Today is part 3 of our 10 part series about making extra money. I love talking about this topic with people and brainstorming ways this can be done. Oftentimes, making at least a little extra money is quite simple to do but for some reason does not come easy for people. Let’s change that!
The point of this series is to help you take small & incremental steps to start earning extra income. Earning extra income can come in many ways (some you might not expect) & some may surprise you!
But before we get to that, if you missed part 2 in this series, Make Extra Money Using Swagbucks, be sure to check that out before you move on! It’s another simple & easy way to earn extra money for something you are likely already doing when you are online.
It can be hard to think outside of the box in your own situation, so that is where I come in. I’m doing this 10 part series on making extra money to help you think outside the box and bring some extra money in.
Once you do that, you’ll be able to use the extra money to build up your emergency fund, pay down debt, give back more or take a vacation (or anything else that excites you). So let’s have fun with this and work together to come up with ideas to make extra money!
In today’s post, we are going to talk about how to make extra money selling things you already own. Before we get started, I want to tell you about some real life examples of how I’ve done this and why I wanted to share this with you.
- I helped my mom sell her couch and chair in less than 15 minutes and she made $400.
- I helped my dad sell his 19 year old 4 wheeler (which was in excellent shape for it’s age and had some extras on it) in 3 hours and he made $1,000.
- I sold outdoor patio furniture and some other misc. outdoor items netting me $250 in less than 24 hours (and helped me to clean out a bunch of things I no longer needed in the process!)
I have done this countless times with a lot of different things for myself and family members and you can do the exact same thing, this post is going to tell you how. This can seem overwhelming and hardly worth it but I can promise you if you systematically go through your items and list them, you will be rewarded!
Decide What You Want to Do with the Extra Money
Before you get started listing your things to sell, decide what you want to do with the extra money. Once the cash starts coming in, it can be easy to blow it by spending it on frivolous items you either don’t need or won’t remember buying.
For that reason, let’s deicide why you want to go through this in the first place and then designate a place to put that money. For example, do you want to sell your items to:
- Build up your emergency fund
- Pay off debt
- Save for a vacation
- Give back to a special charity or group you believe in
- Have extra money for Christmas or birthdays
- What’s your reason?
Decide Where the Extra Money Will Go
Once you know what you want to do with the extra money, where are you going to put it to make sure it’s used how you want it to be used? When you start to sell your items, you are going to have extra cash coming in (I don’t recommend accepting anything else but cash) so it’s best to have a separate account to put this in or pay off your debt as the extra money comes in, no questions asked. You shouldn’t even have to think about this, it should just be that automatic for you.
If you sell an item and earn $50 and you are working on saving money, immediately put that extra $50 in your savings account (if you don’t have a savings account then open one so you have a place to put your money). If you are paying off debts, immediately deposit the $50 into your account and pay off your debt (or take the cash to pay off your debt).
Do not let this extra money linger around or it will be gone before you even notice it. If you just put it in your pocket, I can promise you it will get spent somewhere and you probably won’t even notice it!
Another method I’ve done in the past is to get a jar and put the cash in it as I sell items, then deposit it all at once or pay down debt all at once after everything sells. While there is nothing wrong with doing it this way, you do run the risk of dipping into the jar and taking out the cash to buy things you really don’t need or that you won’t even remember buying a few days later.
If you are super disciplined you can do it this way, but if you are not then I recommend the method above for immediate deposit/debt pay down to make sure it gets done.
What to Sell
As you are cleaning out your items to sell, you might wonder what will & won’t sell. In reality, it all depends on if there is a buyer for what your selling so my advice is to give it all a try. As long as its in reasonable new or used condition, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try and see if it sells. You might just be surprised!
We’ll talk about some strategies for this further down in the post.
Where to List Your Stuff
There are a lot of places to sell online these days and instead of going into each and every one of them, I’m going to talk about the three places I’ve had the most luck when I sell things online. They include Craigslist, Offer Up & Facebook Market Place.
Craigslist – I’m sure everyone reading this knows about Craigslist, it’s nothing new but it’s still around and it’s still a great way to make extra money. Here are the steps I took to list on Craigslist when I sold my dad’s 4-wheeler for $1,000:
- Start by going to the Craiglist website and pick the location closest to you. If you live in a metropolitan area, this will be pretty easy for you. If you are in a smaller area, pick one or two of the closest towns to list your things.
