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Tip #3: Sell something on eBay today

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This is tip #3 from the 30 Day Challenge to Save $1,000.

Today’s tip is to sell something from your house on eBay. But surprisingly, it doesn’t really matter what you sell.


I’ve noticed lots of commenters saying how they’ve already cut down on lunches, heat, etc. So what can you do next? If you’re already being frugal, the next step is to make money. I want you to get there, and today’s tip is designed to be a gradual step to earning more. It’s specifically intended for two purpose: To symbolize to yourself that you can sacrifice by selling something, and to symbolize that you can make more money than your standard income. Once you do that, there are many other ways to generate income.

Notice I didn’t say the point of this is to make money directly. That’s because you probably won’t make very much from selling a given item on eBay, and it’s frankly probably not worth your time to sell, pack, and ship a $10 item (read more). But that’s not the point. The point is the symbolism of cleaning your life and generating even a small amount more money than you normally earn.

Everybody can sell something. Something you’ve been wanting to get rid of, or something you keep insisting you’ll use, but you know you really won’t. This tip applies to everyone.

I used to work at a consumer-goods auction company (“You drop it off, we sell it on eBay”) and learned a couple things about selling. Do this: Set your item to sell for the minimum amount with no reserve. There are certain advantages to different sales lengths, but we don’t need to split hairs. For today’s purpose, set the length of the sale at 5 days so you can get quick feedback. And pick something that will sell for a decent amount — say, $10. No, nobody wants your grandma’s old sweater.

Remember, the point of this is not to make money. It’s to psychologically commit yourself to saving money. It doesn’t matter if you make $10 or $300, but I want you to sell something at least $10. Then do it a few more times this month.

Total savings: $40 to $100

Note: I did it, too! Here’s my eBay listing for e2c Shure headphones, which have just been laying around my house for a while.

* * *

Last thing to do
Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip. Each day, I’ll ask you to post how much you’ve saved cumulatively. Use this as a way to track your own progress (it will also encourage others to join)

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.


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  1. I’ve been meaning to sell things on ebay now for months. I’ve got computer parts to collectibles, worth maybe 10$ to 750$. My fear is some of the top end stuff not selling for as much as it really should. But I’ll break that barrier and work on getting something if not multiple things on ebay tonight! Partial issue I’ve had on the collectibles though is for instance old Baseball cards, sell more if graded which costs money which in the main challenge posting I stated is hard to spend since we’re (wife/daughter) are drowning a little bit each month. Would you suggest cough up the money to hopefully get more in the long run out of the item, or go ahead and sell it and just hope to get what I think is good, and deal with it if not?
    –Also Ramit only mentions Ebay, there are probably some people out there who haven’t used Ebay, Paypal, Craigslist, or anything of the sort. If you’re on here its unlikely that is the case, but then again there is always a theoretical runt ( of any type or sense, no offense intended if you fall in this category ) of any body/group. I suggest asking a friend/relative to help you learn initially or to look for any kind of step by step tutorial or informational source via Google or what have you.
    –If worse comes to worst and these aren’t options for you, try selling that thing your friend has been haggling you for, check out any shops that purchase items to be resold. Good Luck and chin up, there is a way.

  2. Yep, that’s classic. People tend to overvalue their own goods and get disappointed when they sell for far less on eBay. For example, when I worked at that auction startup, we would have people bring in their 4-year-old old computer and expect it to sell for 50% of the price. Try 5%.

    I love your attitude — just go sell something! But yes, don’t expect to make a lot directly off the sale.

  3. I have a pile of goods ready for posting on e-bay, but first I’m going to join in at our community garage sale this weekend and try selling some stuff. This is a big step for me because I hate, hate, hate selling my stuff at garage sales. It seems so demoralizing to have something I paid so dearly for bargained down to a fraction of its original price. Needs must, so I will be up bright and early this weekend hoping to bring in at least $100.

