Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Make Money by Unloading Your Clutter

Part of my March goals is to de-clutter my apartment. Progress has been slow, since time alloted to this task is limited, but steady. I've reduced my stacks of magazines to a small pile of clippings by cutting out pages and recipes I want and throwing away the rest. The recipes are now being placed neatly into a photograph album in lieu of a box or binder. I've also given away several items like painting and gardening supplies that have been sitting around my apartment unused for more than a year.

The two main space killers in my apartment are books and clothes. I have a lot of shoes that I bought on deep discount last year. Plus I have not thrown out a shoe since freshman year of high school. This takes up a lot of shelf space, but I am loathe to throw them out. I delude myself into thinking I will find some excuse to wear them despite the fact that a few are falling apart. The time has come to face reality. Any shoe that has not been worn in a year and I do not foresee myself wearing in the near future is gong to consignment or to charity. The ones that are falling apart will finally be laid to rest.

To learn about selling your extra clothes, shoes, handbags and other clutter through consignment try this website that lets you search for consignment stores in your area or this one that let's you get rid of clothes. For a more general approach you can sell items on ebay. For baby clothes I highly recommend thredup.com where you can swap your used baby clothes for clothes in a different size.

The books are another story. I accumulated a lot of medical textbooks. Some I used, others were given to me by students who graduated and did not want to take their books along when they moved. My bookshelves are crammed with medical books, many of which I probably will never use again. I passed USMLE Step 1, so why am I keeping four different USMLE step 1 review books? I never intend to take the GRE so why am I keeping a GRE review book? Is a copy of respiratory physiology from 2004 really going to be up to date when I finally need it in 2013?

The simple solution is that these books MUST GO. However, some of them were very expensive. Others just seem too good for the landfill or recycle bin. I cannot bear to see them go. Unless, of course, they go to good homes. So here's how I am de-cluttering my textbooks guilt free and making a little money in the process.

The first option is to sell directly to customers on sites like ebay, half.com or amazon. I personally find that I get the best prices on amazon. Their commission might be a little higher, but there is no fee to list and there is no hassle of dealing with an auction. On ebay you occasionally will have a shady buyer or two who abuses the generous customer satisfaction policies. Ebay almost always sides with the customer even when gross abuse is gong on. Ebay is also hard to break into without already having good ratings. Yet, the auctions mean you sometimes get a higher price than you would with just the "buy it now" feature and Ebay is more advanced in terms of letting you set your own shipping prices. Half.com is a textbook specialty site owned by ebay. Spend some time on each site to see which user interface you like better. IN my opinion books are best sold on amazon or half.com. Ebay if for selling things like iPods.

Another option is to sell directly to students in your school. This eliminates the middle man so you keep more of your asking price and the students get a good bargain by not having to buy full price or pay shipping for a textbook. You can post a flyer on your school bulletin board or use your schools online message board or email list service. Make sure to give detailed information about the books condition. Be open to negotiation. And remember - these are your peers. Give them your honest opinion about whether or not a book will be helpful. Do not try and upsell them on books you wish you had never purchased.

Another option is to sell on a book buyback site. These sites buy books directly from you and pay for shipping. They then try and sell these books to students. The prices are generally a lot lower than what you would get selling directly to the student, but you get your money immediately and do not have to wait for a buyer. Sites to check out include Blue Rectangle, Abe Books and BookScouter which allows you to search several buyback websites at once for the best price. In fact I know several people who keep these sites on their web capable cell phones so that they can go to thrift stores and yard sales and search if the buyback price on a book is more than the thrift store price. They buy and immediately ship out those books, netting a small profit.

The profits from de-cluttering your home are not going to make your rich. But they can help ease the guilt of clearing out items you feel are still usable. Onward with the De-clutter!


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