Monday, April 13, 2009

Live With Less!! - Tips for Making $$$

I love waking up early, just as the sun rises. Those are the days that always make me feel the best from sunrise until sundown. This morning I woke up early, shook up a chocolate vegan rice-protein shake with some soymilk, drove about 30 minutes north, dropped my car off to get the two rear coil springs replaced, popped on my backpack, and started walking... I walked about an hour and a half, stopping part way to use the fitness room at the place where I used to be employed. I still have a little fitness room key, so that is really nice, considering I don't know how long I will be allowed to keep it. 30 minutes on the stair-climber, treadmill, or elliptical machine sure gives a good energy boost to start the day! Today I chose the elliptical, although I rotate between all three whenever I'm up this way.

Continuing on my chilly walk, I have now made it to the local public library where my little fingers are pretty frozen and stiff while trying to type on this keyboard. Hopefully they will warm up soon so that I can type a little faster and make the most of my 60 minute computer session :)

I'm going to use this computer time to type up some tips for making money while simultaneously allowing yourself to live a little more simply!! Bogged down by stuff? Clear some of it out and try living with less :)

When going thru your belongings and getting rid of stuff, it is definitely the easiest solution to just drop everything off at Goodwill, Salvation Army, or any other thrift store. There are other options to consider first, though, especially if you are interested in making some money, so I wanted to tell everyone exactly what I do with the things that I don't want anymore.... (I like making money on things first, and then donating everything good that is left)


BOOKS, MOVIES (vhs & dvd), VIDEO GAMES, and MUSIC (cds):

If I've got any of these media-type items to get rid of, there are 5 things that I personally like to do with them, and I always do them in this order:

1. Look up to see what they are selling for and list them on Half.com .

It is really easy to list them for sale on Half.com, and lots of people shop there:

Just look up the item, check to see what price it is selling for (in the same condition), click "Sell my Copy," and fill in your own price, description, and condition (New, Like New, Very Good, Good, Fair). You don't have to worry about including a shipping cost because Half.com tags a reasonable charge onto whatever price you choose. When your items sells, Half.com sends you an email with the person's shipping address, and then they deposit your earnings into a bank account of your choice (twice per month). Just ship the item out at the post office in a box or bubble mailer, using either first class OR "media mail" (aka: Book Rate). Media Mail is often cheaper, especially if you are shipping a heavy book.

I OFTEN find that selling on Half.com is worth the 30 seconds it takes to list something. The fee they take out is TINY and you can often make a good little chunk of change. Half.com is connected to eBay, so you need an eBay account, but selling on Half.com is NOT the same as selling on eBay (not at all). eBay charges way more fees, it takes more time to list items, and you need photos of your items. Half.com already has images for every book, movie, and cd - just go to Half.com and search for the ISBN# or the item's title. None of your own photos are needed, which is pretty handy. Plus, your items stay listed on Half.com forever - there is no ending date (like eBay). Just check back every now and then to update your prices, or click "On Vacation" in your account settings when you want to suspend your items and take a break from selling.

2. Sell RARE, EXPENSIVE, VINTAGE, or COLLECTOR media-items on eBay.

I'm not a huge fan of eBay, although I do sell there occasionally. I never sell books, music, or movies on eBay UNLESS they are: extremely rare, vintage, expensive, or collector items. I can only think of two books I ever listed on eBay, and it is because they were really old and sold for about 100 bucks each. One was a childhood book about Faeries and it was sooo cool...

3. Take them to a used cd/bookstore that will give you cash or trade.

There are 4 types of items that I don't bother trying to sell on Half.com:

* items that are only selling for .75 or 1.00

* books that are huge & heavy & would cost a lot to ship

* items that I've had listed on Half.com for months (and haven't sold)

* items that are so old that I can't even find them listed on Half.com

Those are the types of items that I then take up to a used bookstore to see if they will give me cash or credit. Lots of used bookstores will give you either cash or credit towards items in their store, so it is definitely worth a try. I typically prefer cash, although I do currently have about 60.00 credit at one bookstore in this area. There is also another bookstore around here that will always give me a little cash for ANYTHING that I take in :) Every little bit helps, and it really makes a difference when you've got several years worth of books to get rid of.

4. Save them up for a garage sale.

I have never had my own garage sale, but I have often sold things in garage sales that my friends & family have had. If you are doing some MAJOR cleaning and clearing out, you probably will have enough stuff for your own garage sale. Try selling everything for a little bit of money in your front yard or garage and then donating what is left.

5. Donate them to the library.

So when I can't make any money off my used books, movies, or music, I just donate them to the local library. They love all sorts of books and are usually always collecting for their "Friends of the Library" booksales. I personally prefer to donate my media-related items to the library instead of dropping them off at a thrift store.

OK, that is just what I do with media-related items. Onto...


CLOTHES and SHOES:

Why is it that everyone always seems to have too many clothes? :) There are 6 things that I do with clothes I don't need or want anymore:

1. First, I pick out the best quality ones, wash them, fold them, and take them to a consignment store.

There are always consignment shops around that will typically give you the option of immediate cash for everything OR putting things on consignment. You always get more money if you are willing to put your clothes on consignment for awhile, but I usually just want to get rid of them and not think about them again. So. I normally like to choose the cash option, unless I'm going to be around the area for awhile.

