Goodbye Clutter, Hello Cash

old books
Photo by guldfisken

Do you ever sell your old stuff?

Most of the time, having clutter out of my home is reason enough for me to give something away, without the cash incentive.

It simply feels good to have the stuff gone, like how some have described how it “gives you a psychological boost,” and it “feels like losing dead weight.”

Lately we’ve been selling some of our stuff that we haven’t used in a few years, and it is nice to have the bonus cash.

We mostly give household stuff to a local charity or Goodwill. We keep track of the tax deductions, which we’ve estimated to be worth the same if not more than what we could receive at a garage sale.

I’m not enthusiastic about garage sales. If I price something for a quarter and then someone offers me a nickel, it makes me wonder why I’m sitting out there all day long. Other people seem to be garage sale pros, and it is worth their time to have one each year.

Ebay can be good, but sometimes it seems more suited for someone who wants a side business, instead of selling just an item or two.

What I’ve found Ebay to be really useful for is determining a fair price. You can see the actual amount of cash that other people were willing to pay. (Search for something on Ebay and then click the check box on the side to show “Completed Listings.” It shows recent, final sale amounts for that item.)

I’ve had good results from using Craigslist, especially since the things we’ve sold recently have maintained their value. (Brenda wasn’t sold though, she was given away for free.)

What about you? Do you have better success with Ebay or yard sales? Have you sold anything good lately?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I played around with ebay some while ago, but wasn’t impressed. I’ve sold several things on Craigslist through the years, but not lately, because so many people don’t have the extra cash. I do like it when I can sell something though – free up extra space in my home while putting a little jingle in pocket at the same time is always nice!

    Elizabeth´s last blog post..Wordful Wednesday – A letter to my daughter on becoming a big sister

  2. I go through phases but as I am stay at home mum with kids that are growing fast, I find it useful to sell things for a bit of extra money to replace the things they grow out of. Amazon marketplace I use for selling books and DVDs as its a lot less complicated than ebay. Ebay I use for clothing and knick-knacks. And lastly as I an an expat in Germany, I go to an English speaking expat website to sell household items or anything I don´t want to post.

    I did my first children´s themed flea market last year and will do that again, though I did find people wanted something for virtually nothing and by the time I deducted my table fee and bought a pair of football boots and a few clothes and toys, I had completely broken even :).

    In the 1990s before the internet took off, when I was working and before kids, I gave everything to charity just to get it out of the house, now I have to be a little bit more penny-pinching.

    RML´s last blog post..Still chipping away at the iceberg!

  3. In the area where I live there is a consignment shop for household items. I have made some money this way.

  4. I am having a decluttering month, and I recently sold a few books on Amazon, and it was super easy. I’m not sure how other items go on there, but my books sold in under 24 hours.
    Craigslist is a great idea! I’ll have to try it with some of the other items I have left.

    Simplelivin’´s last blog post..January 27th Spending

  5. I like Craigslist – no shipping and cash at the sale. I am so used to donating stuff now that I have to stop myself sometimes to remind myself that I could get some $$ for some of the things I am getting rid of. I love shopping at yard sales but haven’t had one in years. I think I might this spring.

    Emily@remodelingthislife´s last blog post..Link Love: Baby, It’s Cold Outside Edition

  6. I did not have a good experience with ebay. For some reason, the shipping calculator never worked and I would end up making practically nothing when all was said and done. I do like Craigslist.

    Last year was my first yard sale, and it went really really well. I had boxes upon boxes of STUFF and I priced most things pretty low. I got rid of all but a small box of items. It was so nice to purge our home of all the clutter and make a few hundred dollars at the same time!

  7. I read a lot of fiction. Over the last few years, I have accumulated nearly 300 books.

    I keep them so well that they are almost like new. And because they look new, I have been unwilling to sell them.

    In the last few months though, I am reading more and more online and less from books. I soon have to find a library to donate my books or maybe sell them — very soon.

  8. We use ebay, or I should say my husband does. If it was up to me the stuff would end up sitting in the front porch “to sell” pile forever. He’s a tech geek and can do the process so fast and efficiently it’s very worth it.

    We never garage sale, and rarely visit them anymore either. It’s not worth the time in my mind.

    One more point about selling stuff… If you buy better quality things to begin with (which means you buy less because better quality is usually more costly) you can actually sell them for a decent price if you end up not using it often enough.

    We are not buying snobs by any means. If we can find it used or at goodwill we will get it there. But if not we save till we can buy a quality item, like a piece of clothing for example, and that item retains it’s value.

    renee @ FIMBY´s last blog post..It’s all good ~ Chocolate Truffles

  9. I had great success about a year or so ago selling some old Hebrew commentaries that my dh had. They were old, they were popular search items, and I got a lot of bids on them. I made quite a bit of money on them, but I lost about $20 (over all the books) in postage. I always mess up on the postage!

