’ll be surprised at the snowball effect of it all. Once you start selling stuff, you’ll realize that those other things that you couldn’t part with, should now be on your “sell” list.
Here’s how I decide where I’m going to sell an item, or if I’m going to donate or chuck.
If it’s usable, worth over $10 & in general good condition I will sell it. The exception to this are items that I can easily sell on eBay–like a sewing pattern book, or a DVD (which often sell for less than $10). Random, miscellaneous items & clothing that I can’t sell in bulk (in a lot) on Craigslist or on eBay I donate.
Great for things that ship. Anything really heavy that’s non-media (over 20 pounds or so–though I did sell an aerobic rider once, was about 45 lbs. but the buyer paid for the shipping), I try to sell on craigslist first. Ebay is great for small or unique items, like coats, books, house decor, collector’s items, small kitchen appliances (I sold my juicer, dehydrator, & vita-mix on Ebay), & any number of random & eclectic items. See my post, 10 tips for selling & making money on Ebay for more tips.
Oh how I love craigslist.
Craigslist is truly a free market & interactive, blend of old-school human to human commerce & 21st century technology. It’s a bartering, negotiating system where people will pay the “true” price of something.
And while we’re talking prices, it’s important to note, if it’s not priced right it won’t sell. If it is, & if people want it, it will. (In my experience ANYTHING can be sold, if the price is right–it’s all about supply & demand.). This is such a fascinating & beautiful thing to me.
- our kitchen table,
- a sectional,
- our double jogging stroller,
- a matching love seat & sofa.
- a house (truly!–& we bypassed all the Realtor fees + got $5K more than our asking price–it was at the height of the housing bubble, in full disclosure),
- toddler beds & mattresses,
- a car (sold in less than 24 hours for more than asking price),
- a sectional (same sectional I purchased on craigslist, & sold for just $75 less than I bought it for),
- clothing (in bulk, not individual pieces),
- & other random household items.
How to sell on craigslist…
Don’t overprice. You like a good deal, people like a good deal. Let people think they’re getting a good deal. And as a result, you’ll get your stuff off your hands quickly, with money in your pocket. Pricing can seem like such an enigma, but it’s really not that complicated.
Ask yourself, if I was looking for this item on craigslist, what would I be willing to pay?
Then do a search on your craigslist for your item or comparable items, & price your item in that range (I try to go slightly lower than the “competition”). If you don’t get any inquiries within a week of posting, I’ve priced too high, so I lower the price.
If I get a half dozen inquiries within the first hour of posting, I know I’ve probably priced too low.
Also, I don’t “hold” items. I also add to every listing the following:
— Cash Only. No trades.
— If you’re reading this post, I still have these items.
— Please respond with normal English sentences. If I think you’re a spammer, I will delete the email or text.
If my pricing is firm, I add that too.
With certain items I try to price it so that it’s already a great deal & most people won’t haggle over it anyway. Other things, like high priced items (anything over $200), expect to do a bit of negotiating, so price it with some room to do that.
Don’t post your address on the listing. I don’t give out my address until 30 minutes before a buyer is going to pick up an item.
If you want to really protect your privacy, only correspond via the craigslist email & only exchange items & money at an agreed upon public location.
I’ve bought & sold both at my home & others homes, as well as in public places like the parking lot of shopping mall. Both work, & in my experience, it’s just about what you’re comfortable with. I’ve found that most people buying furniture & baby clothes on craigslist are pretty normal, nice, & reasonable people.
Resale Shops (Kid to Kid, Plato’s Closet, ect.)
For selling my stuff, I haate resale shops. Mostly because I’ve had little success selling my stuff back there.
One time I took in a bunch of really nice (or so I thought), freshly laundered baby clothes & items, along with a beautiful, high-end crib bedding set. The only thing they wanted was one outfit (they wanted to pay me $.25 for it) & a brand new, in the package pregnancy brace (a thing that you wear around your stomach/back to support your low back during pregnancy–retails at $45 & they wanted to pay me $1). I took my stuff & sold it on eBay (sold the brace for $20 & the crib bedding for $50).
I also hate taking my stuff in & waiting while they go over every piece of clothing while I sit there, feeling like a schlub as I’m begging them to give me a few bucks for my stuff. It makes me feel really cheap. So, I generally avoid selling my stuff to these places (though I have been known to make a few purchases there).
I love Goodwill. LOVE it.
The prices aren’t always incredible, but for some things, I’m able to get a some very good deals (like a lovely, lovely swishy dress for only $6–I swear it had never been worn before).
I use thrift stores like Goodwill mostly for donating, not buying. I love that I can don’t have to clean, fold, or organize anything. I can just put everything in a box or bag & I can drop it all off & it be done with it. I often wonder what we’d all do with our used stuff if these places didn’t exist? Donating stuff to Goodwill, or other thrift shops is a great way to help out the environment & give other people a chance to wear or use nice things too. All the stuff I can’t sell goes to Goodwill.
Also, if you live in the U.S., you can take advantage of the tax deduction from donating your stuff, but I never have. We take a general deduction anyway, & I’d like to think of my donations as just adding to my karma jar.
3. Use your earnings to pay off debt, or put in savings.
Don’t spend what you earn from sell your stuff, on more stuff! Throw it in savings, or, if you’re like me & have any debts, throw it towards your debt. (How running is like getting out of debt fast.)
The main point of this practice, other than to get a little cash for your time, is to bring your focus back to what matters most.
Currently, we’re using all our earnings to pay off debt & add to our buffer (otherwise known as step #4 in YNAB).
→ The budgeting system we’re currently using & love? YNAB
Try a FREE 34-day full trial of YNAB (affiliate link)
& for bring joy readers–get 10% off your purchase if you decide to buy it!
By years end, I think we’ll have made nearly $2K from selling stuff on eBay & craigslist.
Considering that it probably took me all of 40-50 hours to do, I’d say an hourly wage of $40 is pretty good, don’t you?
Have you sold or bought on craigslist, ebay?
I’m interested in learning more about freecycle–have you used it?
If you live outside the U.S., how do you sell or donate your used stuff?
I would love to hear any tips, tricks, questions, or insights you have on selling stuff.
Other bring joy posts you might want to check out: