Decluttering For Dollars On The Way To Financial Independence

Frugal in and frugal out! A new motto in the Grasshopper household that helps us remember to be purposeful in our consumption (making savvy purchases) and dispersion (getting rid of our junk).

In the past, I’ve been lazy about getting rid of things I no longer use. As a result, stuff either sits around the house until I grow frustrated and throw it in the trash, or gets donated to Goodwill/YWCA. I still enjoy making donations, but I am trying to be more purposeful about how I treat my possessions.

I want my possessions – even the “junk” – to work for me, and propel the Grasshoppers towards our ultimate goal.

I agree with Mr. Grasshopper who says this isn’t a way to supplement our income. It is just another way to live purposefully as we change our entire lifestyle and travel to Financial Independence.

To that end, I’ve started eyeballing things around the house and selling promising candidates on eBay. I am earning a few bucks rather than the $0 that would be in my pocket if I trashed the same item, or donated it. Also, I am working on making up for the reduced donations by identifying ways in which I can donate my time/skills to the community instead.

Here are a few tips from my recent side hustle to make a few bucks while decluttering:

Selling on eBay

Free stock photo of apple, camera, desk, office
Do your home-work Oh Rookie Online Entrepreneur.

I’m a relative newcomer to this arena, but here’s what I’ve already learned.

  • Photographs are important: Don’t use online photos of the item you are trying to sell. People want to know that you’re not a scammer. Take many photographs of the actual product, which are clear and complete. Don’t forget to photographs any damage/marks/scratches. Be honest, and respectful of buyers and they will respond in kind.
  • Market your item: Look at the key words other sellers are using to describe similar items, and work them into your posting. There’s a description area within the post to get creative, but make the title of your listing simple and descriptive. Try to think about what you would search for if you were the buyer, and weave them into your post.
  • Choose a strategic starting price: Once you describe your item, eBay’s algorithm will match it with comparable products and try to recommend a starting price (for the Auction/Buy It Now aspect of a listing) to you. I was happy to use that recommended price in my past listings, and have always sold things for – what I thought was a fair price. However, I recently read that I can create a bit of a feeding frenzy by starting an auction at $0.01 or $0.99. While you may occasionally sell an item for that price, you are far more likely to attract a lot of Watchers, who will hopefully return to bid on your item and push up your price before the Auction winds down. Full Disclosure: I have not yet tried this tactic, but plan to do so for my next listing.
  • Shipping: Don’t do what I did the first few times. There really is a reason to buy your shipping through eBay. It comes at a discount. You can, of course, choose to provide free shipping (I have never done so), but I’d recommend being very certain about your actual shipping cost before doing so, and working it into the price. Here’s a link to eBay detailed description of its shipping options http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/ship-smart/advanced-shipping/shipping-best-practices.html

Be prepared for an odd side-effect. Once I’ve sold everything on hand, I find myself scoping out the house for other items that I could sell. Doing so made me realize that I didn’t have to throw away Baby G’s trainers once she grew out of them. Even though toddlers are notoriously rough on their shoes, I was able to list them on eBay by clearly informing the buying public that they were in “Play Condition.” I took detailed photographs of their less than ideal condition, and was clear about the same in the description within my post. I was ready to accept that they would not sell. But they did! I am most excited about the fact that they did not go to the landfill when they obviously have a little life left in them, and that I

Ask a Friend

I’ll admit it, I’m scared of selling big items on eBay. There’s the shipping…and well, there’s the shipping. Quel intimidating! So, for larger items, the Grasshoppers ask their friends. Just today, this strategy bore fruit when Mr. Grasshopper’s friend mentioned she wanted a treadmill. By happy chance, we have one we would like to get rid off for about $100 (an early-20s effort to run half-marathons resulted in knee injuries for Yours Truly. I told you, I’m not sporty. Sigh!) Anyways, it looks like we have a deal, and I only hope she is ready to lug this behemoth out of my house ASAP.

We had consistently been mentioning the treadmill to friends over the course of about a year, and it’s especially exciting that the stars aligned to make this sale a possibility today. Yay!

Don’t Forget Facebook’s Local Online Yard sales

Large and small items can always be sold via Facebook Yard Sales (we have one for our town, and neighborhood. I’m sure most towns in the U.S. now have them). Like Craigslist, the benefit is that someone who buys the item from you can arrange to pick it up locally, and you won’t have to worry about shipping. Safety is, of course, always paramount. It’s why I asked Mr. Grasshopper if he would act as my go-between and make any hand-offs at a neutral location if I were to sell something on these forums. Color me silly, but I don’t particularly want to invite strangers into my home.

I haven’t actually hosted an actual yard sale, and fear I don’t have the staying power to collect enough stuff to justify one. Another issue with yard sales are that they are relegated to months where people don’t mind hanging around outside, and digging through your junk. Come Fall and Winter, the online world is my friend when it comes to decluttering for dollars.

Books

I’m surrounded by books, which is great if you have a luxurious castle and a library – à la Belle in Beauty and the Beast (forgive me, my pop culture references are toddler-related :P) – but not so great if you live like a normal mortal and have to store them, or move them. They weigh a ton! In any case – plug your ears if you hate eBooks – I buy my books exclusively online now, and I am only weighed down (literally) by the books I purchased about a decade ago.

photos.photo.photo_of
Alas! This is NOT my house.

 

Hard Bound Books on Brown Wooden Shelf
This is a far more accurate representation of my groaning book shelves.

Half.com to the rescue. The site is owned by eBay and allows you to list your books for sale. It’s not an auction, and I believe the item can sit on the listing until you take it down.

As an aside, I recall buying text books on Half.com when I was in college. I believe you can even rent your textbooks from the site (and others, I’m sure) these days. Nifty!

I’m aware of book buying websites that purchase books in lots https://bookscouter.com/ and http://www.cash4books.net/

I have not used them, but hear good things. In my experience though, they were not in the market for some of the more unusual books I wanted to sell.

How do you Frugal In and Frugal Out? Let me know in the comments below.

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