After all the hard work you put into spring-cleaning your home and cleaning out closets, shouldn't you earn a little money for your efforts? Most definitely! We scouted out a few ways to earn cash for your trash. Check our favorite smart choices.
1. Sell secondhand. National secondhand retail chains Play It Again Sports, GameStop (video games and consoles), Plato's Closet (teen and young adult clothes and accessories), and Music Go Round (instruments) will pay you for used items. If you bought a stationary bike for $300 two years ago and have used it more as a clothes rack lately, you could get about $45. Older, worn items, however, may sell for only a few dollars - if the store even wants them at all. GameStop pays $15 apiece or more for 150 high-demand video games (think Wii Guitar Hero World Tour and Xbox 360 FIFA Soccer 09), but many older games fetch closer to $2. So calculate what your time is worth, the cost of gas, and the current value of your stuff (check the chain's website or call its nearest location for an estimate) before making a trip.
Tip: If you reverse this concept and shop at these retail chains, you're likely to score some great bargains. And you can save even more when bargain shopping if you use these sneaky tips.
2. Go online. No matter how junky you think an item is, consider this truth: Someone somewhere will probably pay for it. There are three ways to go on the Web: You can sell items on amazon.com or ebay.com, and ship them at the buyer's expense, as long as the prices you'll charge will more than cover the sales fees listed on the websites and the packing materials. You can sell your electronics to gazelle.com, which lists its purchase price online after you describe what you're unloading (the site pays shipping charges and sends you a box to send the item in). Or you can advertise your used things on craigslist.org or backpage.com and have a local customer come to your home. Pat Hensler, of Tinton Falls, NJ, recently advertised on Craigslist and found a buyer who paid $60 for her son's used Fender Squier guitar (original purchase price: $80). "I love the thought of passing on a starter to someone," says Hensler.
Tip: There are more great deals to be had online if you know where to find them. We've tracked down the best places to find coupons online along with useful tips to avoid getting scammed online and why you need to be aware of the dangers of paying online.
3. Donate to charity. Charities like Goodwill and Salvation Army often need clothing or household items in good condition; in return, you'll get a tax deduction. (Not all locations accept donations or pick up goods from homes, so call your local chapter.) Valuations are usually low - say, $2 to $12 for a blouse and no more than $40 for a floor lamp. (Estimates are on the websites of goodwill.org and salvationarmyusa.org.) Donations of big-ticket electronics and furniture, however, can turn into tidy write-offs. "If you donate a computer now worth $500, you can deduct $500 from your taxable income, which would translate to a savings of about $125 for a couple in the 25 percent tax bracket," says Judith Schwartz, CPA, assistant professor in the department of accounting at Northwood University in West Palm Beach, FL. It's a terrific way to help others while you help yourself.
Tip: Not sure what to donate, save, or simply toss when you're clearing out your closets? Check out these 25 tips to help you decide.Have you discovered any other great ways to make money off of your used items? Share your tips with us!
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.