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Selling Your Stuff – Best Practices

Sometimes living frugally means purging your belongings to add space to your life or put some cash in hand. But don’t be conned by the variety of schemes in existence to cheat you and pad someone else’s pocket.

Perhaps the scheme with which most people are familiar is the check cashing service. The difference between cashing your check at the bank versus cashing it with one of these services can be up to 25% of the check. Even at banks that charge a three-dollar check cashing fee, you save a chunk of change by cashing your check during banking hours.

Pawn Shops vs. eBay

Pawn shops have a similar M.O. Because they need to make a profit to stay in business and because they know you are likely in a tight place or you wouldn’t have walked in the door, they have the upper hand before they ever see your item. For example, let’s say you have a gold ring with a diamond in it. The design and age of the ring doesn’t really matter to the pawn shop. Rather, they will likely weigh it and make you an offer based on the cost of gold that day. You might as well have brought in a small gold nugget.

A better bet for selling just a few items at a time is to put them on eBay. You do the work, but you also benefit from the profit. In the case of the ring, you can price it to include the artistry or design. You also give yourself the opportunity to reach more potential buyers.

Lest you think eBay is only good for selling precious items like jewelry or collectibles, consider your old electronics. For example, some factory remote controls will sell on eBay for up to $40. Just because you’re not using it doesn’t mean somebody else won’t. The same is true of your old, working toys. Gen Xers love finding nostalgic treasures like Atari consoles or Cabbage Patch kids.

What about Craigslist?

This is a valid question and depends on your set of circumstances. Because there are creeps out in the world who take any opportunity to do evil, Craigslist can be a risk. If you put something up for sale on Craigslist and a potential buyer wants to see the item or meet up, select a public location as the meeting place rather than giving out your home address. The Post Office and local library offer good options. As always, the buddy system is a good idea.

DSCN2598Auction vs. Garage Sale

If you have lots of things to sell, you’ll probably be better off having a garage sale. Families who need to settle an entire estate or who are moving overseas and need to get rid of everything often choose to have a company do the sale. Companies take a percentage, but they also do all the hard work. Weigh the benefits of having somebody else organize, advertise, and price your items versus the money you would save by doing it yourself.

A side note about garage sales: They tend to be most successful in the late spring when weather is warm but not overbearing.


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