How To

4 Steps to Cashing in on Spring Cleaning

Garage Stuff

Everyone knows that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Still, fewer know how to convert that trash into treasure.

For many, spring cleaning season offers more than just an opportunity to clear out the cobwebs and dust bunnies. The first signs of spring mean it’s time to clean out the junk collecting in the attic, garage or basement.

This year, don’t just organize all the stuff you aren’t using anyway — convert it into cash. Here’s how to cash in on your spring cleaning:

Online Resale Sites

The first place you should begin is with online resale or auction sites. Over a decade since its founding, eBay remains a top competitor among online resellers. Other popular online resale and auction sites include: Etsy (only for handmade and vintage items or supplies — see website for details), Craigslist, Ubid, and Amazon (yes, you can also resell on the online retail giant).

To get your things ready for resale:

  • Clean: Strange as it might sound, people do not want to buy things that are dirty. Clean items as best as you can and if you can’t get a stain off, simply take a picture of that stain next to a coin for context.
  • Measure: Whether it’s clothing or couches, people want to know how big things are before they buy them. Especially when it comes to old clothes, “16-1/2” doesn’t say much and “small” says even less. Instead, measure the clothes from armpit to armpit and neck to hem; Measure furniture in every dimension.
  • Photograph: Get good pictures. The better the picture, the better the price you can expect to fetch for your wares.

The old rock tees in your attic might be highly collectible, but if you can’t get them to the market willing to pay, they aren’t worth anything. If things don’t sell on your preferred online resale site, it’s time to try something more traditional.

Yard Sale

Take everything left from your online resale adventure and put a price tag on it. Don’t be afraid to price things higher than you think you might get for them. You can expect to be haggled down, but don’t expect a bidding war to break out in your driveway.

Other pointers? Make sure people know about your yard sale.

The old-fashioned flyer-on-a-telephone-pole method works just fine, but you need to update your strategy by putting your tag sale up on Craigslist as well. Make sure to list some of the bigger-ticket items in the ad with pictures to give people an incentive to come.

Once your tag sale is over you’ll likely have a big pile of stuff that still hasn’t sold. Now it’s time for the next step.

Consignment Shops

We’re almost done. In fact, the best part of the last two steps is that they’re basically all done at once.

Make a list of all the consignment shops in your town. Make the rounds with everything left in your car and see what they will buy. At this point you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, so just take whatever they will give you.

Don’t be afraid to haggle a little bit, but if the buyer isn’t budging, take the money and run.

Note that store credit is always a better deal, but only if you plan to spend the money at that store. If you’ve got a car full of clothes and you need to buy new school clothes for the kids, don’t be shy about taking that store credit.

Otherwise, take the cash and consider yourself lucky for having gotten it. Now it’s off to the local thrift store.

Thrift Stores

Unlike a consignment shop, tag sale or eBay, you aren’t going to get any money from the thrift store. These are charity shops that make their money off of getting things for free and selling them for cheap.

So why, other than a warm, rosy glow would you give your stuff away for free? Get a receipt from the thrift store and you can write it off on your taxes. The IRS has a standard rate that things are worth, so make sure you consult that.

It might not make a huge dent in your overall tax liability, but it will take a small bite out and that’s better than nothing — which is precisely what the stuff in your attic is worth at the moment.

“4 Steps to Cashing in on Spring Cleaning” was written by Nicholas Pell.