The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, with over 11% of Americans unemployed and tens of thousands of small businesses forced to close forever. Now the holidays are almost here, and the pressure is on to make them feel special despite our unusual circumstances. Whether you’re in urgent need of extra cash for bills — or you’re just trying to buy a few more gifts — where can you turn when you’re stuck social distancing at home? The answer might just be in your closet or garage.
The unused items collecting dust in your home could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. People tend to underestimate the value of their belongings, but buyers often are happy to pay serious cash for rare or limited items, said Jacquie Denny, founder of Everything But The House (EBTH), an online estate sale service; however, even everyday items can find a buyer.
Brand Name Clothing
With so many social gatherings and events canceled because of the pandemic, the thought of dressing up in a designer frock or suit seems rather farfetched — which brings us to the question, “Do you really need all that stuff?”
If you have some designer threads that you don’t mind parting with, you could resell them for a pretty penny. Brick-and-mortar consignment stores are one option, but if you want to skip the in-store experience and also maintain more control over pricing, your best bet is to sell used or very lightly worn clothes and shoes online through Poshmark or eBay. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of individually selling — and don’t mind making potentially less money — thredUP is an online resale site that allows you to send in clean, brand name clothing and shoes in bulk, with the option to donate whatever they don’t take.
Designer Shoes and Handbags
If you paid big bucks for designer shoes or a handbag that you now rarely use, you can also look to sell these items online. Frugal living expert Lauren Greutman said she has sold shoes through Poshmark for up to 50% of the retail price.
You can snap a picture of the items you want to sell using the Poshmark app and list them instantly. Poshmark takes care of the costs of shipping by emailing you a prepaid label. For sales under $15, Poshmark sports a flat rate fee of $2.95. For sales above $15, the fee is 20% and you keep 80%.
If you’re not sure what to sell your item for, have a look online and see what similar items are going for. Take into consideration that any flaws must be disclosed, lest you wind up in hot water with a buyer!
If you inherited a necklace that isn’t your style or have a ring from an ex you no longer wish to think about, you might consider selling these pieces for cash. Fine jewelry can be worth quite a lot, said Denny.
To ensure that you get the full value of your jewelry, consider having items appraised beforehand. You can find an appraiser near you through the American Society of Appraisers’ site, Appraisers.org, or sell online through an auction site such as eBay.
Many households have $400 to $800 worth of cash in the form of unused laptop computers, said Michele Perry, a consumer tech expert at electronics resale site Gazelle. Fortunately, sites such as Gazelle, NextWorth and Decluttr make it easy to unload these unwanted laptops for cash.
Remember to back up your device and then delete any information on it before sending it in.
Used cellphones are another tech item you can sell for cash — often even if they’re damaged.
“Most devices still have value even if they are broken or damaged, as long as they are fully functional and just have a broken screen or need to replace a battery or button,” Perry said. Even a fairly dated model, like the iPhone 7, can net as much as $130 according to 9to5Mac.
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Every year, roughly $1 billion in gift cards goes unused, according to the professional services firm CEB TowerGroup. If you have gift cards you’re not planning to use, you can sell them to earn some supplemental income on sites such as CardCash, Cardpool and Raise.
The above sites purchase gift cards for less than face value and then resell them at a discount. For example, you can get back up to 92% of a card’s value at Cardpool.
If you have books (including textbooks) that you don’t intend to read again — or ever opened in the first place — you can turn them into cash by selling them online. Check to see if you have any first edition books or books autographed by authors to start, Denny said, as these items could be good sources of hidden money.
Greutman recommended selling unwanted books on Amazon. Scan your books using the free Amazon Seller app, which tells you the current value. You can list your books with the app and price them based on Amazon’s pricing suggestions, she said. Note: Amazon does take a service fee of 99 cents per item sold.
You can also visit sites like AbeBooks and Biblio to see what your books might be worth — a must-do step with vintage and/or rare editions.
Your Parking Space
Have a spare garage or car space you’re not using? You can rent it out on Spacer.
“Spacer connects people who have a spare garage or car space with individuals looking for affordable and convenient parking for their commute or near their home,” said Michael Rosenbaum, CEO, Spacer. “Spacer is a seamless way for parking space owners to earn an extra income stream, with owners earning as much as $6,000 per year with their empty garage or driveway. It takes less than 10 minutes to list a parking spot online, for free.”
