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How To Make Money From Junk

Updated on March 5, 2012

An Old Saying From The North Of England

'Where There's Muck, There's Brass!'

How To Make Extra Money

Most of us experience financially tough times from time to time. These days finding a second job isn't quite as easy as it was, even if we had the time to put in extra hours at work. So how can you make extra cash without working more hours? Junk. The answer is quite simply - junk.

Junk (or trash) can be quite an emotive word. What is junk to me could be a treasure to you. What you throw out could be a saleable commodity to me. You can prove this to your own satisfaction by checking the various freecyle sites that recycle goods that people are trying to get rid of for free. You should have a look, it is quite eye-opening. Freecycle sites are very handy but they are only of much use if you live in reasonably close proximity to the person who is giving the stuff away.

Instead of freecycling, you can use other people's junk to your own financial advantage. Let me say here that it is not considered ethical to obtain items from a freecycle site and then sell it on yourself. That is against the ethos of freecycle. What you need to do is find items to resell from scratch.

Whilst we are talking about how to make extra cash, you could get hold of a fantastic e-book that I came across on how to survive a recession. It's got some really useful ideas that you will find excellent.

This e-book is full of excellent ideas.

So Where Do I Find Junk To Re-sell?

If you want to find stuff to re-sell for free then you could do worse than looking in skips. 'Skip-dipping' can be lucrative as I once found out to my own cost. It did only happen once, I'm a quick learner!

This is what happened. Early one morning just before we last moved house, my two sons and I started a clear-out of the house and shed. We had hired a skip at the cost of €300 and were proceding to fill said skip with our 'junk'. We had toiled for about an hour, half filling the skip and then went in for breakfast. When we came out about 30 minutes later, the skip that had been half full, was now virtually empty! A quick glance up the road revealed somebody pushing an old pram loaded with our 'junk'! This person saw me looking and came back to ask permission to take the stuff away (it is classed as theft if you don't get permission) and of course I gave permission. This person made several trips to our skip over the day and removed loads of stuff. So much so, that at the end of the day the skip that had cost €300 to hire was virtually empty, leaving me with a bill that I could have avoided.

The next Sunday morning I happened to make one of my frequent visits to the local car-boot sale (Garage Sale). Lo and behold, what did I see?...only my old 'junk' for sale at a stall! That was a real 'face-palm' moment for me. I had just given stuff away that I had thought was junk but that had obviously a good re-sale value. Somebody was able to make money from my 'junk'

Now, I'm a fairly self-confident person but skip-dipping on such a large scale isn't really for me. I would ask for the odd item from a skip if I really wanted it but I much prefer to seek out bargains and actually buy them. So what I do is frequent the car-boot sales and buy items for a fraction of their value and then re-sell them.

So Where Do I Look?

The best place I've found is the same place my stuff ended up - the car-boot sale. The vendors do a great job of setting up their stalls with all their best items proudly on display. The reject stuff is usually just left in boxes on the ground for you to rummage through. This is where you find the 'treasure'. You don't want to pay much, so look in the bargain boxes. Look out for any ceramics that are filthy and check the maker's mark on the bottom. If the makers mark is a good one, don't worry about dirt, just look for damage. Check for cracks and repairs. If there is damage, don't buy it. If it is just dirty, it can be cleaned up at home.

Look for metalware that is black with tarnish. That means it is either solid silver or silver-plated. Check the Hall Marks to find out which. 'EPNS' means Electro-Plated Nickel Silver, so leave that alone and pick up the solid silver. UK silver has a 'Lion Passant' as a mark for solid sterling silver - so grab that quick. In other countries it may have a '925' mark which is the same grade of silver as sterling silver. You can follow my hub on How To Clean Silver The Easy Way for instructions on how to make it gleaming again.

For ceramics, usually a bowl of hot water with washing-up detergent will do the trick, although I have had to resort to white spirit to remove gloss paint from a Clarice Cliff jug before now!


How Do I Know What's Valuable?

This is the whole trick. First of all, read every antiques magazine and price guide that you can get your hands on. The local library will have these, so you don't have to spend good money on research. Look at ebay. Check out the antiques and collectibles sections and see what's going for a good price. Watch TV programmes such as the Antiques Roadshow, Cash In The Attic, Treasure Hunt or any other programme to do with antiques. You will soon learn the items that are going to sell and they turn up with surprising regularity at car-boot sales, charity shops and in skips. Buy them and clean them up and sell them at a (usually) mega-profit.

Warning: Don't clean bronze, spelter or wood furniture as it will de-value their price.

Where Do I Sell The 'Treasure'?

If you have found real treasure such as a collectible make of china, sterling silver or antique furniture, then the best place to sell is at an auction house. All you need to do is contact an auction house, tell them what you have to sell and ask when the next sale is being held. When you show them what you have to sell, they will usually give you an estimate of the price it is likely to make. If that is more than you paid for it, then go for it.  Often pieces go for far more than their estimate if there is more than one person bidding for it. You will have to pay a seller's commission on the price it makes, but if it doesn't sell, you pay nothing.

For pieces that couldn't be described as 'treasure', try ebay. You can sell at a profit if you set your reserve at the right price.

You can also try free ad sites such as Gumtree, the local newspaper classifieds or even another car-boot sale.

What Profit Can I Make?

The sky's the limit if you do your research. I'll give you some examples from my own experience.

I found a filthy jug, covered in black gloss paint. It had obviously been used to clean paint brushes in. The maker's mark on the bottom was 'Crown Devon'. I'd seen this type of jug in the price guides and knew it worth something. I paid €10 for it. I cleaned it up, put it in the local auction house sale and it sold for €180. With a 10% commission to the auction house of €18 and the original cost of €10, that was a profit of €152.

I found a bundle of old knives and forks in a box under the table at a car-boot sale. The knives had cream coloured handles and the metal was pure black from tarnish. The Hall Marks showed they were solid silver, Birmingham 1850, I bought them for €5 and they sold at auction for €50.

When I was on holiday in Toronto, I bought two pieces of Clarice Cliff ceramics for $10. When I arrived home, I sold them for €70 each.

So it can be done. Just keep your eyes open. Look at your own 'junk' that you already have about your house and if you don't need it, sell it! I do this very weekend. I buy stuff for an average of €20 per week and sell at an average of €110 per week. All from other people's junk.

It's definitely worth a go. Start off by skip-dipping for free, that way you'll lose nothing. As you get to know the game, try treasure hunting at car-boot sales and garage sales.

There's a profit there for the asking!


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