- Note: Depending on what you have to sell, it may or may not be worthwhile for someone to meet you to buy your stuff so use your best judgement here. For example, it probably wouldn’t be worth it for someone to drive 1 hour for a $5 item, however it was worth it for the person who bought my dads 4-wheeler to drive an hour for a $1,000 item.
- In the upper left corner, you have the option to create an account by clicking “my account” and walking through the process or just clicking “post to classifieds” to list your item.
- While it’s not necessary to create an account, if you are selling a lot of things it is helpful to do so you can keep all the items you are selling organized and in one place. I’m going to continue this as if you are just posting without creating an account, but if you do create an account the process will be the same.
- Once you click “post to classifieds” you are taken to a screen where you can choose your category. Choose “For Sale by Owner” since you are the seller.
- After you’ve done that, choose the category that makes sense for the items you are selling. Categories range from antiques to video games so make sure you don’t overlook this area otherwise your item will be listed somewhere that doesn’t make sense and it’s unlikely buyers will see it.
- Note: You will see there is a link to avoiding scams on Craigslist once you are on this screen. We will touch on this a little more further down the article.
- Now you are ready to create your listing. Make sure to fill out all the blanks and make sure your contact information is correct. I can’t stress that enough! If your contact information is missing or incorrect, buyers will not be able to contact you.
- Make sure “CL mail relay” is checked after you enter your email address. This will mask your email address as a generic Craigslist email address so you do not get bombarded with spam emails.
- Make sure to uncheck “ok for others to contact you about other services, products or commercial interests” at the very bottom of the screen. This ensures you don’t get contacted about things from other vendors or sellers that you are not interested in.
- I’ll talk more about this below, but make sure you have a complete description when you are creating your post.
- Once your post is complete, click continue to add your pictures (discussed further below).
- When your pictures are added, click submit to create your posting.
- The next screen will tell you that you will receive an email to make your post live. You must click the link in the email you receive for your post to go live, otherwise no one will see it! This is a security measure implemented by Craigslist.
- Once you’ve clicked the link in the email, you will see your live listing and you can make updates, edits or delete it once your item sells.
OfferUp – OfferUp is an application available for Android & iPhone where local buyers and sellers can connect. Their motto is to be the most trustworthy place for people to buy and sell locally. I’ve used this app a lot and love the security features it has in place. That is actually one of the first things that drew me to this app.
I won’t go through the exact instructions on how to set up your account, because their website has pretty detailed instructions. As I mentioned above, this app has security features in place to make sure you are protected when you buy and sell your items. The app uses a service called TruYou , which is an optional program that allows users to validate their identification credentials with OfferUp. To apply, a user does the following:
- Connect their Facebook
- Scan their driver’s license
- Take a selfie & upload
That’s it! It’s a quick and painless process that I’ve went through myself and had absolutely no issues. By choosing to participate, users help increase confidence among their buyers and sellers.
What I love about OfferUp (besides the enhanced security feature) is I can do it all from my phone quickly and easily through the app. The site also has further tips for buyers and sellers to get the most out of the OfferUp app.
How much time do you spend on Facebook a day? Why not spend some of that time selling things and earning extra cash! As I mentioned in the introduction of this article, I’ve had a lot of luck quickly selling things on Facebook. I did this two ways:
- Facebook Buy/Sell Groups
- Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Buy/Sell Groups
First let’s talk about Buy/Sell Groups. You are probably aware of the group function on Facebook where you can join various groups to talk about things that your interested in. Groups range widely from recipe groups to your favorite singer. They are a great way to connect with people who have the same interests!
The buy/sell groups exist to connect people in a local area who want to buy and/or sell things. Think about this as an online community yard sale where people will post what they have to sell and you can decide if you want it or not from the comfort of your own home.
They are actually quite easy to list your things in, but first you have to join the group(s) you want to sell in. Search for one in your area under “_______ Buy & Sell Group” with the ______ being the city or county you live in. There may be variations of the group name but it should be something similar. Once you find the one you are interested in, join the group.
Once you are approved in the group, make sure to read the group rules. They vary by group but will likely have the most obvious things in common (like no spamming etc).
From there, you can create a post in the group with what you want to sell. Include the description, price and some pictures (discussed further below). Interested buyers will either leave a comment on your post or send you a private message.
When you check your messages, don’t forget to check your “Message Request” folder for messages from people you are not friends with! It’s likely a lot of your messages will get filtered there. Further directions can be found here.
