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How I paid off $15,000 in 9 months by selling my ‘Stuff’ on Ebay

in Pay Off Your Debt, Sell Your 'Stuff'

Sell Stuff On Ebay

Note: This is a guest contribution by Jenny Newcomer. Jenny is a woman who wears many hats!  She runs a business which designs and sells eco-friendly organziational products (how else could someone juggle 3 businesses and 2 kids?) In addition, she finds time blog over at LobotoME and even get in the occasional tweet!

When I say I sold my stuff, what I really mean is I sold my crap. Crap that I shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

Earlier this year, I knew it was time to get rid of my remaining school loans once and for all.  I’ve added two kids to the mix recently and judging by the estimates in cost of college, I’ll be shelling out $100,000 per kid in 18 years even for state college tuition.

To add insult to injury, I’m not even using either of my two degrees in my daily life right now.  Like I said, it’s time to put these loans behind me!

The problem was how?

Our spending plan was already tight.  I didn’t want to tap into any of our savings.  It certainty wasn’t the type of emergency that dictated tapping the emergency fund.  And the fees made withdrawing from our IRA and expensive option.  On the income side, we already own 3 business and are raising 2 young kids, so getting another “j.o.b.” or starting another side project seemed down right insane.

I had a burning desire to get these loans out of my life, but didn’t now how it was going to happen.

But right after the holidays a bell went off in my head. As I began to look around our house and clean up after the post holiday madness, I realized how much stuff we owned.  Bags, shoes, dvd’s, books, ipods, old laptops, old kayaks, skis that didn’t fit, bikes that we no longer used, the list went on for miles…

This was stuff we didn’t love and certainly didn’t need.  So I started listing about 10 items a week on eBay (and a few larger items on Craigslist).  Some weeks when I had a few extra hours I’d list more and other weeks I didn’t have time to list anything.

I kept at it, though, and slowly but surely things started to sell.  Every time my Paypal account reached $500 or $1000 I transferred it over to put an additional payment towards my student loan balance.  Little by little the amount owed kept going down. When I got it under $10,000, I was stoked and motivated.  Over the next few months, I saw it decrease to only $5,000, then $1,000, and then before I knew it… $0.

Since I’ve paid off the loan, though, I haven’t stopped!  I’m selling more stuff as we speak to pay for plane tickets to Mexico this winter.

Here come the excuses…

I hear them all the time…

  • “I don’t have anything to sell.”
  • “No one wants my stuff.”
  • “I don’t have time to learn how to sell stuff online.”

The truth is nearly everyone has stuff they can sell.  It’s much easier than you think and you’d be absolutely shocked at the prices people will pay for your neglected possessions!

You can receive in-depth guidance to listing your items on Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay in our Sell Your Crap guide.

  • Quit holding on to things you don’t need
  • Know exactly where to sell each item
  • Go step by step to create a listing that sells

Basic tips to get the ball rolling…

  1. Take stock of your inventory! Go through your house, basement, and garage and make a list of items you could sell.  Gather smaller items into a pile in part of your house or garage.  Think beyond just clothes – look at tools, small appliances, sporting equipment, books, craft supplies, kids toys, etc.  At the same time you are doing a selling inventory, collect items that don’t have much re-sell value but that you could donate to a local shelter or thrift store.  You can de-clutter, help a good cause, and get a tax write-off for these.  If I think an item will sell for under $20, I usually just donate it to the local women’s shelter.
  2. Set-up your eBay and PayPal accounts. Many of you might already have these.  They are very easy to set-up by visiting eBay.com and PayPal.com.  You may also want to create a basic Craiglist account for bigger items that may be hard to ship.
  3. Take great pictures! The better the picture (and the description for that matter), the better the selling price.  It’s as simple as that.  If you don’t have a digital camera borrow one from a friend.
  4. Estimate shipping costs. At this point get an accurate estimate on shipping costs.  You can check shipping prices online at www.usps.com or www.ups.com.  This step is often overlooked, but is important to know so you don’t lose money on shipping the item.
  5. Check ‘Completed Listings’. Next check to see what comparable items sell for (you can search for an item and then click on “completed listings” on the left hand side for items that have ended).  This will help you to determine a starting price and/or expected market value for your item.
  6. Create your listing! There are many ‘advanced’ techniques, but I like to keep it simple.  I list all of my items on Sunday’s for 7 days (so they end on Sunday and not mid-day on a workday).  I skip the extra ‘upsells’ like bold or premium listing to minimize my cost associated with listing the item.
  7. Check your messages at least once a day. Sometimes you’ll get messages from potential buyers.  They might want to clarify something or have a question about shipping and bidding procedures.  More bidders means higher end prices for you.
  8. After the sale, ship the items promptly and leave feedback for the buyer. Be sure to help avoid negative feedback (and honor the buyer’s purchase) by shipping the items quickly after the buyer has paid in full.  Normally the quicker you can ship, the more likely they will leave you a raving review!

Here is the most important part of all, though:  Resist the temptation to use the money that you just earned to buy MORE stuff!  eBay can be a blessing and a curse.  Use it to your advantage!

Baker’s Note: Before we left for the trip, Courtney went insane on eBay, Craiglist, and at local garage sales.  There are plenty of ‘advanced’ tips for maximizing these sites, but Jenny’s personal experience provides a create basic guide for those looking to get started.  For those wanting to jump in even deeper, check out this recent killer guest post featured by Ramit Sethi.

What are your own tips for selling on sites like Ebay and Craiglist? Have you had success purging your unused clutter like Jenny? Are any excuses keeping you from cashing in? Help everyone out by sharing your experience below!

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Funk October 28, 2009 at 11:30 AM

I am definitely at that point where it is time to get rid of stuff because the itch to be debt-free is rather annoying that I need to take care of it. I’m ready to cut the cell phone bill to a bare minimum, rid of the cable tv, sell all our crap (we can always buy later), and hit the thrift stores for my clothes. That is a great article. Very inspirational, as I would love to see my student loans go to zilch. ;)
.-= Money Funk´s last blog ..How to Make a Budget =-.

