Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Savings Idea #3: Earn by Selling

Savers are “scrappers” at heart. It’s a funny old term. Scrapper. My Granny was a scrapper. The dictionary definition is: “a person who removes or does away with scraps,” which fits nicely with my desire to reuse and recycle. It can also mean a fighter. To Granny a scrapper was someone who got down and did the work necessary for earning a living.

The consignment sales discussed last week can be money-makers for you. In 2011, I participated in two Consignment sales for our mom’s group (CAMOM), and earned serious cash for the twins’ 529 Plan. I sell books to a local reseller, and have sold off old appliances rather than letting the delivery guys haul them away (even broken ones can be recycled for cash). I have sold some small items on eBay, though it makes more sense to me to use an intermediary like I Sold It for larger items ($50+) than deal with it myself.

If your community hosts a yard sale day, join! We earned over $200 at each of our last two yard sales for scraps we didn’t want or never used: lamps, building supplies and tools, old bikes, kitchenware, working electronics, and goods NWT sell easily (more about yard selling in the spring). Consignment stores earn you the lowest percentage, but I’ve tried them. Even donations can garner your extra bucks back in tax breaks, but keep careful records.

Scrappers know nothing is scrap. Everything has some value, and it may be worth your time to sell that old appliance on Craig’s list. Have a beat up auto that hasn’t run in 10 years in your yard? Sell it for scrap and get $300 to $500 and have it hauled away free. If a contractor offers to haul off the “scrap” from a job for free, consider carefully. Those holey copper gutters you replaced, brass faucets, and ancient chandelier are composed of valuable metals. Even old wiring has copper in it which recycling centers will pay for. These will earn your contractor a profit at the local for-profit recycling center; insist he leave valuable metals behind for you to recycle into cash.

Stop lugging around those old college texts and half-read books. BookHolders has locations in MD, VA, Austin TX, Tampa FL, and Morgantown WV. Half-price books has locations in various states. Essentially, these resellers will buy your books outright, or list them online and pay you as they sell. Bookholders mails me a check when they sell something. Bookholders will store them, list them for 18 months, then donate or return them. We figure we’ve earned more than $200 since we began lugging our unwanted books to their storefront shop in College Park. Check near your local university for second-hand booksellers.

You can also find resellers for CDs and DVDs, auction houses for old furniture, jewelers who buy the vintage jewelry you never wear, and pawn shops for electronics, valuable coins, and scrap jewelry. Even Amazon will outright buy your out-of-print books on occasion.

Granny used to keep everything for 7 years; if she didn’t find a use for it, she’d pass it on to someone who did. The point is, before you trash or donate something, think creatively. Is it intrinsically valuable (made of a valuable material), or still useable (good items for Craig’s list)? Do you have a place to store items for a yard sale? Before you unload all your old goods into the donation pile, take them first to an appropriate reseller, who will buy what they want and return the rest. If you can’t sell it, or don’t want to, donate the old car to Purple Heart, books to the library, clothes and household goods to Goodwill, and take the tax write-off; for every $100 you create in taxes you get a $30 refund. Just keep careful, honest records! And enjoy the de-cluttering.

Lastly, if you have a blog, monetize it!

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