The other way to list your items on Facebook is through Facebook Marketplace. If you are using your iPhone, this will show up at the bottom of your screen in the center.
According to the news release on Facebook Market Place:
Facebook is where people connect, and in recent years more people have been using Facebook to connect in another way: buying and selling with each other. This activity started in Facebook Groups and has grown substantially. More than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month — from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world.
To help people make more of these connections, today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community. Marketplace makes it easy to find new things you’ll love, and find a new home for the things you’re ready to part with. We’ll continue to build new options and features to make this the best experience for people.
To visit Marketplace, just tap on the shop icon at the bottom of the Facebook app and start exploring.
It really is a quick and easy way to sell things and I’ve had a lot of luck with it. Further directions on how to get started can be found here.
Remember: Don’t forget to check your “message request” folder so you don’t miss a message!
How to decide what to sell (if you have too much stuff & it’s overwhelming)
Ok now you know where to list your items, how do you decide what to sell? I recently had a conversation with someone at work about how much he’d love to get rid of all the extra junk he had at home. He mentioned he had 4 vacuum cleaners and wasn’t really sure why he had them. He figured a couple of them must have gotten left there by the previous owner and he wanted to get rid of them.
Does this sound like you? Do you have so much stuff that you want to get rid of but you don’t even know where to start? My best tips for getting started can be summed up in three words: Divide & Conquer.Divide & Conquer --> The Best way to clear out your extra junk! Click To Tweet
Trying to tackle your whole house in a weekend is pretty much next to impossible (unless you live in a tiny home) so the best way to get through this is to take it one section at a time.
- Room by Room – This is probably my favorite method to knocking out all the extra stuff I want to sell. All you do is take a room in your house and designate some time (maybe a weekend) where you you will spend the time to go through every inch of the room. This includes closets, drawers, under the bed, etc. Have some boxes handy and start putting the stuff that you want to get rid of in the boxes. A great question to ask yourself is “If I was going to move, would I want to take this with me?”. If the answer is no, put it in the box to get rid of, if the answer is yes then neatly place it back where it came from.
- A Section of a Room – If going through a whole room is just to overwhelming because of the size of the room or the amount of stuff you have, break it down further by looking at just one section of the room. The same principles apply as above, you just work your way through all your things one section at a time and ask yourself “If I was going to move, would I want to take this with me?”. This may take a little longer, but your not in a race. The point of this is to get rid of things to sell so you can make extra money. You have as much time as you want to take!
- Time Box It– If either of those methods seem to overwhelming, just set a time limit and see how far you can get. You might be surprised at how much you can clean out in 30 minutes or an hour. Getting started can sometimes be the hardest part, and once you do, you might find your motivation continues and you don’t want to stop until it’s done!
- Outdoor/Garage – Do you have outdoor furniture, lawn mowers, or other things you no longer use? Maybe you keep these things outside or in the garage but don’t forget these areas of your house too. If you no longer want it or use it, get rid of it!
- Storage Unit – Are you renting a storage unit to store your items? It’s a good idea to review what you have in there and see if it’s worth paying the monthly rent to store your items. If not, you’ll save by selling your stuff AND getting rid of the monthly storage fees!
It might be helpful to motivate yourself if you make this a game. Make it a goal to go through a couple of areas a month and start slowly and systematically cleaning out your stuff. This process of cleaning out your stuff doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Taking it one section at a time, one room at a time or an hour at a time. It will give you the chance to go through everything in your house to see if you still want it and you can tidy things up in the process! It’s always a great feeling when things are neat and organized.
How to Get the Best Results from Your Listings
If you want to get the best results from your listings, you will need to include pictures and a description of what you are selling. This isn’t hard and doesn’t have to be time consuming and it can make all the difference in the price you get for your items! These tips are what I follow when I’m listing my things to sell:
- Pictures, Pictures, Pictures! Pictures are a must when it comes to selling your items online because people want to see what they are getting. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer, what kind of pictures would you want to see if you were buying the item? Make sure the pictures are clear, centered and in good lighting. You don’t need a professional camera for this, your cell phone will likely do the trick.
- Check what’s around in the picture. Try not to have a bunch of other clutter included. I’ve seen pictures in the past of people selling furniture with their dog sitting on it! Cute, but that sends the wrong message to a potential buyer!
- Make sure the picture is clear and is taken from all angles.