2. Sell certain items on eBay (if they aren't too worn and are of good quality).

I have actually sold a ton of shoes, several hats, and some snowpants on eBay. Shoes have especially been a very good money maker for me. I don't ever sell regular clothes on eBay, though, because I don't want the hassel of selling clothes to people and not having them fit. When it comes to eBay, I mainly just stick with selling shoes or special winter gear (snowpants, hats, winter coats), when it comes to clothes.

3. Add them to your pile of Garage Sale items!

Again, if you've got a ton of stuff, have a yard sale! You will always make a little bit of cash if you've got the time.

4. Offer them to friends.

With the clothes that consignment stores won't take, I then like to offer them to friends, family, and co-workers. I love when people offer clothes to me (even when I don't need any), so I like to reciprocate that same feeling.

5. Check out FreeCycle.org!

From checking out FreeCycle.org, last year I found two Yahoo Groups for different counties in my area that are especially for freecycling - donating and giving things away to people for free. If I have a bunch of clothes in one size to give away, I log into my local Freecycle Yahoo Groups and make a posting for FREE CLOTHES. Sometimes there are people whose house has burned down, they can't afford clothes for their kids, they need some nice clothes to wear to a job, or they are just in need of clothes in your size. It never hurts to ask and post what you have available! Quite often there are already people willing to take them off your hands.

6. Donate to Goodwill/Salvation Army/a thrift store.

I always seem to be taking stuff to area thrift stores. It is an easy place to get rid of things where other people will be able to easily find them. Thrift stores are usually very happy to take your items, and don't forget to get a receipt! They will give you a receipt for your donation, and then you can use it if you itemize on your taxes. Every time I have ever gotten a receipt, they had left it blank so I could fill it in later. That was very handy when I was able to itemize on my taxes (when I owned a house), so keep that in mind if you are a homeowner! Donations are a good tax write-off, along with gifts to charity (church, etc.) (if you itemize).


HOUSEWARES, MISC, EVERYTHING ELSE:

1. Sell on eBay.

Things that might have any sort of value to anyone else, I do sell on eBay. Especially when it comes to unique, vintage items (boardgames, patches, toys, old lunchbox/thermos, etc.). Useful items are also good to sell on eBay, for example I have sold a back massager, Caution Tape, blankets, sporting equipment, candles, artwork, etc. I even sold my teen-year collection of Absolut vodka advertisements that I had ripped out of different magazines :) I think that sold for like 50 bucks! If you think of yourself as computer-illiterate and can't figure out how to sell on eBay, don't worry! I know that many towns have an "eBay Store" where you can have other people list your items and sell them for you. Those places will charge a small fee, but it might be worth it to you so that you don't have to mess with selling stuff yourself. eBay selling does take a little time because you have to take photos, create nice descriptions, etc... I've got a pile of stuff right now that I want to list on eBay, but I keep putting it off because it can be a little bit of a headache. Again, I never sell books, movies, or videos on eBay unless they are RARE. I try to only sell things on eBay that are worth the time involved.

By the way, here is a HINT if you have an eBay account: You can click on "Advanced Search," check the box for "completed listings," and search for the item you want to sell. It will show you what all the recent past auctions & Buy-It-Now prices were, so that will give you an idea of what you will be able to sell your own item for.

2. Add them to your pile of garage sale items!

Again, have a yard sale! Anything that doesn't sell on eBay, just add to your garage sale pile. Perhaps convince your friends, family, and/or neighbors to "celebrate" Discardia with you by "spring cleaning" - Then you could have a multi-family or even a community-wide yard sale sale :) That definitely makes having a garage sale easier (and of course, more fun).

3. For bigger (or unique) items, try selling them on Craigslist.org!

I love checking out Craigslist, and so do millions of other people around the globe. It is a great place to list items for sale. Craigslist is easy and free. Also, in case you are unaware of this, you can go to http://www.craigshelper.com/ (soon moving to: http://www.searchtempest.com/) to search multiple craigslists at the same time :)

4. Another great place to list items for sale is your local newspaper!
I have sold furniture, iceskates, an electronic keyboard, and different miscellaneous items (from $10-$100) by listing a FREE "Super-Saver" Ad with my local newspaper classified section. It is definitely worth a quick call to your local newspaper to ask what the fee is for listing an item. MANY people read the local classified ads.. Be the person to sell things there (instead of just browsing them to buy).

5. Again, check out Freecycle.org, it is a terrific, terrific place to stop by.

It could lead you to some Freecycle Yahoo Groups in your area where you will be able to list items to give away to individuals who are in need.

6. Last, but not least, donate things to your area thrift stores.

I will say, that even though thrift stores are my last resort (since I like trying to make money first), I never donate JUNK to thrift stores. Don't drop of clothes with rips/holes/stains, electronics that don't work, broken toys, or things of that nature. If you don't want those items for reasons that nobody else would want them either, then DON'T drop them off at the thrift store! Throw them in the trash-can, put them in your burn barrel, have a bonfire, recycle newspapers/magazines/glass, cut up old clothes for rags in your garage, etc. Even though they may be garage-sale leftovers or items that are unworthy of eBay or consignment shops, make sure you are still only donating items of good, useable quality :)

Good luck on going through your stuff and parting with things that you've been holding onto for way too long.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Oklahoma!

The Traveler said...

Jim - yes! thank you! that was exactly it. :)