Wednesday, September 16, 2015

De-Clutter. Make Money!

Whether you are trying to pay off debts or build your savings, there are two ways you can increase the amount of money available for your goal. 1) You can make more money, or 2) You can spend less money. It is that simple and I recommend doing both.

This is my crap closet
(aka quasi hoarder stash)
One way the DisIndebteds are making more money is by using eBay to sell all the crap we don't want, need, or use anymore.

It all began with Mrs. DisIndebted's desire to de-clutter our lives. We had so much crap sitting around collecting dust and it was driving her crazy. I, having grown up with borderline hoarders, was accustomed to the clutter.

To be fair, my parents are not hoarders in the sense that they have decades worth of newspapers, twine, and pizza boxes stacked floor to ceiling throughout the house or a weird room stuffed to the gills with rare rubber balls, but they certainly have a hard time letting go of anything. My mother particularly will find sentimental value in the most mundane everyday objects. Everything is a "keepsake," which to me means that you keep it for the sake of keeping it. (Mom, if you're reading this, I love you.)

Perhaps I should seek therapy.

Anyway, while Mrs. DisIndebted found it easy to de-clutter, I struggled with the deed. But with her help I was soon able to work through a drawer; eventually a whole dresser. Today I am almost completely cured and I'm happy to report that last night I sua sponte packed up a box of clothes and crap to drop off at Goodwill.

Back to eBay... As I became more comfortable letting things go, I began to realize how little I need all the crap I've been collecting over the years. I've been working through the crap closet and am happy to report that I've earned a hefty sum selling items on eBay. In the last 60 days we made $2,343.92 on eBay selling crap we don't want, need, or use.

Sale PriceShipping / eBay & PayPal FeesNet ProfitProfit Margin
VCR / DVD Recorder$242.50$51.89$190.6178.60%
Digital Camera$31.95$10.78$21.1766.26%
Blu-Ray Player$25.00$18.88$6.1224.48%
Home Audio Speakers$142.50$58.68$83.8258.82%
Electric Guitar$202.50$66.42$136.0867.20%
2009 MacBook Pro$400.00$68.48$331.5282.88%
2012 MacBook Pro$825.00$131.97$693.0384.00%
Yairi Acoustic Guitar$1,125.00$244.43$880.5778.27%

To top that off, I sold a TV that we haven't used in two years on Craigslist for $125 the same day I listed it - and that was 100% profit!

Yes, I am selling high-end expensive stuff. I went for the biggest items first to make some progress toward the high interest credit cards. It's also worth pointing out that Mrs. DisIndebted and I each had a MacBook Pro. We realized that they were both still quite valuable so we sold both and are now sharing an old Dell Latitude that was hiding in the crap closet.

Your days are numbered, cat.
After Mrs. DisIndebted's nearly four year old MacBook Pro went for $800, I have her in on the auction action too. We are constantly re-evaluating what we have, whether it is worth money, and if we would be better off with the crap or the money. Obviously, we'll keep some things (the dog), but we may choose to part with others (the cat).

The fun doesn't stop here. Right now I have five items up for sale on eBay and I am experimenting with three other ideas:

1 - Increase My Profit Margins
I want to improve my profit margin. In my case, eBay ate an unbelievable 10% of every dollar I took in ). Then PayPal takes another 3% to 4% from the total sale value - not from the net sale after eBay fees. It's the most expensive garage sale I've ever participated in - but it's still the most widely used and most convenient. The rest of the margin hit came because I sold primarily large, heavy items, costing me a ton in shipping charges.

I don't think I'm going to find margins in the PayPal cut. And, while eBay's fee structure does have lower fees for certain items, including "Select Computers," the two I sold were apparently not of the "Select" variety and I got hit with the whole 10%. Thus, eBay's fees are too unpredictable and too vaguely stated for me to consciously try to increase margin. That only leaves shipping charges.

If I can reduce the amount of heavy crap and ship lighter crap, I can definitely save. Note the two laptops with margins up to 84%. That's what I'm talking about! They had shipping fees under $25 (3% to 5% of the sale price) - whereas the electric guitar had a $35 shipping fee (17% of the sale price).

The biggest factors in determining shipping costs are distance, size, and weight. I am only selling in the continental U.S. I don't want to further limit my market and miss out on great eBuyers. But if I can sell smaller / lighter stuff and avoid high shipping fees, I will. Note that the five items currently up for sale are much lighter weight - as you will read below.

Unfortunately, the cat is heavy and I would probably lose money shipping him.

2 - Sell Garage Sale Items
If eBay is the most expensive garage sale I've ever participated in, there are cheaper garage sales to be plundered. A few weeks ago, Mrs. DisIndebted and I popped into a real garage sale in our neighborhood. We quickly found a beautiful leather purse in great condition for $10 and a classic (read: retro and vintage) Bengals Football jacket (Who Dey!). The jacket didn't have a price so I asked. The woman selling it said it was $2 (I would have paid more). Turns out we had $10 on us in cash, so I offered her $10 for both the purse and the jacket. She accepted and we walked away happy. We think the purse should fetch around $30 on eBay and I'm thinking at least $50 for the jacket. I'll let you know what we get when they sell.

3 - Sell Coupons
This is a gig I've read about, and have verified personally. eBay has a marketplace for coupons where you can list a coupon for sale and someone will come along and pay cash for your coupon. It seems crazy - but then some coupons can be very valuable. If I'm buying a $500 appliance and you have a 20% off coupon, your coupon could save me $100. Assuming you have no need for appliances, you might part with the coupon. Even if I pay $25 for your coupon, I still save 15% on my appliance... while you pocket $25. The other day I received two coupons in the mail, each worth 20% off your entire purchase at a well-respected shoe store.  It's easy to spend several hundred dollars in this store - and I'm hoping maybe someone wants to buy a lot of shoes! PLEASE, SOMEBODY BUY MY COUPON AND THEN BUY A BUTTLOAD OF SHOES! To make this hustle even better, it's worth noting that "shipping" of a coupon entails an envelope and a $0.49 USPS First Class stamp (see #1).

I think you get the point. If you have crap laying around that you don't want, need, or use: sell it. You will de-clutter your life and make a little money on the side. And, who knows; maybe you'll stumble onto a great side business converting some hoarder's collection of rare rubber balls into eBay dollars.

I will keep you posted on our progress. Feel free to share your eBay wins, tips, and secrets with me below or at

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