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David October 28, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Everyone, no matter what, has something they can sell that someone else wants. Period. While I have been giving away most of my stuff to Goodwill, I do take the time to sell the more expensive stuff. In fact, I just sold 1 of my 2 computers for $900! What does 1 person need 2 computers for? Great article, and hopefully an inspiration to those looking around asking themselves “what could I possibly sell?”

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Anthony October 13, 2012 at 6:36 PM

2 computers I can think of few things -

Server – Automated Backup (do you backup your data?), hold important documents and pictures, audio and video files to serve to other devices such as connected TV’s, Tablets, Smartphones and other PC’s on the network or anywhere with an internet connection.

HTPC – Cut the Cable Cord. Unless you’re a huge NFL Fan, you don’t need DirecTV. If like the auto racing offered on Speed2, then you need cable, DIsh or DirecTV. Other than that, it can be streamed or downloaded. You’ll save quite a bit of money ditching cable and getting a quality outdoor or indoor antenna for over the air HD broadcast (I get 52 channels). Whatever is on Pay Per View (PPV) or a movie channel like Showtime is already on DVD or Blu Ray, get it from Redbox, Netflix or whatever much cheaper.

Either option can either save you money or save your bacon…

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Kelly October 28, 2009 at 11:32 AM

I’m about to go back into selling it off mode. I consider my stuff very minimal, but I’m amazed how much crap we have.

I’m trying to figure out what the best way to sell certain items is though. I’m thinking of using a combo of ebay, craigslist, garage sales, and consignment shops.

Hoping I can come up with about 5,000.
Great post, thanks for getting me motivated!
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..12 tips for feeding picky eaters =-.

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Diggy - Upgradereality.com October 28, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Hey Adam! :)

Cool post! I have never tried selling things on ebay, but I have a bunch of stuff lying around that I would love to get rid of. I’m going to give it a try :)

Thanks!
.-= Diggy – Upgradereality.com´s last blog ..Inspirational and Awesome Quotes =-.

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Lakita October 28, 2009 at 11:55 AM

I’ve been contemplating doing this for a couple weeks now. Thanks for the kick!
.-= Lakita´s last blog ..Dance Ministry Ethics #3: Self Promotion =-.

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Oscar - freestyle mind October 28, 2009 at 11:57 AM

This was helpful! I’ll try to make an inventory of things I own to sell on ebay to pay off some debt I have.
.-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..Freestyle Mind is Now Uncopyrighted =-.

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Michelle Traudt October 28, 2009 at 12:00 PM

I love Craigslist and we recently had a garage sale to get rid of some of our “stuff”! We made over $500. I need to get on ebay and start posting items. I have not done that yet, it’s a little more indimidating to me. Thank you for this post and the steps, I will get going on ebay very soon. I know I have many more things I can sell and that I need to get rid of. What a great story that you sold a lot of your “stuff” to pay off your loan. Think how many people have hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of stuff just sitting in their closets, attics or garage. Thanks for the inspiration.
.-= Michelle Traudt´s last blog ..Preparing Your Kids For The Path =-.

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Financial Samurai October 28, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Wow, that’s well done! That’s a lot of clutter to sell!

I’ve bought and sold 15 cars on Craigslist in the past 10 years, and it is such a wonderful site. Buyers beware though.

It just goes to show that we tend to accumulate more junk and clutter as time goes on. We need to just stop consuming and enjoy what we already have.
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..You’re Rejected! How I Use Rejection To Motivate Me Every Single Day =-.

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MK October 28, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Once you get into it selling items on ebay is pretty simple. I made baout $300 dollars over the summer selling items I knew could fetch some cash while I was packing up for my move out of my parents house. Now I’m thinking about all the things I have in storage right now and I can’t wait to move to my new place and unpack and make piles of sell and donate items. I’m going to try for the simple uncluttered living and if I can make some moolah in the process, all the better!
.-= MK´s last blog ..Spend a little, save your sanity? =-.

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Andrea October 28, 2009 at 12:41 PM

I’m just getting back into the swing of selling stuff on ebay, and I’ve been able to move a few things on Craigslist. I find that if I can’t sell something locally on Craigslist after listing it twice (I list it, wait a week until the listing expires so it doesn’t get tagged as a spammy repost, then list it again), then I’ll move it to ebay and see what I can get.

I think one of the keys to bear in mind is that people are usually shopping ebay for a deal, so if you list at $0.99, you may be selling something at well under what you’d like. However, any money is better than no money (depending on the item), so you just need to be sort of zen about it.

Most often, I’ll list things at a starting price of $0.99, so I don’t pay a listing fee, unless I really, really want a certain price for it, in which case I’ll start it at $0.99, then pay the small fee for a Buy It Now button/price on the same listing. I find this attracts the “I hate suspense” shoppers who don’t want to wait until the auction part is over, and I’ve been able to move a few things faster that way, for a price that I like a little better.

No matter where you list an item, it’s essential to be very specific in your listing, and post pictures. The more detail you offer, time permitting, the better. When in doubt, think about the kinds of questions you would ask if you were buying that item, and the kinds of views you would want to see, and include them in the listing. Happy debt demolishing!

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Erin October 28, 2009 at 1:20 PM

I am currently trying to sell all our possessions so that we can leave the UK and travel permanently (starting in South America next year). In the last month I’ve made over £500 on ebay and with a car boot sale. Ebay is definitely much more profitable. Some things go for less than you’d like, but some go for much more – you just have to look at the profits as a whole and try not to be too attached to things.

