I am a BIG FAN of earning extra cash via side hustles. I am also obsessed with banishing clutter from every inch of my home (seriously, sometimes it border on a sickness) and so the perfect way to combine both of my passions is to periodically “purge” my home of items I am no longer using, and then sell them online.
It can be overwhelming at first to get started with this, so I put together a full post breaking it down step-by-step, tips I use, and my favorite places to sell unused items for the most cash.
Is the “juice” worth the squeeze? Meaning, if you do the work will you see a good return on your time investment? Yes and no, and we'll cover how to tell below. I can offer my $1,000 in 45 day challenge as proof of how quickly you can cobble together a real slush fund using this strategy. So, let's get started!
Finding What You No Longer Use
Pro Tip: Rather than constantly hunting for items to sell, it's best to “purge” your home once a year, or bi-annually at most. This saves time, but also ensures when you sell you're making those sexy hundred dollar amounts as opposed to $15 here, or $35 there.
- The best place to look for things you no longer use is in your storage areas. Do you have a storage room, or a rented storage space where you’re keeping items? Check there first for items you haven’t used in years.
- Once you’ve gone through your main storage space, check smaller spaces. Go through your closets, drawers, shelves, under your bed, anywhere else you store things.
- Next place I always tackle is my closet for unused, gently-worn clothing items.
- Finally, if I'm feeling fiesty, I'll check my kitchen for any unused appliances.
There are a couple of ways to determine what you should purge.
- Have you used it in the last two years? If not, chances are good that you don’t need to keep it.
- Does it bring you joy, or capture a memory you want to hold onto? If not, then you don’t really have a reason to keep it.
- Go through these areas and separate your things into items you need to keep, and items that are only taking up space.
How to Determine if Something is Worth Selling, or if You Should Donate It
Once you have a few (or many) boxes of things you want to get rid of, it’s time to strategize how you'll sell. Selling what you no longer need is how you make money purging your home.
Repeat after me: not everything you’re going to purge is worth selling. Sure, you can sell just about anything. But not all of your items will be worth the effort.
Here's my quick and dirty list of how to tell:
- First, ask yourself “would I buy this used?” In order to sell (or donate) any item, it must be CLEAN, in good working condition, and be in a complete set (if applicable.)
- Items like decorative bedroom linens, unused beauty products, hair tools, vintage tupperware, lawn décor, china, and more can go for a good amount of change.
- You can also use eBay’s appraisal tool to get an idea of how much you’ll get for something. Even if you don’t end up selling on eBay, this can give you a good idea of what you can get for the item.
- Items that sell for less than $5 are not worth taking the effort to take pictures and list. It takes time and energy to list your items, and if you can’t get more than minimum wage doing so, it’s not worth the effort.
- Clothes especially are tricky: Brand name, current items can usually net money online. Designer items should definitely be resold online. Anything else like pajamas, yoga pants, t-shirts, etc. should just be donated as these won't sell for much.
- In order to maximize time vs. earnings I do everything in steps, at once. First, I'll gather the items, then I'll sort them, then I'll take photos, then I'll list them on various websites. I don't do this all at one time or even all in one day, but each step I do together, so I can batch my activity and make sure it all gets done in a timely fashion. Plus, it's just easier to write 20 craigslist descriptions in one afternoon than a few here and a few there.
Where to Sell Your Items
Now that you know what you want to sell, where can you make a quick buck off of your things? You have several options available to you.
Poshmark is a fashion community where anyone call sell clothes, accessories, shoes, and more. All you have to do is take a photo and describe your item. It’ll then get uploaded to your closet, where your network and other people in the community can look at it and .
Shipping is pre-paid, so you can get cash for your items without having to pay for shipping and handling, and Poshmark also takes a cut, but it's a pretty popular place to sell clothes.
ThredUp is an online thrift store that specializes in clothes and accessories. They also offer a clean out bag, so you can clean everything out at once and not have to go through inspections and photographing things yourself.
They do require your clothes to have no signs of wear, no damage, and no alterations for items to be accepted. Average payouts for these bags are $40, but vary depending on how many items are accepted. ThredUp is one of my favorites as I have a lot of brand name clothing (like J.Crew, Madewell, etc.) and if I don't feel like listing it all separately on Ebay, I'll send to ThredUp and make money on each back.
Ebay is known for being a reseller’s paradise. You can list just about anything on the platform, as long as it doesn’t violate their guidelines. However, not everything on eBay gets bought.
