A few months ago I began a journey towards minimalism. And not the weird kind where you sleep on the floor and only have one plate and one fork, but a kind where I question all my possessions and get rid of the stuff I don’t need.
I had read a few books that were getting me inspired and then I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Joshua Becker who is one of the premier minimalism authors out there. Spending time together was refreshing on a whole lot of levels, but as far as this article is concerned he helped spur me on to take major action in this direction.
I honestly got rid of all the stuff solely for the benefit of having a clearer mind and fewer distractions. Do I really need 18 button-up shirts or 23 pairs of shoes? I decided that I didn’t and since getting rid of 60% of my clothes, I now am left with only the stuff I really like and everyday I enjoy what I wear and don’t feel guilty about that shirt that I bought but never wear because it is a little too big.
Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into a minimalism post, go read Joshua’s blog for that. But, the wonderful side benefit of all this is that I made $2,145 in 30 days selling stuff that I didn’t even want any more!
How I did it
Since we decluttered every room in the house, I chose to focus on items that I expected to make at least $25 from. If I didn’t think I could sell it for that, then it went to Goodwill for a tax write off.
I sold all of the items using 3 different websites: Ebay.com, Craigslist.org, and Bookscouter.com. I will go into details of each below.
This site allows you to type in an ISBN number of a book and it tells you how much each of the 44 top book-buying websites will pay you for your book. As you can see in the image below, this is what some of the sites are offering for the Total Money Makeover.
I had built up a pretty large library of books and decided that I only wanted to keep the most essential books. Last month I got rid of probably 600+ books. Since time is valuable, I purchased a $17 Bar Code scanner to input the books a whole lot quicker. You don’t need to purchase this, I just didn’t want to type in 600+ ISBN numbers, and I consider it $17 well spent.
I found that as I scanned the books a few of the book buyback companies seemed to continually be popping up. So, for simplicity sake I ended up just sending all the books (that were worth anything) to 3 different companies. So I wasn’t always getting the highest payout on a particular book, but I wanted to minimize the number of shipments that I sent out.
For each of the book buyback companies that I used, all I had to do was print a simple shipping label from my computer, throw all the books into a single box and then drop it off at the UPS store. Shipping was free and I paid via paypal within 2 weeks.
I was trying to figure out which books had value and why and I never could really nail it down. Some of my highest value books were new, some were old, some were rare, and some were popular. But I can say with confidence that most books you scan will be worth $0. Of the 600+ books I purged, probably 500 were worth $0 and went to Goodwill.
If you want to give it a shot, you can try them out here.
Bookselling Total = $179
Selling on Craigslist is so easy it is unbelievable. All I did was take pictures of the items I wanted to sell with my phone. I then emailed them to myself and created the listings.
As you can see in the image above, you just hit the “post to classifieds” link and then just follow the simple instructions. Less than 5 minutes later you should have your listing up and running.
With pricing, I like to search craigslist to see what others are selling similar items for and use that as a gauge of how to price the item. If you really want to sell it quickly just price it lower than everyone else. It is that simple.
A lot of people I talk to about it are concerned about getting scammed and really as a seller it is pretty simple to avoid by doing one simple thing – only take cash. If anyone wants to pay with check, money order, IOUs from Nigerian princes, or anything else, just tell them no. And honestly, almost everyone who uses Craigslist understands this and does the same thing. I have sold about 20 items on Craigslist and every single one of them brought cash.
Also, everyone on Craigslist wants to get a deal. So add some wiggle room into your price and when they ask you if you are willing to negotiate, just knock of 10% or so and most times everyone is happy.
TIP: you will almost always get a higher price for an item if you sell it on Ebay rather than Craigslist because you are advertising your items to the whole world rather than just your neighborhood. That said, heavy and large items often make more sense with Craigslist because you can avoid shipping charges.
These are the items I sold on Craigslist last month and what I got for them.
I have done a lot of Ebay selling over the years and it also has become VERY easy to list items. It used to be a lot more time-consuming and cumbersome, but it is almost as simple as listing on Craigslist. I wrote a post about how to sell on ebay and even how to start an Ebay business that you can check out if you need more info.
Check out those links for more details, but I will say that it is probably worth your time to search for the item you are wanting to sell to see if people are buying it. You can used the advanced search area to select completed listings and this will show you if your item is actually selling and what people are paying for it.
Ebay now allows you to pay for and print shipping labels directly from your computer. Then all you have to do is drop them off at UPS, Fedex, or USPS.
These are the items I sold on Ebay last month and what I got for them.
Wrapping it all up
I didn’t track how much time I spent on all this, but if I had to guess I would probably bet 7-8 hours spent taking pictures, creating listings, packing boxes, driving to post office, meeting with craigslisters, etc. Even if I am off on my calculations and it took me 10 hours, that nets out to over $200/hour ($2145/10 hours) and that ain’t too shabby!
I honestly was pretty blown away at 1) how easy it all was and 2) how much money I made from it. So hopefully it inspires you to dig in and see what you can sell. If it does, let me know how it goes for you!
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