Ebay listings do take some time, although you get quicker with practice. One time saving tip is to create an action on Photoshop that automatically crops and resizes the photos for you. So much quicker. I am now also using Amazon marketplace for DVDs, CDs and more expensive books (textbooks are good) as it is MUCH quicker to list things (no photo needed and they automatically add the product info). The items stay up for 60 days, but I’ve been selling a lot of things within a few days.

My biggest problem is books. I have a large collection, but it’s really hard to compete with Amazon prices for most novels, and the postage costs make it too expensive for the buyer. None of the second hand book shops in my area are accepting any more books. Does anyone have any ideas of how to sell books?

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Sue March 7, 2010 at 3:54 PM

I just ran into this site, Cash4Books.net – I’ve not tried it myself, but I’m going to.

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Laurie May 3, 2010 at 11:41 AM

I have had very good luck selling books on half.com which is owned by ebay. Very easy to list, you don’t have to worry about photographs, and I raised over $500.00 without anyone noticing that that the bookshelves were lighter!

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bhopper August 11, 2010 at 11:57 AM

the US postal service offers a discounted “book rate” if that is all you are shipping – it may or may not be available in the UK, but worth looking into.

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Dana October 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM

A note to anyone who might come along and read this, given that it’s an old post. I’m replying to a British person’s comment, but this is more applicable for Americans.

If you sell books on Amazon, there’s no immediate out of pocket or monthly fees if you’re only listing or selling about forty books a month. Even when something sells, Amazon gives you a shipping credit, and then you can purchase your postage through them–even Media Mail, even with delivery confirmation, which is an extra 20 cents.

If most of your stuff is mass-market paperbacks then they won’t list for much, but if you have something more valuable, you may be pleasantly surprised. Check the used prices on your title before you list. (Be sure the listings are sorted by lowest price first.)

Bear in mind this can be a slow process. I don’t have many listings yet but I’ve sold two titles in the past month and a half. If you’re in a hurry then this may not be an appropriate venue for you.

If ALL you have are mass market books and your research tells you they won’t fetch you much on Amazon, you will probably be better off dropping them off at a used bookstore.

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Karen J March 23, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Thanks for the more recent info, Dana!
All the “buy it – sell it” sites seem to constantly change their rules … ;)

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Carmen October 28, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Excellent post! I am motivated to sell stuff now. Traditionally we’ve sold stuff through garage sales, get frustrated when most doesn’t sell, and cart it off to Goodwill. I’ll put in more effort to selling online now.
.-= Carmen´s last blog ..6 Stages to Successfully Design Your Lifestyle =-.

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Eric October 28, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Great tips! I sold a bunch of stuff on ebay when I was out of work for a couple months. I wanted to have all the extra cash I could gather during my unemployment. Fortunately I found work, and used that ebay cash to start my own blog. I pretty much followed the exact same steps you recommend!
.-= Eric´s last blog ..Get that debt monkey off my back! =-.

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Andrea October 28, 2009 at 2:15 PM

@Erin: Have you tried Amazon Marketplace or Half.com? If you go to any book page on Amazon, you should see a “Sell yours here” button in the “More buying choices” section of the product listing. On Half.com, you just search for the book, and there’s a handy “Sell my copy” link.

It’s very rare that I’m in the market to buy books, but if I borrow a book from the library and decide I really need a copy of it, I go to half.com to buy it. On Half, you can make a wish list and specify the highest price you’re willing to pay. If an item comes in at that price, you can have the wish list email you. That way, you can stay within a book/CD/game budget (if you have one), you aren’t cruising the site everyday finding other things to buy, and you can pay a very low price for shipping (all listings have a media mail rate, some listings offer an upgrade).

I like selling on Half.com because I like the idea, the buying experience, and it’s super easy. They got bought by ebay a while back, so if you can log in with your ebay username and password.

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Betsy Talbot October 28, 2009 at 2:15 PM

You know, I was going to write a post about selling your junk on eBay and Craigslist for our budget series, but now I don’t have to! I’ll just point them here. Great post.
.-= Betsy Talbot´s last blog ..Necessary and Unnecessary Expenses =-.

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MoneyEnergy October 28, 2009 at 4:23 PM

I can concur with the first of those two objections. How does one tell the difference between an item that has “no re-sell value” and a piece of your crap that someone else will definitely buy?

Also, the constant shipping seems like it would be a bit of a hassle. Perhaps it’s best to just list one item at a time, otherwise you might have to make three trips to the post office in one day!:) I’d love to talk with others who have done eBay successfully. Great post, thanks, Jenny!
.-= MoneyEnergy´s last blog ..Cashing in On Chips, Candy and Costumes: 10 Sweet Stocks For Hallowe’en =-.

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LobotoME October 28, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Hi guys – thanks for all of your great comments & questions.

@MoneyEnergy – Re. Shipping: The shipping is my least favorite part of it but paypal has a multiorder shipping feature so it makes it easy to print off several labels at a time…you just enter the weight of the package (and select priority, media mail, etc.) and it prints it off. I will admit that I have shipping supplies (scale, mailing envelopes, boxes, tape, etc) already at my disposal with my business. I also don’t ship everyday. I typically ship ebay items on my business ship days of M, W, F.
Re. Re-sale value: Take a look on ebay or craigslist and see if a similar item has sold and for what amount. Since I feel I am a pretty savvy shopper, I kind of have a sense for what should be sold and what should be donated. Eg. old tshirts – donated; ugly sweater – donated; vintage handbag – sell; winter boots in great condition – sell. I also know what things are worth because I recall what I paid for them. Eg. My Frye boots – they retail for $300 so I knew they’d fetch at least half of that used.

Let me know if you have any other questions!
.-= LobotoME´s last blog ..{ ME vs. debt } =-.