- Depending on what the item is, I try to included 3-5 good pictures so the person can get a good idea of what it looks like.
- If there are any imperfections, it’s ok to list that. Just make sure to take a good picture of whatever it is so the buyer can see it.
- Be honest in your representation of what you are selling.
- Description – Details are key in your description and you want to make sure to provide enough details for the buyer to understand what they are getting. This includes:
- Year, make, model
- Add a description
- Include details from manufactures website if applicable. This doesn’t have to be the full description but enough that anyone looking at it will get the idea of what it is. Remember, you may know all about it but a buyer may not!
- Earlier this summer I sold a compost bin on OfferUp. I knew this would probably be a popular item but many people might not know what it is or how to use it without a detailed description. I went to the manufacturers website and included a pretty detailed description, lots of pictures and a comparison of what the cost was if they bought it brand new ($250 now) vs. what I was selling it for ($60.)
- Compare the full price if the person bought it brand new to what you are selling it for now.
- This is the listing I wrote for my dads 4 wheeler: 1997 Yamaha 4-wheeler with snow blade, windshield and backend rack. Excellent condition, always garaged and well maintained. Pickup in (I listed the city). Call or text Jim (his phone number) for more information. I also included 6 photos with this listing. This gives all the details needed and having good pictures tells the rest of the story.
- Groupings – Have a few odds and end items you are not sure what to do with? Why not group them together and create a “package” to sell. For example, do you have a a few kitchen items that are in great shape that you just don’t use? Why not package them as a “new apartment set” or “dorm essentials kit”? Maybe you have some Halloween or Christmas decorations you no longer use, put them together as a kit and see if that helps them sell together. Don’t be afraid to get creative with this, if it doesn’t sell you can just relist it and try again!
- This also works well with clothing. If you have 4 pairs of jeans you want to sell, and they are all the same size or similar, sell them together. You will likely get more buyers interested this way.
- Price – This is where you get to decide, how bad do you want to get rid of it and what’s it worth? I take into consideration how bad I want to get rid of it, what someone would pay for it new vs. what is the quality now, and what is it going for on other sites? This should get you in the ballpark of a reasonable price.
- One thing to note: I find many people will try to talk me down in price before even seeing the item. I generally don’t go for that, especially if I have multiple people interested in what I’m selling.
- Contact Details – Don’t forget to include your contact details so they can get in touch with you (especially if you use Craigslist). Some people like to call or text you where others will want to email or have you call or text them.
- Meeting Your Buyers – Use common sense here but I do not recommend having a buyer come to your home. I generally meet at the grocery store or Walgreens parking lot when I’m meeting a buyer. I know some people meet at the police station. Pick somewhere that is agreeable to both of you, well lit and safe environment.
- I’ve had people really interested in what I’ve been selling and want to come over at 10 pm at night to pick things up. Do not do this! Lol. I know you know this, but I just have to say it!
Beware of Scammers
They are out there and it might happen so just be aware of the fact that you might run into a scammer when you are selling things online. Use your common sense and go with your gut feeling if you are not sure. If someone wants to send you a Western Union Money Order for more than the price of the item or if what they are proposing sounds fishy, just move on!
Getting Rid of Miscellaneous Things
If you have somethings you want to get rid of that are in decent condition, but you don’t want to sell them, here are a few other options to consider:
- Check in your area to see if you have a recycle center that will pay you cash for things like electronics and computers. This is usually done by the pound, and isn’t a lot of money, but it can be a great way to get rid of extra stuff.
- Donate your items to charity and make sure to get a receipt! If you itemize your taxes you can take the deduction as a write off. While you won’t see the cash up front, every little bit helps when it comes to tax time.
- Giveaway your things to schools, churches or other non-profits (you may not earn extra money but it feels good to help others out!)
- If you have a resale shop in your area, you can take things like clothes, purses, shoes etc. to be sold. Resale shops will pay you up front. Consignment shops will take your items and sell them for you and you get paid when they are sold.
While it’s great to get rid of your stuff, we can’t really ignore that most of us buy too much stuff that we don’t end up using. Why not start to pay attention to what you are buying? As you bring new stuff in, clear out the old at the same time, it will make this process much easier in the future!
What are your thoughts on making extra money selling things you already own? Has this post inspired you to start selling?
Click here to read Part 4 – Make Extra Money with Survey Sites & Focus Groups.