Selling Your Old Stuff? How To Make the Most Money

Woman taking photo of denim shirt on smartphone to sell it on internet shop.
Anna Gorbacheva / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Selling old stuff is an attractive idea for a lot of people because it serves two great functions: It gets things out of your house, and it earns you money: Win-win!

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According to the Mercari Reuse Report, American households are sitting on an estimated $391 in kids’ toys and clothes alone that could easily be re-sold. But you might also have vintage furniture, old machine parts or appliances that are still in good shape, old cars, clothing, household goods — you name it.

In an age of online marketplaces, it seems like selling your stuff should be both easy and lucrative, but it really depends on how you go about it. Here, experts offer strategies for maximizing your earning potential when you sell your old stuff.

Timing Is Key

Selling your stuff is all about timing, according to Dan Kroytor, the founder of TailoredPay, a leading merchant account provider. “Getting the max amount of money from selling your things depends highly on what time of year it is. For example, early fall is when moving season is almost over, so furniture and household items sell really well during this time. Conversely, during the spring, dresses, suits and nice clothes for summer events like weddings are in high demand. To get the most out of your old things, be intentional about exactly when you’re selling them.” 

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Find Your Niche

Trying to randomly sell items in a scattershot approach might not get you very far. Instead, see if you can find a niche (or several) for what you’re selling. Daniel Morris, with FireandSaw.com is in the chainsaw niche–(you probably didn’t even know there was such a niche!).

He said, “To make the most money when selling your old stuff, get your old stuff in front of the people who want it.”

In his case, Stihl brand chainsaws are extremely popular and highly collectible, so he looks specifically for Stihl chainsaw fan Facebook groups [x] or other similar groups that are looking for these items.

“Posting your old stuff for sale in groups focused on that old stuff is almost always bound to make you the most money. You can often even leave links to your eBay listing,” he said. “The harder you work to get your listing in front of the right audience, the more you are likely to make.”

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Determine Its Value

Additionally, Morris said, don’t just throw out a random price on your items and hope for the best. “Try to determine the value of what you’re selling beforehand so that you don’t list it for less than its top price,” he said.

“Better to list things too high initially, rather than too low. You can adjust down later, but not up once you start getting interest.”

Set a Price Pain Threshold

According to Veronica Hanson, owner of Nomad Veronica, LLC, who helps moms become minimalists, it’s a good idea to set a “price pain threshold,” or a dollar amount that you establish where your efforts are worth the time it takes to sell the item. “Selling random stuff around your house is not a sustainable side hustle. Turning junk into cash is a good idea if you are freeing up money to start an income producing business or carry you through negative cash flow times,” Hanson said.

“Usually a price pain threshold will be between $20 to $50 if you’re selling items individually via online marketplaces. Anything lower than your price pain threshold should be lumped together into a more bulk selling strategy like a garage sale.”

Seek Established Consumer Marketplaces

Don’t try to set out your own shingle or re-create the wheel when it comes to selling your old stuff, said Karim Hachem, VP of eCommerce at Sunshine 79.  “The best way to sell your old stuff and make some great money is to choose an online marketplace that already has an established customer base. This way you can dive right in, market your things as ‘vintage’ and ‘restored,’ set your own prices, and be off to the races.” 

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He provides examples of well-known sites such as Depop, Etsy, ThredUp, and eBay. Then, all you need to do is focus on featuring your items in the best light possible.

Make the Products Look Presentable

Old stuff often needs repair, refurbishing or just a little polish or dusting to give it back some life. Don’t just expect to toss something you pulled from the basement online and see it sell.

According to Ethan Caffrey, a certified financial advisor and the CEO of Storific.com, “Firstly, if you’re trying to maximize the value of the sale, polish up the products as much as possible. You can sell a nice-looking table for a lot more than if you were to leave it all dusty.”

He also recommends being sure to take good photos of your products. “Don’t just snap a picture of your table in your dark closet. Instead, take it out, set up seats around it, place a vase filled with flowers on it, and then take the picture. This will make a world of a difference.” 

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

 
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