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Laura@mtp October 28, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Excellent post; I thought I’d reached the end of things I had to sell, but I keep on finding stuff. Good idea to go around the house and take inventory! :-)

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Greg - LiveItWithLess October 28, 2009 at 6:01 PM

Its a great feeling when your trash can be someone else’s treasure ( Its even better when you get majority of the money back that you originally paid)

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Casey October 28, 2009 at 6:04 PM

This is the post that I needed. I have so much “crap” in my garage and around the house that I need to sell, plus would like to make some extra money. Donate, de-clutter, and make money…

Thanks for the tips.
.-= Casey´s last blog ..Smile! =-.

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Chase October 28, 2009 at 7:35 PM

I love the post!
And hate you just a little bit for listing my excuses as I was thinking them ;)

Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve got some clutter to get to.

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JvW October 28, 2009 at 10:24 PM

What an inspirational post! I am impressed that she was able to sell off so much to pay down her debt. I have a closet full of stuff to sell off and this makes me want to get on it. We have 5 computers alone that are in the “to sell” pile. FIVE COMPUTERS! We could make a pretty penny for the crap that we’re no longer using.
.-= JvW´s last blog ..Which Debt is Next? =-.

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Credit Card Chaser October 28, 2009 at 11:19 PM

Your guest post over on Ramit’s blog was great. This one seems more like a short summary of what you said already on Ramit’s blog :) but good stuff nonetheless!
.-= Credit Card Chaser´s last blog ..House Votes to Move CARD Regulation Start Date up to Dec 1st =-.

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Baker October 29, 2009 at 1:53 AM

Neither I, nor the author of this post have guest posted on Ramit’s blog about Ebay. Three different authors.

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Credit Card Chaser October 29, 2009 at 2:52 AM

Sorry I guess I misread your closing comment: “Baker’s Note: Before we left for the trip, Courtney went insane on Ebay, Craiglist, and at local garage sales. There are plenty of ‘advanced’ tips for maximizing these sites, but Jenny’s personal experience provides a create basic guide for those looking to get started. For those wanting to jump in even deeper, check out this recent killer guest post featured by Ramit Sethi.” to mean that this guest writer gave a deeper view of eBay on Ramit’s blog (maybe as a pen name for whatever reason…) My bad!
.-= Credit Card Chaser´s last blog ..Think You Could Go Into Massive Debt While Making $10 Million/Yr? =-.

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Tyler Karaszewski October 29, 2009 at 12:42 AM

I *hate* selling things on ebay. It’s not even worth it for less than $100. Just trying to find packing material makes shipping anything not worth the effort. You can either try to scavenge it from…. I dunno, somewhere, or you can spend what always ends up being $25 on a box and some packing peanuts at an office store, and then you have to go to the office store, go home, pack your item, go to the post office, wait in line, ship your item, come home. It ends up costing $25 and two hours of time to ship some stupid thing you sold for $35. Most of the time I’d rather just throw stuff in the trash than sell it on ebay.

I tried to sell a Nintendo DS on craigslist and all it got me was an endless stream of annoying emails from people with no money who refused to pay $90, and wanted to pay $75, and they will probably have the money on Saturday, so can they come look at it then? Then they email you again on sunday after not coming on Saturday, after you stayed home to wait for them, saying they don’t have the money but they can come check it out next sunday and you’re sure not $75, right?

I just kept the damn thing. I don’t know where it is. In a box somewhere maybe. Whatever.
.-= Tyler Karaszewski´s last blog ..Summer Update =-.

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Credit Card Chaser October 29, 2009 at 1:34 AM

Hahaha Spot on. I am only ever really interested in doing anything to make money that I can consistently replicate and scale drastically – if I am going to cap out at making $15k and then everything I learned in the process is pretty much tapped out then that is not a strategy that is worth pursuing at all for me (now if I could work very hard at something and make $15k after 6 months and then $50k over the next 6 months and then $300k over the next 6 months and then I can hire employees to run the mini business/system I created for $50k a year while it makes $600k + annually then that is more to my liking)
.-= Credit Card Chaser´s last blog ..Think You Could Go Into Massive Debt While Making $10 Million/Yr? =-.

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Baker October 29, 2009 at 1:52 AM

Haha, yeah right. I call your bluff.

You are acting like the only benefit is the money. No one is suggesting starting an Ebay business. It’s about getting rid of the crap you never use, decluttering, and making a little money in the process.

If Tyler would rather throw something worth $80 bucks in the trash than list it on Ebay that up to him.

But don’t act like you wouldn’t spend 1-2 hours a week to make $15k in 9 months if you had the stuff to sell in the first place. I don’t believe your time is that valuable!

Sure, passive income is great, but lets get real here. The ‘skill’ to sell used items online isn’t ‘capped’ either. Unless you plan on never buying anything you would ever resell!

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Credit Card Chaser October 29, 2009 at 2:51 AM

Respectfully, it really is not even close to being worth my time but the question is: would I make my little brother who is in college clean out my stuff and sell it on eBay for me for a cut of the sales then – yes! lol

PS I am just waiting for someone to call me out and accuse me of “wasting” too much time reading your posts and leaving comments if my time is supposedly so valuable lol
.-= Credit Card Chaser´s last blog ..Think You Could Go Into Massive Debt While Making $10 Million/Yr? =-.

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Anne November 5, 2009 at 11:57 AM

If you price stuff to sell, it will sell on Craigslist, and it’ll sell quickly. Maybe you should have priced your DS for $75 to begin with.

I’ve sold dozens of things on Craigslist and I can think of only one item that people tried to haggle with me for, because I always price things at a bit less than perfect optimal market price. People see a good deal and they’re quick to snap it up instead of wasting time and risking losing out on the bargain. It’s worth avoiding the hassle instead of holding out for that extra $10-20.

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Sue March 7, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Years ago, I sold one thing on ebay with great sucess. It was a LARGE computer desk. I said I would not ship it – I mean it was like 9 feet long! And I still had people begging for me to ship it from Colorado to New York. I got 10 times what I started the bidding for. But other than that, I’ve been disappointed. Shipping is the biggest hassle for me too. Anyone have good suggestions for that? Is USPS flat rate shipping a determinet to buyers – it seems expensive. ????

