4 ways to make extra cash that'll make you say "why didn't I think of that!?"

November 7 | Guest post by SaraBeth
Sell your textbooks and CDs that are just collecting dust on your shelves! Photo used under Creative Commons license.
It's been just over a month since our period of daycare cost-related "fiscal restraint" began. Saving money has helped us a ton! However, sometimes saving money doesn't feel like enough when household emergencies happen or there's a big ticket item (like say one of your closest friends is having a destination wedding) on your calendar and your regular income isn't going to cut it.

Since I've been back at work I've missed my kids (the minions) a lot, and the idea of being out of the house for a second job was too much for either of us to handle physically or emotionally. Plus, it's not worth the return on investment.

When we were first discussing our new budget, a friend who was preparing to move suggested, "Why not sell some of your old stuff?" She had recently made enough money to pay for her movers by selling old CDs, DVDs, textbooks, and books that she didn't want any more, and had significantly less stuff to move. I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of it myself. Here are some things I've sold or considered selling, and how it's worked out for us…

Textbooks

If you've been in school recently and aren't going to use your textbooks any more, August/September and December/January are great months to sell them. You can either sell on line (I used Amazon) or go to a local college or university bookstore. Some book stores will give you a higher price if you can prove that you got an A on the course. Textbooks expire quickly, so they may not be worth anything if a new edition came out. You can check what others are selling the texts for on line by using ISBN numbers before you list yours.

To date we have made $140 on the sale of textbooks — this is after shipping costs and listing commission fees.

DVDs, CDs and books

We kept the series, movies, and books that we continually trade and lend to friends — but the ones that we know we'll never watch or use again, we decided to sell. The series has to be worth a significant amount of cash to be worth the shipping costs and effort, so you'll need to determine whether it's worth it to post online or take to your local used book/media dealer.

So far we have made $95 on the sale of television series alone. Seller beware: I am an idiot and unknowingly listed a season of a television series as a Blu Ray rather than a DVD and am currently in the process of sorting out my first return.

Clothes and shoes

I have three pairs of name brand shoes that I bought a few years ago, spent a ton of money on and wore one time because they killed my feet. Last week I sold the first pair on eBay and made $40. Much better on closet and wallet space. Same goes for dresses or clothes that are bought for special events and weddings that you know you won't wear again. Research eBay vs. consignment shops to figure out what will work best for you.

If you've got young children: Baby supplies

We have a lot of baby stuff that my twin toddlers have already outgrown. Anything clothes-related, toy-related, or basically anything that has been handed down to us, we've passed on to our ever growing circle of friends and acquaintances who are expecting. That being said, you have to do what you have to do and you can't always afford to pass on or donate to charity. We have some twin-specific items that will be no use to the parents of singletons, and some gifts that we received that were barely used that we've decided to sell. Baby consignment shops, mom websites and groups (or twin specific groups) have some great options for mom-to-mom sales that can work for you. You can also go out to friends first before you post on line on these sites or on other sites like Kijiji or Craigslist. I offered some items to some friends at a reduced rate before I posted on line.

So far we've made $95 selling baby/twin stuff that we don't use any more.

Hobbies

You know that fun hobby you always talk about how you wish you had more time for — subversive cross stitch, knitting, jewelry design, or moderately offensive garden gnomes, anyone? Make it a reality and start selling on Etsy or another crafty sites. Just make sure you sell the items for enough money to cover your supplies and time. This isn't something I've done personally, but I have a lot of crafty friends who would benefit from selling their art on line thus forcing them into making time for something they love and making a few bucks at the same time.

The biggest challenge for me in this endeavor has just been making it to the post office regularly and shipping the items promptly.

If anyone has any other suggestions for selling I'm listening… while I work on my plan to sell origami frogs for cash or interesting trades.

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  1. My husband lost his job this week, and things will be TIGHT. I Started selling some too-big name brand shoes and clothes and have made $10 so far WOO!

    6 agree
    • I know that people can be intimitdated by yard-sales, but I had one and made $125! I live in an apartment – so I asked the Rescue Squad if I could have it there and they agreed. Also, I only sold clothes and handbags. I advertised it as "clothes only" on Facebook and Craigslist for free and had a great turn out.

      2 agree
  2. So when I started packing for moving, I started selling off my gluten free cookbooks (the ones that suck or I that I never use that is). They have a decent retention value & it saves me money in packing and shipping later on. Also, I've gotten pretty good at picking and will sell vintage patterns or clothing magazines on Etsy. I call it my "dryer fund" it doesn't bring in tons of money but if you do your vintage picking decently it can bring in some extra money without taking up a TON of space in your house.

