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Spring Cleaning Tips: Finding Items for Sale to Earn Money

This article was written by in Frugality. 8 comments.


This is a guest article by Jennifer Calonia, Junior Editor at GoBankingRates. In the article, the author offers suggestions for making spring cleaning work for you.

We are officially one week into spring, and many are shedding winter stagnation for more productive ways to save money — and earn money — using items around the home. Spring cleaning gives Americans an opportunity to revive their finances by playing salesman with forgotten and unwanted stuff.

Did you stumble upon a crock-pot from a Black Friday sale that you’ve yet to use? Turn impulse buys into cash in your pocket, instead of letting appliances and other belongings go obsolete or outdated. Finding items for sale in the garage or attic now can help you make as much back on your purchase as possible.

There are many ways to sell spring cleaning finds that are straightforward and take little time. Some of the most important decisions to make when selling your stuff is knowing what to sell, how to sell it and for how much — establishing these three critical factors can determine how much money ends up back in your bank account.

Have items for sale? Here’s what to do

Your selling approach can impact how much you earn on a specific product, so following the right game plan is crucial:

  1. Selecting items to sell. When deciding on which items to sell, it is helpful to create three different piles for donations, yard sales and online sales. Just because you found an abandoned tea bag plate in the cupboard doesn’t mean it’s worth the time to post it on eBay and absorb packaging fees for a $5 sale. Items like a partially used spiral notebook, crayons and well-worn clothing are better served in the donations or yard sale bins, while big-ticket items like an iPhone, leather jacket, new running shoes or a coffee maker will bring higher sales online.
  2. Choosing your audience. There are many ways of communicating to buyers that you have items for sale. Each of the most popular resale options have their pros and cons, so determine which is a practical selling approach for you, depending on what you’re selling and your resources.

    • Yard sales: Like other selling avenues, yard sales are typically hit-or-miss. A benefit of hosting a yard sale is that you’re able to negotiate prices with buyers in-person and can showcase your merchandise in one location, on one day, to get the sale done at once (ideally). The big disadvantage to yard sales is that it eats up a lot of your time. Not only do you have to stand guard on your lawn for potential shoppers, but advertising your sale is a time-consuming, yet necessary, factor for success. This includes posting your yard sale to the classifieds or Craigslist, making street signs and creating price tags or signage for your items.
    • Craigslist: This community listing is a great place to sel big items like a snowboard or toaster oven, when you don’t want to spend money on shipping. To save the most money and keep the profits of the sale in your wallet, try dealing with buyers in your immediate location so you don’t lose money on gas. While Craigslist is a free service, sellers must be prepared for possible haggling (unless the post clearly states the price is “firm”) and be able to meet the buyer face-to-face in a public location.
    • eBay: For over a decade, eBay has been a common selling platform for those with either valuable items for sale, or are selling new items like unwanted gifts. For example, I purchased two new brake pads at $85 each, but sold my car before I got a chance to install them. eBay was a better audience for this type of sale because there’s a higher chance I could get close to my original purchase price, and shipping costs were not budget-blowing. When dealing on eBay, however, there are a few basics to keep in mind for a successful transaction and sale.

Name your price

Before setting up a yard sale or creating a post online of items for sale, conduct a quick search online to see how much similar items are being priced. Remember, there is a difference between being flexible and being hustled. By knowing the price range of each item you’re selling and the lowest amount you’re willing to accept to part with your goods, you are setting yourself up for a fair deal.

Keep in mind yard sales and Craigslist deals will likely present the most back-and-forth price negotiations, as eBay allows sellers to set a reserve price if necessary, which is why you need to have a lowest price-point established ahead of time.

All it takes is a free Saturday to get your spring cleaning underway. Start fresh this spring with a tidy home and a robust savings account by parting with the clutter in your life.

Updated April 3, 2012 and originally published March 29, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

Having a yard sale is a lot of work, but it is great for decluttering the home and making some fast cash. We have a running joke in our small town—-that we have our own yard sales and sell stuff and then we go to the neighbor’s sale and end up buying it back. The caveat of going to yard sales…..don’t buy it just because it is cheap. Only buy what you really need. Having a sale? Please price your items ahead of time. I have passed by many things because the price wasn’t on the item and I didn’t want to find the seller and ask.

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avatar Jennifer Calonia

That is an excellent point, Ceecee. Hoarding goods because they’re a “bargain” creates a dangerous cycle. From a seller’s perspective, I find that the more organized the layout of the yard sale, the more welcoming it is for buyers to stop by. Price tagging, neat displays (e.g. folding clothing or hanging them on a clothes rack versus tossing them in a pile on a floor) and categorizing items (i.e. electronics, clothing, shoes, etc.) separately are good practices.

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avatar Ross

I really like this article. However, I must disagree with your statement Ceecee “don’t buy it just because it is cheap. Only buy what you really need.” When I go yard sale shopping I look for things that I need and also things that I can see others needing as well. For instance, I recently purchased a projection screen that I had no use for whatsoever, but, it was selling for $2 and was in great condition. I knew that it was worth many times that and would cost many times that to get it anywhere else. So, I bought it. I sold it later for quite a bit more than I bought it for. The buyer was perfectly content to get such a great deal, as was I. Just an idea! Thanks for the great post!

R.I.

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avatar Carl Lassegue

Neatness is definitely very important for yard sales. When I drive by a yard sale, I rarely stop if the items are just disorganized or if the seller is not around.

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avatar ShortRoadTo

It is almost that time of the year when people clean out their garages and are willing to let go of great items on the cheap. I love going to yard sales early in the spring. I find the best bargains at that time.

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avatar Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley

We recently sold our kids’ outgrown clothes on eBay and made over $100. Plus we have a cleaner house. Thanks for the tips.

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avatar Robert @ The College Investor

Great reminders! I love cleaning out my stuff and selling it on eBay.

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

This reminds me i have a bunch of stuff to ebay/craigslist. And this if before doing Spring Cleaning.

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