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Clean out your closet to make money

Updated on October 29, 2012


What it looks like after a closet is clean in my house!
What it looks like after a closet is clean in my house! | Source
Okay, so maybe I haven't gotten to this one yet...
Okay, so maybe I haven't gotten to this one yet... | Source

Cleaning out your closet may seem like a chore, and it is. But it’s also a way to make – and save – a bit of cash. You’ll find things you may have forgotten about and be able to sell some of the stuff that’s been sitting around, unused and forgotten about for weeks, months, or years.

Selling Your Stuff Online

eBay and Craigslist are your friend when it comes to selling stuff online. You have some clothes that are “vintage” or shoes that you bought and never broke in. Maybe you’ve come across a box full of G.I. Joes that you kept your mom from throwing out when you were 10…and now you’re 45 and not likely to take them out and play with them anytime soon.

Make a list of what you have to sell, and then search for it on both eBay and Craigslist. Are there similar items for sale? Can you get enough money to make it worth your while? Personally, my thought is that if I can’t make at least $10 per sale (not per item; I might be able to bundle a few shirts together, for example, to make that $10 profit), then it’s not worth selling. Decide what your time and effort is worth. Keep in mind that eBay will let you sell something at a fixed price or using auction style where people can bid. Craigslist, unlike eBay, has no expiration date for the sale, but it does keep you local-only. Remember to be careful, no matter what. If you’re selling on eBay, make sure that you don’t fall for any scams. If someone offers to send you a money order with extra money so that you can return the rest, don’t do it. At the same time, if you’re selling something local, see if you can arrange a meeting at a public, well-lit place to sell the items. When we cleaned out some old video games, I met up with the buyers at a Starbucks. It gave me a chance to sit and sip coffee, and it made sure that there was an easy exchange of money for goods without having to worry about being dragged off into the dark night and mugged – or worse.

Now, there are some exceptions to using eBay and Craiglist. If you’re trying to sell anything with an ISBN, then sell it on or What has an ISBN? Books. DVDs. CDs. Even video games, if you want to sell them separately instead of as a bulk group. What’s great about using and is that you don’t have to do the big write-up and picture-taking work of eBay and Craigslist. Instead, you simply enter the title or ISBN, make sure you’ve found the item, and then list yours, picking what you feel is a good price and accurate description. If you sell with Amazon, you can even let them do the shipping for you, if you don’t mind first shipping it out to them. Personally, I do my own mailing; it’s not hard. You can purchase the postage online through both services at a reduced rate from the USPS, and you can buy packing materials at the dollar store.

Do keep in mind that, in order to sell online, you will need to set up an account with whatever service you’re using, and that service will probably require you to have a PayPal account. Luckily, they aren’t hard to set up. But they will take time, so realize that you have may some stuff sitting around, waiting to find its new home. And if you do use or, you will be waiting for the item to sell. It might be a day; it might be a month; it might be a year. Personally, I have a few shelves that I use just to store the items I’m selling online to keep them away from any potential harm until they have a buyer. It’s never good to try to sell something “like new” only to discover that a child or animal has decided to use it as a teething toy. 0

Selling Your Used Stuff

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Selling Your Stuff In Person

There are really four options if you want to sell your stuff in person: consignment shops, used bookstores, pawn shops, and garage sales.

Consignment shops are great if you want to make the most off your clothing or other potentially re-salable goods, like children’s items. In most consignment stores, you get to set the price, and the store holds it until it sells, at which time they take a fee for the sale. It is often a set price plus a percentage of the sale price. It’s a great way to sell those designer duds that you don’t fit anymore or that were presents. I know that I’ve gotten plenty of clothes as presents that I can’t return but that I don’t wear; if they still have their tags on them, so much the better! Call around your local consignment shops to find out if they are taking new clothes and what styles and seasons they are looking for.

Used bookstores can be great if you have lots of books. In some cases, chains like Half Price Books will buy not just books but also DVDs, magazines, and more! Again, it’s best to call first and find out if the used bookstore will buy your items or just offer credit. In some cases, they will make an offer based on actual value. Other shops will have a simple formula. It’s normal for stores to offer one quarter of the cover price of a book in credit and one eighth of the book’s cover price in cash. If you’re looking to swap out for some new books to read and don’t need the cash, getting the credit can be handy, especially if it’s a store that has school text books you might need next semester.

Pawn stores may seem like the last refuge, but they aren’t. They are great for quick sales of items that you just want to get rid of, and you can often bargain with them. They don’t take offense if you try to drive the price up, but many times they are working off a computer that tells them their maximum price. Some pawn shops even buy CDs and DVDs, too. It doesn’t hurt to check in and see if it’s a nice quick sale.

Garage sales are probably the most labor-intensive way to get rid of your stuff for cash. You need to set up, sit out there and watch, and make change, as well as pricing it all. On top of that, you need to check with your local rules and regulations. Some towns require permits and have specific rules for where and when signs can be put up, and your garage sale can wind up costing you if you violate any rules and get fined! However, it is a great way to get rid of a big amount of junk in a single morning. If you want to try to get the best bang for your buck, find out if there are any community-wide garage sales or church garage sales. Sometimes groups will join together, and for the cost of the space you “rent,” you can set out all your stuff and have guaranteed buyers, even if it’s just the people around you.

Donating Your Stuff

Check out the local groups: Goodwill, Salvation Army, and any local organizations. There are women’s shelters, religious organizations, and others that would be happy to take your closet cast-offs and try to sell them. If you’re going to donate, be sure to get a receipt. Most places will happily give you one. Just be sure to have a list of what you’re going to donate. You can claim it as a deduction on your taxes. As of 2010, you were able to claim $500 worth of donations without receipts, but needed receipts for anything above that value. Check with the current tax codes to see what you can claim, and be sure to fill out those receipts accurately. You can’t claim what the product cost you, but you can claim what the thrift/resale shop is selling it for.

The Lucky Finds

Finding presents that you didn’t know you’d lost is always a plus to cleaning out a closet. Christmas and birthday present that you bought (and maybe even wrapped), but then hid away to keep safe from prying eyes and fingers may have fallen behind clothes or shoes or boxes of receipts. When you find those presents, you can give them to the intended recipients, or you can hold onto them for the next holiday or next person that might like it.

And, at the end, maybe you didn’t make a fortune or find a misplaced Picasso, but you’ll still have the satisfaction of seeing the floor of your closet. Plus you’ll have gotten your exercise for the day.


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