When I did my big de-cluttering project a few months ago, I wanted to make some money off of the stuff I was letting go. I had a lot of things to get rid of from clothes to furniture to electronics and all were in perfectly good condition. I wanted to try to sell it first and see if I could gain back some of the money I had spent on these items. The first thing I realized is that there is a marketplace for anything and everything. The second thing I realize is that you can never get back all of the money you spent buying stuff. This thing called depreciation is actually a real thing. Don't expect to sell your stuff for the same price you paid for it, unless of course it's vintage or a collector's items, but this is rare and should not be counted on.
This post contains affiliate links. See Disclosures for full details.
My advice too once you see the dollars start rolling in is to save that money towards an experience activity like travel or to pay down debt. Don't recycle that money to buy new stuff. It won't be worth it. My tip: create an online savings account like Capital One 360 where you can automatically transfer earned money from PayPal or other sources so that you don't end up spending it.
12 Best Practices for Selling Online
Before you do start listing items, make sure you do the following:
- Clean the item as best as you can.
- Takes lots of good pictures of the item. Most platforms will allow you to post 12 so take as much as that.
- Make sure one of your pictures is any tag that the item still has especially a tag that indicates material content.
- Make sure one of your pictures is either a try-on or your item with another object so that the buyer can see size relative to something else.
- Make sure one of your pictures is some kind of proof that it turns on. This is specifically good for electronics.
- Make sure you provide dimensions or measurements of the item for sale. This is good for furniture to reduce back and forth questions from buyers.
- If it comes from a smoke free or pet free home, state that as this will encourage buyers to consider the item.
- Make sure you specify any defects. Be honest with this one.
- Add original descriptions, but don't make this the main description. Add your own words to your listing.
- Once you list, separate this item so that it doesn't get used accidentally or donated or thrown out.
- Set a time frame for when you want to keep it listed. After that time frame passes, move on and donate it. Don't keep it around forever.
- Selling does require shipping resources. I would encourage you to reuse as much shipping material as possible. Get clever with how to ship. I've also written disclaimers on some of my listings stating that the item will be shipped in reused packing material as a heads up to folks and I haven't received any complaints yet on the packaging.
There's a lot of places to sell your clothes. I started first by going through things that that still had tags on them. This was probably the easiest because I wasn't yet too attached to some of these items. eBay was my first stop for selling these items. Anything with NWT (new with tags) listing is pretty coveted and if it comes from popular brands, you'll surely get it sold quickly. By popular brands, I mean brands that you would find in any mall in America. I just recently started using Poshmark, but I feel like this has a more limited consumer base with the base being the more stylish group. In my experience, the trendier brands do well in Poshmark.
For anything else that was a bit older in style, but in great condition, I sent those to ThredUp. You probably won't get as much for your clothing here, but a few dollars do add up. A bag of clothes that had a mix of old and new styles from various brands got me around $98. Your neighborhood consignment is also a good option, but depending on current style and market trends will dictate what they take.
There's also a few Instagram accounts that will post items for you for a fee. One of them that I follow is noihsaf.vintage. This seems like a good way to get eyes on your coveted item especially if it's unique.
Of course, you can always donate your clothing to Good Will, the Salvation Army or any other organizations. With donations, ask for a receipt as you may be able to include this as a tax write-off.
Furniture is a bit unique because of it's heft. I found that local sites are still best for these kinds of items. Craigslist remains the go to, but Facebook is also a good source for posting these heavier items. For Facebook, do a quick search in your local community groups perhaps by city, county and the words "garage sale" or "yard sale." As a rule of thumb for myself, I always have my husband around when someone picks up a piece of furniture for safety and to help with carrying out large items.
If you are selling an item that is still being sold in stores (i.e. anything Ikea), don't be too greedy with pricing. Most people will likely want to buy something new and may opt to buy that instead of something that has been used (even if in perfect condition). Don't forget to include dimensions when selling furniture as it will help sell it faster.
One thing I learned the hard way is that there is no use keeping old electronics around. Electronics get obsolete pretty quickly. It's also pretty rare that you will ever go back to re-using an old item with the exception of a phone possibly. Look around the house for old CD or DVD players, old flip phones, old cameras, unused game consoles, remotes, adapters, old computers, appliances, charges, USB cables, etc. For me, eBay was the best place to sell this kind of stuff. I've sold USB cable bundles, old remotes, old cameras and so many other things.
If you are selling items with some kind of memory, make sure you either wipe out the card or reformat the drive. This will ensure that your personal information doesn't get into the wrong hands. A lot of people scour eBay for parts so stating that something could be used for parts could help sell an item. When doing this, setting it as Auction and accepting Best Offers will generally help you sell much faster.
If you cannot sell an item, again donate them. If they are no longer working, the following stores will take them: Best Buy and Staples. Best Buy will recycle most items for free with the exception of TVs, monitor and large appliances. Staples does the same along with ink toners and cartridges. For some items, you may be able to get a discount of a new one. There are many other programs out there that allow you to send in smaller electronics so do your research. Start here. Yes, I know it's easy to just dump this stuff in your regular trash, but most electronics is highly toxic and many end up in landfills where they are burned, generating toxic gas pollution and eventually polluting our soil and waters.
Back in my college days, eBay and Amazon and the nearby college bookstore were the best places to sell books. I still think eBay and Amazon are the best places to do so, but sell books quickly because similar to electronics, these also get obsolete pretty fast. Don't forget that books qualify for media mail shipping so this will save you on shipping costs. If you are a college student selling textbooks, a small flyer with your available books around the dorm may be the fastest way to get rid of these. Take my advice, do not keep old college textbooks because despite your best effort, you will never re-read or reference any of them again.
If you have lost of children's books, selling or trading them on Facebook groups may be more beneficial. If you are unable to sell the, re-gift if it's still in good condition or call your local library to see if they will accept them as donations.
As you sell of or donate your stuff, don't forget that one of the reasons you have too much stuff is because you kept buying. Before making a purchase, really ask yourself if you need it, ask yourself how it will affect how you use your time, ask yourself if you can possibly get it second hand. Learn new habits from here on out.