If you're wishing you had an extra $1,000 with which to remodel your home or invest in a promising stock, rejoice! You probably do have that money -- it may simply not yet be in a recognizable form. See all your old LPs in the corner? Those board games you never play? Your lunch-box collection from the 1970s? They all have value, and you can cash them in. In the process, you'll gain not only money, but also a less-cluttered home.
One way to turn stuff into greenbacks is to sell it online. This is, in many ways, the simplest and most effective option. By putting items up for sale on eBay
You can learn a lot more about selling books, music, and more online at our Selling Books and Stuff Online discussion board. (Actually, you can learn about nearly everything on our discussion boards -- read more about them and then try them for free!)
Have a yard sale
Of course, you can save on shipping and get rid of stuff immediately with a yard sale. You could, in fact, simply begin putting things out on your lawn right now, perhaps on a table with a sign that says "Sale!" That's probably not the best way to maximize your profits, though.
For some great tips on having a yard sale, I take you now to a great post from our Get Organized! discussion board, where Fool Community member bookaholic wrote:
Well, we had a neighborhood yard sale today, and I unloaded quite a bit of stuff! Didn't make much money -- about $60 -- but it was definitely a fun neighborhood activity, and my kids were inspired to get rid of several things in return for a share of the profits. I could see doing this about once a year, just so the kids can declutter and earn a few dollars. My son is excited that he made enough to buy a new Lego set.
So funny -- we advertised the sale to start at 9 a.m., but just past 7 a.m. we could see people circling their cars in the street. Yard sales are really huge around here! I rushed to get my stuff out by about 8:30 and sold most of it by about 9:30. By the end of the sale, I gave away a few things just so I didn't have to pack them up.
This post led to a very thoughtful response from stratton2, who explained:
[That's] normal for people to show up early. Some yard-sale hints from several years of experience:
1. Decide before pricing whether you want to maximize income or maximize clutter removal.
2. Start next year's sales accumulation as you find it. Price it and package it now before storing it away for next year's sale. Having bins [ready to go and marked] "X for 25 cents each" saves time and work.
3. Put your stuff out the night before, if possible.
[This one seems risky to me. I would expect that some dastardly types might steal it in the night, or that others might mistakenly think it's being given away.]
4. Have your cash box planned in advance with whatever coins and bills you need. A good suggestion is a roll [each] of quarters, dimes, and nickels. Have $50 in fives and a few $10 bills. Don't accept $100 bills for $3 purchases!
5. 80% of sales take place in the first three or four hours. So a really short yard sale is a great time/money investment. A two-day sale with massive price cuts on the second day gets rid of lots of stuff.
6. Expect people one to two hours early. Otherwise say, "No early sales."
7. Clean/wash the stuff before you put it out! Dirty clothes belong in the dirty-laundry hamper.
8. Be willing to bargain. If someone wants 60% off to take a lot of stuff, it might be a good deal for you, the seller. That way it's gone. Bulk discounts on things like paperback books are a great way to get rid of them.
9. Put out free stuff. Kids love it.
10. Junky and somewhat dirty stuff that doesn't bring much, and would probably never sell, will grow legs and walk away if labeled "Free!"
11. If someone is buying $43.73 worth of stuff and is having trouble finding the last 50 cents in change, give them a bargain by waiving the change. Customers will love you for it.
12. Please try to have enough sale stuff to fill the space one car occupies. If you have four or five times that, people will call their friends to come to the "really big yard sale." Multi-family yard sales are good.
Over on our Living Below Your Means discussion board, a similar discussion took place, focused on how to price items:
Rozina said: "I figure the maximum is 1/2 of what something would cost new. And that's for something still in the wrapper, like a gift that wasn't quite me. Unused coloring books, and other book-type stuff: 10 cents for kids' books, up to 25 cents for softcovers, up to $1 for hardcover if in like-new condition. Does that sound reasonable? I know books are very hard to move." She then asked: " I have a bunch of used small electronic stuff that each sell for about $20 new. They work and all have the manuals/software, rechargers, etc. Do you think they'll move for $5 a piece? How would you price things like software, VHS, CDs, DVDs?"
Setepen2 warned: "I remember selling my old electronic games (Nintendo and Gameboy stuff) in a garage sale for about $10-$20. However, I regret it now. I would have made more money selling them on eBay."
96hokies added: "I never looked at yard sales as a means to make money, more a way to reduce clutter. I priced worn clothes at $1-$2, books at 25 cents. I was told I had 'great prices,' but the best thing was I had hardly nothing left to haul off."
ziggy29 suggested: "Price them at twice what you expect to get for them. People will always hassle you to lowball something and say everything is overpriced. If you have an item in good condition selling for $100 new, and you list it for $10, someone will still try to take you down to $5. If you ask $20, you might get $10."
There were several dozen other responses, including cautions against overpricing. Check out the entire discussion.
Give stuff away
Another option is simply giving stuff away. Don't think that there's no payoff for you in this option -- there is. Make a list of what you're giving away and donate it to a legitimate charity, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Such outfits will routinely give you a receipt for your donations, which you can use when preparing your taxes. (Learn more about deducting donations.)
Apply this to stocks
Now that we've addressed having yard sales and giving stuff away, let's shift gears a bit (but not too much) and look at the stocks in your portfolio. Is there a pile of stock in Yahoo!
Is your portfolio cluttered with dozens of stocks? If so, consider selling a bunch of them -- especially ones that you don't really understand. I held shares of companies such as Sun Microsystems
I'm investing more sensibly these days, I'm happy to say. And I've been selling some books and CDs online, too.
Amazon and eBay have been recommended in the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter.
Selena Maranjian 's favorite discussion boards include Book Club , Eclectic Library, and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of eBay and Amazon.com. For more about Selena, viewher bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money GuideandThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.