Sell your stuff, make extra cash

August 6, 2009 4:14:14 PM PDT
Wouldn't it be great to find $50, $100, even $1,000 just lying around your home? A Consumer Reports money advisor says stuff crammed in your closets can easily add up to big bucks. The key is figuring out the best way to sell it."Wow, I remember that red top. Great. I just got $25 for it. It's free money," said Colleen Carroll, who sells her stuff at consignment stores.

Carroll regularly raids her closets for extra spending money by selling her gently-used clothing at a consignment shop.

"Last year, I made between $750 and $1,000," said Carroll.

Yard or garage sales are another time-honored way to make money selling things.

"Turning your trash into treasure at a yard sale can be a lot of work. You've got to price everything and haul it in and out of your house. Plus you've got to make a bunch of signs and posters," said Mandy Walker, Consumer Reports Money Advisor.

However, you do get to keep all the profits, minus costs like paid advertising and permit fees.

Selling stuff online on ebay.com or amazon.com will cost you more, around 10 to 15 percent of your total sales, but you get more potential buyers.

"To get going, see what similar items are selling for on the web site. For instance, on ebay, click on Advanced Search, then Completed Listings. See, this iPod sold for $76," said Walker.

You'll need to open an account to advertise your items and to get paid. After a sale, pack and ship within a couple of days. Your reputation depends on it.

"When you're selling online, small and lightweight is the way to go. That way you can save big on packing and shipping," said Walker.

Some consignment stores will accept larger things like furniture. Carroll says she likes being able to clean out her closet and knowing others enjoy wearing her clothing.

"Mostly I like getting a check every three months," said Carroll.

When it comes to garage and yard sales, here's some advice from the Consumer Reports' money advisor to help you get more sales: Set prices at about 10 to 20 percent of what you paid for something and be sure prices are clearly marked. Bundling items can help you make a sale. And always be prepared to give a discount.

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