How to Sell Your Stuff Online

About the Author: Bobby is the co-founder of Making Money Fast and Slow, a blog aimed at helping young adults with personal finance and investing. He is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech.

When I graduated from college, I had a lot of stuff that I either didn’t need anymore or couldn’t fit in my new apartment – stuff like textbooks, furniture, and kitchenware, among other things. Instead of throwing them all away, I learned how to sell them and make some money. Here are some ways to do just that:  

Craigslist

Craigslist should be a young adult’s best friend. Not only can you find almost anything you want for free or at low cost, but you can sell the stuff you don’t need anymore. It’s simple: just post a listing on Craigslist under the section for your local region, and make sure to indicate whether the item is free or for sale. Craigslist uses a variety of categories for listing items so be sure to pick the one that best describes yours. Make your description short but accurate with relevant details such as how old the item is, its size, what it’s made of, and whether it is from a non-smoking or non-pet home. Try to include a picture so that interested parties can get a preview of the item you’re listing. Within hours you are likely to receive a request or two from potential buyers wanting to know more about your item. TIPS: First, never take a personal check for payment; cash or money orders only. Second, don’t’ let a potential buyer into your home when you are alone. Craigslist is great, but there have been some issues. Safety first.

Amazon

I bet you didn’t know you could sell your used stuff –and not just textbooks—on Amazon. Actually, there are a wide variety of items you can sell your stuff on Amazon, like musical instruments, electronics, and toys. If you’re willing to wait for a bigger commission, you can list your used item with Amazon for a price that you choose. Amazon will take a small commission from your sale ($0.99 per sale plus a closing fee), but it will give you an allowance for shipping, so you can often still make close to the price that you wanted for the item. On these types of sales, I recommend listing a price slightly higher than the lowest of the other listings for that item. That way, you are probably the second or third in line for someone browsing the item. If the first item sells, you’re next. If you want to get a buyer faster, put the price slightly lower than the lowest price. If you want a challenge when selling on Amazon, try timing the market. For example, textbook sales increase at the beginning of college semesters. Can you see the spike during August and January in the graph below?

eBay

eBay is also a great tool you can use to sell your stuff. In fact, it has been the online auction powerhouse for many years. Simply create a listing on eBay, set up a PayPal account, and people can then bid on your used stuff. Make sure to display a good picture and describe your product well; this will improve your chances of selling for a good price. When you list your item, you can decide to put it up for bid and choose the minimum bid for your item, and the length of time the auction is open. Another option is to put it for sale with a “Buy It Now” price, which means people can buy the item at that price without bidding. Make sure you make the “Buy It Now” higher than the price you are willing to settle for, in order to get a good deal.

Charitable Donation

If you are unable to sell or get rid of your used item (besides throwing it out), you can always donate it and get a donation deduction off your income taxes. Thrift shops and charitable organizations such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Purple Heart, the Lupus Foundation, and the Vietnam Veterans of America will accept gently used items as donations. In fact, many such groups will come to pick up the items from your home. Although you aren’t technically making money on these donations, you can deduct the fair market value of the items you donate on your Federal income taxes if you are filing with itemized deductions. TIP: Be sure to get a receipt for your tax deduction. A note on mattresses: Some states regulate the sale of used mattresses because diseases and pests can be transmitted by sharing a mattress without stringent cleaning. Although people often give away or sell used mattresses as individuals, it is unlikely you will find a thrift store or charitable group willing to take a used mattress. Remember that you can even replace your donated item with another used item by shopping in the thrift store itself. This is a great way to grab bargain deals for your new apartment or house.

How about you?  What is your favorite way to sell your used stuff?

 

Comments

  1. The last few times that I sold stuff online I used Facebook Yard Sales. It’s crazy how fast stuff sells on there, plus sometimes it goes for more than you ask when you have a ton of people commenting on it. Since most people live on Facebook anyway I think it’s one of the best places to sell stuff. You definitely get a lot of exposure.
    Alexa recently posted..Freelance Jobs: July, 20th 2013My Profile

  2. Craigslist is great for recent grads, there are so many quality items available it makes furnishing a new apartment extremely easy. It’s great for selling your old stuff and also buying new things that you need. Don’t buy new right away, search Craigslist first!
    GamingYourFinances recently posted..The road to financial freedomMy Profile

  3. I don’t know if I would call selling textbooks at the start of college semesters “timing the market” so much as expected and predictable seasonality. All product based retailers and manufacturers operate in this fashion. Good advice, however.
    Snarkfinance recently posted..Best way to invest your money – and why I hate financial advisors….My Profile

  4. I’ve started to list things we’ve won through giveaways on Craigslist. It’s a painless process and it helps avoid having to deal with shipping costs, so it’s my preferred way. My wife has started to list everything on eBay that we didn’t sell at our garage sale. Definitely nice to unload some stuff and turn it into cash.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Things You Should Consider Before Getting a PetMy Profile

  5. We haven’t sold anything in such a long time. We need to get back into it. Sometimes we will sell stuff to secondhand stores and sometimes through Ebay.
    Michelle recently posted..Baseball game and $1,417 in Extra IncomeMy Profile

  6. I actually didn’t know about Amazon. The next time we are looking at selling something I will make sure to check it out.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..How To Stop Spending MoneyMy Profile

  7. We’ve become huge fans of Craigslist in recent months. It’s a great way to buy cheap and to make cash by selling!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..The Most Dangerous Roadblock to Your Debt FreedomMy Profile

  8. Holly! Thanks for popping this post off. I have always been stymied by this particular way of making money. You’ve made it simple and far more appealing than it used to be. Amazon sounds good. Craigslist was ok for a few things, not so good or safe for others.
    cj recently posted..Questioning EverythingMy Profile

