Friday, January 14, 2011

Casual Retirement Income: Part One-Selling Your Stuff

I have a lovely Dickens Christmas Village. For many years, my brother in law gave each family a village piece at Christmas. I love it, display it and will never give it up. Over the years, we have added small pieces on our own. Now that Bill no longer gifts us with pieces, I have decided that this year I will buy a church, as that is something I feel is missing in our little town.

Not to do anything by half, I then went out and purchased a Valentine village (candy shop, wedding chapel and card shop), Halloween pieces, Fourth of July pieces and even a collection of quilt houses because I am a quilter. Many of these were never used or displayed. I just figured if one seasonal village was great, one for each season was better. While a couple of these, including the Halloween house do get used regularly, many have simply sat in boxes on a shelf. Until I recently dragged the 4th of July house to the fore, my children never even knew I had the house.

What has all this to do with casual income? On a whim, I recently listed a couple of these houses on eBay. This took minimal time-I just took a couple of decent pictures and wrote up a quick listing. When the item sells, I will simply wrap them up and mail them. For this little bit of effort, one of these houses has now reached $70.00, and the bidding still has a ways to go. Even if the mailing process requires an extra half an hour of errand time, the ratio of money made to effort spent is sufficient to make the sale worthwhile.

I share this experience not to show what a smart cookie I am, but to show that one way to make casual income here and there is to sell possessions you or family may no longer use or need.

I certainly would not have sold these pieces if they had emotional value to me or my family (as does the Christmas Village, which will probably remain in the family forever). These are items which I used briefly, and to which other family members have no real attachment. I imagine that my family has the same amount of “stuff” as most families (perhaps a little more in some areas than others due to overseas travel). What amount is excess differs according to each person. I’ve made it clear before that I am in no way a minimalist, and a certain amount of that stuff will always be with me. Even I have excess, especially as I look to downsize. Some of that excess will be given to friends and family, some donated to various needy cause. But some items I will continue to sell, and reap those small rewards.

For those of us who need additional income (even dribs and drabs), small rewards like these are insufficient. That said, added to other small streams of income, selling some of your stuff is certainly one way to add a little cash to your pockets. And many pockets of cash add up to a decent income stream. Not only that, but in some cases selling your stuff can lead to a second income stream, or even a mini business. As we have slowly sold my plethora of books, my college aged son has managed the sales and reaped the rewards. He’s now looking at other ways to acquire books to sell, to continue his cash flow until he finds employment.

I encourage you to look through your unused possessions and see which ones might bring you a bit of money. If you’re unsure, a simple EBay search should answer questions regarding value and average sale. Good luck and happy streaming!


  1. I hear this all the time about selling things on-line.

    My question is how hard is it to use E-bay or some other site to sell your items? How do figure out how much it will cost you in postage before you try to sell it so you have a general idea of what to charge? And of course there is the cost of packing supplies. How do you go about figuring all that out and are most sales profitable? Or are they just a tiny bit of extra cash.

  2. Good questions, Sue. I have thought about ebay at times but the hassles you mentioned have always kept me away.

    I'd guess the answer to pricing is to look at comparable items already listed. With the number of listings it would be the odd item that isn't already for sale (or something quite similar).

    Find out shipping costs ahead of time and indicate that is additional.

    I guess I should re-think the possibilities. Barb makes it sound pretty easy.

  3. Sue, Ebay figures out the cost of postage-the cost of your item is not in the postage. In otherwords when this person pays me, in addition to the seventy dollars, he or she will also pay postage. That amount is calculated by ebay for you, depending on the weight and where it is going. so dont charge for the tiem based on postage. I have a postal scale for other reasons, but they are cheap-you just need to know the weight and approx measurement of the item. As for what I charge, I just do a quick google search which shows me sold pricces. Soem things I dont sell on ebay, some on craigslist, and the books are on halfcom.

  4. Good luck with selling your pieces. I, too, have a Christmas village but mine is the Alpine series. Over the last 17 years I collected and collected. I love the collection though the last few years it has become less of a love and more of a burden to display and take apart. The last few years I decided to sell off some of the pieces and now have about 8 total houses (with accessory pieces) and that is totally manageable. In my case, though, I found a friend of a friend who bought ALL the pieces I wanted to sell for her daughter who has a huge collection of various villages that she has a room in her house devoted to for display.

  5. Thanks for some quality points there. I am kind of new to online , so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?


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