Need a bigger Christmas budget? We can help!


Your home could be a cash cow: Look through your closets, your bookshelves and even your junk drawer. From cell phones to clothes, it's a great way to make easy money.

We found books that had been collecting dust so instead of donating, we brought them to Half Price Books in Rice Village, where you get paid cash for your books.

But not all books will bring in big bucks. Because we're near the Texas Medical Center, medical books do really well, as well as science and local interest books.

Our two boxes net us $35.

So our next stop was at the new West University-area Buffalo Exchange, where they will give you cash for your clothes. There, the store will pay you 35 percent of what they mark the item or you can choose 50 percent of the item's price in store credit.

Even though labels do matter at the Buffalo Exchange, the quality of the item is the most important factor in determining if the store will buy.

"I look at the style of the clothing first and see if it is season appropriate or if it desirable and if it is going to sell," store employee Yu Nojiri said.

All of our items sold.

"So Patricia I can offer you $77 in cash or $110 to use in the store," she told us.

The key to a successful sell was choosing items that likely would bring in the most money.

And our final stop was at the mall, we found an ecoATM. The machines are popping up all over Houston area malls. They will scan your cell phone or other electronics and make you an offer for them. It pays you cash on the spot if you decide to make the deal. If you choose to sell your phone, for security reasons the ecoATM will scan your ID, take your picture and require a thumbprint before cash is dispensed.

Of course, Apple products will get you the most cash -- $250 for an iPhone 4S.

There are seven ecoATMs located in the Houston area including, Memorial City, Greenspoint Mall, First Colony and Willowbrook.

We were bummed by the amount of money we got on our books. For two big boxes, we scored only $35 so keep that in mind when you are selling. When it comes to getting the most cash for your clothes, think name brands and of course in great shape.

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