Smart Ways to Convert Your Clutter into Cash

Who among us doesn’t have at least a few pounds of clutter that we could stand to lose? Here’s how to transform all that junk you regret buying into cold, hard cash.

In the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale “Rumpelstiltskin,” an imp offers to spin piles of straw into gold. What if you could do the same thing to the piles of clutter in your house? It’s simpler than you might think to sell your unwanted stuff, either online or locally. But simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. Read on to learn about the best, most lucrative ways to liquidate your clutter.

Clutter by the Numbers

The Simplicity Habit reported a series of shocking statistics about clutter in the U.S. Almost 10% of households rent a storage unit for all their extra stuff, and fully a quarter of them had already filled their garages with the overflow. “54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, but 78% have no idea what to do with it,” the organization blog writes.

And, perhaps most alarming of all, they found that “80% of the items people keep are never used.”

If you feel buried under the weight of all your clutter, you’re certainly not alone. The home organization industry is booming, with sales projected to reach almost $20 billion. With the popularity of shows like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and Get Organized with The Home Edit, it seems that we’re all looking for a way to stop the tide of clutter and reclaim our living spaces.

But what are you supposed to do with all this junk? Here’s how to sell just about anything!

Consignment Stores

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Depending on the type of consignment store, you may be able to sell anything from furniture and housewares to clothing and accessories. However, it’s most common to consign clothing. Check out the store’s standards before you make an appointment. According to Kiplinger, “most stores want clothing, shoes and accessories that are no more than two years old.” Some consignment stores only accept designer labels, while others are open to any items that are in pristine condition. These stores typically sell items at a discount compared to retail prices, and you’ll only receive a percentage of the sale after the store takes its cut.

Used Bookstores

Books are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Unless you’re sitting on a tower of signed first editions, you may find it difficult to get more than a dollar for even newer hardcovers. You might do better at a local used bookstore, but even then, the store might not accept all of your books. As with consignment stores, it’s a good idea to call ahead for an appointment before you show up at the bookstore with multiple boxes and bags.

Secondhand Sports Stores

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Play It Again Sports is a national chain of secondhand sports equipment stores, and it should be on your radar if you have gear to sell. Their terms are similar to most consignment stores. “Typically we will resell our used items for about 40-60% of what they would sell for new today. You would receive 30-50% of that amount depending on demand, condition and current inventory levels of like products,” the company explained in its FAQ.

You may find local alternatives to national chains as well. However, one of the benefits of going with a chain is that you can typically get cash on the spot rather than waiting for the items to sell.

Yard Sales

Better Homes & Gardens offered a slew of tips for having the most successful yard sale ever. It all starts with knowing why you want to sell your items. This will drive your pricing strategy and help you set a budget for your sale, which will include signs and price tags at minimum.

Be advised that yard sales can be a lot of work for a less-than-stellar payoff. Have a plan for bad weather as well as a shady spot and plenty of water for sunny days. Get enough cash to handle the sale, but consider setting up a Venmo account, requesting a free card reader from Square, or downloading the PayPal Settle app to accept other forms of payment.

Living Estate Sales and Auctions

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Yard sales aren’t the only option to sell your clutter locally. Depending on the type of items you want to get rid of, as well as the volume of stuff you need to move, you may be able to contract a company to hold a living estate or a partial estate auction on your behalf.

Do some research about estate sale and auction companies in your area to find one that will fit your needs. Make an appointment for the company to assess your items—but be sure to ask about their terms, first. This is a great option for people who need to sell a lot of stuff or who have high-end items and antiques to offer.

Read More: How to Buy Literally Anything at an Auction

Facebook

There are three ways to sell unwanted goods on Facebook. First, you could share pictures and prices of a few items on your personal page. Alternately, you could use Facebook Marketplace to find buyers. Finally, you may have success by joining Facebook Groups that specialize in the type of items you would like to move.

If you decide to sell to someone local, be sure to protect yourself. Rather than meeting at your home, consider going to a public location. Many police stations now offer exchange zones that are monitored by cameras.

eBay

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Chances are good that you’ve bought something from eBay in your life. After all, the site has been around for 26 years! eBay continues to be the go-to online marketplace for selling almost anything. You’ll need to take lots of photos—natural light is best—and write a short description. Decide whether you want to include a “Buy Now” option and do some research on the site to see what similar items are selling for. Then sit back and wait!

Be advised that scammers have been known to target unwary eBay buyers. Never agree to an off-site deal and ensure that the funds have cleared before you ship the item.

Etsy

If you have vintage clothing, jewelry, art, or housewares to sell, then you might want to check out Etsy. The online marketplace features handmade goods as well as vintage items, and the prices realized here are often higher than on other sites. However, the company came under fire recently from angry sellers after Etsy raised its transaction fees by 30%. Check the terms and conditions before you commit to selling on Etsy, as they do charge listing fees as well as transaction fees. The site also strongly encourages sellers to offer free shipping.

ThredUP and Poshmark

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If you don’t want to deal with a local consignment store, you might try your luck with ThredUp or Poshmark. Both sites allow users to buy and sell used clothing, although ThredUP only accepts women’s and children’s items. Poshmark also allows for men’s clothes as well as accessories, jewelry, and makeup to be listed.

You can list items on Poshmark and ship them directly from your home to customers, and it’s free to list as many things as you like. On ThredUP, things work a lot differently. You’ll be sent a “clean-out kit” and a prepaid shipping label. The staff at ThredUp will sort through your items and decide if they meet the company’s standards. Once the items sell, you’ll get paid.

Both sites take a percentage of the sale price, and you might not get quite as much as you hoped. So much depends on the condition, brand, style, and overall desirability of your items that it’s hard to predict how much you’ll be able to earn.

DeCluttr

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While you can list electronics on eBay, check out Decluttr, too! This site is “the fast, easy and totally free way to sell cell phones [and] tech.” You can get an instant valuation online—as long as you know the specs for the item you want to sell. They also offer an app with a barcode scanner to price CDs, DVDs, games, and books. Decluttr will send you a free shipping label, and once they inspect and accept your items for sale, you’ll get paid the next day.

Bonus: Donate for the Tax Write-Off

If you’ve exhausted all possible avenues to sell your unwanted stuff, then it might be time to box up what is left and take it to a charity thrift shop. These stores won’t pay you for your items, but you can ask for a tax receipt. You’ll need to estimate the value of the things you donated and note the date. You can include the amount as an itemized deduction the next time you do your taxes. It’s not quite as good as cash, but if you’re concerned about your potential tax burden, then donating your unwanted stuff might be a smart move.

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