How many times do we hear America described as a “throw away society”? We are way too quick to toss our old possessions and replace them with new ones.
If you sell your old things instead of throwing them away, you’ll not only save them from the landfill, but you can also turn your junk into cash.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to make money from selling your old goods.
How to Convert Your Old Junk into Cash
There’s an organization somewhere whose business it is to resell just about everything that’s ever been manufactured, especially if it’s in the technical gadget category. For example, how many old cell phones do you have around the house? There’s a company called Decluttr that will pay you for them. How much they’ll pay will depend on the model, age and condition of the phone, but it’s always worth a try. They also buy books, cds, dvds, games, tech, and Legos!
Another site called Sellcell will purchase just about any kind of equipment, including GoPros, laptop computers, MP3 players and digital cameras, among others. There are also computer and peripheral resellers in nearly every locality who might be worth a call before trashing any equipment you’re looking to get rid of.
If you prefer the do-it-yourself route to selling your goods through a reseller, you might be able to get a bit more money by selling direct. Garage sales are one way to do this. It seems to be a rule that the more goods you have to sell, the more you will sell, not just because you have more goods to sell, but because larger inventories attract larger crowds, and could even invite a bidding war on one or two pieces.
Once or twice a year, gather up anything you’d like to get rid of, clean it all up, price it realistically, then put some signs around your neighborhood and on the nearest main streets. On a pleasant day you can draw a nice crowd, but it can work even better if you do it with a few of your neighbors. Again, more is better with garage sales.
One thing I’ve found with garage sales is that what we think of as the worst stuff we’re selling seems to be what sells first and best. No idea why this is, but it’s a strong argument in favor of putting out whatever you have. Even if it’s broken. We’ve typically made a few hundred dollars from a garage sale, selling nothing particularly significant. It’s also great fun, and educational, if you get your kids involved.
If you don’t live in the kind of home where you and have a garage sale, or if you don’t like the idea of having a garage sale (they can be a bit of work) you can also try consignment shops. Those selling clothing are the most typical, but you can also find consignment shops that sell furniture, toys and other goods.
The consignment shop doesn’t buy your merchandise, but will put it up for sale in their shop, then split the proceeds with you upon sale. One drawback is that in a consignment shop, gently used means gently used–they’re not places where you can dispose of true junk. A well preserved wedding dress is the perfect item to sell.
Ebay is a place to go with some of the merchandise you couldn’t sell at a garage sale. You typically want to sell any items that are in the small size-high value category, since shipping costs figure significantly in the sale price, and the item may be shipped to a foreign location where shipping will be even higher.
I’ve sold a few items on eBay, and it’s not as easy as it once was, but it’s always worth a try, especially if the item is novel, antique, hard to find, or high value.
Your charger from a phone you already sold can get you an extra $10 or so. Video games can sell for $10-200. And that fitness watches sell you only wore for a week? Well on Ebay it can net you anywhere from $100-300.
We think of Craigslist for really big items, like cars and boats, but it can work for appliances, furniture, computers, TV’s and entertainment equipment as well. Think of it as the place to go with items that didn’t sell at your garage sale, but are too big to sell on eBay.
I find the best way to sell old junk on Craigslist is to price your items really, really low. Seriously. Don’t expects lots of calls if you value your item too high. Mostly you are getting a little bit of cash, and someone to come with their truck and haul away your baby gear, couch, or dining table for free. If you look at it that way, it’s a great deal!
If you don’t have the time or inclination to sell your used goods, you can still get a financial benefit from donating them, and maybe even help a few people along the way.
Many charitable organizations collect used goods for resale at thrift shops. Goodwill, the American Kidney Foundation and many local faith organizations are among the charities that run collection drives. If you have a collection of gently used goods, you can even call the local chapter of a charity and request a pick up.
Most people associate clothing with these drives, but most of the organizations will accept other usable goods as well. Before throwing out anything, check to see if a charity will accept them.
If you itemize your income tax deductions, the IRS will allow you to deduct non-cash contributions, which will lower your tax liability. You can only deduct the fair market value of the goods at the time of sale, which will be substantially below the retail price you paid.
For tax purposes, you can assign the thrift shop value to items donated to charities. This valuation is highly subjective and the charities will generally leave the job to the donor. Be reasonable in your estimates, but don’t get carried away (see IRS Publication 561 for more details).
You’re not getting cash for disposing of your used goods this way, but you are getting a higher tax deduction, and that might be the next best thing–especially if you owe!
Next time you’re tempted to put that old gadget, contraption or bauble in the trash, stop and think about it for a while. You might just be sitting on a few hundred — or even a few thousand — dollars worth of merchandise. When you start thinking of your “junk” in terms of “dollars,” you may get a bit more motivated to save it from the landfill. And that’s good for everyone.