Tuesday, November 19, 2019

How to Sell Your Stuff for Cash

If you have too much stuff and not enough money, there’s a solution for that. Sell you extra stuff for a profit! In this article, I’ll discuss the different ways you can sell your stuff for cash.
Here’s an outline of the methods we’ll discuss:
  • Local, in-person sales
  • Free listings on the internet
  • Paid/auction sites
  • Selling through peer-to-peer apps
In each category, we’ll review the most popular ways to sell your stuff and make some money. But first, I want to put in a disclaimer here about the emotional attachment to items, or deciding what something is worth without doing any research into the reality of the situation.
I know it’s tough, but you can’t put a price on items based on what’s in your heart. They may have been special to you, but that doesn’t mean the market will support the emotional value you place on them. And just because you paid a lot of money for something doesn’t mean it’s worth anything as a used item.
Ironically, some things are worth more than they were new. So you want to make certain you don’t underprice items, either. Also, the price tag you attach to them will vary based on which method you use to sell them and how quickly you want them sold.
I could write a whole book or course (and I’m planning to, at some point), on how to properly price items for sale. So for the purposes of brevity, I suggest you look for the used value of your items in the following places:
  • Thrift store price
  • Craigslist price
  • Amazon price
  • eBay price (check the recently sold listings)
  • Professional appraisals (for vintage, antiques, and collectibles)
In the end, it’s still an educated guess, and you may need to adjust the price over time or be willing to negotiate. But it’s better to do your research so when people try to bargain you down, you have evidence to back up your choice.
To further reinforce your price, always take excellent, clear pictures for your ad. Use good lighting, eliminate distracting clutter from the pictures, and take shots from many different angles. Be honest about any damage or visible wear that a buyer is sure to notice when they see it in person. If it's in less than like-new condition, adjust your price accordingly, and let potential buyers know in the listing why you are giving a discount. Take pictures so they can see what they’re getting into before they arrive, otherwise you’re wasting everybody’s time.

The last thing you want is to spend all your time negotiating with a buyer, only to have them back out of the deal at the last minute because they feel you hid something from them. Don't assume that nobody will notice the same flaws that you can see.

Local, in-person sales

A garage sale can be easy. You put some flyers up or a free ad in the paper, and then you spend your weekend outside haggling with customers. Oh, wait, that isn’t easy. That’s annoying.
My husband loves talking to people so he doesn’t mind doing it. I hide indoors when he does sales.
You could also just put a sign outside your house that lists items for sale and then your phone number or “inquire inside.”
The third option is to bring items to auction houses, pawnshops, or consignment stores. Just be aware that they will take a cut out of your profits, but it keeps you from having to deal with customers.

Free listings on the internet

Free classified websites are a great way to increase your potential customer base without spending any extra money. However, there are also some downsides to free places.
First of all, buyers are more likely to be flaky. They don’t care about wasting your time or stringing you along, because they have no money invested. It doesn’t matter to them how much time and energy you spent on selling your stuff. They will make appointments with you and not show up, and you’ll never hear from them again.
They will also try to ruthlessly cut the price, sometimes making extremely low offers before even seeing something in person. Try not to be too insulted. Remember, they have no sentimental attachment to what you’re selling, and they don’t care about you. They just want the best price possible, the same as you do.
We’ve had the most luck with Craigslist. We’ve sold just about everything on there, including a truck and two RVs (update in 2019: Craigslist is now charging a fee for listing passenger vehicle ads).
Facebook Marketplace is another option; they have free groups you can add more specialized items to as well.
There are a lot of other smaller websites out there, but I prefer sticking to the larger, more reputable ones.

Paid Sites and Auction Sites

Just about everyone knows about eBay. They started off with auctions, added “Buy It Now,” and now you can put up an item for sale and sellers can counter your offer price.
You may not know this, but the majority of sales on Amazon are of products from third-party sellers. Both small and large business owners source and provide Amazon products, and either ship them to Amazon for repackaging and shipping, or ship them directly from their location when someone orders a product.
But you don’t have to run a business to sell on Amazon. You can just sell occasionally on there. Amazon is more restrictive than eBay. But there are certain items you can get better prices on as a seller on Amazon. Do some comparison between the sale price on an item between the two, and see which one will work better for you.
Like with the free sites, there are a lot of other sites you can try out. I haven’t used any of them. And while the paid sites may offer a way to transfer money between buyer and seller, I recommend making sure they use high-end encryption before giving them any financial information.

Selling Through Peer-to-Peer Apps

There are several phone apps that connect buyers with sellers. They’re either free to use, which means they’re probably supported by ads that will be sprinkled through the app, or they will take a fee from the seller like eBay or Amazon.
Even though you are working with someone through the app, the app provider typically takes no responsibility for the transaction’s outcome. So if the buyer or seller is unhappy with the payment or quality of the product, they have to work it out themselves.
Usually, the verification process to join these apps is sparse. You might have to prove your residence by uploading a driver’s license and/or utility bill. After that, buyer or seller credibility is built up based on feedback from transactions.
So those are the main ways you can make some extra money selling stuff you don’t want or need. It definitely makes it easier to let go of things and downsize when you are getting some money back from doing it.
In my next post, I’m going to discuss the emotional component of letting go, and how to address it.