I have placed more online orders than I can count in 2020. And I justified everyone.
My porch was filled with boxes containing everything: furniture (I needed to redecorate), paper towels (I needed to stock up), crafts (I needed activities), board games (more activities), and a treadmill (I needed exercise).
But if I’m being honest, I bought a little too much.
Look around. If your quarantine habits were even a tiny bit like mine, you could turn that mess into money. Here is how.
TOO MANY STAFF? SELL IT
Maybe you bought more than you ultimately used, like board games or video games. Or maybe you’ve bought new products to replace old items and left a drawer of discarded technology.
In any case, you have more than you need. And there are plenty of places to sell your stuff online.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf, co-host of the TV show “Today’s Homeowner” and host of the web series “Checking In With Chelsea,” said she had sold over 1,000 in the last six months of 2020 on Facebook Marketplace, an outlet for US dollars sold online buying and selling on site.
You can also. Look online for this or any other marketplace that suits your needs. For example, the Facebook marketplace offers local transactions, while other websites focus on product categories like technology or clothing. Read the instructions to see how the website works, and then check for customer reviews or a Better Business Bureau accreditation before committing. Create an account and get to work.
You can sell almost anything online – technology, furniture, clothing, video games, and toys, to name a few.
Here are Wolf’s keys to getting things up for sale:
– PRESENTATION. “You want the item you’re selling to be the focus of your photo,” says Wolf. Clean it first, and then take flattering photos in natural sunlight, preferably near a window. Get multiple angles.
– PRICE. Think what someone could pay for the item, then rate it a little lower to keep it moving. You can also check the entries posted by other users to see the current rate.
– INFORMATION. Write down everything in the description, including the brand and any defects. A more detailed listing means less back and forth with potential buyers. As the saying goes, “Time is money,” says Wolf.
TOO MUCH WORK? CONSIGN
Depending on which website you are using, you will need to create offers, package your items and send them either directly to the buyer or to the platform where you made the sale. In some cases, you can deliver in person.
Instead, to save time and effort, take your items to a local consignment warehouse. You will likely earn less, but the store will do the sales for you. Expect half the selling price, says Wolf.
Other options? Give things away to family and friends. Donate to a local charity. And throw away items that are absolutely of no use.
TOO MANY TEMPTATIONS? SCALE BACK
Once you’ve sold and donated what you can, fight the urge to re-buy impulses. If you keep your current habits, you can go back to where you started. One way to avoid that? Save first and buy later.
This approach is just the opposite of writing something on a credit card and paying it off afterwards, says Pam Horack, certified financial planner and owner of Pathfinder Planning LLC, based in Lake Wylie, South Carolina.
Save money and wait until you can place an order until you can fully afford it. Horack says her family has a certified clothing account. When someone needs a new pair of shoes, the money comes from what they put aside.
You can do the same with a general expense account. “If you don’t have any money in this account, you can’t buy it,” says Horack. “That has to be your rule.”
There are also ways to stay busy without spending a lot or no money. Here are some of Horack’s ideas: Renovate your home by moving around your furniture. Spend time outdoors. Finish projects around the house. You will spend less and accumulate less stuff.
TOO EXPENSIVE? TO BUY SECOND HAND
But you can’t stop shopping altogether. For things that you absolutely need, consider buying them from the same websites that you made the extra money on.
When you list products, you’re not selling them for as much as you originally paid for them. That said, you can buy things at a significant discount too.
According to Sara Beane, media specialist at the Swappa technology market, consumers bought and sold used products during the pandemic. “At this unprecedented time, everyone is buckled up,” says Beane.
For example, there was a rush for laptops on the website back in school.
Search used marketplaces by the item’s model and condition. You can find lots of price points that will fit your budget.
But before you hit “Buy,” organize something, says Wolf.
“When you’ve got so much stuff that you can’t see what you have, you’re going to buy more than you need.”
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet.