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How to sell your unwanted stuff online

Decluttering can give you some elbow room at home and wiggle room in your budget. Once you've decided what you want to get rid of, though, how do you find buyers?

By Jan 31, 2014 2:29PM

This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site on MSN MoneyIf you are looking for some extra cash, you may have considered spending less or taking on a second job. Maybe you thought of picking up some freelance work or cooking at home more frequently. But you may have the extra cash already ... and just need to declutter in order to access it.

Woman with laptop © Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesGet a jump on spring cleaning sand keep your New Year’s resolution going at the same time (I meant financial resolution, but emptying those closets will burn some extra calories, too!). You’d be surprised how much money you can get for the junk you have lying around. I have successfully done this two ways -- one for smaller items and one for larger ones.


The first time I decided to give this a try was after I got overzealous about a diet and pre-ordered a whole bunch of special food. While I loved certain meals, I wasn’t a fan of others. So I had a box of dried pea soup in my garage, and then two, and then three. I realized other people online raved about the soup, so I knew it was desirable to someone. I took to the Internet to find those people.

I decided to sell in bulk to make it easier for me to ship. I took a few photos, wrote a description and researched what these types of things were selling for on eBay. I sold every one of those dried soups, reclaimed my garage and had some money to go out to dinner (by this time I was definitely over the diet!).

Consider using eBay for those things that will easily fit in a box and ship. Besides pea soup, designer clothes, collectibles and electronics are good for selling on eBay. After the first 50 listings, eBay charges a fee and also gets 10% of the transaction. You use your Paypal account to get paid from the buyer.


The second time I decided to take to the Internet to sell some of my belongings, it was about downsizing. I got married and when my husband and I moved in together, we found we had four couches, two coffee tables and many (non-matching) bookshelves. The extra items weren’t a problem until we decided to move into a smaller space. We weren’t going to mail any of this, so we turned to Craigslist.

It’s a great place to sell larger items, and you can reach buyers within driving distance. We were concerned about safety so we emailed with people at least twice before agreeing to meet and always made sure the two of us were together for the exchanges. Whenever possible we met the buyers outside with the item (good for bookshelves and coffee tables). But our best sale did happen when we invited people in -- one couple came to look at two of the couches and ended up leaving with the whole living room set! Listing on Craigslist is free, and getting rid of our duplicates was priceless.

Other options

There are specialty sites online where you may get a better price for specific items. Etsy can be very good for vintage items or crafting supplies. Etsy charges 20 cents per listing and gets 3.5% of the transaction. As with eBay, you get paid through PayPal. If you have season tickets to a sporting or performance event but can’t attend them all, you can sell extras on StubHub. The ticket exchange website gets 15% of the transaction. Amazon is great for used DVDs, CDs or books. And it seems that more people are using Facebook to sell things online. This is great if you are worried about safety and want to make sure you know the person you are dealing with. But remember, it will limit the number of possible buyers.

Tips for selling

To ensure you are setting a reasonable price, research both current listings and recently sold items on whichever website you choose. When you go to price the item, remember the fees you will have to pay and the shipping costs if applicable. Sometimes it may not be worth the hassle. You can always donate the items and get a tax deduction.

If you are selling online, the pictures are important. Make sure they are in focus and accurately represent the items. It’s generally best to have photos from a couple of different angles. You’ll want good lighting and a plain background so the focus is on the item. As for the accompanying description, the more details you include, the more likely you are to generate interest.

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Feb 5, 2014 5:43PM
For large items on Craigslist we like to use a storage facility. That way there are cameras and the buyers don't know where you live
Feb 5, 2014 6:29PM

Craigslist is dangerous; I always tell people we can meet at my place of work, or in the parking lot of the police station.   If they balk at that, don't do the deal.

  For eBay, always use Paypal, it's saved me from fakes a few times now.

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