  4. I’ve been doing a lot of this over the past few months. Mostly I’ve been selling on behalf of my mom, who recently downsized to a studio apartment in NYC (and is loving life!) Sometimes it hurts to see something that’s been in my family for decades go out the door for a few dollars, but I just try to remember: a) I’m not using it, b) the person who bought it obviously wants it and will use it, and c) the whole point is to get it OUT OF THE HOUSE. Seriously, the more stuff I get out of my house, the more spacious it feels. I even freecycle big, bulky, not-worth-it-to-try-to-ship stuff just to get it out.

    I know Ramit’s point was to explore alternate sources of income, but there’s a lot to be said for a clutter purge, other than a trickle of income: a) your house feels more spacious, b) you get so sick of looking at junk that going shopping feels like a waste of time, c) you free up psychic energy you were spending disliking the stuff every time you looked at it, d) because your house is more consciously “curated” (if you will), it feels more like “you” and less like a warehouse of random stuff, e) you might even get rid of enough stuff to downsize to the afore-mentioned cheaper apartment, f) good freecycle (or Salvation Army) karma. Get rid of the junk, people!

  5. Yes! Suzyn put it better than I did — although you’ll make a litle money, there are MANY other benefits to selling stuff.

  6. Is it wrong that I want to buy those earphones 🙁

  7. We’ve done great on E-bay. It matters what you’re selling. There’s a reason why it’s called the international garage sale. And just like a garage sale, do you really want to put it back in the garage? Are you getting anything from it there? Either use or money? If the answer is no, then sell it. Someone else will use and like it, you’ll make some coin and it’s out of your house. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Also, buying on E-bay saves money. Just don’t get into bidding wars. You have to be around to pay attention to the auction. Only auto-bid to your max. limit.

  8. thanks for this reminder. I have a ton of old collectibles and have done very well on ebay in the past, but the chore of photographing and writing and scheduling had gotten the better of me. I knew there was a client for the Mac that helps you manage auctions, but had never taken the time to research it (because Auctiva, the free one, was terrible, and cost me money with the amount of mistakes I made via its horrible and confusing UI).

    In addition to eBay, there are books and cd’s that you can sell on Amazon and, and that’s even easier than eBay because you don’t have to write descriptions or take photos. I stopped because Amazon made a mistake with one of my accounts and I had to start over again and set up a new seller account. i am going to do that tonight and list 5 things.

  9. I sell stuff on eBay all the time. I even sold something for $200 this morning (though I really only made about $40.) Right now I’m mostly working on getting rid of junk because I’m a student so I move a lot and don’t have much space, but in the past I’ve made enough to consider it like a part time job. It’s awesome when you’re a college student and you can earn money without having to leave your dorm. Even better was when I’d buy and sell from my work-study “job.”

    It’s surprising what you can make money from, no matter how crappy you think it is. I’ve sold stuff like a used purse I got at a thrift store for about the same as what I paid. Not bad after having used it for several months!

    One tip I’d like to mention is to offer international shipping – but be VERY careful, or else you might lose money, so actually calculate it out. I have made so much money from selling to international buyers that I would have not made otherwise. Even if they don’t buy from you, they’ll still help bid the price up.

  10. Great advice. I’ve made thousands of dollars by simply doing something that I needed to do, a.k.a. downsizing and getting rid of “junk”. eBay is also a great place to get deals. I recently purchased two year’s worth of razors for 70% off the price that I’d pay at a retail store and some new brand name athletic socks for 1/4 the price I’d pay at the mall.

    I also highly recommend Craigslist as a vehicle to sell things. You don’t have to worry about shipping the item, you can take your time selling it in order to find the right buyer/price, you don’t have to give part of your sale to PayPal and you get paid in cash. The downside of course is that you have to negotiate one-on-one with buyers rather than letting them compete through eBay’s market, but as long as you’re firm with your price and realistic in your expectations there shouldn’t be a problem.

    I use both websites depending upon what I’m selling.