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Gerry S October 29, 2009 at 8:22 AM

15k in sales? I think the real problem you need to look at is whether you buy on impulse too much? If you sold 15k worth of stuff, then you probably paid closer to 25-30k for that stuff. I have no where near that amount of ‘stuff’ to sell. I did love the article and also lots of great comments. I am selling some stuff on craigslist right now, and it is quite a pain. So many people are interested and dont follow through. If I call and say im coming to see something, I am coming to see something. Funny how after a point you get a gut feeling on those who are serious and those who aren’t.

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LobotoME October 29, 2009 at 8:22 AM

@CreditCardChaser – - – I understand where you are coming from – in fact that was pretty much what my husband said to me when I started listing stuff – “Your time is better spent on growing our businesses, increasing sales, etc”….and it is. My time IS better spent growing our businesses. But I wasn’t taking time out of my “work” day or letting things slide with work. If anything I was worker harder because I saw a light at the end of the tunnel with our non-mortgage debt. Anyway, this was time that I would have spent in the evenings after the kids went to bed on the couch watching stupid TV or surfing on the internet. However, spending a few “extra” hours at night a week was totally worth it because I paid off my school loans without having to tap into any of our business revenue (which is better used to buy more inventory and grow our businesses). And decreased the amt of stuff in our house which is priceless.
Anyway, selling stuff on ebay or craigslist isn’t for everyone and yes, it does take a fair amount of patience but if someone has some extra time and a need for some additional money, I found it to work out great.

@Tyler – I understand your frustration with shipping and dealing with craigslist buyers. For craigslist listings I weed people out via email – I never give out my phone #. For shipping, its really easy and free to use USPS priority mail envelopes & boxes (provided for free at your post office) and recycled newspapers. You can even print the labels out from the comfort of your own home and drop it in the mailbox. If that is even too much of a hassle there are lots of ebay businesses available in small towns – you drop off your stuff and they sell it and ship it for you and they get a cut of the final sale price. And if that still proves too much of a hassle, donate your stuff to a local shelter or thrift store and at the very least get the tax write-off before dumping your goods in the trash.
.-= LobotoME´s last blog ..{ ME vs. debt } =-.

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Kelly FitzGibbon January 29, 2012 at 4:45 PM

As far as PACKING MATERIALS goes how does FREE sound? You have to work a little for it but…if your willing you can go behind (of course ask them if you can have it, I’ve never had a problem) businesses like Best Buy, Rex T.V’s, any furniture store. They have loads of packing crap they just throw away. I moved my entire house with found boxes, etc… Didn’t spend a dime and nothing broke. Be creative and have fun.

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LobotoME October 29, 2009 at 9:22 AM

@Gerry S – I wanted to clarify a point that these were things that both my husband & I acquired over the past decade not the result of a big spending spree. While some things were sold for less than I bought them for (clothes mainly) a lot of them sold for way more (eg. the old cruiser bike i had while living in boulder that i bought at a garage sale for $25 – sold for $250), my old hardshell kayak that i don’t use now that we have kids but i once used every weekend. Perhaps there were things I shouldn’t have bought in the first place (as stated above in my post) but the point is getting rid of things that no longer serve a purpose for us and using that money to pay off my school loans. My husband & I like to say that we spent our 20′s acquiring stuff (via wedding gifts, building a home, etc.) and now we are spending our 30′s getting rid of it!
.-= LobotoME´s last blog ..{ ME vs. debt } =-.

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Julie October 29, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Oh for pete’s sake…all the nitpickers and naysayers. Good jo LobotME! Very inspiration post!

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Gerry S October 29, 2009 at 10:51 AM

@LobotoME…sorry I really didnt want to come off negative, but my first thought was “you have 15k of stuff lying around???” – LOL. And didnt mean to imply that it was a result of some big spending spree. Like I said, I do love the article and it is a great example of using assets to get rid of debt.

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Mr. Not the Jet Set October 29, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Our first ‘get-out-of-debt garage sale’ yielded $300. We looked at eachother and and asked, “What did we sell?!” Hardly anything really. It was a ton of little stuff and a couple items that were $10 or $20.

It adds up fast, and YES – they absolutely will buy your crap. If not, then the freecylcers will haul it away:)
.-= Mr. Not the Jet Set´s last blog ..Vacation Or Bust Update =-.

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janiper October 30, 2009 at 1:21 AM

Once you get into them for sale on eBay is very simple. I have about $ 300 U.S. dollars in the summer to sell products that I knew that they bring some money while I packed to leave the house of my parents. Now I think about all the things that I, the storage and now I can not wait to go to my new home and unpack and a lot to do to sell products and donate. I will try the simple and orderly life, whether I can make some moolah in the process, the better!
.-= janiper´s last blog ..NetSpend =-.

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Joe Morgan October 30, 2009 at 9:55 AM

It is very true that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and you simple never know what people will buy.

I’ve made good money on eBay selling things I’d never think to sell, if I wasn’t trying to clean out the clutter and make a buck doing it. For example – old instructional videos on how to play Billiards, in VHS format no less!

It seems that they don’t make these particular vids anymore, so they’re a bit of a rarity. Who knew?

Other things that sell well is old PC parts, and software. And some things just don’t do as well as you’d think, like comic books. Unless they’re officially graded, they just don’t sell for much.

Do your research, and don’t just assume no one will want your “junk”!
.-= Joe Morgan´s last blog ..Pay your bills using Electric Orange Bill Pay and you could win $1,000 =-.

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leyla October 31, 2009 at 2:13 AM

I have been an eBay seller since the mid 90s (or late 90s) and I do fairly well on eBay but these days, I prefer Craigslist.

