Earning Money/Living/The 6-Week Cleanse

How I Made $5,000 From Decluttering My Place (And Still Had Things To Spare)

By | Wednesday, February 10, 2021

I made $33 in under 5 minutes, selling my old graphing calculator… 

During this past year, many of us took to decluttering our homes. Whether inspired by Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” or Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin’s “The Home Edit” series, many are now left with full garbage bags labeled “donate” or “trash.” But what if trash and donation bins aren’t the only two options? 

Part of what makes these old things so hard to part with is knowing that you once spent your hard-earned cash on them. But, what can soften the unpleasant reality that a formally coveted object is no longer “serving you”( in the words of Marie Kondo), is that you can still recoup a little of your money.

I’ve made nearly $5,000 selling everything from canoes to a Nintendo 64 and from cleats to an old printer on platforms such as OfferUp, Craigslist, Poshmark, and eBay. 

Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace are ideal when selling large items such as furniture that can be picked up locally. An added benefit of these platforms is that there are no seller fees so what the buyer pays is what you get to pocket. When looking to sell locally, also consider leveraging your community by posting on your HOA or building’s messaging board or dormitory Facebook group. I’ve made at least $2,000 selling on these platforms.

My personal best? Selling a used Ikea kitchen island for a profit of $200 two years after I purchased it. 

E-commerce sites such as eBay and Poshmark can be used for items that you can ship. While both of these platforms take a percentage of your sales, they make it easy to market your items to a national or even international audience. Set aside those old Amazon boxes and envelopes to recycle to save on shipping costs!

On eBay alone, I have made 47 sales totaling $3,678.38.

My personal record is selling my old Texas Instruments TI-83 Graphing Calculator for $33 in under five minutes.

Feeling inspired yet? Here are five tips to get started:

1. Do Your Research

Look up your item online using the brand name, serial number on the back, or even by typing a description of it into Google. This will help your audience know how much the item costs when new and reassures potential buyers that they are getting a fair price based on the condition of your item. Even if you can’t find an exact match online, using something similar as a benchmark is always helpful.

2. The Devil’s In The Detail

Include as many item specifics as possible in your listing including the brand, the year purchased, the model number, color, etc. Measurements are particularly important to share so potential buyers can estimate how the item will look in their home and more importantly if it will fit in their car when picking it up. If it’s an electronic, be sure to state how it operates when plugged in and if any important accessories, such as a charger, are included. 

3. Always Be Honest

It is essential to be transparent about any and all imperfections. But don’t let this deter you from trying to sell a less-than-perfect item, as you’d be surprised what people will purchase for the right price! Whether it’s a coffee table with a scratch on it or an armchair that’s been loved by a furry friend, the quickest way for a buyer to back out is if they find out about these flaws too late. 

4. Flex Your Photography Skills

 You don’t need professional training or fancy equipment to take great photos. Try your best to take birds-eye instead of mid-angle shots of your items as these are typically more appealing to buyers. Place the item in front of a blank wall or on a clean floor so that the buyer isn’t distracted by the background when looking at photos. Also, the more the merrier! Take close-up shots of any imperfections or serial numbers and strive to capture your product from every angle. 

5. Reach Out For Reviews

Whenever I need a little confidence boost I know I can always turn to my eBay seller account reviews. I have twenty 5-star ratings and have received comments including “Great eBayer” and “As described love it. Thank you very much A++++++ seller.” These reviews are essential to ensure the success of your future sales, so don’t be afraid to ask your buyers to write one after they have received your product.


Bonus Tip: Look up if your item has ever been recalled by the manufacturer. If this is the case, they are not only responsible for reimbursing you for the original cost of the item, but also for removing it from your premises. This is why being specific in your listing is important as when I posted a “White Ikea Brimnes Dresser” on Craigslist, Ikea reached out in less than 24-hours to write the check and schedule the pick-up. 

So what would you do with an extra $5,000 in your pocket? While I wish I was spending mine on a trip to Paris, but for the time being, I have simply decided to max out my IRA contributions.

Maybe next year! 

Kathleen is a recovering MBA student who has rediscovered her love of writing with her newly recaptured “free-time.” Her interest in personal money management began when she was a teenager who would tear finance articles out of magazines rather than keeping fashion ones. You can continue the conversation and connect with her on Instagram at @kathleengraceott.

Image via Pexels

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