Money can be one of the greatest sources of stress in our lives. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are said to be living paycheck to paycheck. While these statistics are frightening, there is hope.
Over the years my husband and I have watched countless people (including ourselves) find financial peace. It’s possible even on a modest income. All it takes is hope and a commitment to change.
There are two ways to accelerate the achievement of your financial goals. You can spend less or earn more. I recommend you do both.
Today we’re going to talk about boosting your income. You could ask for a raise, get a new job, start a side hustle, rent your spare room, or sell your unused crap. Since selling your stuff is one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your income, I’m going to start here.
Less is More
Downsizing and decluttering is a hot topic right now. My husband and I just finished going through the main level of our home and got rid of two-thirds of our stuff. I’ve had so many questions about the process, that I decided to do a quick recap.
As a general rule, if I hadn’t used the item during the previous year, it was gone. Jer was a bit more sentimental about things. I was sensitive to that and told myself that this is just the first round.
When you’re downsizing, there are four ways to deal with your crap. You can keep it, give it away, toss it in the trash, or sell it.
When to Keep It
If you decide to keep something, make sure it’s something you’ll actually use or brings joy to your life. If you’re on the fence, it’s okay to box up a few items to deal with later. I suggest writing the date, one year from today, on the box. Commit to getting rid of anything you don’t use over the next year on that day.
Giving it Away
There are many great ways to give your stuff away. My favorite is to give it to a charity that can use the profits to serve people in need. There are a lot of charities that do this and most of them will come and pick up your junk. Each item I donate, I track for tax purposes using ItsDeductible. It’s a little extra work, but you’ll be grateful you took the time if you ever get audited. You could also gift your items to friends or list them as free on Craigslist or Nextdoor.
We also threw a lot of stuff in the trash. We had tons of paperwork that had piled up over the years, which we shredded and composted. I also found a collection of broken pepper mills, mismatched socks, and tea bags that were half a decade old. It’s amazing how much crap can accumulate.
What You Can Sell
Finally, we have a lot of good used stuff we can sell. We no longer need the solid wood desk that held the aforementioned paperwork. We have brand new wine glasses, a food chopper, and a roaster oven, all in their original packaging. These items were gifts that we never had a use for.
When deciding what to sell and what to donate, it’s important to consider how much money you need. If you’re working your way out of credit card debt, you need every penny. Rather than donating items to charity, you should consider having a garage sale.
You will also want to consider what your time is worth and how you can get the best ROI. Don’t waste an hour trying to sell an item for $10 if you could make $25 doing yard work or $200 consulting.
When it’s time to start selling, there are three websites you should consider. Amazon is great for new items, as well as books, movies, CDs and board games. Ebay works well for unique used items. Craigslist is free and is excellent for everything that’s too big to ship.
I’m going to use a car we recently sold on Craigslist as an example. Similar cars had been listed for months. We sold ours in a week for a smidge under the KBB value and only had to deal with two buyers. A car might seem like a strange example, but these tips can be applied to anything you’re selling online.
Six tips to sell your crap quickly and get paid what it’s worth
1 – Clean it Up
If there’s a crack in the windshield and you have glass coverage, fix it. Clear everything out, vacuum it, and take it to the car wash. It seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many cars (and desks) I saw posted on Craigslist that were full of crap. Clean it up the best you can and it’ll be more likely to sell.
2 – Post a Lot of Great Photos
Take a lot of great photos on a sunny day. If the item is inside your house, like a piece of furniture, use a flash. If there are any defects, take pictures of the details. Let buyers know exactly what they’re getting up front.
3 – Set a Fair Price
If you’ve ever looked for used items online, you know prices vary widely. Some people price it real low to get rid of it, while others feel it’s worth more because of its memories. If you want to get rid of your crap, research the item and set a fair price from the start.
In the case of a car, I suggest using Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. Since negotiating is standard with cars, we set the price a tad bit over the KBB value and ended up getting just a bit less. We were happy with what we got and the buyer was happy with what she paid.
4 – Tell a Good Story
Be detailed in describing your item and tell its story. Buying things online can be sketchy. If you want to build trust with potential buyers, tell them everything they might want to know in advance. What is the item? Where did you buy it? When did you get it? Why are you getting rid of it? What are the best features? Have you had any problems? Details sell.
5 – Honesty is the ONLY Policy
If you want to sell your stuff quickly, honesty is the only policy. Most people paint a flowery picture of how perfect everything is and try to cover up problems. Don’t be like most people.
Before we listed the car for sale, we had the oil changed and got a print out of everything that needed attention. We took a picture of that list and included it in the listing. We also photographed every cosmetic flaw. These simple and inexpensive steps will set you apart and make sure your item is sold.
6 – Treat it Like a Business
Most of us aren’t going to grow a business selling our unused stuff. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat it as such. Follow up with prospects quickly and respectfully. Write correspondence professionally and use spell check. If writing isn’t your thing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your professionalism will determine your success.
When you decide it’s time to sell your stuff, use caution when it comes to friends and family. We’ve all heard horror stories about relationships ending because of money.
I remember a story one of my friends told me about a car he was planning to sell. He had just purchased a new one. Before he had a chance to list the old one for sale, a family member contacted him, inquiring about the price.
My friend offered the car to this person for 80 percent of the KBB value. The family member set a date to look at the car, a couple of weeks later. When that day came, the family member called my friend and complained about how times are tough and how he can’t afford it. The family member implied that my friend should give him the car since my friend had two cars and this guy had none. After my friend didn’t give in, the family member was angry and didn’t talk to my friend for quite some time.
If you are going to deal with friends and family, ask yourself what would happen to the relationship if something were to go wrong? If you think the relationship might go sour or are unsure, respectfully decline.
Getting ahead of your financial commitments will bring unmatched peace to your life. When you don’t have to worry about making ends meet, you’ll feel free to stand up for what’s most important to you. You’ll feel unstuck and inspired to chase down your dreams. Selling your unused stuff is a great way to start.