Cash for clutter: How can I sell my stuff online?

08 September 2020

Decided it's time you had a clear out? Why not turn your trash into someone else's treasure and get some money in the meantime. We show you how.



Can I sell my stuff online?

Studies estimate you can generate hundreds of pounds in cash by clearing out and selling unwanted items. 

Throwing things away is becoming a thing of the past as recycling, vintage, retro and “upcycling” become popular.

You can use the money to treat yourself or even to help with bills. A study claims that 60% of people who sell their belongings for cash go on to use the money for everyday spending like grocery shopping or petrol.

So, if you’re thinking about downsizing your home, or simply having a good old spring clean or clear out, the question that first springs to mind is - what about all my stuff?

If you have decades of clutter filling your home, why not have a thorough declutter, turn your trash into someone else's treasures and sell it online - for cash?

According to figures from eBay, the average home contains £4,000 of unwanted items, but just a fifth of people are canny enough to sell them.

Here are some popular ways to round up your rejects and sell them on various internet selling sites for a hefty profit, as well as offline if you'd rather take a more traditional route!

A note before selling

Make sure to 'shop' around to check selling and exchange prices at the different outlets so you have a good idea of the worth of something. Sometimes shop listings can have unreasonably high prices which buyers are not prepared to pay so it's worth filtering eBay listings that are completed (Filter> Show more> Completed listings on the app version). Items with a price listed in red did not sell, whereas items listed in green did. Factor in the time needed to list, post and package items. Sometimes selling cheaply in bulk might be a better use of your time than selling individual low cost items that will take a lot of manpower to sell.

As ever, if you're dealing with a company you haven't used before it's worth looking up reviews on sites like TrustPilot to see what experiences other sellers have had.

When selling electronics also make sure to delete all your data by wiping hard drives and restoring factory settings before selling.

Saga Home Insurance provides cover that goes beyond what you might expect. For more information and to get a quote click here.


Selling on eBay

Think of second-hand sales and one name springs to mind – eBay. And it’s popular for a reason – eBay reached 183 million active buyers worldwide at the end of 2019 and has around 25 million monthly visitors in the UK alone.

Private sellers can list up to 1,000 items per months for free on eBay, but are charged a ‘final value fee’ of 10% of the final sale.

There’s not much that can’t be listed on eBay, but with so many listings there is an art to selling your item and getting a decent price. Bear in mind that you also need to set up a suitable profile, so if you’re only selling a handful of possessions it might be better to try a different platform.

Postage and packaging

Make sure you include all postage and packaging cost in the listing – buyers want to know exactly what they will be paying for your item. It is worth buying a set of scales, so you can price packaging costs accurately.

You can buy and print postage from the comfort of your own home or office with Royal Mail’s free and easy-to-use service

Print on to labels or directly on to envelopes - all you need is a computer and a printer. 

Want to know how much it will cost to send a particular parcel? Use Royal Mail’s Price Finder.

Selling on Facebook Marketplace

As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook’s Marketplace offers a brilliant platform to sell your unwanted items, especially if you're looking to sell locally rather than dealing with postage and packing as you can either arrange to drop an item off or to have someone come and pick it up from you.

Marketplace has been running since 2016 and in that time it has become a popular choice to sell items locally, racking up over 800 million global users each month. It’s free to post a listing, and you can also cross promote it in local Facebook groups for buying and selling to increase exposure.

The algorithm priorities local sales, but buyers can widen their search area. So, if you have small items to sell and are happy to post them, you can select this option when you create your listing.

Take care when messaging strangers and arranging pick ups/drop offs of items and money. If you live alone it might be worth having friends or family over at the arranged time so you aren't by yourself when they pop over.

Selling on Etsy

Etsy isn’t a site designed for unwanted possessions, but is worth adding for its unique user base. It lists collections of unique items you’d like to sell, such as vintage or handmade goods, so it’s ideal if you want to start your own craft business with a cheap selling platform or have lots of good quality vintage stuff to sell, such as clothes, trinkets, knitting patterns or crockery.

Established in 2005, the site has millions of worldwide members and is growing in popularity with over 2.5 million sellers.

UK sellers pay around 17p for each listing, with four months to shift products. You also pay a 5% transaction fee charge on the final selling price, plus 20p for payment processing. There are other fees for advertising, so check the site for a breakdown.

How to make money from your craft hobby

Selling on Gumtree

Gumtree was formed in 2000, and bought by eBay in 2005. It’s the UK’s largest classified ads site, reportedly used by one in three adults in the UK every month.

This can make it tricky to navigate your way through the millions of listings, but as it’s aimed at local buyers looking to avoid postage costs, the local sites help to keep listings more manageable.

As a seller, it’s simple to list items you want to shift and, with so many visitors each month, you’re likely to get a buyer. You won’t be charged a fee for listing goods, and you can add photos easily.

You can pay a fee to give your ad a boost, helping to put your ad at the top of the listings, speed up your sale, or reach out further to your audience.

Businesses are charged a small fee to post ads, and if you’re a business using Gumtree a lot there’s the option to create a business account.

Selling on Preloved

With no fees and free classified ads, Preloved is a great option for people wanting to shift unwanted clutter. It’s been around since 1998 and has over 7 million members.

Preloved has hundreds of thousands of adverts in over 500 categories, and it works on a message basis, so no auction is involved.

While Preloved has no listing or selling fees, you can upgrade your account to get extra benefits for as little as £5 a year. You will only incur fees if you are a business advertising on the site – membership starts at £20 per month.

Selling on Shpock

Shpock stands for ‘shop in your pocket’ and started life as a mobile app in 2012. Since then it’s grown in popularity, with nearly 6.5 million users each month.

