YNAB BLOG

Short on cash? Sell your stuff.

piggy bank copyKate and I have come to love CrossFit-style workouts over the last few months. We’ve had an in-kind membership at the local “box”, but the owner of the gym has decided not to do trades for memberships anymore (which I don’t begrudge him; I think it’s a wise move).

Problem is, Kate and I find ourselves irritable and a little depressed if we don’t start our mornings by picking heavy things up off the ground. So, we’re looking to get our own little CrossFit gym set up in the garage.

Yes, you can do some things on the cheap. These sandbags actually work really well, and I’ll be making a couple heavier ones to integrate into our workouts.

But most CrossFit gear is pricey. You can find it used if you’re very patient. We’ve decided we don’t want to miss a couple of months of exercise while we watch the local classifieds for used gear, so we’re going to buy much of our our CrossFit starter kit new. Our “getting started” list totals about $800.

But where will the money come from? Selling stuff.

Kate and I have never been buyers or sellers of used stuff (ie we’ve wasted a lot of money), and we’re excited to leverage our junk into useful equipment.

Here’s what we found we could sell:

*Suddenly it seems like I’m trying to sell you my stuff. I’m not; I just throw this list out in hopes of inspiring your own list of stuff you could sell. 

Treadmill: $500

We bought this for $2,500 6 years ago, and used it a ton, but our interests have shifted toward weight-based exercise. Yes, I find it hilarious that we bought a $2,500 treadmill, but it is a really nice one.

TV: $300

Bought for $500 about 10 months ago (after my daughter smashed the old TV with a sippy cup). We’re only using the TV about 3 hours per week right now, and we can use a computer monitor instead.

“Bob” jogging stroller: $100

Bought for $350 six years ago. Nobody in our family is willing to ride in it anymore. Well, I’m willing, but no one seems up for the job of pushing me around in the thing on our Sunday afternoon walks.

Down comforter: $40

I think Kate paid $100 for this a few months back, and we never use it (even now that the thermostat is set to 64 at night). Interesting sidenote: did you know the cover of the comforter is considered a totally different thing? Fascinating. Apparently we’re only selling the comforter, and not the cover thing.

“Insanity” workout DVDs: $30

Already sold them. I felt so entrepreneurial and savvy turning my stuff into cash.

Surround sound system: $50

I bought this for $200 seven years ago and have barely used it.

Mark’s Android Phone: $40

Exciting developments here: I no longer need my Android phone. I think that’s all I can say for now. :)

Total (hoped for) Profit: $1,060

Two questions for those of you who’ve sold your stuff before:

1. What were some of your most profitable items? Any tips for getting top dollar for your stuff?

2. What do you think of my prices? Think I’ll get what I’m asking for this stuff?

Here’s to emptying out the basement and storage unit for fun and profit.

49 Responses to “Short on cash? Sell your stuff.”

  1. Molly

    Way to go! We sell a lot of things on Craigslist and ebay. My most profitable item to date is a code for a virtual cape for a Minecraft avatar that my son and mother got at the Minecon conference last week as part of the swag. The tickets to that were $150 each. Just sold it for $250. Nothing tangible-just a code but has some value to people. My 14 year old daughter has been busy on Craigslist selling stuff (with parent supervision) after getting rid of her guinea pigs. She just sold 2 opened mostly used bags of bedding for about $5. Most of us would just throw it away. Kudos to her. She once bought an easy bake oven for $4 used it for a few years then sold it for $7. My kids sell all their stuff.

    I think you can do better on the jogging stroller-it will sell fast. They have high resale value. Not as optimistic for you on the comforter. I think you’ll do ok on all of it. They are things people want. Would love to hear how you end up doing! Photos and details help in getting things sold.

    Reply
    • mark

      Thanks for the tips! Love the story about the virtual cape. You never know what will have value to people.

      Reply
      • Megan

        Virtual cape? All I saw was ‘nerd nerd nerd nerd…’ Kidding. :) I have a question about your cross fit ‘wish list’ are you buying the stuff from some sort of a cross fit dealer or second-hand, or (gasp!) improvising?

        Reply
        • mark

          I priced out the new stuff from roguefitness.com. They’re one of the two “known” names for CrossFit gear. I’m also told they’re the most expensive, so I’ll be shopping around in hopes of getting slightly better deals.

          Reply
    • Hannah

      If it is a large item, could you have someone come to your house for a little while the buyer picks it up? Maybe having a male relative or friend around might make you feel more comfortable.

      Reply
  2. Renee

    My husband and I sold a lot of our stuff to pay for me to stay home longer with our children. What felt the most surprisingly lucrative was that we sold all of our books and DVDs on Amazon and made thousands of dollars. It’s so easy to set up a seller account and away you go!

