In principle selling all your unwanted junk for money is an awesome idea. In practice, it’s sometimes more effort than it’s worth. Here’s how to figure out if it’s worth your time.
So you’ve decided to purge some of your old, used crap. What a great way to start the spring cleaning season. However, what do you do with those old books, CDs, appliances (which still work), clothes, and that tennis racket you never used? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of selling your used junk versus donating it (or tossing it straight into the trash).
It comes down to maximizing your returns. You want money for your stuff—that’s a given. But is the time involved worth it? And will someone actually pay to have your old crap?
Here’s a quick guide to determining what you should try to sell, donate, or throw away. Keep in mind that your old junk might be someone else’s treasure. But for all the treasure-junk in the world, there’s a whole lot more junk-junk, destined for the recycle bin or landfill.
Start by Considering Your Time (and What It’s Worth)
Selling stuff takes time. You have to clean things up, take decent pictures, creating a listing, write up a catchy description, and then respond to potential buyer’s questions. (And let us tell you, some of the questions and requests you’ll get from buyers will make you want to tear your hair out.) Then you have to package the items, take them to the post office, or arrange a time for the buyer to come to pick them up (or meet in a public location).
We suggest writing up an estimate of how long it’ll take to sell your stuff. Keep in mind that it often ends up being more work than you imagined. Then, think about what you’ll realistically make from selling those items (keep this figure low since people like to haggle down the price).
Add up your estimated sales, divide by your approximate time for the job, and look at the overall hourly rate. If it’s more than you make at your day job, great! If it’s around the same, or a little less, it’s probably still worth doing, especially if you have spare time and you could use the extra money. However, if it ends up that all the time and effort required pushes the return value down to well below what you make at your day job you’ll have to stop and seriously consider if it’s worth it.
For some people, every penny they can make off an old set of golf clubs or a stack of old Wii games is rewarding. For most people, free time is scarce, and it’s tough to rationalize selling your old junk at sub-minimum wage rates.
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