Turn Junk into Money

Published on 1/10/2020

Houses have an almost magical ability to accumulate junk, and everyone seems to have stuff they don’t really want and won’t ever use. Instead of letting that box of unused electronics or your great aunt’s porcelain cat collection turn you into an unwilling hoarder, why not sell it off and make some extra cash?

Start by putting everything reasonable in containers.  Take a picture of what's in each container. You'll need the picture when you create the listing. Next make a list of what's in each container.  Print the list and tape it to the container.  I put my container lists in an Excel Spreadsheet with each container being a tab.  Next, rent a storage unit from 4th Avenue Storage to store your containers so they don't clutter up your home.  You can also store your stash of empty boxes there (get flat rate boxes from USPS free) so you can pack the item right there in the storage unit on the way to the Post Office.  Be sure you print a label before you leave.

Find the right market for your items, if you want to earn top dollar.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Craigslist

Craigslist is like the online version of a newspaper’s classified section. You create ads, name your own price, and deal with buyers directly. There are no fees to post an ad on Craigslist, but you’ll be doing all the work. For every ad you post, you’ll have to communicate with buyers and meet someone in person to finish the deal.  It's best for larger items like furniture or appliances. Since it’s local pickup only, you won’t have to worry about trying to ship a couch via UPS or the Post Office.

  • eBay

eBay is the granddaddy of online auction sites. You can sell your stuff at a fixed price or as an auction where buyers bid for your goods. The site was the first of its kind and the most well known, so it brings in a ton of buyers. But it also has more competition, more fees, and stricter payment terms. While the site does allow some types of credit card transactions, it’s primarily PayPal-driven.  It's best for highly sought-after collectibles and smaller items that ship cheaply. Do you have a vintage Transformers lunch box? It’ll probably do well on eBay. But read the fee schedule carefully before you go on a listing spree. Because if your items don’t sell, you’ll still pay the upfront fees.

  • Bonanza

Bonanza is an online marketplace where you set up a seller’s booth and post ads for your stuff at a fixed price. The site doesn’t charge per listing fee, but it does take a small percentage of your sales.  Bonanza has two great features that set it apart from eBay…

  • The site itself has a clean look that really plays up the item photos, unlike the somewhat cluttered appearance of eBay listings.
  • You get more checkout options: PayPal, Google Checkout, and Amazon Checkout.

It's best for jewelry, watches, and accessories. The site has a gift ideas section, and these popular items appear more frequently than other stuff.

  • Half.com

Half.com is owned by eBay but has a much more specific purpose: It lets you sell books, movies, CDs, and video games at a fixed price. You enter in the product’s UPC code and come up with a price, and your listing appears on the site. Payments are made once a month via direct deposit into your checking account.

Half.com doesn’t charge a per-listing fee, but they do charge a commission that can get pretty steep – up to 15 percent per item, depending on your listing price.

This site is best for textbooks. A good portion of the site markets textbooks exclusively.

  • Gazelle

Gazelle is a direct-buy site for electronics. You get a price quote through the site and ship the item, and Gazelle cuts you a check. The site pays via check, PayPal, or gift card.

This site is best for newer-model cell phones. If you have older cell phones or electronics, check out The Best Site to Sell Your Old iPhone and Other Gadgets before you sign on with Gazelle.

Other suggestions are FB Marketplace, Offer Up and Amazon Sellers accounts.