You said “skip the upcharge” items. I disagree. Here are some of my pointers:
List as many items AT ONCE as you possibly can. eBay promoted your other items on the bottom of your listings so the more items you list, the more opportunity you have for your items to be found.

I always take my most attractive OR popular item & pay for the “bold” listing or something to get attention. Even if it is just the extra .25 cents for the “gift wrap”. I do it because it draws attention to my listing. I only do this with ONE item – since I usually post at least 3 items at a time. I bank on one items getting a lot of attention and then having that attention spread out to my other items.

I also keep a mailing list of my buyers & bidders. I email them when I am listing items. But I’ve been selling for more than a decade so I have a list.

I also list in multiple categories when appropriate – it helps with search of items.

I take returns (I don’t return shipping & I charge a 10% restocking fee) – it makes me look more credible and in 10 years, I’ve had ONE return.

And, to your point – absolutely make your pics the best. Good pictures REALLY HELP.

Here is my article related to eBay & Craigslist
http://www.sundaymorningsoliloquy.com/2009/03/random-things-to-do-when-youve-been.html
.-= leyla´s last blog ..Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing =-.

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Monica O'Brien November 2, 2009 at 3:06 AM

Awesome article! My husband and I were talking about this today actually. We have so much stuff and we have a little condo in Chicago. A good portion of our stuff sits in storage. I recently opened an Amazon account (for a totally different purpose) and realized, “Hey, I could be selling my crap right now.”

The bit about getting accurate shipping prices is smart – definitely a step I might have overlooked as I embark on this task. Thanks!
.-= Monica O’Brien´s last blog ..Free content sells. We get it. What’s next? =-.

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Ed November 5, 2009 at 7:21 AM

Congrats on killing off the loan. I do have a question though..

You’ve got two degrees that aren’t useful to you, and yet you’ve decided to spend at least $200,000.00 on that same expense for your children? Is there any recognition that it might not be a good investment? I assure you that it’s not just you who gets little to no use from their degree – especially when we have to decide on a major/life course at such a young and inexperienced age.

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LobotoME November 5, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Hi @Ed – I used to use the degrees until I left my career as a nonprofit consultant/land conservation consultant to be at home with the kids and to support my husbands business. If I hadn’t married him I might still be using them. So I did at one point use them and they were worthwhile….but not anymore, and to be honest I most likely won’t use them in the future. However, it is important to both my husband and I that we help fund our kids college educations should that be the path they choose to take. Thanks for the comment and question – Best, Jenny
.-= LobotoME´s last blog ..{ school fundraisers } =-.

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Donna November 6, 2009 at 12:18 PM

Well written article. My husband and I are Financial Peace Univ. facilitators and we often try to get people to sell stuff on ebay and craigslist to get their emergency fund started. We hear all of the excuses you list and more. I’ve printed off several copies of your article to hand out to some of the ones who really need to get their emergency fund started. It’s really not rocket science but having your list makes it easier for someone who’s never done it before to try and get started. Also I like the fact that you were able to pay off a major debt just from doing this activity in your spare time. I hope this motivates some the people in our class to say ‘Hey, maybe I do have a ton of junk I can get rid of’. I agree that shipping is a major pain but if they can start with some items on Craigslist and have a little success then maybe they can move on to ebay where they’ll need to do the shipping. Thanks

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sandy L November 6, 2009 at 3:43 PM

I just went through this same process because my kid’s toys/clothes I could not donate due to the very dumb lead testing law. I didn’t want to see almost new stuff go in the trash, so I felt compelled to sell it despite the inconvience.

The process changed my mindset. I made some recent impulse purchases (I have a problem with books) that I read and then resold immediately and broke even. For me, if I bought it new, it means there was limited/no used inventory, so resale was pretty high.

So the moral is..the sooner you realize you bought crap you won’t use (like that trendy new exercise video that you’ve had for a month and still haven’t used)..sell it while it still has a high resale value.

The moral is..if you act fast, you can fix even recent spending mistakes…and the longer you wait to sell your stuff, the less it’ll be worth.

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Amanda {my life badly written} January 17, 2010 at 3:05 AM

Fantastic post! I am just about to embark of selling all my crap on Ebay. I have set aside one day a week where my 4 year old is at school and my mum is having the baby for me and I can just concentrate on listing and organising things to sell.

I have done this before and one tip I could add is that listing like things at the same time is a great way to boost the sales. For example listing all baby products together or clothes of the same size together and making a note of your other products in your listing. I have found that then I have had people buy more than one thing from me which means less postage for them and less packing for me!

Also when selling clothes put approx measurements in your listing to begin with. I learnt this the hard way – it saves all the emails requesting the measurements or people skipping over your listing because they think that the item might not fit.

Anyway there are my two little tips! Hope they help….

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Karen J March 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM

@Amanda ~ great tip to “list similar things at the same time” ~ makes perfect sense, but might not have come into my mind, independently!
And you’re spot on about putting measurements in the listing to begin with! Not knowing what “size 10″ actually means for *that* dress makes me drool a bit, then move on!

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Lina February 22, 2010 at 3:01 PM

My roommate and I took this idea one step further and crafted an entire business out of the idea. Located in Washington, DC, we sell stuff for other people and take a cut. Not only are we making money, but we are helping keep useful items out of landfills, helping others simplify their lives, and — hopefully — helping to pay off all of our debts in the process. It’s been a great experience so far.

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charlton jackson January 15, 2011 at 9:43 PM

I was looking on how to start a business selling other people products and getting money for it. I seen your story so i had to reply. I want to get started selling other people products to make money. Please send me any info. Thankyou.

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debtbuster May 11, 2010 at 7:38 PM

I totally agree with you here but I find that I am a very unsuccessful seller. Do you think it’ll get better as I get better ratings. I have a lot of nice branded items like Fendi and Gucci and they end up at less than 10 dollars when I bought it for a few hundred dollars or more! Are there any little tricks and tips you’ll suggest?