    Recently I have sold some larger items on Craigslist. The items I sold were household items we didn’t need, and they were too bulky to even consider selling on e-bay. We’ve also gotten some great bargains on items we need through Craigslist.

    I don’t like yard sales – either going to them or having them, so Craigslist has been the best place for us recently!

    Tammy´s last blog post..~Showers of Blessings~

  10. Ah, yes garage sales… I really can’t stand doing them anymore. The last one we did was about 3 years ago, and I swear it was like the hottest day of the year, and we sat out there and *literally* all I sold was a pair of pants! When I lived in San Francisco in a bustling neighborhood, we actually had great luck with garage sales. I still enjoy going to them, though – I’ve found some great stuff!

    Now I mostly just donate to Salvation Army, etc., but I would try Craigslist, too. I agree that selling on Ebay seems like too much of a hassle – especially because then you have to ship the stuff! With Craigslist, you could get somebody local to pick it up.

    Thanks for this post, it’s reminding me that it’s about time to do another round of decluttering!

    Laura´s last blog post..Gratitudes

  11. I gave up throwing garage sales after organizing three of them in about as many weeks when my dad moved from the country into town. Like with you, the haggling kills me. It might be the name of the game, but I can’t stand it because so many of the buyers come off like vultures than those interested in a fair deal. My opinion of humanity greatly diminishes after a tag sale, so I don’t go to that dark side anymore. ;)

    Before eBay became so upwardly mobile for small entrepreneurs, I sold lots of stuff on it. The fees were reasonable, and it was worth my time. Now, however, I use eBay only for those items that are easy to ship and are likely to sell (not such a waste of fee money). I haven’t used Craigslist yet, though. But I have an item or two I might try with it.

    Jen in KS´s last blog post..How’d we do and what’s ahead

  12. Sometimes we do well at our garage sale – sometimes we don’t. Since I found out about the local JBF (Just Between Friends) Consignment sale every fall and spring we started participating in that and I make more off of Sugar’s old clothes, toys and other gear there than I ever would at a garage sale. The bonus is that I can usually find the things she needs there at a very reasonable price as well. (One of her $45 Christmas presents came from there and I only paid $6 for it!) I also enjoy going to neighborhood garage sales. That way I can park and shop for a couple of hours and usually find some good buys. I hardly ever stop at an isolated garage sale – they aren’t worth the effort, unless I know they have something I am specifically looking for.

    When I did well on Ebay was when I treated it like a side business. I simply don’t have the time or patience for that anymore.

    Craigslist works really well for some of the bigger things we have hanging around – not having to mess with shipping is great! Additionally I have found some great deals there too.

    I donate lots of stuff to Goodwill. It’s simply easier!

    Blessed´s last blog post..Things I Will Always Remember – An Open Letter To My Daughter

  13. Here in Berlin, there are huge flea markets. I always see people sitting along the sidewalk in the grass outside of the market. They have their items–like old bikes and books–and they wait for someone who might buy them. The crowd is already there, so it seems like a pretty effective strategy should we ever want to do the same. For now, we’ve just been donating.

    Katie at´s last blog post..How We Afford to Live in Europe

  14. I think part of it really comes down to what the item is. Sometimes even Goodwill isn’t the best option for giving stuff away for free. I had an old piano that I had delusionally thought I would refurbish. It never happened and eventually I was just desperate to get rid of it. I put it up for free on Craigslist and someone came and hauled it off for themselves. My husband and I have made some decent money selling some stuff on eBay. We made several hundred dollars a couple years ago selling his used video games. And this year we financed part of our cruise with money I made selling perfume on eBay. I bought and received as gifts several bottles of my favorite Victoria’s Secret scent before it was being discontinued. Then I ran out of shower gel so I stopped using the perfume. It now sells for a premium on eBay since it’s so hard to find. I made over $300 on two bottles of perfume and a bottle of lotion.

    Jessica´s last blog post..Sneak Preview

  15. Karen in NC says:

    Anyone with relatively new books should check out — they tell you beforehand what they will pay for your books and cover all shipping. A great resource if you are getting over a book ownership addiction (as I am!) In fact, I might have gotten this link from another post on this site – if so, so sorry!

    Not sure if any of you have considered this, but we got all of our big items out of our house by contacting social services in our area and asking them if they have any families moving out of shelters and into apartments – talk about people who can use very old tvs, towels, sheets, plates, pots and pans, older chairs or tables — truly, giving someone some basics when they are just starting out, especially in this economy can give people a real fighting chance, which may be worth more than the spare cash you could get selling your goods.

  16. I sell a variety of items, mainly children’s clothing and toys on Ebay for extra money. This has been a great way for me to financially be able to stay at home with my kids. This past month, I also decluttered our home and took many items up to a consignment store for the first time and so far, I am pleased with the results of the sales as they give 52% of the sale back to me. Not only do I like the cash, but I like the idea of recycling and making purchases a continuous circle as I too buy many items pre-owned.