If you inherited a collection of porcelain dolls from your grandmother, it might be time to dig them out of storage and put them on the market. In fact, according to Denny, people are willing to pay top dollar for collectible dolls.
Additionally, individuals whose children have old American Girl dolls might be sitting on cash cows. These toys command a high price on eBay, said Greutman. For example, a retired Molly McIntire doll has previously been listed for $3,600 on eBay.
Make some extra cash by selling unwanted furniture that’s occupying space in your garage, attic or storage unit. Along with selling items in consignment stores, which offer owners a percentage of the final price, individuals can opt to advertise locally on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or OfferUp.
Budgets are Sexy blogger J. Money has made more than $1,000 selling items on Craigslist, including furniture. When listing an item on the site, he recommended posting several pictures, providing all of the dimensions, using keywords such as brand names in your description and researching prices of similar items. Additionally, you should make yourself available by phone or email to respond to interested buyers.
That guitar or drum set you bought years ago because you thought you were going to start a band can be turned into cash if your dreams of rock stardom never materialized. In fact, J. Money reported selling an electric guitar, amps and accessories on Craigslist for $225. You also can sell musical instruments online through sites such as Reverb, which charges a 3.5% fee on sales.
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Outdoor sporting goods — such as bicycles, canoes and fishing gear — tend to sell well on EBTH, Denny noted. If you have sporting goods you bought for yourself or your kids, you can sell them on your own through Craigslist or OfferUp.
Additionally, you can take sports gear — such as skis, golf clubs, baseball bats, gloves and football cleats and helmets — to a Play It Again Sports store and receive 30% to 50% of the selling price.
If you collected baseball cards or sports jerseys as a child, you might be able to exchange these items for much-needed cash. Signed sports memorabilia, in particular, can be a big source of income.
“The more famous the player, the higher the prices demanded,” Denny said. For best results, consider having your items appraised to determine how valuable they are.
You can find an appraiser through Appraisers.org or have trading cards professionally authenticated through the Professional Sports Authentication at PSACard.com. One of the best places to sell sports memorabilia is eBay, which many sports enthusiasts use to find collectibles.
If you have antiques you’re willing to sell, their value will hinge largely on their condition and whether they are rare or have historical significance, Denny said.
“With antiques, small scratches and evidence of light wear and tear can actually increase the value slightly, but structural damage and other repairs can be costly and dissuade sellers,” she said. “All these complicating factors are part of why it’s important to work with a reputable appraiser.”
You can sell through auction houses, antique dealers and even on eBay — but be sure to get quotes from a few services before proceeding. Additionally, you can sell antiques at EBTH, which offers appraisers who will value individual items or an entire estate.
Whether you have inherited artwork that isn’t your taste or pieces you purchased are collecting dust in the attic, you can opt to sell these items for cash.
For fine art, consider having items appraised before selling. Regional artwork sells particularly well in EBTH sales, Denny said. You can also sell your fine art through auction houses.
If formal dining isn’t your style, you can unload that china set you inherited or received as a wedding gift at a local consignment store. Denny said china is a popular item sold on EBTH — especially sets made by Spode, Lenox and modern designers, such as Ralph Lauren. Additionally, sellers can list china sets on Craigslist and eBay.
If you inherited some sterling silver trays, serving spoons or other items you don’t use, you might be able to earn cash selling them “as is” or for scrap.
“If the silver holds any sort of historical significance, or has any brand association, it will offer a much greater return than if you were to sell it to scrap,” Denny said. However, she acknowledged that the current market for silver is a difficult one.
At the present time, buyers might get more money selling silver pieces for scrap than at a consignment store or through an auction house. For best results, secure quotes from several metals dealers.
You might have received — or even purchased — savings bonds decades ago only to forget about them completely. In fact, billions of dollars’ worth of matured savings bonds have never been cashed in, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Fill out a form to claim lost, stolen or destroyed savings bonds through TreasuryDirect.gov.
Small appliances that are old or used can still have value, Greutman said. That’s because you can sell their parts on eBay. For example, Keurig K-cup replacement holders can sell for more than $20 on eBay.
You can cash in on those video games you or your kids no longer play by selling them online or at various brick-and-mortar retailers. Sites such as uSell and NextWorth purchase used video games and offer free shipping. Additionally, you can sell used video games at retailers such as GameStop, which will often pay cash or give you store credit.
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Nicole Spector contributed to the reporting for this article.