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debbie July 4, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Hi, I know you left this a while back…but, I too, am trying to release my stuff by selling it on ebay, Craigslist and a yard sale. I found a “place” called recycle your fashion(s). You send them your stuff and they sell it on ebay and pay you half of what they make. There is a list of what they will take. I haven’t tried it…it seems that it would be better to really inventory your stuff and send them a large order. Hope this helps.

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cath July 29, 2010 at 4:54 PM

I don’t know about the UK, but my understanding is that in the States you can donate books to the library for their fundraiser sale and deduct the full retail price. Donate them anywhere else and you can only deduct the reasonable resale price.

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Paul May 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Do you have any references for that? That seems really odd, but would be amazing if it’s true.

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Jenn April 22, 2011 at 5:42 PM

My biggest problem is trying to sell on ebay continuously. I run out of products to sell out of my house and once that happens … then I can no longer sell on ebay. I’m trying to find a good whole seller that would hemp me out a lot.

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dani July 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I keep reaching a limit on ebay and cannot sell stuff! I have to wait like ten days at a time!
And I Have been a seller for ages!

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Edgar February 15, 2012 at 2:49 PM

I use to sell DVDs sets on ebay and made some good money. the trick is to sell in bulk or season dvds.

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Shay January 7, 2014 at 6:40 PM

I have tons of used DVD’s and CD’s but didnt keep the cases. Do you think they will be worthless now? Also, how will I know if these have any skips as I havent watched or listened to them for years? I would hate to have to listen or watch all of them in order to get a buck or two.

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Caden May 1, 2012 at 1:42 PM

The difference between drowning in debt and living free is just one thought. It also helps to be reliable when other aren’t.

It’s been over a year since I became debt free, and unfortunately I am back in debt, thought for a lot less this time. I long to be debt free again. I’ll be 25 soon and I feel I have learned some valuable financial lessons a lot sooner in life than my peers. I started my adult life in debt. When I was 18 I applied and was approved for an $8500 credit card. I was so pleased at the time and felt very grown up. I look back and feel like it should be illegal to provide 18 year olds without a track record that much credit. I had taken a gap year and worked full time. I could afford it, I wasn’t making big purchases anyway. The following year, 2006, I moved away from home to go to university. I wasn’t a very organised person and had no one helping me, so I made a lot of very costly decisions based on assumptions and optimism. I assumed I would be eligible for government scholarships, but I was wrong. It became very hard to keep asking my dad for money so I stopped. I started advancing cash from my credit card. I did this until my credit card balance was zero. I spent the next 4 years struggling to pay the minimum and study. I was also accruing debt in other areas too. I got mobile phone and internet plans I couldn’t afford – lock in, 24 month contrasts each worth $2500. I wanted to keep up with the Jones’ and live in a nice place. By the end of 2009, I was in over $20,000 debt. I think I was 22. I took a break from uni and moved back home. I was sure I would be stuck with this debt for years. I wouldn’t have believed it if someone told me I would be debt free in less than 6 months. I would like to say I did by being creative and using these tips about selling online. I did it by working my butt off. I started by working for dole. The government paid me $216 a week and I had to earn this by working 16 hours a week somewhere. I was living in a remote community at the time where the majority of people are on a government benefit. I was asked to do my hours at the office that managed all of this. I decided to put a lot of effort into what could have easily been a means to an end. I worked very diligently that first day, and impressed my supervisors so much that within days they offered me a contract. I would be self employed and charge them to teach basic computer skills to job seekers. Students were often truant (adult students) so I had to repeat many classes. I had to work over the expected hours, and I was paid for it. I was soon earning up to $2900 a week and putting 90% of it onto my debt. I loved watching the numbers drop week after week. While I was doing this I also had a second job at night. I worked security at the local hospital. This mostly involved driving the retrieval vehicle (ambulance) and making sure the nurses were safe during call out in the middle of the night. Due to unreliable co-workers I often did many more shifts than I was rostered to do. At the peak I was earning up to $600 a week. I took up a third job during this time, caring for wards of the state in a residential facility on the weekends. I’d work Friday to Monday. These two days netted me just under $700 a weekend. If only I had been debt-free at the time. The day came when I was debt free, and I thought I’d be more excited. I felt free to move back to the city and finish my degree. Which is where I am now. Though, unfortunately I’m in debt again, but only about $2000. I look forward to using some of the things I’m learning on this site to be free again.

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Pilm May 6, 2012 at 10:13 PM

I got a red light ticket couple of years ago, fined me $75. Was kinda PO’d about it, decided I would sell something to pay for the ticket. Decided to sell on Amazon. I listed maybe a dozen things, not expecting much, but man o man, the orders came rolling it. I was surprised. Yes, my prices were good, but it was used stuff that I didn’t use much if at all anyway. Anyway, selling my junk over the last couple of years has added up to about $2000 in sales, of which just a bit more than $1500 was profit. Still surprised how much my junk and old unused Christmas presents got.

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Jonathan Welford June 5, 2012 at 5:51 AM

Great going! We got married in August 2010, had our honeymoon in San Francisco and enjoyed it so much we decided to take a year out, but that needed funding, so between September and December we embraced the 100itemchallenge, where you live your life with just 100 items (and sell, donate or trash the rest) It’s a marvellously liberating experience, really making you think what is actually important to you.

Since we’ve got back more things have become part of our life, mainly books & furniture for our new home (bought mortgage free I add) however if the time came again we could easily off load our possessions again.

Jonathan

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Jonathan Welford June 5, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Great going! We embraced the 100itemchallenge, where you live your life with just 100 items (and sell, donate or trash the rest) It’s a marvellously liberating experience, really making you think what is actually important to you.

Jonathan

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ambre October 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

What about taxes on the money you make selling on eBay? Should I be worried about that at the end of the year?