The best way to use this platform is to check and see if other people are actually selling items similar to what you want to list. You can check past sales through search filters. Remember, just because someone has listed something, doesn’t mean someone wants to buy it. I've had a lot of success on Ebay reselling old technology, small kitchen appliances I no longer use, and designer items.
Letgo is an app that lets you sell things secondhand. You can sell items like electronics, sports and leisure, clothes, books, and even cars and housing. The app works by showing you what’s nearby. One of the best parts about letgo is that you don’t have to worry about shipping. The buyer will either pick up the item, or ask you to bring it to them. Simply take a picture, put an asking price, and fill in the details. Interested buyers will message you and make an offer.
OfferUp works very similarly to letgo. All you have to do is take a picture with your phone and put a list price. Interested buyers will message you to figure out a time to meet and purchase your item. Your item will show to people who are in the same area, so you won’t have to worry about shipping. Eligible items include furniture, appliances, baby, and electronics.
Facebook marketplace also allows you to sell items, similar to the two apps listed above. Whoever’s nearby can see your item and message you with an offer. You can also join yard sale groups in your area and list your items there to get more traction.
Even though this might be a bit more “retro”: I've also had great success selling old furniture items on Craigslist. I always keep the items in the garage, so buyers don't have to come into the house (or, if on the rare occassion they do, I always make sure someone is there with me.)
Often, they also bring someone to help them load furniture, so it's all-around a safe transaction and I've never had any problems. Plus, it's great because the transactions are all in cash and you can physically see the empty space once they're gone!
A few final tips on purging your home for cash
Tip #1 – You May Need a Buffer Period
As you move through the items in your home each season or year, you'll find some things are easy to trash or give away. Others, you feel torn about and so I remembered a trick I often do with my seasonal clothes and something Cait recently did with her move.
- I put everything I'm “on the fence” about keeping in my closet into a bag. Some I sent to thredUP to see if I could earn extra cash.
- I don't touch it for six months (or roughly two seasons).
- When I take it back out, I instantly know if it is something I have missed and want to keep or if I can toss it. 98% of the time, I toss.
Sometimes you just need a little buffer period to release and let go. This trick works every single time, I promise!
Tip #2 “I May Need that One Day” is a Lame Excuse
I love my Mom, but she's the Queen of, “But I may need that one day.” And 95% of the time, she's right. If she holds onto it long enough, chances are she'll need it again. It's how we've furnished so many houses and apartments over the years. (Thanks, Mom!)
I've always prided myself on being a purger. (I spent as a professional organizer in college as proof!) I even have a “one in, one out” rule for my closet.
But just because I'm good at purging doesn't mean I don't hold on to more than I should. And sometimes holding onto items can hold us back emotionally (it's one reason why Marie Kondo is so popular!) it's not about the stuff, it's about the meaning behind the stuff.
“I may need these clothes just in case I decide to go back to work some day.”
And then I realized I was holding onto these clothes because maybe…sometimes…I don't actually believe I'll ever really be able to make it as my own boss.
It may sound a little dramatic to have such a big self-realization in a tiny closet, but it's the God's honest truth. The reality of it washed over me in waves: I'll never actually be a success if I keep planning on failure.
And so went 15 of my snazziest office items to the “donate” pile.
Tip #3 – Look at every item you give away as one less thing you have to worry about
I like living lean. I have no problem keeping my spaces clutter free, and sometimes I get so overzealous, I'll have to replace something I've already given away. (Relax, it's happened, like, twice.)
I'm not frugal, and I value less clutter over saving the occassional dollar or two.
But not everyone is like that. I've seen friends and family really struggle in parting with physical possessions. Which is why, when they ask for my help de-cluttering, I ask them to think of each item as less stress: one less thing to keep up with, maintain, and find a place to store.
I don't think it'll happen overnight, but I think it is important to realize that as a culture, we should become comfortable with using items when we need them and then letting them go when we don't.
It's one of the reasons I LOVE Kondo's advice of thanking each piece you give away for how it served you in the past as you're letting it go.
And if the emotional ploy doesn't work, imagine what you could do with the money you'll earn selling your unwanted items. I used it to fund a quick $1,000 money cushion, but I've known people who used it to fund summer vacation, make extra debt payments, or create a buffer in their business.
Never forget: what you own used to be cash. It can become cash again.