With warm weather arriving you’re probably getting that spring cleaning itch. Not only will spring cleaning remove clutter from your home, but you can actually make money by cleaning up your clutter.
Spring and summer are a great time to clean out your house and earn money for your trouble. You can end up with more money in your pocket and a cleaner, less cluttered home space. Here are some spring cleaning tips to get going.
Sell items online
The easiest way to make money from cleaning is to have someone buy your stuff. For some of the better items, selling online can be more profitable than selling it at a yard sale. Here are a few sites you can use to sell items online.
eBay. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of eBay — “the world’s largest garage sale” — but there might be some aspects of selling there that you haven’t heard of. Of course you can go on and list your item via the traditional auction method and hope the price gets bid up. If you want to get a certain amount for your item (for example, what you think you might be able to sell it for in a garage sale or what you think is close to the items value) you can put in a reserve. To figure out how much money you’ll get after eBay and PayPal fees, make sure to use a great online calculator.
eBay has a new and less stressful way you can sell items, too. It’s called eBay Instant Sale. With this section of the website you put in what item you want to sell (usually electronics) and its current condition (brand new, used with no scratches, etc.). A price quote pops out that you can choose to accept or not. If you accept it you put your item in a box, print a free shipping label, and send it off to eBay. The item is inspected, and if it is as you described it originally, you get paid.
Amazon. Almost everyone I know has purchased something from Amazon. Did you know you can sell items on Amazon as well? For the longest time you’ve been able to go to an item’s page and select “Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon.” You then put in a description of the item and it will show up under the Used item listings on Amazon’s page. (I’ve bought and sold many textbooks in my time using this method.)
However, Amazon now offers a service similar to eBay’s Instant Sale. You can trade in items for Amazon gift cards. Not all items are eligible, but many are (including books). A 3rd party purchases the items and turns around and sells them, but you’re getting instant cash this way as well.
Gazelle. For the longest time, Gazelle was my favorite way of selling slightly older electronics for cash. Unlike Amazon and eBay that have various methods of selling items, Gazelle offers one: we’ll give you cash for your item if it is as described. It is just like Amazon and eBay’s Trade-in and Instant Sale options. Gazelle then turns around and sells the item for a profit — or at least they hope — on eBay and other sites. It can be difficult to find independent vendors that will do things right, but Gazelle has been an industry leader for a while. They existed before the big sites’ trade-in options were around.
Cash for Laptops. There’s a new website I came across called Cash for Laptops. As you can imagine, it is an instant sale site dedicated just to used laptops. However, be sure to get price comparisons from other sites as well. I just looked at how much I would get for my early 2011 production Macbook Pro and the price was less than 50% of what the value of the equipment is. You might have better luck with older, low-end machines that you can’t find a way to sell otherwise.
Craigslist. There’s always Craigslist. The downside to Craigslist is you can get a lot of “tire kickers” or people that want to haggle once they’re standing in front of you. The upside to Craigslist is you’re dealing with local users and don’t have to worry about shipping. You can also sell a large number of items, not just electronics or books.
Have a yard sale
Running a yard sale can help you get rid of just about anything you want. The larger of variety of items you have, the more likely you will draw a crowd. Running a yard sale well is a bit more complicated than sticking signs in the ground in front of your neighborhood.
Here are some quick yard sale tips:
- Get your friends and neighbors involved to have a multi-family garage sale. This will draw a larger number of customers.
- Advertise well. Post on Craigslist and Facebook when the sale is. Get your friends to share it with their friends.
- Put price stickers on everything. When you’ve got 20+ people walking in your drive way it can be difficult to remember what you said you would sell an item for. Get small price stickers and stick them in inconspicuous places — on the bottom of items or on the tags for clothing care.
- Have cash on hand to make change, and make sure you have enough. All it takes is someone giving you a $20 to wipe out all of your spare cash, leaving you unable to make change for the next customer.
How to decide what to sell
Deciding what to sell can be a painful and emotional process. You might be fond of an item because your Grandmother gave it to you before she passed away or because you just spent so much of your hard earned money on it.
To pick what goes and what stays, try to remove your emotional bias from the equation. Come up with a process and stick to it. Do all items that haven’t been used in 6 months go (aside from seasonal clothing)? Or maybe everything that hasn’t been used in 12 months? Should you sell the most valuable things because you need the cash? It can be hard to be honest with yourself, but a lot of the stuff you end up keeping with the best intentions of using will be sold in next year’s yard sale. Avoid that fate by selling it today. If you end up really needing it you can always go out and buy another one.
Involve the whole family
The selling and de-cluttering of your home shouldn’t be a one person operation. Get everyone involved – from your kids to your spouse. Be flexible on keeping an item if needed, but everyone can’t claim that everything that could be sold is now their favorite item. If your kids are old enough, get them involved in taking pictures of items and listing them online. Or let them make change at the garage sale or negotiate with potential buyers. Teach them what to do with the money that is earned from the sale: does it go into savings or does part of it get applied to the next major vacation? These are good money lessons for them to learn as well.
Turn an empty room into a hobby business
You could also turn an empty room into a place where you do a hobby that turns into a business. You could sell your wares on Etsy or start freelancing online.
Final Thoughts on Profitably Cleaning Up Your House
If you are looking to simple sell your stuff for cash there is less risk with sites that give you an instant price quote for your item, but you can expect to get less money for the item. It’s a trade off between simply getting an instant amount of money for your item versus hoping the price gets bid up higher or someone will buy it at a garage sale for more. Nonetheless you won’t be able to sell everything online — nor at prices you want — so having a garage or yard sale is another method to help you get rid of everything from clothes to electronics to furniture.
Photo credit: KOMUnews