…..turned into $309 in our bank account! i listed 28 items for sale on ebay, 20 of them sold = $309 was my take-home profit – after shipping costs!
when i started this blog last year, one of my goals was to share tips for putting a little extra money in your pocket. you have followed along as i detailed how to gather and organize coupons. i’ve also showed you how to execute a shopping plan with those coupons. now that i have shared with you how i save money, i’m going to share how i make money. by putting in a little effort, you too can help your family’s bottom line or earn some extra spending money.
there are several resources through which you can earn extra money by selling items/clothing you don’t need or wear. but before i talk about those resources and my tips for selling – you may be asking “what exactly can you sell?”. everything! you would be surprised to know what you think may never pique anyone’s interest may sell for quite a bit of money. i’ve had that experience time and again. i think to myself “why bother listing this on e-bay? if i don’t like it, why would someone else?”. that thinking could not be further from the truth. sometimes the most questionable of items sells for the largest sum of money. it’s mind boggling to me and my husband! and i remember those moments when i question selling something random or wonder if it’s worth my time.
if you have children, in particular, there is a huge population of buyers looking to purchase new or gently used children’s clothing, accessories, toys, books, and more at a discounted price. children outgrow toys and clothing at a rapid rate. anyone with a child (or more than one) knows how often you find yourself shopping for new clothing – they grow so fast. sometimes they barely have time to wear the clothing it seems you just purchased. babies grow especially fast, which means lots of clothing sit in a drawer or hang with the tag still attached. not to mention all of that baby gear. maybe your baby (now a toddler) isn’t using it anymore – like that jumper with the weight limit he/she exceeded a few months ago. now it’s taking up much needed real estate in a corner of your living room or in your garage/attic.
it’s not only children’s items. maybe you’ve lost some weight and those designer jeans don’t fit the same. maybe you hired a lawn service and don’t use your lawn mower anymore. maybe you received a gift that wasn’t exactly your taste, but you don’t feel comfortable re-gifting it.
you may be surprised how much money you are sitting on. all of those items that sit in your home and are never used = someone else would love to buy them!….and you can make a little extra cash.
and it’s even better when there are multiple people BIDDING on your items.
for years i have been selling and making money through a variety of resources. i sell on e-bay, craigslist, at local children’s consignment sales, and (very rare) garage sales. some years i have made up to $2,000 or more selling items we don’t have a use for. the years in which we make more money are typically when i sell baby gear, my husband’s clothing, and furniture. however, on average, i sell about $1500 per year. and it wasn’t a whole lot of work on my end. for example, that one week of e-Bay items i shared above brought in over $300 alone! so, yes, it is possible to make a lot of money! i am proof of that!
my family and friends have requested for years that i assemble a list much like this one below. i can’t wait to tell them it’s finally here – they will be thrilled! if you have been considering re-selling some of your items, my hope is that these tips will be helpful to you! for ease of reading, i’ve broken down my tips into the different resources through which i sell:
** ebay is a great way to sell because their platform is easy to use. i’ve been selling on ebay for almost 13 years and they are always improving their site. what is great about ebay is that you can get as in-depth as you like with their platform. you can sell randomly throughout the year, when you have a decent collection of items. or you can open your own ebay shop and sell all year long and pay a discounted rate. to open a shop, you pay a small fee each month and pay that amount whether or not you have items listed for sale.
when i was selling loads of baby clothing 2 years ago, i set up a shop for 2 months. once everything was sold, i closed the shop. the shop saved me money because the listing fee was discounted and allowed me to post as many photos as i wanted for free.
** when you sell an item on ebay, make sure the photos are bright and taken in a well-lit area. this ensures shoppers are getting a good look at what they may end up owning. here is a good example of a well-lit photo…
** share a lot of photos….close-up shots too…
** when you can, group like items together. below is good example of grouping. our 5 year old outgrew his summer PJ’s. instead of listing each set individually, i sold them as a group. all of the PJ’s were size 5T and all were Gymboree brand. it made sense to group and sell together…
another example of grouping…
when i sell item’s in a group (or lot), i take lots of photos. i take a group shot and individual close-up shots of each item. i find when listing groups of clothing they sell for a great price. they also save me the hassle of shipping all 5 of those items separately.
**in terms of pricing, unless you are listing your item at a fixed price or as a “buy it now” option, try to keep your pricing reasonable. since i list most of our items in “auction style”, i start the price on the low end. for example, for the set of 4 baby sleepers in the photo above, i started the bidding at $6. they are all gently used and in great condition – but they are pre-worn and not brand new with tags. in the end, that set of PJ’s sold for just under $16.
over the years i have learned that most people price their items at 1/4 of the original sales price. that tip has always worked for me. the only time i ever start my pricing higher is if the item is brand new, with tags, never worn and has the original packaging. then you have a right to ask for more money.
