How We Made $28K from Selling Old Stuff


I can hardly believe we actually made $28,000 from selling the old items around our house. Although we have already started our adventures, we've had people ask what we did with all of the stuff we had. So I thought now would be a great time to look at the logistics of getting rid of at least 80% of what we owned. I wrote about our plan for getting rid of stuff, but how did it actually go? Well, for one thing, we did not have another garage sale. We also ran out of time and did not get items posted to Ebay.

However, after all was said and done, would you believe we put $16,036.55 in our pockets! If I had not written it all down, I'm not sure I would have believed it myself. Of course since we sold all of our furniture there will be several items to buy when we do eventually settle down again, but it was just not worth storing it.

It will also give us the opportunity of a clean slate so we can take our time purchasing only the items we need and want. Next time it's all about quality over quantity.

So how did we do it? First, I created a pretty detailed list of the items we owned that were worth selling. Basically, this consisted of walking around the house and listing everything in sight. I added to it as we went because there were lots of discoveries as we cleaned out the attic and kitchen.

Then all of the items were entered into a Google Drive spreadsheet. I color coded it for items that had been listed, those that sold, items we decided to donate, and those that we decided to keep in the end (I guess I'm a bit organized). There are 178 items on the list - 84 items were sold, 42 items were kept, and 52 items were donated or given away. Plus, there were many more small items that did not make the list and were donated to a local charity thrift shop.

How to Make Money Selling Your Stuff
How to Make Money Selling Your Stuff

As you can see we actually brought in just under $30k, but we still had a chunk of change to payoff on the car. We definitely sold some big items, but I was amazed at all of the little $10 - $20 items we were able to sell on Craigslist.

I will be the first to admit though that all of this selling took time. There were the pictures to take, the descriptions to write, posting the items online, corresponding with interested parties, and then actually meeting them to make the sale. It was a part time job! I will list out my secrets for selling on Craigslist below, but I'll let you in on my number one tip here...

My #1 secret for selling things quickly on Craigslist is this - your sales price should be less than 50% of the original market value. Unless something is new, unused, and in excellent condition, you need to remember that you have used an item and already received joy or purpose from it. Now it is time to let it go and not be greedy. Your goal is to clear your home of unwanted items.  

About 2 weeks before we moved, I found a store in Boulder called ReBay. They're basically a mix between EBay and a pawn shop. The best part is they give you cash right away if they want to buy your stuff, but they can be a little selective in what they accept. We were able to sell some electronic items and climbing gear to them. We didn't make as much money, but we also got rid of several items at once so I'm ok with that.

The crazy thing was that even after selling so much, we still took 2 full Ford F150 truck beds full of stuff to donation and filled up a dumpster on move out day. We just kept asking each other, "Where did it all come from?" We also had to leave behind a few items we hadn't planned on for the new tenants. Sure hope they're enjoying them - especially the beautiful wool rug we could not fit into the storage pod at 9:45 pm. That one was a real bummer for us.

For those of you interested in seeing the entire spreadsheet of categorized items, I have included the link here:

Here are some fun stats from our selling adventures:

Average selling price (without car and motorcycle): $55.74 per item

Hardest thing to sell (longest list time): 12 Month Baby Photo Frame

Easiest thing to sell: the simple natural office desk (we had nearly 10 inquiries for that thing!)

Favorite sale: 4 backpacks to a family spending a long holiday in Europe this summer (Happy to hear they are getting their kids out for an adventure)

Favorite experience: The gentleman that purchased one of our tennis racquets only had $11 on him, but we had an asking price of $15. The next day he dropped off a $5 bill to make up the difference. Thanks, John! You are a wonderful, honest and kind human being and I hope the universe rewards you for that.

Items negotiated down in price: 20

Now here are my top 5 tips for selling multiple items on Craigslist quickly and easily.

1. The right listing price. I already spilled the beans on this one, but it is SO important. I usually list items for 50% of their original market value. To get the original price I will look an item up on Amazon, Google, or list it by memory. I try to see what someone would have to pay for the item if they were to buy it new that day. That's the current market price and your gage for setting your price. 

2. Let go of emotions. This one can be hard, but YOUR memories and emotional attachment are not why someone is buying your item. They are buying it to make their own memories. Once you have decided to sell something, you must detach your emotions so that you can let the item go and be useful to someone else. 

3. Create an account on Craigslist. One of the best ways to keep track of multiple postings is to create an account on Craigslist.  With an account, you will have a color-coordinated list of all of your items currently listed, which listings are expired and which listings you have deleted (because an item was sold). If a posting expires and the item has not sold, you can easily edit the ad and quickly repost it without having to dig through your emails. This is a HUGE time saver when managing several different postings. 

4. Batch items. I like to cut down on set up by taking photos of several items all at once. This makes it easier to get good lighting, clear out a background space, and get into the groove of getting all of the right shots. Then I upload and resize all of the images at the same time. Finally, I am able to write the ads and post them all at the same time (usually at night when Eleanor is asleep and I am watching TV). Batching can save a ton of time when you are posting a lot to Craigslist at once. 

5. Write great ads. A good ad answers as many questions for the potential customer as possible. Remember, there is so much noise and several other ads competing against each other. You want to make sure your ad has the following:

  • Good images - try to post images of the full item in good light that is not blurry
  • Keywords - list all keywords you think someone would use to search for your item. Be sure to include the item name, brand, complimentary brands (like Pottery Barn for a West Elm item, etc.), color, room, etc. 
  • Dimensions - half of the questions I get used to get were about dimensions. By including these in the ad, you can cut down on these easily answered questions. 
  • Good ad copy - look at how other people are describing the item you have for sale. Use that for inspiration along with the copy from Amazon, Google, or the original brand's website. Your goal is to make someone interested in what you are selling!

Best of luck in your Craigslist selling! What secret selling tips do you have? I'd love to know for the next time I have to sell stuff! 

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