How to Make Money Selling Your Old Stuff – Tons of Tips

yard sale

make money on your junk yard sale

I got a whole buncha questions about how I was going to make money on all the stuff that I just got rid of through The Minimalist Challenge so a post is definitely in order. Throughout The Challenge you saw that I labeled each of the items as: SELL, DONATE, or TRASH. Wanna know how I made the most of  “a bag of clothespins” or “miscellaneous postcards from 15 years ago”.

Read on for the full scoop (after the jump)… How I Made Money on the Junk I Cleared Out from The Minimalist Challenge

The main thing that I think about when I get rid of things is, “Why am I doing this in the first place?” The answer is almost always: to have more time and less clutter (sometimes it’s “To make a buck” — but not usually). Since my main focus is usually to have MORE time that means that I definitely DO NOT want to spend any more time to the process of Junk Elimination that I absolutely have to.

I’ve noticed that a lot of times people think, “How can I get the most money for my old stuff?” Which is totally great, and wonderful and all that if you’ve got tons of time on your hands. For those of you with lots of time on your hands I think you should do whatever you have to take make the most money on your old junk.

List every last item, field every inquiry, drive the stuff all over town, save it for as long as you need to to sell it during the prime buying season for each particular item, and hold out for the most money you can get.

However, if you value your time more than money in than you might approach selling your old stuff like I do. I think, “How can I make the most efficient use of my junk elimination efforts while also making the most amount of money on this stuff that I’ll be getting rid of anyway?” Soooo, with that said, I don’t want to spend anymore time than I have to on the stuff that I have decided is no longer worthy of my time.

While that approach definitely doesn’t bring in the biggest $$$$$$ it does give me more of what I truly want. Time. Time to spend with Baby Henry. Time to edit photographs from our shoots. Time to exercise. Time to sleep. Time to watch Netflix marathons into the wee-hours of the night, if I want. Time is the most important thing to me right now and it’s my scarcest resource so that’s what I’m after.

Some things to keep in mind as you get started:

1. Only touch the items you’re getting rid of once.

When you decide to get rid of something put it in a bag or box or whatever, and leave it there until you are ready to get rid of more items. Don’t go moving things from spot to spot. That takes up time and effort. Two things that are very important.

2. Consolidate your efforts.

Don’t list things on Craigslist (or wherever) one-by-one. Take the photos in bulk. List in bulk. Think: assembly line.

3. Recognize the things that really have value and those things that don’t, and don’t go getting sentimental.

Things that have value (generally speaking): electronics, furniture, photographic equipment, vintage or “designer” items. Things that don’t have as much value (and therefore should take up even less of your time): clothes, knick knacks, everyday common items (like plates, serving utensils, organizational bins, etc.), random home goods. Basically, remove the attachment.

Try to take the emotion out of the items and focus on what others might value them at to help you decide how much time you should spend trying to get the most amount of money for the item(s).

For the bulk of the items from The Minimalist Challenge I decided that the best approach would be to hold a good old fashioned Yard Sale. That made the best use of my efforts because I could try to sell the items all at once rather than trying to take on the time-consuming task of listing the items individually or by taking the items all over town trying to get rid of them at specialized/niche re-sale or consignment shops.

For Yard Sales I always think, it never hurts to try to sell any and every random item. That’s why throughout The Minimalist Challenge update posts a majority of the items had SELL next to them even if they were totally random things like craft supplies or a half-full bottle of Magnesium. Here’s why I ALWAYS at least TRY to sell even the most random items… A couple of years ago I held a Yard Sale, and I thought, “Oh no, no one would ever by this old hair gel, used eye shadow, or used lipstick.” But on a whim I set those random items out, and I was shocked when almost all of the used makeup sold! Even if I did only make .50 cents or a buck on the old makeup it’s more than I had before the sale, so to me that was a success!

During the Yard Sale that we had a couple of weekends ago, Aaron asked me, “What the heck are you doing setting out this 1/2 a bag of 4 year old generic ground coffee?”. I told him, “Because you just never know what in the world people are going to buy!” and guess what? That 4-year old coffee? It actually sold! (In hindsight I probably should’ve just given it to the guy;). Morale of the story: Give it a try because money is money, honey. Even if it’s not a lot.

