Cash In On Clutter: Use A System To Sort Unwanted Items

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2006-09-1210

Profit from your clutter by using a system to sort out your unwanted items. I’ve used a system to earn money from stuff I no longer wanted to keep.

Do you want in on a secret? What you are seeing here are the skeletons in my closet. This is my secret for generating a good amount of spare change. Actually, a pretty penny. This is the fourth year I’ve participated in a great recycling program — that which clears my attic and adds something to my pocket at the same time. Thanks to the power of the internet, I don’t have to advertise on the community paper or the neighborhood newsletter anymore. I just do it on web classifieds that are local to my community.

Many folks go for the volume and set up a rummage (aka garage) sale on their driveway or front yard or even in some shared location where they can get together with their neighbors to do huge gatherings for the purpose of unloading or exchanging junk. I don’t even go to that trouble. I am one of those who prefers to clear my clutter on an annual basis — which helps, so that I don’t get overwhelmed with the work.

Here is basically how my system works:

  • Separate your clutter into three categories: SELL, DONATE and KEEP. Make sure you have much more items to SELL and DONATE than you have in the KEEP pile. Otherwise you’re just being a packrat who refuses to part with your known clutter.
  • Take photos of your items in the best possible light. Models are discouraged.
  • Post photos of your items on Craigslist or some other web classifieds site for your local area. Ebay or other online auctions should work too if you’re able to ship the item. is great for used books, CDs and DVDs.
  • Price your item well. I do this by checking what the going rate is for the item then knocking off 5%. Rules would obviously be different for auctions — try no reserve.
  • If your item does not sell in 2 to 3 weeks even after heavy discounting, consider putting it in your DONATE bucket. This will guarantee you will never see it again.
  • When you are done parting with everything in your SELL pile, call up the Salvation Army or Goodwill and have them pick up the goodies in your DONATE pile. There are nifty books like “It’s Deductible” that you could use to determine the cost of items donated for tax purposes.
  • Count your bucks and enjoy your more spacious environment. I normally clear at least $500 a summer doing this!

Interestingly, my bestsellers are items like these:

A note about being a packrat. I know it’s hard to bid farewell to your old junk. I know too many people who are this way. I was one myself for a long time, until we had to pull up stakes and move to a new house. After filling up 4 driveway sized containers of old collectibles, equipment, papers and stacks of musty clothing and finally realizing that we can actually hide our cars somewhere where people need not see them, it was definitely a eureka moment for me. From now on, space is more valuable to me than stuff. Plus stuff pays my commute fares.

Copyright © 2006 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie October 31, 2006 at 12:47 pm

We also used to be packrats. A lack of storage space now helps curb that habit! 🙂 Another place for the give away pile is Freecycle. It does take a bit more time, but then you know someone is going to use the item, plus you can get things you NEED for free too.

Sandra Evans May 29, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Hi there, very helpful and timely tips®like you, I also get rid of unnecessary stuffs in the home through a garage sale and yes, I earn quite a lot. I never thought of selling the items on ebay, amazon or craiglist though, and this is an idea that I will be trying next year. Thanks a lot 🙂

Sandra Evans

CMG February 5, 2009 at 1:37 am

I appreciate your Craigslist tip – to ALWAYS post a picture of what you are selling. I NEVER even click on something that doesn’t have the PIC icon next to the posting.

Matt August 2, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I like the craigslist tip. I recently used craigslist to get rid of two of my older computers I had stored away. I am hoping your tip will help when I continue to get rid of my cluttered garage!!! Great post and nice site.

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