** share as many details as possible. if you share all of the details up front, then you won’t have to answer questions throughout the period your items are listed. in your item description, share measurements and any details about stains or markings. tell shoppers if there is a tag attached. tell them what material the item is and if the item is machine washable or not. my husband’s work shirts and sweaters are often dry clean only – a shopper may like to know that. i even tell them what color the zipper is and if there is an extra button sewn inside the shirt (my husband’s dress shirts have those extra buttons inside). don’t leave out a single detail.
** this one goes hand in hand with the above point, but i thought it deserved it’s own bullet…when i am describing an item i try to keep in mind how i shop while shopping online. since i can’t see or touch that item in-person, i want to know all info upfront. that way when it arrives, i’m not disappointed. furthermore, if you under-describe an item and the buyer is unhappy – you may hear about it and end up having to refund part or all of that sale price. better to be more detailed from the get-go and save yourself a lot of hassle.
** take detailed photos of stains or markings. a shopper will want to know what small issues there are. many times if i have a great item with just a minor flaw, i will go ahead and list it BUT i am very detailed and share photos of that flaw. most times the item will sell without a hitch. below is an example of an item with a flaw when i sold our gently used baby bjorn. when i washed it before listing on ebay, the red letters came off in the washing machine…
all i did was mention that the bjorn was in otherwise perfect condition – and it sold. because i had everything detailed in the description, and photos to match, it sold with no problems. and the buyer was very happy.
if there is a stain or mark that is hard to see with the naked eye, take a photo like this – where you are pointing to the mark…
see how you can barely see it? having your finger in the shot also shows the buyer the average size of the mark….tiny and much smaller than my nail.
** if you are selling an item that has a manual or warranty, take a photo of the paperwork and include it in your listing. if you have the original box – even better! using the baby bjorn as an example again, i had all of the paperwork and the original box…
many times in bring in more money when i have the original box and paperwork.
** when at all possible i use the new flat rate shipping boxes from the US post office. they make selling on ebay super easy. and they make my life with 3 little kids even easier! once the item sells and the winner has paid, ebay takes you through a simple process of printing the shipping label at home. the money is deducted from your paypal account. then you can either drop the box at the post office without waiting in line or a postal carrier will pick up the boxes at your house.
i know! easy!
those boxes don’t work in 100% of ebay sales, but they sure do help out. i don’t sell large items through ebay, however, so most of the time i try to use flat rate boxes or priority mail / first class packaging.
** ebay partners with other shipping carriers. however, in my sellers info i have listed that i only ship through the post office, that way a buyer won’t be shocked when i ship their item that way. some people have shipping preferences – like UPS or FedEx – but i personally prefer the post office and i let my buyers know that up front. i’ve never had an issue shipping through the post office (knock on wood!) and it’s easy for me to stop at my local post office to ship items at the counter or at their automated shipping machine. again, the beauty of ebay is you set up your sale the way that works for YOU! if you prefer UPS, then so be it. don’t put the ball in the buyers court, otherwise you will find yourself running all over town to various shipping companies. all you do is make your preferences clear in your seller’s info section and that’s it.
** ebay is a great resource for selling items because they work seamlessly with paypal. when you ship items through ebay and paypal, for example by using the online post office shipping method, your sale is always guaranteed. last year i had a buyer send money through paypal, i shipped the item, and then before the item arrived on the buyers end, he canceled his payment. all i had to do was call paypal and the money was immediately placed back into my account. paypal paid me and then went after the buyer – who later paid them. because i connected the sale dots through paypal, i was out of the loop and they took care of the rest.
** ebay does charge a fee for listing items for sale. sometimes you don’t pay that fee unless the item sells. occasionally, ebay will run specials (which they will e-mail to you) when they have FREE listing fees on auction style auctions, and more.
** like with any other sale transaction in the real world, there are risks involved if a customer isn’t satisfied. most of the time you can work out issues with the buyer and, in the end, both sides will be satisfied. however, if you run into any issues, ebay has a 3rd party negotiator to work with. they will help you collect money if a buyer hasn’t paid and can help you work through other issues. but your best way to avoid issues is to be very detailed in your listing and share a lot of photos. and once the buyer has paid for the item, ship it to them quickly and make sure it’s packaged well to avoid breakage or other shipping problems (like getting lost in the mail because the label wasn’t fully attached).
** if you have never sold anything on ebay, it may take you a while to get the process of listing an item down to a science. since i have been selling there for a long time, i can work through a big stack of items quickly. what i have found really works well is carving out a big chunk of time in order to get everything listed at once. for example, with the almost 30 items i listed a few weeks ago? my husband offered to watch the kids for a few hours on a sunday. i sat in the office for 2-3 hours, took photos, and listed all of those items during that time. if you list everything in one day, then that means it will all sell in one day – which in turn will make shipping our your items easier too.
