How to Turn Your Old Stuff Into Extra Cash

You could be sitting on a gold mine of clothing, electronics, toys, or other valuable items. Here’s how to sell them for the cash you need now.
11/16/19 | By Lindsay Frankel
Turn Your Old Stuff Into Extra Cash

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Whether you’re facing bills due soon or eyeing a new phone that’s outside of your budget, one of the easiest ways to make money quickly is by selling the items you already own. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right?

How to decide what you should sell

Using your stuff to make quick cash doesn’t mean you should run to a pawn shop and sell your most important valuables with the intention of buying them back later.

Instead, collect items from your house that you no longer use. You can even take a note of inspiration from Marie Kondo and gather all the items that don’t spark joy within you. Or, if you need to make a lot of money quickly, decide what’s most valuable that you can comfortably part with.

Also, be realistic about the price tag you put on an item. Some items, like vintage clothing or antiques, might surprise you with how much they’re worth, while others, like your elementary school sports uniform, might not sell at all.

Research similar items on the platform you’re using, such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace, to see what they’ve sold for in the past. Then set a reasonable price that allows the item to sell quickly — and a reasonable expectation for how much money you’ll soon have in your hands.

What can you sell to make money fast?

Electronics

While it might be nostalgic to flip open that old Razr you once waited in line for, your old phones mostly just take up space, especially if they no longer function.

But there are sites that will buy your faulty or broken electronic devices, such as Decluttr and BuyBackWorld, and others that allow you to sell working electronics to other users, like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Letgo.

And if you don’t need cash but could use some Amazon gift cards to make a new purchase, consider trying out Amazon’s trade-in program.

Video games

If you have video games you don’t play anymore or outdated gaming systems you don’t use, bring them to GameStop to receive a credit or get cash. Note that the GameStop trade-in cash offer isn’t available in all stores, so see your local GameStop for details.

Books and textbooks

We understand keeping a few of your favorite books, but if you’re in need of cash, it may be time to ditch the rest. You can bring them to your local independent bookstore or drop them off for appraisal at a nearby Half Price Books or Powell’s Books. You can also try your college’s bookstore if you have the current edition of any textbooks.

Alternatively, check out online buy-back sites. BookScouter is a great place to start, since you can look up your ISBN number and compare offers. While reselling books isn’t going to be your most lucrative venture, it can free up a lot of space in your home.

Vintage items

You might be surprised by how much your high-quality vintage clothing or antique home goods are worth to collectors. You can bring items to local vintage stores or antique buyers, or try listing them on fashion resale sites, such as ASOS Marketplace or thredUP. If you have high-end designer items, check out The RealReal or Refashioner.

Vintage electronics, like Polaroid cameras and cassette players, can be sold through eBay, as can decor like vintage Christmas ornaments.

Jewelry

Identify the features of your jewelry, such as the carat weight and clarity, and search for similar pieces on online auction sites like eBay. If you have a really valuable piece, you may want to seek help from a qualified appraiser. You can sell your used jewelry to a local jeweler or use a site like Worthy. You can also sell gold or silver jewelry for scrap.

Toys

Impulsive spending on toys can lead to a cluttered playroom, especially since kids get bored of toys quickly as they grow older. And while some of your kids’ favorite toys might be encrusted with Play-Doh or missing half the pieces, others might be in the right condition for another family to get plenty of use out of.

A garage or yard sale is a great way to sell your old toys to other families in the neighborhood, and you might also find that some toys, particularly collectibles, are valuable to local consignment shops.

Limited edition items

Before selling old Nike sneakers, Toms shoes, Lululemon leggings, or rare Beanie Babies, check the prices for your items on an auction site like eBay. If you think you might have a rare or limited-edition item, it could be worth more than you initially paid for it, so checking before you set the price is wise.

Clothes

We talked already about high-end or vintage clothing, but picking up extra cash from gently-used regular clothing is easy, too — especially if it’s still trendy or comes from a name brand. A lot of young people are choosing to buy used clothing because it costs less and is environmentally friendly. The secondhand clothing market is expected to reach $51 billion in five years.

Take advantage of the demand and start listing your clothing on a resale app. I made more than $5,000 selling clothing that no longer fit me on Poshmark, and other apps provide similar platforms for resale. Check out the following:

Where and how to sell your used stuff

Garage and yard sales

You might be surprised by how simple and lucrative it is to host a garage or yard sale. Make sure to advertise on social media, put up plenty of signage, keep your items organized, and don’t put any price tags on your stuff ⁠— you’ll earn more if you take offers.

Visit local resellers

Consignment shops and used bookstores are still popular among people with a retro sensibility who like to browse in person. In fact, used bookstores are thriving, even in an age of digital ereaders. Determine what you’d like to sell, then look up local resellers in your community that will appraise your items. It’s smart to comparison shop before you decide where to sell the things you own.

List your items on websites and apps

Sites like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace are all great general sites for listing just about anything. Apps like Letgo and OfferUp offer similar opportunities and can be even easier to use. If you have more niche items, like a high-end handbag or a rare collectible toy, look for resale sites specific to what you’re selling, since those platforms might get you a better return.

The bottom line on making money fast

If you’ve got unnecessary belongings around your home, you’ll get the added benefit of decluttering your space while earning extra cash to put toward the things that matter to you. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve used some items, it’s probably time to let them go, especially if you’re strapped for cash.

In the end, you might be surprised by how much fun you can have getting into the entrepreneurial spirit — and how much extra money you can earn.

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