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Anthony October 13, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Feebay works, Craigslist is fully of skin flints but if you don’t mind that, then yes you can get rid of stuff on both. I have two 1/10 scale RC cars and some Star Wars figures in a Darth Vader case (all matching figures). I’ll have some more to get rid of soon. I didn’t sell a few figures and had to pay fees on the stuff I sold.

I’ll be coming back to that in the coming months as I get ready to leave for Europe (or South America).

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Andrew March 27, 2013 at 4:12 AM

Ebay now offers 50 free listings and sometime even 100 a month. don’t sell no fee, post up to 12 pictures free.

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molly January 26, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Hi! I just discovered your blog and I LOVE it. My husband and I are currently following the Dave Ramsey FPU and we are big fans of it so far. We have paid off $14,000 since September 2011 and with our tax refund we will have paid off $20,000, which is ALL of our consumer debt!!! So excited although we still have a long way to go.

I was looking around last week and just decided holy crap do we have a lot of stuff! I listed three items on Craiglist and made $600 in one week! Now I am looking around more and seeing that this is something I need to put my whole head into and we could make a lot of cash.

Thanks for the post (and all of your posts really). It’s a huge inspiration!

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Jim March 1, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Great post!

Doing just the same and selling at least two or three items every week. Every time I sell something, it motivates me to upload some more pictures of stuff to sell.

Good quality photography is important. I use a fotocube (foldable ministudio) to be able to create foto’s of small items with a perfect white background. I takes some work around with photoshop and some practise with you camera, but how to make white background photo’s is perfectly explained on youtube, you can learn vitually everything online! Also, how to sell your stuff…

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Virginia Dugan March 24, 2013 at 7:26 AM

Ebay is nice but it is so full of businesses right now and it has inflated the fees so much that I wish there was a site where you could not list more than a dozen items at a time for regular “yard sellers” like myself. Ebay is just too overloaded. It gets very boring searching because there are a zillion stores all selling the same thing now. I do like craigslist for large items, also. I just wish there was a site that was like ebay before it got on steroids :) Any ideas?

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Andrew March 27, 2013 at 4:08 AM

Hey, Good article. I’m getting laid off next month and got bills to try to knock out. I had the ebay business idea to. Started selling my items around the house even did some looking around for items. my trick thats been making me a killing and I just started is thrift stores. Get your phone out and look through every shelf super good, Not sure what it is look it up and see. I’ve found items that run for 100+ bucks new for 3 dollars and sold it for Way more then what I paid for. I’ve even found collector items for a few bucks and sold great. It surprises me the excuses I hear when I show my friends the figures you could make if you put a little effort into it. Craigslist has been a great place for me as well. free section, or barter section. Most people don’t know the value of their items sadly

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Kimmy @ AfterGlobe April 1, 2013 at 1:49 AM

I just started rounding up items this week to start listing to sell. Let’s do this!

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Debbie May 28, 2013 at 8:40 AM

This is really a great post. I am inspired.

I will start. Thank you!

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Shay Signoretti January 7, 2014 at 6:24 PM

My family and I want to move to Hilo, Hawaii as soon as possible. We have wanted to move there for years and decided now is the time. Your information has be very motivating for us. Last week I asked my husband if he thought we had a few thousand dollars of ‘stuff’ sitting around to sell to pay down our debt. We are a typical American family so the answer was ‘of course!’. Last week I started to list small and large items on Craiglist and ebay. So far I have sold 3 small items. It’s very time consuming but worth it. We need to pay down debt to get to Hawaii and we need to get rid of ‘stuff’ to get to Hawaii so this plan will work for us. I’ll keep you posted as we go…….Aloha

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Aimzee January 19, 2014 at 4:16 PM

This is such a great article. I truly need motivation to start selling on eBay or Craig’s List. My problem is being emotionally attached to the items. I know I need to sell the toys as my Grandchildren are growing up. But, I love the items and would like to put some away for them (they are all under 12 years old). It’s like I need a Coach to get me started. It’s great reading all the comments. Thanks!

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KariVery April 15, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Aimzee – I feel your pain! I have two sons ages 20 & 17 and I have a ton of very nice books and expensive toys that I have kept from when they were little for my future grandchildren and other family member’s children. My husband thinks I am absolutely crazy and ridiculous… I kind of know he’s right, but it is so hard to part with these things! I have so many sweet memories of reading/playing with my kids, and look forward to when I can do that again with new little kids as they come into our family. Maybe I should volunteer at a church daycare or something! LOL.. but this is a good question: How do you let the emotional attachment go so you can sell this stuff?

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ana Santiago July 7, 2014 at 3:26 PM

I have lot of things I need to sell but I don’t know how to doit and I need some cash desperate.i’m 65 year old/and don’t have nobody to help me.i have lot lot beanie babies I’m looking for some body to give me one price for everything.can any one please, please tell what to do best I have disney/ dvd/ sport beam bag bear/and more.please tell what to do.

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Anthony July 9, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Ana -

A Quick Google Search came up with – http://lovemybeanies.com/

You can also use Ebay to gauge what current BB’s are selling for. I used it and other internet sources as a guide to sell Star Wars figures.

Just put whatever you’re selling in the Ebay search box and press enter.

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Jerry July 11, 2014 at 11:40 AM

I’ve been debating whether I should start selling on Ebay for years now. I’ve sold some big ticket items over the years through Craigslist and it worked wonders. I have been working 2 jobs to pay my daughter’s tuition, with my 2nd job being a part time waiter at a restaurant. At my age, 36, it is a humble experience out there on the floor. Maybe now is the time to start the Ebay thing I have gone back and forth with for a long time. Problem is, I see lots of sellers selling the same thing super cheap and I know working with a wholesaler would require me to get a Tax ID and register as a business, which would require me paying taxes as a business. I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible. Are thrift stores really the best place to start looking for inventory other than stuff lying around at home? Thanks for the inspiration.

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