  17. We’ve done craigslist a bit and we have had a good experience with it. It’s great for big items or items that are a bit random or particular and might not be noticed at a garage sale.

    I do like garage sales, mostly for the reason that they force me to really go through my house and gather everything together. They’re a lot of work and no, the money’s not fantastic (I usually make between $100-200). But then everything that’s left can easily be given to the thrift stores, and I like that I made money on some of it. We’ve never gotten receipts for our thrift store donations, but I’ll have to start doing that!

    Another thing that worked well for me recently was selling kids clothes and toys at our local kids swap meet. You rent a table for $25 and sell for 4 hours. It draws a huge crowd and I made quite a bit of money selling a lot of extra stuff that my kids didn’t need or I didn’t really care for!

  18. I really like giving stuff away, whenever possible. It’s easiest, and people LOVE to take it from you. Freecycle works, but I prefer to give it to a friend if they want it and to a thrift store if they don’t. I figure, I’m not starving, so why not pass it along? We’ve been blessed with enough gifts over the years.

    I don’t do garage sales for the very reason that I don’t have space to 1) gather the stuff and 2) sell the stuff. I’ll just get rid of it as I go, and buy smarter.

    I will use ebay for big things only. I sold gold on there ones to buy our wedding bands and am planning to sell a major book collection for a couple hundred soon. It’s not worth it for minor things for us – it’s just a headache!

  19. V. Higgins says:

    Since I work full time and commute, as well as training for the Avon Walk, it’s hard enough to find time to head out to Goodwill to drop off my stuff. I’ve never been a real fan of holding garage sales and because I’m only 23 I don’t have much that’s worth selling (most of what I’m donating is worth less than $5 a piece and I’d rather spend my weekend relaxing with my hubby and new kitty). My husband is a stickler for making sure we get our donations deducted though. :-P Maybe later on we’ll have something worth putting on Craigslist, but right now donations work for us.
    Time for another round of de-cluttering! I have a closet to attack :-D

  20. I used to spend the time selling things on ebay and craigslist, but the last time I moved (December) I donated everything that didn’t make the cut. From a time management perspective it was the clear choice.

  21. We have something called Twin Cities Free Market .org where we live. It’s a good way to get rid of large items and match them with the right person by posting online. No money is exchanged but I have found that people will take ANYTHING! And it’s always gone within 2 days. – this link is another book selling resource. You put in the ISBN and they make you an offer and pay the shipping.

  22. I tend to use ebay for the items that are worth more. I usually search ebay, as you do, to see if the value is there. If so, I list my item. I tend to list things that I will get maybe $20.00 or more for. If I have to pack and ship an item, I want it to be worth it!

    I have also tried Craigslist, but haven’t had any luck selling things there — but I think that that is mostly due to living in NW Montana, where people don’t use Craigslist all that much.

    If all else fails, I usually put stuff on freecycle!

    Kelli´s last blog post..Cold Remedies

  23. Craigslist is the only way to sell. Kid stuff sells much better than most household items. This week I’ve sold a camera, patio heater, kids toys, stroller bankets, carseats, quilts, folding chairs and video games on craigslist within 2 days of listing them. As long as you live in a populated area and are selling things people want at a good price, it will sell.

    Andrea´s last blog post..So cute but useless…

  24. I think another key to having success on Craigslist or Ebay is to sell things that other people will specifically search for, like baby gear or camera lenses. Not many people will look through all of the items listed to find decorative knick knacks.

  25. Alas, in Italy no garage sales nor Craigslist. Thrift shops are almost non-existant. So it’s eBay all the time, though sometimes it’s frustrating not to sell nice things in great conditions or to sell them for cheap.
    Anyway I made some good deals. I just bought some videogames my bf wanted to throw away and 2 dvds – one was a gift from an ex-friend… listed at 5 euros, sold at 30! :)

  26. SOLD, not bought ;)

  27. Btw: I think that eBay is useful if you regularly put up stuff for auction, so that the unsuccessful ads (and the fees paid for them) are compensated by the successful ones. And sometimes retrying is worth it.

  28. I used to sell on eBay until they set it up to weed out the “little guy” and it became an all at war between buyers and sellers on feedback. It is not a friendly environment anymore.

    Craigslist is good…local buys and sells. Meet you at the corner store parking lot!