    2 agree
  3. I sold all my cds in college so I could eat one month. It's heart breaking at first, but it's just stuff, you'll get through it 🙂

    5 agree
  4. I have a bunch of crafts and books/DVDs I would be willing to sell, but I'm intimidated by the whole process of setting up as a seller on Etsy and eBay. I would looooove if this site could post simple tutorials about how to actually do it. *hint*

    6 agree
    • there are websites that you can sell your DVDs too, not sure which one makes your more money (private selling on ebay vs buying sites) but might be less hassle than setting up ebay auctions if you are worried about that

  5. I found Amazon really intuitive, Ebay is much harder to navigate….Amazon even tells you the bottom price that your competitors are selling for. That being said – a used book or record store is a classic way to do it – but we made less money this way – we made $25 at the actual store for a high number of DVDs and CDs.

    3 agree
    • I sold textbooks on amazon, as long as you do it during the right times (right when classes are announced and then the beginning of the semester when procrastinators are buying at a high price) it's great.

      1 agrees
      • I don't know if other colleges do it, but our college bookstore bought back textbooks at really high prices to avoid having to order them in. Might be worth checking out. They might only allow student sell-back, though (or maybe alums??).

  6. I have used Chegg.com to sell textbooks in the past, and I'd highly recommend them. It was REALLY easy to look them up by ISBN number. The best part is that if your textbooks are out of date, instead of them sitting on your shelf for decades, Chegg will actually pay for the shipping for you to send it to them and they will take care of recyling!

    They also do textbook rentals, if you are good about taking care of your books (i.e., you don't like to highlight), so that can be a much cheaper option than buying if you are still in school.

    4 agree
    • But think of the money you saved by borrowing rather than buying! Text books are so expensive, and you never get the full value back.

      15 agree
  7. Anybody have thoughts on selling stuff on craigslist? I've been tempted to unload this way since it's easier than setting up as an ebay vendor.

    1 agrees
  8. Our musical instruments are ready to go on the chopping block. Most of them we either can't or don't play, and the space they will free up is very valuable in a small house. My husband has even talked about selling his drum kit (with the plan to upgrade eventually, when he has the time and space to play more). I'm not sure I love that plan, but he could use a smaller kit that's more suited to his style.

    • Oh, and I have a didgeridoo floating around at my parents' house too. But… but, it's pretty and cool! So that's a maybe.

      • heh,we have a didgeridoo too! it leans in a corner in our living room. Dave uses it to fascinate our one cat every once in a while. (the other one just leaves.)

        • We have 3 didge's! We also have the great animal reactions when they're being played: Cat A (fascinated and tries to climb into them), Cat B (terrified and runs) and Muttly (prances around the room whining and tilting his head)

  9. Man… I hardly ever made money selling back my textbook even just at the end of the semester! So I think that one might have a relatively short shelf (HAR HAR) life.

    1 agrees
  10. Ebay is kind of a pain in the ass, but I've had good luck selling clothes that way. With higher-end items, I sell fixed-price rather than auction. I just sold a vintage jacket for $110.

  11. One thing about selling textbooks – campus bookstores rarely pay you a fair price for textbooks! Before I got wise, I bought many textbooks for $40-$80 and I rarely got more than $10 back. I once even just got .25! Compare this to listing on half.com, where I regularly made $20-$35 on my books.

    A huge tip if you want to sell fast is to price your books on the lower end of its quality level! For example, if your book is in "Good" quality and the range people are selling "Good" books for is $22.99 to $40, I usually sell close to $28 and make sure I list the specifics of my book's condition as well as the fact that it comes from a smoke free and animal free home. Those books at the highest level in each bracket rarely sell quickly unless their from a used textbook company with tons of reviews.

  12. I'm doing my best to start up an etsy shop but it takes time I don't seem to have, and honestly without marketing of some sort it's a little hard for people to find you!

    However it is great fun and there are some lovely people on there too. One day I might make a sale!

    I've had some luck reselling baby clothes on ebay, but also specialist books like popular children's literature that's out of print!

  13. I knit, have since I was six, and am planning my wedding for September 2013. At first I was really overwhelmed by how expensive it was to have a reception (getting MARRIED is the easy part), and decided that I needed to bring in more money. I started an online custom knit ware business (Little Monster Knits on Facebook) and so far have made enough to pay for my wedding dress! It CAN be done by pricing your hobbies. I love to knit, and have found a market for it!

    1 agrees

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