How Cleaning House Can Put Cash in Your Pocket'/


With the weather warming up, it’s time to throw open the windows, air out the closets and make a trip to Goodwill with all your long unused items. Or maybe not.

Instead of just giving away unused items, why not make a little money off them? Do some redecorating with the extra cash, pay off some bills, or do a hundred other things that will be way more fun with some cash on hand.

So pull out grandma’s hand-me-down bread maker, those skirts that haven’t seen the sun since college, and that completely hideous entertainment center (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?), and find the best way to sell each to get the most money for your stuff.

1. Garage Sale

Garage sales are great vehicles for cleansing your home of smaller household goods, clothing and other items that are cash and carry. Although you may try, it’s unlikely that people will buy larger furniture, like armoires or desks, at a garage sale because they can’t shove it in their car and go.

What to do: The process to putting on a successful garage sale is uncomplicated, but something of a workout. First you haul out your earthly possessions, mark them with prices, haggle with neighbors over the true worth of your 5-speed blender and then haul everything back inside just to repeat the process the next day.

Cost: What’s not a chore is the cost. Garage sales are cheap. Advertising in the paper or on free sites like Craigslist costs little and nothing, respectively. Check to see if your city requires a permit – these are often free or a just few dollars. Your biggest expense will be signs to advertise the sale (posterboard and markers are, however, relatively cheap items).

Remember to mention in your advertising any antiques or collectibles to drive in buyers. But most of all, try to have fun with it.

2. Classified Ads

This type of ad comes in a couple of styles, but either one is a good move for the person who has bigger and bulkier items, like that sofa that’s been sitting in the basement since the Clinton administration.

What to do: Classifieds are the art of been vague and specific all at the same time. “Green striped sofa. Good condition. $150 Firm.” “Sunbeam Electric Mixer. Never used. $50 OBO.” State the color, what you’re selling, the condition of the item and the price. Firm means you’re unwilling to haggle on price. OBO stands for Or Best Offer.

Cost: While the traditional ad in the newspaper will only cost you a $20, tops, sites like Craigslist may get the job done for free.

3. Consignment Store

Lost some weight in the past year (or *cringe* gained…) and want to make room in your closet for new clothes? Consignment stores will take your gently worn items, market them, display them, and when they sell, give you a portion of the proceeds. These stores will also take good-quality furniture and household items.

What to do: Many consignment stores insist upon making an appointment so that a buyer can go through your items to make sure they are consistent with current styles and the season. Don’t expect your winter coat to be grabbed up in the spring time (unless it’s Dolce & Gabbana).  And don’t even bother bringing your 80’s parachute pants or those “mom” jeans. Consignment stores only buy what they know will sell. If your item doesn’t sell in a specific timeframe, it will eventually be marked down until it does. Some stores will mail you the check. Others request that you occasionally stop in for payment.

Cost: By forfeiting a portion of your proceeds, you’re saved the hassle of marketing the item, and you’ll receive a more likely sale for the item.

4. Amazon

For lighter items that may carry a higher pricetag than you can expect at a garage sale or classified ad, online sale shops may be just the trick.

Amazon is good for more than just books, allowing sellers to showcase their new or used goods on the powerhouse site.

What to do: Amazon has specific directions for the seller on its site.

Cost: Commissions paid to Amazon range from six to 15 percent of the sale price, depending on the product. Amazon also charges $.99 for each transaction and levies a closing fee that varies by item.

Once you’ve sold all of your unused items, not only will you have more room in your house, you’ll have more cash in your bank account. That’s a win-win situation.

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Published April 19, 2011 Updated: December 28, 2012
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