    And then I give a LOT to St. Vincent’s and Savers…nice deductions on the taxes. :)

  29. I LOVE to have garage sales! I can’t believe that people will actually pay me to haul my junk away. I have the kind of garage sales where I price things to sell, not make money. I’m always amazed at the “Early Birds” who circle the neighborhood, waiting for the door to open. I’m also amazed at what goes first. We laughed and laughed that someone took our musical hula-dancing doll first a few years ago. The sheer entertainment value of the sale is just great. Good garage sales require help, which can be somewhat of a problem if your friends or family just don’t get the same kind of bang out of the sale as you. I try to recruit friends who also want to just get rid of the stuff. When we’re done, we split up the money and have a good meal, with usually some leftover to divide between us.

  30. I find that as a relatively recent college graduate (12/06), most of my stuff is too junky to be worth anything on Craigslist or Ebay or garage sales. I’d love to sell off some of the books Mr. Savvy and I have collected, but that falls into the “don’t declutter his stuff” territory. Whoops.

  31. I enjoy giving stuff away. I don’t feel the need to be compensated for old clothing or books or toys. Goodwill does a great job of distributing these things. I’ve had luck selling more substancial items (like furniture) on craigslist and I received a crockpot from freecycle this week! As we all get more aware of the strain all our stuff is putting on the planet and as our economy continues to decline, I see things like freecycle getting much more vigorous, as it should!

  32. Usually I give things away, but I’ve sold things on craigslist on behalf of a client, and that worked really well; I’ll probably use it again for other items with enough value to make it worth the time. I priced things reasonably, so I sold them at the price I listed.

    For the casual seller of just a few things now and them, eBay seems too complicated.

  33. My husband’s old boss owns an auction. My husband worked part time at Lowes several years ago and we got over $19,000.00 worth of merchandise for $700.00. The manager told my husband he wanted the stuff gone and told him to take it all for $700.00. My husband made about $300 of it back that day from various co-workers. Then, it all sat in storage (for free) at a friends house for about 2 years. A couple of weeks ago, he loaded it all up and took it to the auction. So far we’ve made about $500 on all the stuff. We’ve made our money back and then some. We had everything from light fixtures, to toilet seats, to duct tape. I think my husband should get the award for “best bargain” shopper. To wrap my point up, check for your local auction. Make sure they don’t charge a No Sale fee, or buyers fees. You can find auctions in your area at

    I’m now collecting things from my house that we don’t use anymore or have not used in a while to take to the auction to help raise money for our “baby fund”. We aren’t sure if we are going to pursue private adoption or infertility treatments. We are just banking some cash waiting on the Lord to direct us.

    Amanda L´s last blog post..Responsibility…Accept It!

  34. I have had success with both eBay and garage sales. When I did a garage sale, I involved two other couples to increase the amount of stuff, therefore making it more attractive to potential buyers. We also split the price of the newspaper ad. We tagged and initialed each item and the cashier took off each sticker as an item was sold. We all came back with at least $100, one couple made out with around $200. Not bad for a day’s worth of work!

    eBay is great for selling pricey items and if you have a bunch of items to sell at once. It can be time consuming, so it’s not good for little drips and drabs.

  35. Oh… and Craigslist has proven to be very successful for me lately (buying and selling), but you do have to watch out for the scam artists.

    Cara´s last blog post..One Small Step

  36. Books sold on Amazon- esp textbooks, other items given away on freecycle,craigslist, and to area thrift stores as well good clothing to collections my synagogue does for charities. I am going to attempt to sell some coins and dolls on ebay- once we get photos taken of them. yard sales- we have joined in community yard sales to support people who have a lot to sell. I always have something I can sell- but nothing for which I would create a yard sale or pay for a table. I just put out a card table of stuff -priced at a dollar or two- to give people on the street something else to look at as they wander around. I think last time, everything I sold went to neighbors.

  37. I’ve sold a ton on eBay. Two years ago I went to Dave Ramsey’s FPU. He motivated me to sell even if what I made wasn’t much. I prayed for buyers and put every cent made toward our car & medical debt. Momentum built as I saw the amount of our debt diminish. We went from *barely* making it each month to now being debt free (besides the mortgage) and having a healthy emergency fund.

    My more recent sales income have been ear-marked for our mortgage. With the interest saved, each dollar applied to principal is almost tripled. This really encourages me, even when a sale is low.

    eBay is a lot of work, but will yield much better than a garage sale.

  38. Craiglist doesn’t really work too well in Ireland, perhaps a few hundred people in Dublin, probably mostly American students and others living there.
    We use ebay but you do need to be careful about working out your postage carefully so as to not undercut your margin.
    We use freecycle quite a bit too, it’s popular in Ireland. I find that when you live in a rural area you may need to join a few freecycle groups in the areas surrounding you.
    Good luck with your decluttering Rachel.

    Scribhneoir´s last blog post..the new book that I am reading

  39. In three months we received about $700 from and I sold my lawschool books (was never going to look at them again) and my husband sold a bunch of video games that he’ll never play again (I’m sure that would apply to kids too). Also, books that we had received as gifts and never touch? They’re out of here!