    Reply
  3. Rachel

    I never sell stuff because I don’t want people coming to my house. I’m a single woman, and Craigslist freaks me out. I could sell on Amazon or eBay, but big stuff (like the deep freezer in my garage, or an awesome but rarely used cargo bicycle) would have to be in person. Anyone have any suggestions??

    Reply
    • allabee

      I’m not sure about the deep freezer, but for the bike, perhaps you could set up a Craigslist sell and meet prospective buyers in the parking lot of a grocery store in town?

      I live in a city and am selling a yoga bag and mat at a local subway stop! Only $12, but reusing is much more earth-friendly than throwing away, and infinitely more satisfying! That will be a fun little chunk of money to throw toward my buffer.

      Reply
    • Julie Turner Holmansky

      If it’s something that will fit in your car, meet in a public place during daylight hours. If it’s a big item see if a friend (preferably male and preferably with a big dog) will come over. I never have people come here unless my husband is home, but I’ve done lots of parking lot deals or I’ve met people inside McDonald’s.

      Reply
    • LeiraHoward

      Many people who sell things on Craigslist will make arrangements to meet at a neutral area (Walmart or McDonald’s parking lot, or other well-lit area) to deliver goods when they are in a situation like yours. You’d need a friend (and a vehicle) to help you move the large items to that area, but you’d have the security of knowing that you won’t be giving away your single-home address.

      With this, of course, you would not give out a home phone number (easy to reverse-search to find your address) but probably use a cell # for contacting the individuals.

      Another option for selling things would be to see if your church or workplace or other organization that you are involved in has a bulletin board for listing sales of this nature. You would then be selling things to co-workers or people you know through an organization. Or if you only have a couple things to get rid of, simply let friends know that you have those things available and ask if they know anyone who would be interested in purchasing them.

      Depending on your situation, another option would be a neighborhood garage sale, where multiple families have yard sales on the same day. All your goods for sale could be outside your house (drag them out to the driveway and close your garage) and since the neighbors are right there, there is safety in numbers. Obviously that works best in a neighborhood where houses are close together.

      Reply
    • Emlyn

      Do you have a Facebook account? I’ve seen people post things like “I have a working deep freezer I’m asking $ for. Know anybody who’s interested?” Often a friend is looking for just what you have; and even a friend of a friend may be less scary for you. Good luck. :)

      Reply
      • Jesse

        To that end, local Facebook garage sale pages are popping up. Mark, you should check out the Lehi one and finally get on FB. I sold Insanity through that, and a few other things. The stuff moves pretty quick. Those garage sale folks are serious.

        Reply
    • Megan

      Rachel- you shouldn’t let that deter you!i have met some really great people sellin online. It’s a big world out there, but not as scary as we’re sometimes led to believe. I have done the ‘meet people in a neutral area’ gig with friends in tow…:) good luck!

      Reply
  4. joseph Campo

    good job. I guess Craigslist and eBay are the two places to concentrate then? Only thing I’ve sold so far was a pretty new water heater that had to be removed when we had to replace the whole heating system with a new super efficient model that was incompatible with it. Got like 3 offers the first day. I will have to start trolling our stuff to see what is sellable. Have to pay for the change fee on our daughter’s plane tkt because she had wrong return date to college ;(

    Reply
    • mark

      Around here the most popular used stuff hub seems to be the classified section of the local news site. That’s where I’ll head to get rid of my stuff (and hopefully find some CrossFit gear for sale).

      Reply
  5. Lacey

    I love to sell stuff! I sell all my girls’ clothes on ebay after the littlest one has outgrown them. My most profitable things to date have been used cloth diapers. I bought all new, bum genius diapers when my first was born three years ago. As my youngest has outgrown some of them, I’ve sold them and gotten more than I paid for originally! The totals have been about $250 so far, and I’ve got a ton more to sell (but my baby is still using them for now!). We also have a garage sale every June, and we go through and purge all the stuff we’re not using. We’ve made a good amount of money in the last couple years, but now I look around and I don’t think I have a whole lot left to sell, lol!

    Reply
  6. Emlyn

    Check your pricing against KSL (a local classified service for you non-Utah readers), Craigslist and eBay, then post including pictures. I’ve sold on KSL and Craigslist but have never tried eBay or Amazon though people have good success. The most surprising thing I sold on KSL was unused printer ink for a printer we had to replace (the cartridges didn’t fit the replacement)! Would’ve just been junked/recycled otherwise and the buyer got a good deal! I’ve heard that full seasons of TV shows on DVD will sell, and MMM would be so proud, I quote: “No, you may not buy DVD Series of TV episodes!” (which we did before Netflix. Whoops.) Big ticket items sold online are the way to go, and I think you will do well. We had a quick cash making yard sale (small stuff and the rest was donated) this summer but netted less than $100.

    Also try the Facebook query as I suggested to Rachel.

