Is It Worth the Time to Sell Your Stuff? Tips to Maximize Your Return

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As the weather warms and spring flowers start blooming, all over the country people find themselves suddenly feeling the urge to purge. That’s right, along with other, more outdoorsy exercise, the return of the sun brings on a fever of spring cleaning. But once you’ve de-cluttered the guest room closet, convinced your husband to let…

As the weather warms and spring flowers start blooming, all over the country people find themselves suddenly feeling the urge to purge. That’s right, along with other, more outdoorsy exercise, the return of the sun brings on a fever of spring cleaning. But once you’ve de-cluttered the guest room closet, convinced your husband to let go of some of his old comic books, and cleaned your house within an inch of its life, what do you do with all the usable stuff that you no longer want? Holding a garage sale is an age-old spring activity, but it’s time-intensive and vulnerable to changes in the weather. Some places even prohibit garage sales. Donating is a possibility, but it would be nice to put away some money for your stuff. So what’s the best option?

How to Sell or Donate Your Stuff

1. Sell your stuff online

If you have big ticket or rare items, it will be worth your time and patience to sell it on Craigslist, eBay, or even You will earn a great deal more from these sites than you would by selling your items in a traditional garage sale. For example, remember when bread machines were all the rage 15 or 20 years ago? There is still a cult following of machine bread bakers, and they may want the bread machine you used twice and haven’t thought about since. A quick search on eBay shows that even parts are going for around $10-$20 plus shipping, which is far more than you would get for the machine in a garage sale. Who knows what other treasures you have in your pantry, closet or basement that a dedicated internet shopper might happily pay you for?

As a rule of thumb, eBay is the best place to sell rare or unusual items, Craigslist is good for large items that would be easier to sell to a local purchaser who can pick up, and Amazon is the right site for more generic items like CDs, DVDs and books. Here are some tips for selling your car on Craigslist.

Want to save time? Sign up for Deluttr and you can sell your video games, electronics, movies, textbooks, and even Legos. You simply download the app, scan the bar code, and ship it to them (postage prepaid). They send you a check when they receive the items and verify the condition. It’s an easy way to clear our clutter and make some cash. You can read our Decluttr review for more information.

Decluttr - Scan, Send, Spend

2. Sell to secondhand stores

For clothing and books, selling to second hand stores can be a great option. National chains like Plato’s Closet, as well as locally owned clothing resale shops, will take gently used good quality clothing for either cash or store credit. For individuals who like to stay on top of clothing trends, this is a wallet friendly way to look good every season. Avid readers will also find that selling to secondhand book stores can help with their book addictions. Similar to clothing stores, bookstores will offer cash or store credit for your unwanted books.

3. Donate to a charity

Some stuff simply isn’t worth your time to sell—and charities like Goodwill, the Salvation Army or a local church group will be able to do a lot of good with your unwanted items. This is a great way to help charities without having to write a check. Remember that these charities are looking for salable items, not junk, and you should always ask for a receipt. Even donating can help your bottom line come tax time. Here are ways to learn more about reputable charities.

4. Give away for free

For the stuff that you know a charity would not be able to resell, there is always If you’re like me, you hate to think about something languishing in a landfill just because it doesn’t look too pretty anymore. is a great resource for such items—everything posted is completely free and you can feel good about helping another individual and the environment. The best part is that freecycle etiquette calls for the recipient to pick up the item, meaning you can just sit back and watch your home become less cluttered.

Related Post:  How We Manage Our Money on a Daily Basis


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About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a freelance writer and mother who loves to share tips on managing the family budget and other personal finance tips. You can find her musings on parenting and life at The SAHMnambulist.

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  1. Pat S. says

    I guess it depends on the stuff. If you are talking about old clothes, then it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to go through the effort, but expensive items or collectibles can often yield a premium in the marketplace.

  2. K.C. says

    Selling has gotten to be very difficult on eBay. I think it is due to hard times. Competition is stiff which trends prices down. This is good for buyers but not so much for sellers. We have gotten some great deals on eBay as buyers in the last six months, but have not made a lot for our effort as sellers.

    Garage sales are easy for us. We live just a block and a half off of a main drag in our part of town. We simply put out a sign announcing our sale the morning of the sale and we get lots of traffic right away. We don’t do any other advertising. We don’t price our items. We negotiate all prices. We sell most of the stuff we are going to sell in two to three hours. The rest goes to Goodwill.

    The lesson we learn whenever we sell our junk is that we get very little for it in relation to what we paid for it. It has made us more careful shoppers.

    • Crystal says

      In addition to the great tips above, all of us in the second half (50+) should consider passing along our heirlooms now, if possible. You can lighten your own load and let the beneficiary enjoy an item for more years. Just be sure that your heir actually wants the item in question, has space and can care for it.

  3. M says

    I say it depends on lazy you are. It’s always worth selling your stuff. What were you doing on your day off? Spending money you didn’t have to spend? There are countless ways to sell your things. Almost everyone’s heard of Ebay, Craigslist, & Etsy (don’t assume everyone knows about them-not everyone has a computer or is new to the internet). We sell online (well in the past we have & I will again soon-I forgot to buy bubble wrap), rummage sales, & flea markets. Personally consignment shops I found (if you have any by you) are very picky in what they take & most of the time not worth it. You have decide if you want to try to make money back on the thousands you spent over the years or not. I separate items for what I think will sell for more at flea markets (look into antique malls-many have 1-4 a year & I take mostly collectibles there, but also movies & books), church rummage sales close to home are a good way, too. I take movies/books/general rummage sale items & we tend to do quite well for a few hours of our time. We always take some of our own art & crafts to sell & always sell some. I wanted to do the bigger flea market just a few miles from our house, but I didn’t want to be away from my elderly mom (she died the end of 2019) for that long. The other options were closer & my brother sometimes rode his bike depending on close we were to check on her frequently & the antique mall was close enough that someone could’ve run him home if needed. In other words stop being lazy & do what you need to do to make some money. FYI 80% of what gets donated to Goodwill doesn’t sell. They then try to sell it to other countries (most won’t take it anymore) or it goes to the landfill. They get so much donated. Salvation Army stores are like franchise stores (they donate a % of what they take in & don’t accept a lot of items-I know from firsthand knowledge dealing with them a few years ago-it’s what they told me themselves).

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