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Spring cleaning: sell your crap edition

Ah, Spring! It’s that time of year again. Time to open the windows, let the fresh air in and toss your old stuff out. It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ we all can hold on to and accumulate over time, hoping we’ll use it for another day. Instead, they end up collecting dust and you feel bad giving it all away because you feel like you’d be throwing away all the hard-earned money that you initially spent amassing your piles of junk. But it’s also not doing you any good just sitting there. You may as well try selling it and unlock hidden money.

So where do you turn to?

Sure, there’s always a garage sale if you need to move a lot of stuff fast, but it can be a lot of work for very little money and I’m not keen on buyers coming directly to my house. So I started selling online. And it’s not as complicated as one may think. While I’ve had some successes with both Amazon and eBay, as I’m starting to clear all my old stuff, there are two services I always turn to Kijiji and Craigslist.

Craigslist and Kijiji are online classifieds that link you, the seller, with potential buyers in your local community. Post a picture, set a price and write a brief description of the item you plan to sell on their boards, and wait to get contact from the buyer. You’ll then need to arrange to meet up with the buyer, but that’s what makes it a great platform for getting rid of your bulky furniture and appliances, among other things, because you avoid any of the heavy shipping costs. But it’s also a great place to sell your used electronics and smaller goods too.

In fact, that’s how I got the money to afford my new phone, my new camera. It was basically a straight swap. All the money I got from selling stuff I didn’t use anymore, I put towards the purchase of new toys and gadgets that I wanted. Of course, you could also save it up for a nice trip, pay off debt or whatever you choose. You’ll never know what you’ll find in your heap of unwanted goods.

Unlock the hidden cash

So here are some tips on how to go about turning your junk into treasure:

  1. Get organized. Run a quick tab of all the things you want to sell and get ready to list them. Have all your items set aside by category of item. It’ll make things a lot easier when you’re ready to post. Especially if you have a lot of items in common, the majority of your descriptions will be cut and paste.
  2. Set a time limit. Kijiji and Craigslist are pretty good at getting your items sold quickly. But sometimes it doesn’t always happen that way. While it’s important to get as much as you can for an item, you also don’t want them lingering around for a long time, collecting even more dust. The whole point of this exercise is to declutter. So it’s important to set an “if this doesn’t sell by this date” timeline, and if it’s not met, you’ll definitely want to donate your gently used items to whoever is willing to take them off your hands.
  3. Sign up for an account. Sounds easy enough. But Kijiji and Craigslist don’t even require you to sign up for an account, but there are benefits to doing so, including the ability to track how many visits you get to your posting; the ability to edit all info in your listing, including price, if you’re not getting any bites at first; and it also allows to you delete an old posting once it’s sold or repost one that hasn’t.
  4. Snap a picture, list your item. It’s not required, but you’re more likely to generate a sale with one. Remember people are also looking at the photographs for an idea of the condition of what you’re selling. Take some time to ensure the photo is a good one, with lots of lighting, etc. A good/bad photo can make or break your listing.
  5. Provide the buyer with as much information as they need, but not more. eBay sellers are notorious for providing long-winded descriptions. And the worst is you have to read all of it to make sure they’re not hiding anything. Buyers can look up most of the information about a product on the Internet, so just make sure to give the condition, the colour, size or anything else that would be relevant to the buyer. And be honest about it.
  6. Price your product/service. Setting prices is always a tough thing because you want to get the best price possible, but it’s always worth seeing what other sellers are selling for similar items. Unless you specified that the price was FIRM (which sometimes scares away buyers), always be prepared to get lower offers from your buyers (some a lot lower). So keep that into account when pricing your items. In other words, think about what price you’re willing to part with your item for, and then list your item for a higher price. If the item you think would fetch for $130, for example, list it for at least $160. Chances are someone will offer you $130 for it. But be flexible. The point is to get rid of it.
  7. Respond quickly to your potential buyers. No need to respond to everyone – especially those with lowball offers, but if you think the buyer is serious, the last thing you want to do is hesitate. I was close many times on a sale, only to respond too late and they either found something from someone else or don’t want it anymore.
  8. Once you’ve agreed on a price, organize a meetup. Make sure they’re paying cash. Don’t get scammed into cheques or trades or bargaining at the meetup. And by all means, be safe. That means letting someone know where you’re going, meeting in public areas, bringing your friends along, arranging to meet during the day and never posting your home address or home phone number to the site. Make use of email and only give out a cell number once you’ve agreed to meet with a certain buyer.
  9. And take down the item from Craigslist/Kijiji, once it’s sold.

Whatever platform you choose, there are many other benefits to decluttering your home. For one, it allows you to reclaim your space, both physically and mentally. I know for me, having a clean space allows me to be more organized, which in turn makes me more productive and focus on what it is I have to do, with a much clearer head. And selling online is just one way to do that.

Have you sold anything online to clear some space or have fears of selling anything online? Share them here.

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