    FYI the comforter “cover thing” is called a Duvet. Now you know more than you ever wanted to know on that topic.

    Reply
    • Natasha

      Maybe it is different here in Canada – the duvet is the down-filled comforter, and a duvet cover is the cover (think giant pillowcase thing) that goes around it.

      Friends of mine registered for a duvet and nice blue duvet cover for their wedding gift. The husband opened the gift and started whining about how they got a white “blanket” when he was sure they picked a blue “blanket”…he learned about duvet covers quickly too.

      Reply
      • Joseph Campo

        Thanks for the tip on the printer ink. I have some of that sitting around from printers that ended up failing. I should have thought about selling it. Thanks.

        Reply
  7. Paula

    This is a great idea unless you’ve already pretty much done this a whole bunch of times and since you’ve now trained yourself not to buy stuff, you are tapped out of cash and tapped out of stuff to liquidate.

    Rachel, if you have enough worthwhile items to do a yard sale, do that, advertise that on craigslist with pictures of the specific items and have 2 male friends or relatives cover it with you. Have all the items outside and your house and garage closed so that anyone stopping by can’t see what else you have that might be tempting.

    Reply
  8. LeiraHoward

    Mark – take photos of everything and list on Craigslist (no selling fees) and just be smart about it (be aware of personal safety and scams). You’ll probably do well. Mostly think: “What would *I* be willing to pay if I were buying this used?”

    While your items may be (and probably are) worth the full amount you ask, others may not be interested in purchasing them. For instance, exercise equipment is OFTEN for sale because MANY people end up not using it and get rid of it later. So you may end up selling that for less than you expect (depending on area and demand, of course). And things like the comforter are often not in big demand (many people are hesitant to buy this type of good as it has possibilities of carrying bugs).

    With Black Friday coming up, people will be getting good deals on brand NEW electronics and may not be interested in yours (specifications in your listing would help show why your TV is worth paying that much for when a new one could be purchased for the same).

    Be willing to accept less if you get an offer, within reason of course.

    Just some thoughts.

    Reply
    • LeiraHoward

      Also, keep checking the local classifieds WHILE you’re selling your stuff… you might get lucky and find what you’re looking for. And then you’ll feel twice as smart and frugal, because you sold your stuff and bought the new stuff used. :)

      Reply
  9. Karen

    What I’ve learned from Craigslist? First person to show up with cash, gets the item. I tired quickly of juggling multiple calls, flakey people, etc. I used to hold items for people, turn away others because I felt loyal to the first bidder, and then lose the sale all together. I also find that most people start bidding on other things in our garage when they come to get the original item, lol. If you have other things you are selling, might as well have them out in view. And, I “pimp” out my husband’s mechanic services. He has helped so many people on a tight budget, single moms, etc., and we earn some quick cash nearly every time I run an ad. Love Craigslist!

    Reply
    • Sherry

      We do the same thing, Karen. It worked really well recently when we had a guy come over to buy a weight set from us and ended up buying our spin bike and a couple other things as well.

      Reply
  10. Thomas Nichols

    WE sold a lot of our stuff when I went back to school, and ended up really making quite a bit. Selling the cars was a hard choice, but in doing so we paid off nearly all of our debt. Sometimes you really have to weigh the usefulness of your stuff against it’s value. The hard part for me is selling something for less than I want, but I realize that this thing I never use has actually no value to me, so selling it for anything is a plus.

    Reply
  11. Lindsay

    You can sell your BOB for more than $100 if it is in any way somewhat good condition (air in tires, break works, etc.) Those things last forever and have excellent resell value. Check Craigslist in your area to see what others’ prices are. We bought our single USED for $200 off Craigslist.

    Reply
  12. Mom @ Three is Plenty

    If you’re selling DVDs/Video games, Amazon is the best option available. Bulky things are craigslist, and smaller things (that can be shipped easily) are eBay. Watch for high value items being sold on eBay (cameras, phones, etc), there are a lot of scams which will leave you itemless and cashless.

    Reply
    • Christian

      A lot of my rare music collection is up on Amazon right now. I’ve made probably close to $1,000 over the last year by selling it all off. I like the cash and I love the extra space!

      Reply
  13. Daniel McDougall

    This post really struck a chord with me. I have gone back to Crossfit twice a week and made huge improvements in my health. However, it costs $90 a month. We are working to pay off $12K line of credit and an extra $90 a month would help a lot. Problem is I am unmotivated to work out by myself. I exercise more and am more committed to the exercise when I have to attend at least 2 classes per week.