** finally – when do i use ebay? i tend to use ebay most for items i know will sell. i sell only new items with a tag or new items without a tag, items that are easy to mail/ship, and items that have no issues or minimal issues. if something has a significant mark or something permanent or torn, even if at one point it cost me $50 to purchase, it’s best to donate it. or if you have a garage sale in your near future, maybe set it aside for that sale.
when it comes to selling bigger items, i have found craigslist to be a great resource! i have sold a variety of items from baby gear to an old fridge/freezer to furniture to home accessories and more. last year when our washer died my husband wanted to buy a new matching set. at first we thought about donating the dryer, but since it was in excellent condition, we gave craigslist a shot. within an hour of listing the dryer it sold!…
craigslist a great resource for selling large items that we even sold our swing set a couple weeks ago…
we live in an area of the country with severe weather and severe seasons (very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer), so the set definitely needed work, but otherwise was in very good shape. and it was only 7 years old. the boys had outgrown it and are anxious to buy a trampoline this coming spring. the above photo was taken in 2010 during our son’s birthday party. all i did was share this photo and a few close up shots. i described the set in detail. i also said that the buyer was responsible for dismantling the set and transporting it.
within a few hours we had several serious buyers. a few days later the set was gone – they paid $300 AND took care of getting it off our property.
** as with ebay, include a lot of information about the item you are selling. that way when the buyer shows up there are no surprises and the sale will go smoothly.
** unlike ebay which allows you to upload up to 12 photos, craigslist allows only 4 – so make those 4 really good and detailed.
** since you will likely be selling bigger items via craigslist, try to include any manuals or warranties.
** if the item is really big (like the dryer or the swing set) the buyer has to come to our house for pick up. when and if that’s the case, i make sure my husband or a friend is home with me. however, when i sell transportable items i meet the buyer in a different, very public location. most of the people on craigslist are good, decent folks – but we have all heard some scary stories. just make sure you take safety into consideration. i have sold items time and again through this site and never had an issue with people. everyone has been great to work with.
** it’s FREE to list items for sale on craigslist! who doesn’t love FREE?
** there are 3-5 traveling children’s consignment sales that come through our town twice a year. this is becoming a big trend and i’ve noticed them not only popping up in new cities/states, but brand new consignment sale companies are showing up on the radar each year. in our area, they come to town in the spring and fall. the spring sale covers spring and summer items. the fall sale covers fall and winter items. do an online search to find out if you have any traveling consignment sales in your area. what is great about a big consignment sale like this? everything! read on…
** first off, there is going to be some work on you end, but in my opinion it’s worth it. most consignment sales have their own database through which you enter the items you want to sell. the beauty is that you set the price of your items. i have participated through 2 different consignment sale companies in our area and both of them have great, user-friendly data entry systems. all you do is enter your inventory, print the tags at home, and attach them to your items. each company has their own system and how they want you to arrive at the sale for drop-off. just make sure you follow their directions – and then drop-off will be a breeze.
** consignment sales like this charge a small fee to participate, usually less than $10. they also take a small percentage of your sales, usually 20% – 30%. however, most sales depend heavily on volunteers. they offer volunteer opportunities and in return let you shop early and some even discount your participation fees. the sales i have been a part of even discount your participation fee if you drive around with a logo magnet on the side of your car for a couple weeks. anyone can do that!
** a sale like this is great if you have tons of clothing and big ticket children’s items like cribs, baby gear, and outdoor toys. in one-fell swoop you can bring it all in for sale and the company is doing all of the advertising for you. there are way more shoppers at a consignment sale than if you were to have a garage sale.
** most sales have strict guidelines for the items they receive. they hold their standards high so that people will continue to sell through them and shoppers will return to the sale each time it comes to town. the sales usually staff their drop-off days with many, many volunteers to personally look at each and every item you bring. if there are tears or stains, they will catch it. make sure you get a good look at the items before you decide to include them in the sale. otherwise, you will have put in all of that work, show up to drop off, and return home with many of your items. it has happened to me plenty of times. sometimes my office lighting is a little dark and i miss a big yellow stain. the lighting in the sale space is great and they will catch it.
** in terms of pricing, most consignment sales have a page on their website that details recommendations for how you should price items. i try my best to follow each sales guidelines because i figure they know best. they have been running these sales for years and have experience in knowing what sells and doesn’t. i’m sure a lot of people price their items too high – which means your items may not sell. here is a an example of a consignment sales pricing tips…
How should I price my items?
to help answer more questions you may have, HERE is a link to a FAQ page for a consignment sale i have participated in before.
** when the sale is over most companies have you to come back to pick up your unsold items, or if you don’t want the items – they will take care of donating. if you choose to pick up, your check with be ready on pick-up day…or they will mail you a check within a few weeks.
