This past weekend, I had a some free time. I decided to take advantage of the weather and get out and spend some money. “WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, what do you mean spend money!?”
Well, I’m glad you asked. It is currently spring cleaning time and everyone is having yard sales! This time of year is the absolute best to get out and dig through your neighbors junk.
Yard sales are a great way to earn extra money. I bought the set of furniture in the picture above for $20. I got home, unloaded it, took some good pictures and posted it on Facebook Marketplace for $75. Within 2 hours, I was helping load the set onto a customers truck and put $75 dollars in my pocket.
That was probably the easiest $55 I’ve ever made in my life. With that being said, not everybody has a full size pickup like I do (a paid for in cash, 2001 Toyota Tundra). If you don’t have a large vehicle to haul things with, you can still turn your little car into a big one. Even though I made just under quadruple what I paid for the set, the customer I sold to still got high quality items at a fraction of the cost it would have been new.
Going to yard sales is fun. It’s like being a kid again and going on a treasure hunt.You never know what you’re going to find and you could end up getting better deals than anywhere else you can shop. The goal with yard sales is to find items with value that the person selling just wants to get rid of. You aren’t ripping them off, you’re helping them clean up their clutter. They have the same opportunity as you to sell the items through different ways and make more, they just don’t.
You’re benefiting three people when buying and reselling items from yard sales. The person holding the sale by taking the items off their hands, the customer that buys from you by providing them with a product that they want and yourself by making a profit. You’re also helping the environment by recycling items and not causing a new item to be manufactured.
You want to make sure you’re buying something for much less than it is worth. So it takes a little knowledge to know a good buy when you see one. If you’re already an expert in a certain niche, it will make it that much easier to know when something is a good deal. I feel like I have a good, general idea of when something is marked down super low so I look for a broad range of items.
My dad specializes in tools and is always coming across great deals. He also started buying antique furniture and that evolved into my mom starting a booth at an antique store. They’re now spending more time together and doing something to earn money rather than spend it. That’s a win win in my book!
Here are the items I picked up Saturday:
- Wicker patio furniture set – Bought for $20. (Sold for $75).
- Two Computer monitors – Bought for $4. (Should make $50 by selling them on Ebay).
- Jeep Tire cover – Bought for $10. (Currently listed on Ebay for $39).
- 20 Disney VHS movies – Bought for $5. (Experimenting to see if these sell on Ebay for $4.99 a piece).
- LG 8” tablet – Bought for $5. (Could sell for $50 but going to keep for reading ebooks).
- Total spent = $44 Potential profit after gas and Ebay fees = $178.20
So if I chose to sell the tablet and if the VHS movies sell, I will make a PROFIT of $178 with about 6 hours total of work (4 hours shopping the sales and 2 hours to list and ship everything). That’s a nice $30 an hour and I had fun doing it.
The best way to flip the items you buy is by selling them through an online platform. Here’s a list of the ones I use and the benefits of each one.
- Facebook Marketplace – I use this for bigger, more expensive items that can’t be shipped easily. The benefit of using Facebook is, you don’t have to pay any listing fees and can sell an item the same day you post it. You have to meet up with the buyers so that can be annoying sometimes but I haven't had too many bad experiences. Make sure you meet in a safe, public place.
- Ebay – I use this for smaller items that can ship easily. Make sure you take the time to take great photos. The more photos you add to your listing the better. Write a detailed description. Taking the extra time to do these two things will earn you more money. The drawbacks of Ebay are that you have to pay them a commission (usually 10% of the sell price) and either the buyer or seller has to pay for shipping. I usually list my items as “buy it now” and offer free shipping. The reason I like to list this way is that it is what I look for when shopping. I don’t like getting into bid wars or having to wait several days for the listing to end. Some items do better when you list them as an auction so I always look up the item I’m selling and see what the most popular format is.
- Amazon – You can list your items quickly and the fee is 99 cents per item to list. Either the buyer or seller will have to pay shipping. I have only sold one item on Amazon so far but made more money than I would have if I had sold it on Ebay. It was a computer monitor I bought for $20 at a thrift store and I sold it for $70. There are certain categories of items that require a special membership to sell on Amazon. I plan to experiment with selling more items through Amazon in the future.
Those are the three main platforms I use to list my items but there are a multitude of others. Just do some research and find what works best for you. There are also memberships you can pay for through the different websites that will save you money if you plan to sell a high volume of items each month.
The point of going to yard sales should be to make extra money so that you can SAVE more or to buy an item that you need at a deep discount. You need to keep track of what you spend so you know how much you are going to profit and can use the profit to pay off debt or invest. I use Google sheets to track my yard sale spending. Google sheets is available as an app and it automatically syncs to your google account so you can pull up the same document on your computer.
If I haven’t sold you on why going to yard sales is a good idea, here’s all the benefits in one paragraph. You will earn money by flipping the items. You will get out of the house and do something productive. You may make a new friend by meeting people at the yard sales. You are helping people by taking their clutter off their hands. You are helping the environment by recycling the items. If you have a friend or spouse to go with, you will be spending quality time together. You might find an awesome item at a huge discount that you needed anyways. You will satisfy your spending urges but will end up making money off your purchases instead of adding more clutter to your house.
So with that in mind, let’s put our phones down or get off the computer and go find some treasure!
Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.