    Reply
    • Megan

      90? That’s a steal! All the boxes around us are in the 180/2 days a week area. I have also noticed that the boxes which have a ‘celebrity’ cross fitter (anybody with reasonable success at the competitions) that frequents their box seems to charge premium prices…like it’s contagious or something. ;)

      Reply
      • mark

        Hey Daniel –

        I hear you man. I’ve only been away from the box for a week, and I’m missing it badly. $90 is cheap for CrossFit, but when you weigh it against the interest on the loan…

        Reply
  14. Zach Paul

    Your post just spurred me to list some clothing on Craigslist that I’ve been meaning to sell. I lost weight recently and now have lots of clothes that don’t fit – this would make me feel a lot better about the cost of buying replacement clothes

    Reply
    • mark

      No, no. I don’t speak for the dev team. It was an allusion to me being back on an iPhone, but still on the very cheap.

      Reply
  15. Kelli

    The local paper wanted $25 for a 4 line minimum ad. The local cheap classified paper wanted $4.00 for ten words/one week. I’m trying to sell a solid silver flute. I went to the local musical instrument store. They used usedprices.com to estimate the value of the flute. I then emailed the local director of bands for the school district. Will see if this works. I meet in town for every sale and only accept cash.

    Reply
  16. Sherry

    We have had great success with Craigslist. Every time we need cash, I go through the house and list stuff. My husband is always amazed how fast it sells and the prices people are willing to pay for second-hand stuff. I always price high as I know people will try to negotiate down and then we both walk away from the sale feeling good. They feel like they got a deal and I got the price I originally wanted. The best thing we sold was a bedroom set when we moved and it was too big to take with us. Sold it for $1000, nearly the price we paid new for it (it was less than a year old). Now we have started a seller account with Amazon as we realized we can get a lot more for our books, DVDs, and video games than if we traded them in. I actually love selling stuff. Always great to get cash for things that were just sitting around collecting dust.

    Reply
  17. Marcus valdes

    $40 for a Droid? Is this the first model they ever made? You should get more than that on eBay!
    Also if you sell something on Craigslist, the police department parking lot is a safe place to make “the deal.”

    Reply
  18. Lena

    I got a free coffee/end table from facebook. I’m in a few groups. “free and for sale” “clothing for sale” “insert-college-name ride share” etc. It’s a smallish [/college] town so the scene tends to be similar aged/like-minded people. Debating selling my road bike. One one hand, my triathlon interests are not so much any more since I got into another expensive, time consuming, exercise-like hobby in lieu of that. But, still, I’m having a tough time parting with my stuff. Other items I am having a hard time getting rid of are electronics. ie/ old laptops/tablet… who really wants to buy my old used computers *shrugs*

    Reply
  19. Emily

    Now I’ve never tried a Crossfit class but when it comes to exercise regimens that work great, build muscle and endurance with variety and does not require fancy equipment I think the Shovelglove. (Go ahead, look it up.) Now that is a healthy and frugal persons’ perfect workout! Sell your stuff and buy a sledgehammer and an old sweater at Goodwill and you’re good to go with lots of extra cash to go into your emergency fund instead!

    Reply
  20. Michelle

    Mark, keep the comforter and turn off the heater at night, we live in Idaho and rarely run the heater at night!

    Reply
  21. Nick P

    I think it al ldepends on where you are and what your options are. For example, about 7 years ago, I mived from a relatively small town with no Cragislist to a big area (Research Triangle Park in Raleigh/Durham NC), and I found when I got there, the market was HUGE for used items via Craigslist. The first thing I sold was a pool table I had bought in college for $50 off some freinds of mine. Sold that on Craigslist for $200 and it only took me an hour to get the call that the people were on their way to pick the item up. That is one example, but this would happen constantly.

    Another thing is to think about things that you might not consider selling under normal circumstances. When I sold an old iPhone, I thought “What am I going to do with this Otterbox case I paid $40 for?” Instead of throwing it away, I was able to sell that for another $20 and the next time I had a used iPhone case, I gave it to a neighbor who couldn’t affor dher own case, but her toddler was dangerously close to breaking the screen on her smartphone.

    If things don’t sell by themselves, offer a package deal! I couldn’t sell a shovel, rake, and set of hoses the other day for $5 each, but when I put them with a bunch of other yard supplies I no longer needed and put a price tag of $60 on it all, they were gone in a weekend. I only listed the package as $10 less than each item indiidually would have made, but someone looking for one item wasn’t going to drive too far out of the way for a $5 shovel. However, a guy starting his new business as a landscaper had plenty of use for a cheap lot of yard supplies he could throw in the back of his work pickup.

    The point is, get creative and utilize the best services in your area for selling your stuff. And becareful with ebay, too. There are a lot of buyer protection policies on ebay. Yo uwouldn’t want to sell something for $20, ship it for another $5 and then have the buyer “Claim” the item was broken, never arrived. Ebay will side with them, and it will hurt you in the end. Hopefully most people are honest, but you never know, so work that risk into your pricing to make sure it is worth it.

    Reply

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