Disclaimer: People who were not born in this country can skip this article (unless you want to read it to send to your American friends who don’t understand ‘how to sell things’). This is the companion post to learn how to get a good deal on anything. There are a lot of principles that are consistent across buying and selling.
Why Sell Stuff
Do you have anything valuable around your house that you no longer use? If you could magically snap your fingers and turn your unused items into cash, would you? Which things would you sell? I’m sure there are plenty of people with used electronics, fancy brand name clothing that doesn’t fit, kids stuff, unopened wedding gifts or other valuables just sitting in a closet, garage or attic, cluttering your house and wasting away. Seriously, selling your stuff is like magic. It gives you cash, gets rid of clutter, reduces waste, and gets used stuff to other people who can use it! The beauty of the process is much easier now than it ever has been! Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon combined with local consignment shops, yard sales and flea markets make the process much simpler than ever before.
We are lazy. I know tons of productive, intelligent people who have fantastic intentions but never take even the smallest amount of time to sell the extra things they have. There is an ever pervasive myth that it is too complicated or time consuming. As a purveyor of quality used goods, it sometimes saddens me of all the waste and inefficiency that takes place as people let expensive, nice things wilt into degradation or obsoletion. And, at times, I too have let perfectly good bikes, cell phones or computers sit until they are no longer near as valuable as they once were.
Have you ever been to a rich person’s house? Especially one whose closets are filled with tons of amazing things that just sit without attention. Or kids toy boxes overfilled with toys you or your kids would love to play with? It can be pretty frustrating to see the excess not be put to good use. And guess what: You are that rich person! Almost all Americans have tons of quality useful stuff that sits idly completely underutilized. So sell it and get it to someone else!
Knowing What to Sell
I think getting started can be the biggest challenge but also knowing what to sell is important. If you are just beginning, my favorite thing to tell people to sell online is an old, used cell phone. They are often worth more than people expect, easy to ship, and don’t require a lot of description because they are commoditized. Next, just look around your house or garage. Find something small and useable. Small things are easy to ship and make great learning tools. The easier your first transaction is, the more likely you are to sell more and more. Ask your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife or kids if they can think of anything good to sell.
Remember, your unused stuff is costing you money! It cost money to store, maintain and organize your junk. I know plenty of people who could add hundreds of square feet to their house by simply cleaning it and getting rid of their excess! The gifted kindle that sits in a drawer, the unused weight bench or that expensive road bike you were going to ride are all sitting there taking up space and costing you money. But more than that, it is extremely wasteful to have quality stuff you don’t use that someone else could be using and loving!
Connecting sellers with buyers is a much easier process now than it has been in the past! My intention was to actually write out a ‘How to’ guide for selling on ebay but I just sold several things this week and it was so simple that it doesn’t really need one. It is about the same as writing a how to guide for buying something on Amazon. If you have sold something in the past, it is much simpler now and, if you haven’t, they have made it mind-numbingly easy. They even tell you which shipping options are best and let you print out the label at home for pickup. Selling on Craigslist is similar to a classified ad in a newspaper just freer and much more widely read.
I’ll use the same guidelines on where to sell as I used for buying. Here are some general rules of where selling makes the most sense:
- If it’s big: Craigslist
- If it’s easy to ship: Ebay
- If you want to sell it fast: Amazon
- If you want to sell a lot: Yard Sale
- If you have a bunch of ‘junk’: Flea Market
- If you don’t want to advertise: Flea Market
These are the internal rules I follow when I am thinking about where to make a sale. I tend to check the online sources even when I plan to sell elsewhere because they are easy to access from my phone and I can get a quick idea of the average price point.
Shipping and determining the ‘Sale Price’ are often two major inhibitors for making sales. Also, Americans with huge houses, large garages (aka storage units), lots of money and ‘no time‘ lead people to procrastinate on selling. Seriously, spending 10 minutes selling your first thing on eBay (and learning the process) could be your most productive 10 minutes of the year! Once you sell one thing, the second and third take almost no time. Shipping is now quite easy with flat rate boxes and you can find the price of just about anything by browsing the sold listings on eBay.
Selling solves two immediate concerns that I see all the time. Not enough money and a house full of clutter. And even more than that, selling your stuff gets it into the hands of people that really want and can use it! As an avid biker, there is nothing more painful for me than to see an expensive road bike unused in someones garage wasting away! And for all the stuff I’m not using, someone else could be getting true enjoyment out of it. I want to encourage people to sell things because it causes less waste and it is a much more efficient way to distribute goods. And the more people that sell stuff, the better the items will be on used markets!
If you have kids, this can be an awesome tool to teach them about money and economics. Spend twenty minutes teaching them how to sell things on ebay and then let them earn their allowance by selling your old clothes that don’t fit! Give them a pile of old electronics and let them make some money. Let them learn by seeing how much stuff cost and how much things are worth both new and used.
Another tip I like to share is simply “List it.” If you list an item on ebay, craigslist or advertise your garage sale it will motivate you into action! Once the sale is made, you will be forced to ship it out. Once you advertise a date for your yard sale, people will be expecting lots of old junk to buy at your house!
Learn how to sell, waste less and get your used stuff to people that want it and will pay for it! For additional motivation, watch all 5 glorious seasons of Hoarders on Amazon Prime or Netflix!