Another rule I have with junk elimination? Once the stuff leaves the house it cannot come back in! Change the locks. Turn off the lights. Don’t answer the door. No one’s home. Once it’s out it’s no longer welcome back in!

Right after the Yard Sale we separated the stuff in to a few categories which were:

– Clothing- buy/sell/trade store

– Thrift store

– Book store

– Donations

We figured it wouldn’t hurt to try to see what items Buffalo Exchange would take, and we got $16.95 for the clothes that didn’t sell at the Yard Sale.

Next, we dropped off the remaining items and clothes that were not sold at the Yard Sale, or taken by Buffalo Exchange, to the thrift store. We got a donation receipt to help us out during tax time.

Next stop, the book store. The book store has a used book section, and we ended up getting a voucher/gift certificate in the amount of $19.25.

I pulled out all the unused travel-sized shampoos, conditioners, soaps and gave those to an in-patient eating disorder clinic. The breastfeeding items were given to a women and children domestic violence shelter.

I made a total of $189 from the actual Yard Sale, and with the after sale “cash-in’s” the total that I made was: $225.20. Not the most money ever but definitely not too shabby for minimal work on stuff I would be getting rid of anyway.

Let’s recap:

  • Collect all the items you no longer need or want
  • Keep all the items in one area until you are done going through your areas
  • Once you are done going through all the areas try to sell the electronics or other obvious items of value on Craigslist (or even to your friends on Facebook)
  • With the rest of the stuff have a Yard Sale and if the electronics of other “high-value” items haven’t sold yet set them out at the sale
  • Immediately following the sale take the remaining items to their respective places
  • Don’t bring the stuff back into your house. Once you decide you’re done with it, REALLY be done with it. No more allowing it to take up your precious time.

Some things I learned from this yard sale:

  • Display the clothes on a line (or clothing rack) so people can see them easily. We sold more clothes than I ever had before by doing this, this time. Some girls even told me, “These clothes aren’t like most yard sale clothes. They’re all really great.” Then they added, “I don’t know if it’s because of how they are displayed or what but I want to buy them all.” Uh. that’s awesome, and I definitely think they looked better because you could see them, and they weren’t in a pile on a table.
  • Don’t put prices on the items. I didn’t put prices on all the items like I usually do, and I was worried about how that would go. Again, I didn’t want to spend anymore time on the junk than I needed to. People asked how much things were and I told them. It worked out great. It also had the unexpected benefit of being a nice way to talk to people in a non-awkward way, and then I went in for the kill (sales pitch;). “That shirt would look great on you!” “That really is an awesome book!”
  • Tell people you’re offering great prices. When people walked up to the items, I would greet them, smile, be friendly, and then tell them, “We’re trying to get rid of everything so we’re offering great prices!” That usually got people’s attention, and I noticed that they started looking at more items. Or, maybe I just imagined that.
  • Only have the Yard Sale for 1 day. Remember, time is the most valuable thing you’ve got. So, there’s no need to drag it out and spend more of your time on The Junk.
  • Don’t turn down a sale just to try to, maybe, get a larger amount of money later on. What’s that old saying? A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush? I kept in mind that nothing was coming back into the house so I figured, some money for the item would be better than NO money. Plus, I thought, “At this point this stuff is of no use to me. Let’s just get rid of it.”
  • De-cluttering for de-cluttering-sake is rare. I was surprised how many people asked us if we were moving which made me realize just how much stuff we were clearing out (none of which I’ve missed – at all, by the way). When we told them we were just getting rid of things and de-cluttering they sounded surprised that we would just do that without having a move coming up.
  • Put all the random, weird items out to sell. If you’re not sure if you should try to sell something go ahead and put it out there. Might as well give it a shot. Definitely won’t hurt to give it a go.


What tips do you have for selling your stuff? Are you the Get Rid of it I Don’t Care How Much I Make on it person or a Make the Most Money Possible person?

