Storage Tips

Sell Your Old Stuff for Cold, Hard Cash With These 5 Simple Steps

And organize your life in the process.

January 16, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

Whether you've caught wind of Marie Kondo mania or have decided to embrace the minimalist aesthetic in 2019, if you plan on clearing out the clutter this year, it's likely that you're going to be stuck with plenty of things you no longer want in your home. But before you even think of lugging those filled-to-the-brim trash bags off to the dump, stop right there. You can sell it! Well, at least most of it...

From that old pair of jeans you haven't worn in years to the overpriced juicer you thought you'd use religiously (but never did), those unwanted treasures can be sold online for cold, hard cash. I know, I know, rifling through your possessions, organizing and pricing them, and actually listing them can sound like a daunting and time-consuming task—but it doesn't need to be. By following these five (somewhat) easy-to-follow steps, you can trade the valuable goods hiding in your closet and cabinets for money, and get your home spick-and-span in the process.

1. Do a closet (or whole house) cleanse.

The only way to know what you have to sell is to, well, know exactly what it is that you have. The best (and in my opinion, only) way to figure this out? Go through each item one by one. My suggestion: Do one room per weekend (it's realistically all you'll have time for without going nuts), making separate piles of: 1. the stuff you want to sell; 2. the stuff you want to keep; 3. and the stuff you plan on completely getting rid of. As a bonus, you'll declutter and organize (more on that in a second) each room in your house in the process.

2. Organize what you're keeping.

Before you start hawking your wares, do your future self a favor and take a little bit of time to thoughtfully organize the stuff you're going to keep. It doesn't matter if I'm tidying up a closet, the space under my bed, or a newly emptied pantry, there are always a few general tips I like to keep in mind: actually clean the space before you put stuff back (give it a good wipe down, a vacuuming, whatever you need to do); organize by category and/or what you use most often; and store things in clear containers and boxes for easy access. This extra step not only allows you to appreciate the stuff you do have, but also ensures you're able to find it, too.

3. Know the market for what you're selling.

Before you start listing your items, do some research to make sure you're competitive. Asking $200 for a designer dress may sound great initially...until you realize there are similar options available for much less. (I like to keep a notebook or use a note-taking app to keep track of what dollar amount I'm pricing items as I go to stay organized.)

But just because you're not pricing your items high (or selling big-ticket items), doesn't mean you can't make money. After some internet detective work, I came across a very handy tip from a 28-year-old who made more than $2,000 in a month selling her stuff online. Her best advice: Small items (like everyday clothes or kitchen gadgets) can be your biggest—and most reliable—money-makers. Even if you sell one $10-item a day (and net $6 in profit after paying off seller's fees and shipping) for 10 days, you'll have made an easy $60.

4. Find the right selling platform for you.

There are tons of websites and mobile apps where you can sell your stuff, but which is the best one for you? Well, it depends on what you're selling, for starters. Here's a quick primer:

  • For clothes, a few of my friends have made bank using Poshmark, Tradesy, and TheRealReal (for designer goods).
  • For anything from old sweaters to a couch to headphones, I've had great results with Letgo (it has a super-easy app) and Nextdoor (which is like a social network for your neighborhood).
  • For an electronics-focused platform, try Decluttr or Swappa.
  • And while you do have to exercise good judgement when using it (don't invite any old stranger into your home!), I've successfully sold quite a few items on Craigslist.

5. Donate the Rest.

For items that just won't sell (or for things you don't think people would want to buy), consider donating them to a local shelter, community center, or non-profit organization that will provide these items to people in need or sell them to raise money for a cause. For example, I just Marie Kondo-ed my entire bedroom and packed up a few suitcases-worth of stuff that I'll be donating to Housing Works here in New York City, which sells secondhand clothes, art, and furniture to raise money to fight AIDS and homelessness. This way, your unwanted items won't end up in an overcrowded landfill, and on top of that, you can most likely deduct the donation from your taxes.

What old stuff are you selling in 2019? Tell us in the comments below!

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Erin Alexander is the Assistant Editor of Partner Content at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

1 Comment

Ray February 5, 2019
Kinda surprised that eBay wasn't mentioned as a selling platform. The auction format and the astonishing number of users both contribute to a quick sale. And PayPal is a great way to get paid.