** a sale like this is time consuming because of the data entry, hauling it in for drop-off, and then returning for pick-up. again, in my opinion – totally worth it! you are doing it only twice a year – if you have that much stuff. the most i have earned through a consignment sale is about $600. but i have had many friends earn more than $1,000. and because the sale only comes around twice a year, it’s time well invested.
** finally, if you are in the market for some shopping, this is a GREAT way to stock up on clothing, accessories, books, toys, and even halloween costumes at amazing prices! i have found great deals on brand new, with tags items each time i shop at a consignment sale. the last time my mother-in-law was here when there was a sale in town, i brought her in to shop and she went crazy. she loved it!
our kids are enrolled in private school and wear a school uniform. school uniforms are a big expense. we have lots of uniform piece options given our wide range of weather during the school year, so we typically invest a lot of money into uniforms and some of it never has the tag removed.
in order to help families gain back some of their uniform costs, most private schools have a uniform re-sale at the end of the year. a uniform re-sale can operate in many ways but most of the time it functions like a consignment sale – you pay a small fee to participate, they keep a percentage of your earnings which goes back into the school budget, they handle the advertising and the sale days – and at the end, you get a check.
if your children attend private school, it’s worth checking to see if your school offers a sale like this. if not, maybe you can offer to put one together in your home for a group of friends with children close in age….or think big and organize a sale for the entire school. they are very profitable – and a great way to pick up some pieces for your own children for the following school year!
my husband and i haven’t had a garage sale in well over 8 years. after our last experience we vowed we would never do a garage sale again. yet, here we are considering one this coming summer. (wish us luck!)
what is appealing about garage sales?
** it’s in the comfort of your own home.
** you can plan one at any time and when you have a good amount of items to sell. maybe you can gather with a few friends or neighbors to make it more appealing to garage sale buyers. whenever i see “multi-family garage sale” on a sign, i see loads of cars parked in front.
** these are great when you want to get rid of everything in one fell swoop.
** you can take the time to tag items or not. you can structure it in any way you choose and not have to adbide by the rules of a consignment sale.
** all of the money you make is yours. no consignment sale fees. no listing fees on ebay. and no having to worry about shipping!
** there are a variety of ways to advertise – including FREE advertisement in small newspapers and on craigslist. or you could spend a little more time and create cute garage sale signs.
there are definitely the down sides of a garage sale…
** like the time spent getting everything organized
** the early wake up time on garage sale day
** garage sale shoppers can sometimes be a bit pushy or negotiate your prices into the ground. one thing to keep in mind is that it IS a garage sale. when most people think “garage sale”, they think the prices are rock bottom and you are looking to move your inventory – so they are going to wheel and deal with you.
** but remember that you are getting this all done in one day – actually, just a few hours! most times garage sales start around 7am and are over with well before noon. so that big stack of stuff you had piled in the garage – is all gone and you have well-deserved money in your pocket after all of that hard work!
** for our upcoming garage sale we are selling items that aren’t worth listing on ebay yet are too nice to donate. because they fall into that category, the prices are starting very low. hopefully no one wants to deal us down to a free price tag.
** we are involving the kids in this sale and are going to have fun with it. whatever money we make is great. it’s extra money and the kids will have fun selling some of their items. it’s going to be a great learning experience for them.
** one important point about garage sales – your neighbors may be none to happy to have 100 (or more!) strange cars filing onto the block to find a parking spot or doing a “drive-by” to see what you have for sale. if you have neighbors that get irritated by garage sales or strangers in the neighborhood, maybe invite them to participate in the sale OR let them know in advance with a note in their mailbox. let them know when you are having the sale and that there is an end time. and thank them for their patience.
** finally, and just for fun….try not to let your emotions get too wrapped up in anything you are selling. our dryer for example – below is a shot of our son inside our old dryer. 2 years ago while folding laundry, he crawled inside. before this shot we had come in from playing in the snow. the dryer was still warm, so he crawled in to warm up while i folded everything. i snapped this cute shot. i love the photo of him in the dryer…his face (although you can’t see it – sorry!) was priceless because we never allow him to sit inside the dryer.
anyway, that was the only sad feeling i had about selling that dryer. my biggest struggle is selling items that belong to the kids. it’s hard to say good-bye to those memories, but it’s freeing too. try your best not to let your emotions get wrapped up in letting things go. keep the items you treasure most and let the old items have a new home and new life somewhere they will be used.
and when you free up space – that means there is going to be space for NEW and fun things!
i hope my tips have helped you. if you have any additional tips to share with the blog readers, please share them in the comments section. if you end up selling something after reading these tips, come in here to share so i can give you a big pat on the back.
as we get closer to our garage sale i’ll share how we have organized our inventory/sale. stay tuned for that in the coming months!