It’s totally free to use and simple to post your items and has a big range of categories to choose from. The site’s also well designed and simple to navigate, and they offer advice on how to make your listing a success.

Selling on Craigslist

Advertising website Craigslist was founded in San Francisco in 1995. You can post free ads for anything from goods to jobs, with nearly all of its features free to users.

The site makes money through employers who list job ads, instead of relying on sellers keen to make a profit. As you list to people locally, there are unlikely to be postage costs involved.

The design is basic – as the name suggests, it relies on a list format. However, you can post images of the items you’re selling, and you get to keep any money you make.

Selling on Freecycle

This is a free ‘recycling’ site aimed at reducing the amount of waste we produce. Freecycle connects people who are throwing away goods with those who will use them and its network is made up of over 5,000 groups with more than 9 million members globally.

As its name suggests, items are free, so you won’t profit financially from using the site. But if you’ve got a bulky item you simply want rid of, such as a fridge or sofa, it’s a good option. It’s also worth knowing that you can post ‘wanted’ ads – a handy way to find useful things for free in your area.

Selling on Amazon Marketplace

Although Amazon is more geared up to selling new items, there are options to sell secondhand. Your best bet is selling good quality used books, but there are some other categories that accept second-hand sales too.

Amazon charges individuals 75p per item sold and also offers a Professional Plan allowing you to sell an unlimited number of items for £25 per month.

Other online sites for selling your stuff

CDs, DVDs and games 

Recycling for profit is a quick and simple way to save old items from landfill and earn a few pounds at the same time. Cash-for-clutter site musicmagpie.co.uk is where CDs, DVDs and video games can be traded in – as long as you have a minimum of 10 items. Prices can range from 10p for a CD up to the hundreds for some of the more desirable electronic items. The good thing about this site is that once you have registered your items, they will send a courier to collect it from you. 

Cex, which also has stores on the high street, buys and sells old games, Blu Rays, CDs and DVDs, as well as electronics like cameras and games consoles. You can also exchange for vouchers at a higher value to the money, which is a good option if you're planning on buying something else from Cex.

Gadgets

Cash in on Your Gadgets is a site for selling old laptops, phones, tablets and other electronics. They'll pick up your devices from your home for free and wipe them (although we do recommend wiping all gadgets yourself as a precaution).

Mobile phones

When selling mobiles phones the key thing to remember is handsets lose value quickly due to new technology, so sell it quickly instead of leaving it in a drawer. Make sure you wipe old contacts, photos and private messages that are stored on the handset itself, and make sure it is not still linked to your cloud storage. There are several sites specialising in mobile phones, such as sellmymobile.co.uk and Mazuma Mobile.

MoneySavingExpert.com has tips if you're thinking of recycling your mobile and a rundown of the phone recycling companies. 

Selling at boot sales

Car boot sales run all over the country at the weekends and are a perfect way to sell those odds and sods lingering in your loft or garage.

Everything will sell if it's cheap enough, so be prepared to drop your prices if items aren't moving fast enough, and be prepared for hagglers.

Hot sellers include clothes, DVDs, books, toys, electrical, mobile phones, jewellery and bric-a-brac. 

Find a boot sale in your local area with CarBootJunction.com.

Ten tips for successful selling at car boot sales

Donate what you can’t sell

Charity shops are often a good place for your cast offs, but what are your options for items such as old bras and out-of-date prescription glasses?

You may be surprised, but bras in a reasonable condition can be donated to various charities.

Donating bras

For those who live near a Bravissimo store, they support charities by placing bra recycling bins in all their stores. For every kilo of bras collected, they will donate to Refuge. The bras that are donated are all then recycled for good use. Those which are in a useable condition go directly to developing countries across the world. Those bras which cannot be used in their entirety are broken down into parts which are again recycled into new items. For a list of stores in your local area, visit bravissimo.

Smalls for All, a charity that aims to help women and children in Africa meet their hygiene needs, accept gently worn bras, as long as they're laundered. To find out more information, visit SmallsforAll.

Against Breast Cancer also collects unwanted bras so they can be given a new lease of life in developing countries where bras remain too expensive to produce locally. What’s more, for every tonne of bras collected, Against Breast Cancer receives £700 to go towards its vital research. For details on how to donate, visit againstbreastcancer.org.uk.

Donating glasses

Old prescription glasses used to be widely recycled at opticians such as Specsavers and Vision Express, but this was implemented by charity Vision Aid Overseas, who worked with opticians in the UK, who used to send them overseas to be reused. They switched to recycling glasses in 2010, but as of 2020 they have decided to stop recycling glasses which means that a lot of opticians will no longer be accepting old prescription glasses. There are still a small amount of charities collecting them, such as Chichester Lions Clubs, so it's still worth asking your optician in case they're working with a smaller local charity.

Donating stamps

Lots of charities, such as Against Breast Cancer, Oxfam, Canine Partners and RNIB, will accept used stamps.

You can sell the space you clear too

The money-spinner that is your big declutter doesn’t end once you have made some money and cleared some space – the space can earn you cash too. 

Storemates allows members to register any spare space they have to rent out to those who need storage – but don’t want to pay storage firms that can be pricey. This idea would work best in a city where space is a premium. 

It's free to register, search and list, but charges a fee of 16.5% and 20p from the monthly transaction if you find a successful match. 

You can charge what you like, but Storemates recommends charging roughly 50% of commercial prices. 

A spokesman said: “Users on our site earning anything from £10 to about £35 per week from these spaces. They range from small sections of a loft or spare room (the £10-15/week spaces) up to full garages which are generating about £35 a week.”

If your garage is now clear, you could instead park your own car in it, and rent out your driveway - if you live in an area where parking is expensive. Try parkonmydriveparklet, or justpark. You can rent by the day or longer-term.

How to make money renting your driveway

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.