If you have too much stuff, it might feel so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start to get rid of everything you no longer need. You can get so tangled up in just getting through each day that you can’t seem to find time prune your possessions.
If you’ve got kids, you probably have clothing they outgrew years ago and toys they’ve forgotten they have. I sold off the last of our baby and toddler gear last year, right before our younger child turned 7.
I won’t lie to you – getting rid of your stuff takes time, so it’s important that you don’t waste your precious minutes and hours on ventures that won’t put much money in your pocket. Here are 5 ways of selling your stuff that will probably end in disappointment.
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What could be easier than a yard sale? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple or as profitable as it sounds.
Before holding a garage sale or yard sale, you’ll need to get out all of your excess stuff, price your items and set everything on a table or on the ground. You’ll also need to advertise on Craigslist and put up signs. Then, you’ll have to get up super early on a Saturday and hope that it doesn’t rain.
The last time I had a yard sale, the weather was fantastic. However, the front of my house gets the full morning sun, so even with temps in the 80s, I felt like I was sitting in a sauna the whole time.
My yard sale customers wanted to buy my stuff for almost nothing. If they’re willing to travel around to yard sales, that means they balk at paying thrift store prices. It makes sense that they expect to pay 25 or 50 cents for each piece of clothing. One woman selected around 30 pieces of nice children’s clothing and offered me $10 for all of it.
I set out boxes and boxes of clothing, toys and baby gear, and ended up selling very little of it with less than $40 in my pocket to show for all my work. This was totally not worth the hours spent in prep work and holding the sale.
One night a few months ago, I netted $120 from selling baby and toddler gear to three different Craigslist buyers, in the span of about 90 minutes.
A yard sale or garage sale might work well for you if you need to get rid of a huge amount of stuff in a hurry and you don’t mind selling it on the cheap. If you’re selling a lot of great items at rock-bottom prices at a yard sale, garage sale or estate sale, many customers will buy your stuff and then make a profit by reselling it on Amazon, eBay or Craigslist.
Most large cities have consignment stores, which sell your stuff and keep a percentage of the sale price. Most of these involve clothing, but some will also sell your household items and furniture.
In some areas, you’ll also see periodic kids’ consignment events, usually held at convention centers or fairgrounds. These events draw thousands of buyers and hundreds of sellers, along with significant media attention.
For consignment stores, you’ll need to clean and iron each piece of clothing. You’ll make an appointment with the store to bring in all of your items, then they’ll reject more than half of what you bring. That’s right – after you spend hours and hours preparing your clothing for sale, they’ll only take the cream of the crop.
They want trendy, stylish clothing in like new condition, and they reject whatever won’t sell quickly. They need quick turnaround so that their customers see new merchandise every time they visit instead of the same old pieces.
The store will pay you a percentage of what they get for items they sell, around 60 percent if you’re lucky. After a set number of days, you’ll need to come pick up your unsold merchandise or the store will donate it to a charity thrift store.
For a kids’ consignment event, you’ll need to individually price all of your stuff (clothing, toys, strollers and so forth) and haul it to the sale. After the sale ends, you’ll get back 60 to 70 percent of what your items sell for, minus the entry fee. After the sale ends, you’ll need to pick up anything that didn’t sell.
Rather than carting your stuff around town, you could sell it online instead. Baby and kids’ gear such as Pack ‘n Plays and strollers sell pretty well on Craigslist, and you keep 100 percent of the sale price. Craigslist charges no fees to individual sellers.
If you’re looking to unload designer clothing, try eBay rather than consignment shops. EBay’s fees are very low in comparison to consignment stores. If you go to the trouble of preparing your clothing for sale, you may as well keep as much of the booty as possible.
When I tried to use a popular smartphone app to sell my stuff, the result was nothing but lowball offers. I listed an item for $40 and received several offers of $20 for it. I eventually sold the item to a Craigslist buyer for $40.
Plus, you can’t re-post for free to move your item to the top of the list. To renew your listing and move it to the top, you’ll pay a fee. Did I mention that Craigslist is completely free for individual sellers, including re-posts?
I’ve heard from a handful of folks who have sold items using Facebook yard sale and flea market groups. However, most people I’ve talked to have had a similar experience to mine, which was no response whatsoever.
Facebook groups appeal to sellers because they’re free, and they might be the only game in town if you don’t live near a city with Craigslist. However, you’re dealing with a very small population of potential buyers – only active Facebook members who live in a particular area and have joined that group.
Niche Websites You’ve Never Heard Of
There are dozens – possibly hundreds – of online selling sites out there. However, to get the best price for your stuff, you need a large number of eyeballs looking at your listings. You just won’t get that with most lesser-known websites. I stick to eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, with some items on Etsy.
Profit Without Selling
If you’d rather not sell your stuff, there’s an often overlooked option to consider. Donate your stuff to a favorite charitable thrift store and use ItsDeductible.com to maximize your tax deductions.
Every year, I increase my tax refund by $200 to $300 – sometimes more – by entering my charitable donations into ItsDeductible.com. The site is free and owned by the same company that puts out TurboTax, so I can easily import my entries when it’s time to prepare my tax return.
This strategy does require that you itemize deductions on your taxes. If you have kids and/or a house with a mortgage, you probably file this way. You’ll also need to request a receipt for your donations every time.