If you’re like most Americans, you have a garage, basement or bedroom designated for outgrown clothing, electronics that have been replaced with the current model, and furniture that no longer fits your style. Being newlyweds, yours likely includes a combination of his and her things that didn’t make the cut when it came to outfitting your first home together. Instead of housing them for some future unnamed use, look at them as money that could be back in your pocket!
Garage Sale – Quick Cash / Low Values / Major Hassle
There are plenty of ways to sell your clutter, and for most people, the first option that comes to mind is a good old fashioned yard sale. There’s no doubt that a garage sale can get you quick cash, but let’s face it, setting up a successful yard sale takes a lot of work and organization.
I’ve held several yard sales over the years, and each has left me disappointed with the work vs. reward ratio. Dealing with people who will work your last nerve to convince you to sell far below your asking price with the knowledge that if they work you hard enough, you’ll say yes just to get rid of them. That’s because yard sales attract people looking to get an incredible bargain and many are cherry picking to resale online. Why give your best goods to these characters? Sell them yourself and save the hassle and pain of inviting complete strangers to your home to rummage through your treasures with abandonment.
Craigslist – No Fees / Direct Contact with Buyer / Safety Concerns
Craigslist is the go-to for many people who need cash immediately. I’ve used it myself over the years to purchase everything from furniture to plants, and I’ve been fortunate that all of my transactions have been done safely. But, not all deals end happily. You’ve likely read the headlines about some of the horrific crimes that have been carried out with the help of a Craigslist want ad. Robberies, rapes, and even murders have been committed, so you need to protect yourself. Craigslist offers this list of safety tips.
But your personal safety isn’t the only concern. Craigslist has also been invaded by scammers and schemers whose goals are to convince you to give them your money in return for the promise of something that likely seems too good to be true. It’s so prevalent that Craigslist provides help in avoiding scams. It’s a must-read list before attempting any purchase or sale on the site. Even a seasoned buyer/seller like me nearly fell for a rental scam recently.
I’m still an occasional buyer on the site. I send my husband to do the pickup after I text with the seller and then do an online search for the seller’s number and the meeting address. Do what you need to do to feel safe.
Facebook Marketplace (User-to-User Buy and Sell Groups) – No Fees / Local or Nationwide
If you’re a Facebook user, you can make use of the free Marketplace Buy and Sell Group feature that was added in October 2016. Buy and Sell groups are different from regular groups in that they allow members to list an item for sale, mark it sold, and search for items to buy.
You can find groups by doing a search on Facebook. I searched for the keywords buy and sell groups. The resulting search covered the US and Canada, so I did a new search with my city and found several great options. I joined the groups, and then I used the Facebook App to list my first product.
Since some Facebook Buy and Sell transactions are face-to-face like craigslist, they offer similar safety tips. But unlike Craigslist, it’s harder to create a fake account, so there’s a little bit of confidence built-in. They also prohibit the sale of items like firearms, alcohol, and animals and depend on the community to flag articles and sellers that go against the community standards.
Facebook offers some help with bad buys/sells via their Facebook Groups Commerce Support help portal. If a transaction goes bad – perhaps the item wasn’t as described, you didn’t receive it, or the payment failed – you can report the problem, and they’ll reach out to the seller on your behalf. They don’t, however, offer any guarantees so don’t rely on their help and use due diligence before you hit the “buy” button.
Don’t have a Facebook Buy and Sell Group near you? Start one! Facebook provides step-by-step information on how to turn a Group into a Buy and Sell Group here.
EBAY –7-10 Day Payout / Confusing Fee Schedule & Scams
eBay has been around for a few decades now, and I was one of the first sellers, back when listings didn’t have photos and buyers paid after they received the product. eBay has come a long way since then but their fee schedule is confusing for new users, and unless you have unique or highly collectible items at ridiculously low prices, it’s easy to spend more on fees trying to sell your items than you’ll make if they do. I’d only suggest eBay if you have a large number of items to sell and have the time to invest in an eBay store and how to accurately list your items.
Amazon Marketplace – 30 Day Payout / Confusing Fee Schedule & Amazon Sides with the Buyer in most Disputes
I sold on Amazon for nearly ten years and finally decided that they were not seller-friendly. In any dispute, they usually side with the buyer, even if you can prove the buyer is pulling a scam. That said, it is still a good place to sell current items and not so much for older and used items. They charge a small monthly fee and then charge you a percentage of the sale. Because they have a larger audience, I sold the same items for slightly higher prices on Amazon than on eBay.
Pawn Shop – Instant Cash / Low Payout
If you’ve watched Pawn Stars on the History Channel as I have, you know the problem with pawn shops is that you’re going to get a fraction of what your item is worth, if they buy it at all. That’s true no matter which shop you take it to. For items that can’t be sold via other avenues like guns, a pawn shop may be your only option. You walk out with immediate cash. However, you may have to provide proof that you are the legal owner since pawn shops are often used to sell stolen items.
Over the years, I’ve become discouraged by the options for disposing of items we no longer need. We’ve started making a mass donation once a year and deducting it from our taxes. The risks of selling them ourselves outweigh the rewards for us at this stage of our life. But if you take proper precautions and never sell something that you can’t risk losing in a bad deal, you should be okay.
Do you have a better option to earn money from selling your clutter and used household goods? I’d love to hear about it!