P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide


23 thoughts on “How to Make Money Selling Your Old Stuff – Tons of Tips

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  1. Londa

    I’ve spent the last three (ish) months working on this challenge. :) I have about 10-12 totes full of things we do not need. I may not be able to park in the garage at the moment but I can’t wait for this yard sale. I keep telling my husband that if we only make 50$ that’s 50 more than we had and less junk to deal with. :) We have a lot of reasons to declutter, but mainly we just have too much stuff!! I feel my kids don’t play with the toys they have because they have too many. (Can’t find all of the pieces, toy boxes too full, and when they’re emptied there’s no room on the floor to actually play) Life with less junk is so much better. ;-) Thanks for the motivation!

  2. Michelle

    I never have yard sales…because my time is too valuable to sit all day on a Saturday to sell stuff. I take my stuff once a month, every month to a consignment store. for a small % they have to deal with sorting, pricing, and selling my stuff. I live in a very rural area, so even if I had a sale myself, it just wouldn’t pay off.

  3. Anne @ Money Propell

    The first thing I was going to say is how awesome a job you did at displaying the clothes! Friends who own retail shops say it makes a huge, huge difference.
    $225 is a lot better than nothing; that’s a decent amount of money. I’m usually on the “can’t be bothered, donate it or chuck it” train.

  4. Kayla @ Red Debted

    These are great tips! I had a TON of success at my last yard sale (in May), and like you said I didn’t take anything back in the house. After the sale, I took EVERYTHING to the thrift store to donate. I felt so great getting rid of all my crap and getting quite a bit of money in the process.

  5. Clara

    I made $200 today selling items I touched once, priced super cheap and now probably couldn’t even make a list of, that’s how rarely they were used! Great tips! (also I hung all my clothes on clothes lines like you and people loved it)

  6. Cattis

    My friend and I use to share a table at a local flea market and since we like to sell our crap we have low prizes, like $1 or $2. Next weekend is the last time and after that I´ll donate whats left… I´ve been going through my children clothes and toys lately so I have 1 more box to sell this time. Childrens toys and clothes sells really good here (Sweden)

  7. Kristen

    The point about only picking up an item once can go even deeper than just saving time. I’ve read that physically touching an item raises your emotional attachment to the item. My Mum and I tried this when she needed to get rid of some items after a divorce. I held up each thing and she said Yay or Nay. After 2 hours we had gotten rid of 4 totes worth of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations! I asked her recently if she missed any of them, her response? “I honestly can’t even remember a single item we threw out!” She also has a rule about not bringing the yard sale items back in the house, so much better to just be done with it all in one go!

  8. Angela Downer

    I love the idea of being a minimalist, and just living with what you need, and what you want. This is also a really good way to recycle old things to people that will reuse them. On top of making money you are being environmentally responsible, and not contributing to the huge waste problem we have in our landfills.

  9. Serena

    Check out the new app tradr being launched out of Harvard i-Labs! tradr is an interactive social platform, designed to connect friends and neighbors through their stuff. It allows anyone to buy, sell, trade or give away local goods by simply swiping left or right on a deck of images on the smartphones. It’s the perfect tool to help declutter your homes and minds, discover unique products being sold in your neighborhood, and make some extra cash by setting up your own virtual thrift store with a few simple clicks. Unlike Craigslist or Ebay, products on tradr are curated by an algorithm that learns your tastes, so you can finally enjoy the hunt for beautiful local goods.

  10. sissy girl

    A man’s junk is another man’s treasure , And it’s true people go way out of their way to make fast real money and I’m been doing this since I made my first lump of $600 bucks in one day in a yard sale. and ever since I’ve been hooked .

  11. Afton Jackson

    Over the years we’ve managed to accumulate a lot of appliances and electrical equipment that are simply not of use to us anymore. I wanted to know what’s the best way to get rid of them, and so your article helped a lot when you went into detail about removing the attachment from items because there are a lot of tools that we use in the modern-day that simply do their job better, and so even if I had a stereo that I kept for a long time it’s just impractical to keep it around anymore. I’ll be looking for a place to dump and sell all my old electrical equipment after following your tips. Thank you!


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