  9. I think CL is genius. I use them all the time to buy and sell stuff.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..The Worst Trip I’ve Ever TakenMy Profile

  10. Good old yard sale :)
    Online, I prefer Ebay…sometimes Amazon…CL for some things but rarely.
    I might try Facebook Yard sales from what I see from Alexa in the comments, might prove worthwhile!
    Simon @Modest Money recently posted..Top 10 Common Mistakes I See New Bloggers MakingMy Profile

  11. Last fall I bought a part for our grill that I discovered was the wrong part…this spring. By then it was too late to do any sort of return or refund, so I sold it on Amazon. I think I only ended up with around 60% of what I had paid for it but honestly, if I hadn’t have used Amazon and went through everything, the part would have probably sat in my basement for a few years until I threw it out. So, in reality, it worked out fine.
    Money Beagle recently posted..When Other People Make It Look EasyMy Profile

  12. I’m a big user of Craigs List and eBay. From old bedroom furniture to just about anything else in our house, I can always find a buyer on there for it. The trick is to write a really good description, make it sound good, and INCLUDE PICTURES!

    I wish Amazon would have been available when I was first in college. During my Masters (later on) I was able to sell my books on Amazon for almost list price. All I could think: Where was this great setup when I was getting $10 at the campus bookstore for a used book??
    My Money Design recently posted..It’s Time to Get Real About Our Household ExpensesMy Profile

  13. I have successfully sold used items on ebay for a while including books. Definitely a way to make extra income.
    Demaish recently posted..Optional premium costs that I keep in my budgetMy Profile

  14. I have never sold online. But bobby’s post gives a pretty good insight for people like me who are planning it for future. Thanks holly for posting
    Rita P @ Digital Spikes recently posted..Save money with online tv : How to get free cableMy Profile

  15. I had a bad experience on Craigs List several years ago trying to sell a bedroom set (like crazy, stalker, threatening type experience). It’s such a great idea, but there are people out there who take advantage and ruin a good thing.

    I’ll have to try some of these ideas for textbooks though. The last few years of courses I’ve been stuck with books that the school won’t buy back, even some that were 2013 editions!

  16. I’ve never been good at selling stuff online. Other people seem to have a lot of success though. I’ve definitely bought some great stuff off craigslist though.
    Matt Becker recently posted..Budget With a PassionMy Profile

  17. I’ve got a bunch items I’m getting ready to sell on Craigslist. I’ve never sold anything online so my fingers are crossed it goes well! It really does seem like a great way to make some money off the things you no longer use or want.
    Tanya @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Riding in Cars with Boys: The Money EditionMy Profile

  18. I love selling stuff online. We just recently sold a few old phones via eBay and Amazon. We’ve also used Craigslist for both buying and selling with good experiences. There is always someone out there willing to pay money for your old stuff, you just have to find them.
    Jake @ Common Cents Wealth recently posted..What to Consider When You’re Thinking About MovingMy Profile

  19. I am all about Craigslist and eBay. They are the easiest, but I would prefer craigslist for quick sales and ones where I don’t have to pay fees to list and then to ship.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Encouragement – Spread It Around!My Profile

  20. Nick @ AYoungPro.com says:

    I usually sell my rare video game finds on Amazon. It is super easy!
    Nick @ AYoungPro.com recently posted..How to Grow When Your Job Doesn’t Challenge YouMy Profile

  21. I like Kijiji and Facebook community pages to sell things. I don’t go to Amazon or Ebay unless I have something more specialized. Hmm…maybe I’m missing out though…
    Lindsey @ Cents & Sensibility recently posted..Teaching Strategies for Money: When is your kid too old for an allowance?My Profile

  22. Craigslist has always seem so sketchy… whether I was the seller or buyer. I prefer ebay.
    Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa recently posted..Budgeting for FunMy Profile

  23. I’ve done all those except Craig’s list, and I think it depends on the item as to which forum works best. I also use local consignment shops for clothing. They take a pretty good cut, but it’s super easy and any money is money I don’t have if I don’t take it in.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Flipping a House: Beware of PartnersMy Profile

  24. When I graduated college and moved away from California I was SHOCKED at how quickly I offloaded my gear. Old furniture, guitars and amps, and TVs were the quickest sellers. I haven’t tried selling any used stuff on Amazon but will do.
    Tortoise Banker recently posted..How Do I Retire on My Portfolio?My Profile

  25. All of them are okay. But social media nowadays have a great influence. Something like Facebook and Pinterest work good as well.
    SuburbanFinance recently posted..Get to Know Me – Suburban Finance Has Been Nominated for a Liebster Award!My Profile

  26. I just stumbled upon this site. Thanks for sharing such a valuable discussion here.

  27. Some of my friends use Craigslist, but I haven’t really tried using it. Perhaps I’ll give it a try when I have something to sell.
    Marissa @ Thirty Six Months recently posted..Six Ways to Save a Family Member from Financial TurmoilMy Profile

  28. These are great outlets. I mainly sell used men’s clothing on eBay but I really want to get into Amazon but the fee’s are high! It is a different ball park with amazon. I keep telling myself “one day, one day”. lol
    Adley recently posted..What can I sell on eBay for profit? Part 1My Profile

  29. Dude this is on the money.
    Rock on. Rip that marshall stack!

  30. Amazon is great, But the problem is that I cannot use it in my country.

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  1. […] the gift or are unable to return it to the store, you can always sell it. Whether you want to sell online (via Amazon, Craigslist, or eBay) or at a consignment shop, you can make some fast cash. If you received an unwanted gift card, you […]

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