Thursday, April 19, 2012

how to sell your stuff {and get out of debt}

{I thought you might enjoy this post from 2008 for today's thrifty thursday!}


we bought our first used van through the internet in 2008
As we are on the get-out-of-debt journey, we are finding all kinds of "stuff" to sell. Somehow we have crammed so many items in our 1500 square feet!

We've found that every penny counts as we try to get out of debt, and selling things we don't need really helps us get there faster!

My kids think I am selling everything. They even pulled out everything in their room into the hallway and told me they were selling their toys because they had enough! :) Dave would be proud...

On our journey, I've definitely learned a few things along the way. Here are a few tips on quickly selling your "stuff."

1. Put the word out.
Before you start listing your things on the internet or newspaper, just casually let your friends and family know you are selling your item. This usually works best for large items, but could work for clothing and toys too.

Your mother-in-law might not want your treadmill, but she probably knows a couple of people who do! You might just get your asking price before you even go to the trouble of listing it somewhere. It's always worth a try in any case!

2. Craigslist.
It's quite surprising to me how few people actually know about Craigslist. This is one of my favorite resources for buying and selling. You can list an item for free, and within a couple of hours have it sold and cash in your hand! I usually don't put a contact number in my ads, I just let the buyer email me, that way I can handle one buyer at a time.

If the first one falls through, I then contact the second one. I've sold everything from vases to scrapbooking materials to curtains and baby slings. I've also found that meeting the person at a location (with my husband) cuts down on no-shows. I've never had anyone no-show when they were supposed to meet me somewhere other than my home.

3. eBay, Half, and Cash4Books
While much more trouble than Craigslist, eBay is best for very good condition, high value items. I can sell name-brand bags for a profit, but smaller items like clothing and baby goods aren't as profitable after fees.

For me, Buy It Now (no bidding) is the fastest way to sell. It ensures that I am going to sell it for what I want to get from it, and I often have cash in my account before a regular auction would even end. In my experience, eBay is a seller's market, and there are fewer deals to be had there for buyers.

Half.com charges huge fees for selling books and media, but the site also allows you to ask a premium for your goods. I sold a $120 textbook of mine for $85 in a few days, and I was the lowest price on Half. If you are selling your textbooks, do it as quickly as possible when you no longer need them. Textbooks are a racket, and publishing companies come out with a new edition every 6 months to a year, making your books practically worthless. Sell them, and any other books you don't need as quickly as possible.

Cash4Books is also a great option for selling books quickly. You type in the ISBN numbers and if you like their price, they will even pay for you to ship the books to them! After they receive them, they can write you a check or deposit the money in your paypal account.

4. Garage Sales and Donating Items
Definitely my least favorite option, garage sales are places people shop to get things for almost free. Garage-salers are super-thrifty people and will ask to pay .10 instead of .25. This is pretty much a last option for us. After listing our donated items on our tax return, the credit was far more than any of our garage sale proceeds. The IRS lets you deduct a higher value for your items if you are itemizing your deductions, and programs like TurboTax and Tax Cut give you an easy pricing list based on IRS guidelines.

An example:
Those $35 jeans that don't fit you anymore, but are in great condition.

Garage Sale Value: $2.
Tax deductible value if donated: $12.
If you are in the 15% tax bracket, the tax credit of those pants: $1.80
If you are in the 25% tax bracket: $3.00

You get almost the same amount or more, and you didn't have to wake up at 6 am to move the tables out of the garage! And, you get that for every item donated! Just make sure you have proof that you donated the items (a signed receipt from Goodwill and an inventory of donated items would be best). Here's more on deducting charitable contributions.

So, the good news is, if you need to get rid of something quickly, you can always donate it as a last resort and receive at least some of the money back next year.

These strategies have worked well for me this year.

How do you sell your things quickly? I'm always eager to hear your ideas!
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