Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fixed Income Living-Selling Your Stuff (Revisited)

Back in January, I wrote that one small stream of income for retirees and folks on fixed income could be selling their stuff.  I mentioned that I would be selling some possessions (both to make room and to increase income). Since then, I've sold a few things through various methods, and I thought I would share the positives and negatives of my experience.

My experience was not about starting an "EBay Business"  or a "Reselling Business".  My purpose was to sell good, usable stuff of differing value.  Most of it was the kind of stuff that is a little to valuable to drop off at good will, a few pieces were collectibles.  This was stuff that had minimal emotional value, and freed up space.  Saleable items ranged from Department 56 pieces, to Vera Bradley bags, to the pots and pans and appliance that were excess after three households became one (of course, then when my son moved away...............).  I did my reselling a few different ways, and thought I would share what happened and what I would do again.

  • Ebay:  Although I sold my most valuable items on EBay, it's probably the last place I would go again.  My experience was not terrible, but as a small seller, I would try to sell locally first.  In answer to someones question in my previous post, the client pays shipping costs.  The price you set is what you get.  Overall I had good buyers, but for me, packing and shipping delicate valuable items would be a last resort.  I ended up selling 3 Department 56 Valentine Village pieces, and a 4th of July piece, all for close to $100.00 each.
  • Craigslist:  I was surprised at how successful this was.  I listed my item with photos, my email was anonymous, and buyers were friendly. I would not discount this alternative, even for more valuable items. Note: everyone has to decide on their own comfort level.  For most items, I met in a neutral pace we traded cash and that was it.  However, one of the items I sold was an expensive sewing machine, that had to be tried at a table.  After some discussion, my son and I agreed that it was reasonable to have her in the house.  We were two adults, a barking black dog and a security system.  Had something looked "hinky", we would have suggested another alternative.  The same is true if I had been living alone.  I sold a fifteen hundred dollar sewing machine for six hundred dollars, a complete set of dishes, some purses and Longaberger baskets this way and was rewarded well.
  • Yard Sale:  I always say that for yard sales to be worthwhile, you have to have children's items.  Fortunately, I was wrong in my case.  My neighborhood association has a sale twice a year, and I decided to participate, literally the day before. In one day, sitting on my front walk, I made three hundred dollars. Things that sold well this way were my purses and briefcase, dishes and pots and pans and linens, and old craft supplies.  While I would not attempt this one again without my twenty two year old live in (at the time) stevedore, it was a good alternative.
  • Amazon:  This was where we sold our books, magazines, some DVDs and many video games and it went well.  While there are other alternatives, amazon is the elephant in the room so to speak, and they make shipping and sales extremely easy.  I pared down four shelves of books (leaving me with another four to five) .  We were so happy with our experience here that my son now buys and sells books on amazon (the profits of which he splits with me, the silent partner), but that's another story.
All and all I successfully eliminated many of items from my home, and in return received cash to spend on more important items.  I'll continue as I slowly declutter to look at selling rather than donating some items, using this as just one method to bring in a little cash flow now and then. 

Two final thoughts.  First, I still have piles of stuff.  It's doubtful that I'll ever be part of the minimalist or simplicity movement, and my children will still have more things from me than they know what to do with.  Second, after I started my purging and selling, I came across a book called "Stop Throwing Your Money Away, Turn Clutter Into Cash................".  I guess I must be on the right path!!


  1. I have TONS of paperback books - mostly romance - as well as some used cookbooks I bought used(mostly) and would love to cash in on these but I'm afraid by the time I pay postage and get something to mail them off in that I won't make anything. the used bookstore near me closed - she actually sells on amazon instead! I need to look into it and see what they allow for shipping allowance and give it a try.

    I can't do yardsales in my townhomes. one year they tried it by renting us tables (I didn't participate since I was working) but I guess it didn't go over too well since they've never repeated it in the 11 yrs I've been there.

    way to go though! you've made cash off stuff you didn't want/need and decluttered at the same time!


  2. Suzy-you will be reimbursed for your postage, whether you sell on amazon, half,or ebay. Postage does not enter into my costs. As far as envelopes, I pay about thirty cents per padded envelope-I only sell hard back for the most part.

  3. where do you get your envelopes? It might be worthwhile for me to check into amazon or I buy from mostly since they discount shipping on additional purchases from same seller(I really try to stay away from that place since it's too tempting to keep adding LOL!)

  4. I usually sell on half and I bought a package of 100 6x9" envelopes for $15 at Office Depot. They work great for paperbacks, and the ones I am selling are generally good condition, so i don't worry that it might get dinged in the mail.

  5. Suzy-I get mine at a company that I think is called bubble mailer (lol). But I buy them in bulk

    Lost goat-thats not a bad price for not padded. i sell mainly non fiction books and they are all sizes, so I need four sizes of envies.

  6. I so relate since I'm a late starter to the whole simplify movement! Yikes!
    Anyway I do hope you'll stop by my new blog



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