A 3-Step Plan for Earning Some Extra Cash & Decluttering Your Home

by David@MoneyNing.com · 20 comments

Moving after being in our home for 10 years was so painful, but if there were any positives to the whole packing and sorting everything out ordeal a few months ago, it was that we were able to declutter and make some serious cash on stuff that’s been lying around the house. Emma was amazing at selling stuff, posting pictures, responding to requests, and scheduling pickups. She even managed to convince someone to buy our own bedroom furniture set for a hefty sum when he came by to pick up a mattress. That was a godsend because not only did we make the most money with that set, we would otherwise have an extra bedroom furniture set that’s hard to get rid of sitting in our garage of the new house. When it was all set and done, we managed to put $2,800 in our pockets.

$2,800 dollars.

And before you think you need a super seller like Emma, know that anyone can make some money declutter their home. Travis, my friend, also decluttered recently. Here’s his story.

After eight years in our home, I started to notice that all our closets were looking pretty full. There was barely enough room to move around in our mechanical room because of all the boxes. Our outdoor shed was so full it no longer served its original purpose of housing our lawnmower.

It was time to do some major home decluttering.

If it were up to me, I would’ve bought a box of contractor grade garbage bags and just started throwing stuff away. My wife, being a tad bit smarter than I, saw the potential to earn some cash (I see a pattern of smart wives here). We came up with a plan to declutter our house, find good homes for our gently used things, and make some money along the way.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of our plan so that you can replicate it and hopefully earn some cash of your own:

1. Garage Sale

We went through our home room by room, purging everything we no longer wanted. By the time we were done, the inside of our home was neat, tidy, and organized. Our garage, however, was completely full of stuff. Borrowing tables from everyone we could, we then categorized and priced everything. We ran an ad in the local classifieds and held a garage sale, which generated over $700 in cash.

Unfortunately, less than half of our stuff actually sold. No doubt the pandemic had slowed traffic considerably. We’d made an agreement that none of the stuff was going back into the house, so I grabbed my keys to go buy those garbage bags. But not so fast — my wife had different ideas.

2. Consignment Store

We put all of the kid clothing and toys into plastic bins and took them to a consignment store. They sorted through the bins, removing the items they wanted to buy from us. They offered us about $120 for a large chunk of the stuff we brought in. It was only now that my wife gave me permission to go buy my garbage bags.

3. Goodwill

We placed everything that remained into boxes or garbage bags and donated it all to our local Goodwill. (Be sure to get a receipt for your donation, as you’ll probably be able to use it as a tax deduction.)

Following our three-step process, we shed a lot of clutter from our home and put over $800 into our pockets. We’ve since repeated it a couple of times, and have been so successful that our neighbors joined in on the action. (We’ve found that our garage sales are more successful when we have multiple families involved.)

Hey, it’s David here again. I suggested to Travis that he should incorporate and use the power of the internet in his strategy next time. Before he holds the garage sale, he can probably sell some of his possessions online for a bit more money than he would get in a garage sale. When Emma and I sold our stuff, we sold everything through Facebook. You have to take pictures of and post each item you want to sell, but it’s not more work than advertising, organizing, and cleaning up after a garage sale.

You can also use Craigslist, or even eBay. We shied away from eBay because they take a pretty hefty cut, but the site is great if you are looking for more of an audience on higher priced or more specialized goods and you are willing to ship out the item you want to sell.

Don’t worry about whether you would find buyers at certain price points either. We sold quite a few IKEA furniture at prices pretty close to new and people were practically lining up to buy them. We had someone drive 40 minutes each way to come down to buy a $5 coffee table that cost $10 when it was brand new. And it was readily available on the IKEA website!

The kid’s beds were sold for 70% to 80% of the cost of a new one, and they had to come by to disassemble it, pack, and move all the pieces back to their house. One of the families borrowed a Jeep from their friend, drove to our house, and took two hours to take apart one of our IKEA bedroom and closet assembly just so they can take two different trips to haul it back home. We had another family almost pay us $50 just to deliver a table back to their house because we had a truck and they didn’t.

Remember the person who bought the furniture set when he originally wanted just the mattress? When he came by to pick everything up, I sold him a light fixture too!

When someone wants something, they want it. You just have to give them the opportunity to give you money.

This is how we did it. How do you declutter your home and earn money at the same time?

