A Minimalist Guide to Selling Junk Online

I don’t care if you’re a minimalist or not – it’s pretty thrilling to turn junk back into cash. Nine times out of ten I’d rather have a little bit of cash than whatever the thing was taking up space in my home.

Have you ever tried selling stuff online? I’m fairly new to the game, but I’ve discovered that it’s a pretty healthy addiction. Selling stuff I no longer use falls in line with my minimalistic lifestyle. It also lines up with my frugal lifestyle (although it can take effort to resist turning around and spending all the money I just made!) Here’s some little things I’ve learned along the way!

I’ve used two sites to list things so far: Craigslist and Facebook. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. All in all, I like Facebook better (even though I’m only using the Marketplace. Here’s why I’m mostly off of Fb right now.)

The downside of Fb selling is that it’s super easy for people to contact you. This means you’ll get a lot of messages from people that won’t follow up with you. If you’re okay going through messages and combing through those who are serious and those who aren’t, it’s worth it. Most of my sales have gone through Fb.

Craigslist I just don’t get the traffic and the responses – but it’s all done through email so those who do contact you are generally a little more serious. This has just been my experience.

In my opinion, selling stuff online isn’t really worth the time if you’re looking to make a lot of money. If you need money, I think you’re honestly better applying for a part-time job than selling stuff online. People will probably not pay you as much as you think your stuff is worth. That’s simply the price of buying stuff – it deprecates instantly the moment you buy it.

However, if you’re looking to simplify, if you have stuff lying around the house that you no longer use, taking up valuable space, maybe you should consider giving selling online a try. It reclaims the space, it gives someone else use of the item, keeps the thing out of the dumpster, and turns that crap back into cash! (Albeit, a small amount!)

Overall, I think selling things online will make you more of a minimalist. If you’ve done much selling, you know that it’s a lot easier to buy an item than it is to turn that item back into cash. If you’re anything like me, it will make you think twice before buying an item in the first place.

Even collectibles and antiques will probably only sell at a net loss. And the larger the item, the more difficult it is to get a buyer who is willing to pick it up and haul it away – AND pay for it! Buyers want a great deal. That’s why they are shopping the used market. If you aren’t willing to sell it at a bit of a loss, it probably won’t get much attention.

So while selling is great, the better thing to do is buy less to begin with! If you buy less and invest that money, you will end up a lot better than if you buy too much and sell it at a loss. Just sayin’. I know it’s boring. But that’s what many independently wealthy people actually do. Here’s my personal list of questions that I like to ask before making a purchase.

Your things are probably not as valuable as you think they are. You’ll be lucky to make a few bucks, but you’ll also feel lighter and happier. (It feels like winning  the lottery every time a buyer shows up, cash in hand!)

In general, I think selling should be done rapid-fire if at all. If you’re overrun with stuff, selling it all can be overwhelming. Don’t let the stress of selling things get in between you and a life with less clutter! If you can’t list things right away, then don’t let them sit forever. Just go ahead and donate them. There should be a sense of urgency behind your selling – especially if you’re paying to store an item, like in a storage unit. I’m not planning to move anytime soon, but I like to pretend that I am just to have that sense of urgency. In my opinion, it’s better to get rid of the item quickly than to hold onto it because “I’ll get around to selling it one of these days.”

I don’t think anyone should have a “junk room” full of stuff they “need to sell.” It’s so much better to clean it out and actually be able to house guests! If you’re on the fence about it, you should probably just donate. If it’s been sitting more than a few months, you should probably just donate.

Selling is a great way to pare down those items in your home that you like too much to just give away. It’s a way to take your minimalism to the next level because there’s an incentive. Sometimes I just post things to see if there’s interest. If there isn’t, and I like the item, I’ll keep it. And if it sells, I’ll rejoice that I was able to turn something back into cash.

Another fun way to use online selling is the one-in one-out rule. Saying “I can’t buy this until I sell this.” Ideally, the two items cost the same and take up the same amount of space. I did this recently with my dining room light fixture. One in, one out, same price and I even installed it myself. (It goes without saying, but don’t mess around with electricity unless you know what you’re doing! I don’t want any readers getting hurt!)

I’ll end with just a few little tips:

  • Good photos really help things sell. Clean background and well-lit.
  • Price things low enough to get attention. You can say that the price is “firm” and that you won’t go lower.
  • You don’t have to hold items for people unless you want to. I say sell to whoever wants to come pick it up the soonest. It’s part of the game.
  • Be honest and upfront about any flaws the item might have.
  • Take breaks because it is a lot of work corresponding with people. I post things during the week and on the weekends I try to just enjoy my family without interruption.

Selling online won’t make you rich overnight and it won’t recoup the losses of bad buying decisions. But it will clear space in your home. It will be exciting. And it will give you a little cash in your pocket to save or use for better things. So it’s not magical, but it’s still a win/win/win!

It’s empowering to know that I can swap out things I no longer need with things that I do. That I can make some cash without leaving my home (if the buyers are willing to come to you, that is!) That I can reclaim some space and make up for bad decisions in a small way. Technology can be good and bad, but this is one way that technology makes like easier.

This isn’t a promotion for any of these sales sites. I’m just learning and feeling inspired. I hope you’re inspired too! Don’t just sit there. If you’re able, turn some stuff back into cash!

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