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  • Financial Fred says:

    My wife loves to try to sell stuff online as well and she does a great job. We have not only noticed the pandemic slow down the activity but also lowered the prices as well. Either way, it still feels great when you have a neat, tidy, and decluttered hose! Thanks for sharing.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Different markets must be behaving differently. If anything, I find that the prices of everything people use at home go up in the past few months.

  • Beau W says:

    Iโ€™m really surprised how much money can be made by selling your old stuff. I donโ€™t have the patience for any of all that when Iโ€™m decluttering. It gets dropped off at the goodwill location. Iโ€™m happy with the tax deduction.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Have you tried to declutter slowly instead of trying to do everything all in one fell swoop? That way, you can pack a little, sell a little, and then do it again over time.

  • Jess says:

    I love doing this! I didn’t make much from my garage sale but ebay has been a real winner for me. It is a bit tedious, but you can make quite a bit from it!

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      If you’ve got the patience for selling things online, it can become a great platform to sell your stuff. The only thing I don’t like about ebay is that you commonly have to ship stuff to remote places….that’s why I actually prefer Craigslist where I usually end up selling to local people. thanks for sharing, Jess!

  • Property Marbella says:

    Here in Sweden we do not have garage sales, there are lots of small Aktion places to submit their stuff and it will be well paid, we employ a great website called Blocket and it is free and gives fantaskt result, it sold quickly at good money.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, property Marbella…Your Blocket site sounds a lot like CraigsList here in the US. Thanks for reading!

  • Alex @ Credit Card XPO says:

    I find selling stuff that I don’t use anymore on amazon is the best way to declutter my home & make some money. It’s so easy to do and with so many visitors going to Amazon everyday, people will almost buy anything you have to offer as long as your price is right!

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Glad to hear you have had a lot of success on Amazon Alex! What’s the furthest away you’ve had to ship something?

  • Prudence Debtfree says:

    We are going through this exact process now. My husband, like you, wanted to throw everything out, but I’m saving what I think might sell at a garage sale in the spring. We’ve only gone through our kitchen pantry and one set of kitchen cupboards, and it’s incredible how much we’ve tossed or set aside! We’re spending a few hours each week-end on this de-cluttering process. Hopefully by the time the spring is here (but in these parts, it feels like spring will never come), we’ll have a de-cluttered home and enough stuff to sell at a garage sale. I doubt we’ll make $800, but you never know : )

    • Travis Pizel says:

      This process (for me anyway) is a double win, Prudence, because not only do I get to stare at less unused stuff in my home, but I get money for it as well. I hope you’ll find the same! The $700 we made from our first garage sale was an oddity….partially because the first time we did it we had SO MUCH stuff, and we had some bigger ticket toddler/small child toy items. Our garage sales the last couple years have been more along the lines of a couple hundred…but still worth the effort – good luck with your de-cluttering, and I hope I get to read about how it’s going on your site!

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I wish I could have a garage sale in NYC. Trying to sell on ebay did not go well for me.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      I never thought of that, Stefanie….garage sales would definitely be a challenge in a major city like NY! Maybe time to check out Craigslist and have an online garage sale?

  • Michelle says:

    I recently cleaned out my closet and made some extra cash. I still have a few bags of clothes to bring to another consignment store too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Way to go, Michelle, it feels good to declutter AND make some money – Good luck selling the rest of your stuff at the consignment store!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    We do much of the same things Travis, except we’ve not had a garage sale as we’ve had some success on Craigslist. The big winner for us though has been consignment sales and can usually get several hundred dollars a time through them. We also made a pretty sizable donation to Goodwill at the end of the year – got to like those tax deductions. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      I wasn’t a big fan of garage sales…..until we tried one. Having $700 in my hands at the end of the sale had me hooked! Although we don’t have as much to sell anymore. Like you said, even if you can’t sell your stuff, there’s always the tax deduction for donating.

  • JJ says:

    Tried a yard sale. Nobody wanted anything I had but one person; that was my neighbour across from me! She bought one inexpensive magnet—I think she took pity on me. Nobody hereabouts wants to give you a decent price at any rate; they want everything for peanuts. Suggestions?

    • Travis @enemyofdebt.com says:

      Unfortunately, that’s kind of what a yard sale is……my wife always go round and round about pricing when we have one – my methodology is always “priced to sell!” or “Anything we get is better than it taking up space in the house!”

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