My Spring Cleaning Challenge: Make $400 - FamilyEducation

My Spring Cleaning Challenge: Make $400

March 07,2013

It's snowing outside but I have the spring cleaning itch. You know what would make spring cleaning way better? If we all made some money doing it. Sure, the satisfaction of sparkling surfaces and crisp linens and drapes is great. But what if you could make $100 per person in your household. Hmm... $400 for your family of four's spring break trip (or staycation) sounds pretty great, eh?

I came across this Daily Finance article on making money by selling your stuff. Sure, I've sold a couple of things online, but most of the time, I haul our unwanted stuff to the Good Will. This year, I'm going to make more of a concerted effort to consign our things or sell them online.

Here's the plan:

  • I've set a goal of making $100 per person. To reach that goal, each of us will try to fill one of these big, awesome blue bags from Ikea (we also use these inside our hampers for our dirty laundry -- I highly recommend them!)... If you don't have an Ikea in your area, you can find them on eBay.
  • We'll sort through our stuff and put it into one of four piles: Keep, Toss, Donate (Good Will/Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.), and Sell.
  • Turn the $100/person goal into a math and goal-setting activity for kids. Make a spreadsheet that lists each item up for sale, the approximate purchase price, and the estimated price you think you could sell it for (aim for about 1/3 or 1/2 of the original purchase price, depending on the condition and desirability of the item).
  • On the spreadsheet, you can also list the best place to try to sell the item (eBay can be great for clothes and smaller toys/household items that you can easily ship; Craigslist is ideal for furniture, large toys/items, and anything you'd like to sell in bulk, such as a big bag full of baby clothes or box of books; consignment shops in your area can also be a good option -- ask consignment-savvy friends for a recommendation, or search your local parenting website/listserv for consignment/classified options in your area)
  • Post items online or bring them to the consignment shop. The Daily Finance article notes that people shop online the most on weekends and advises that on eBay, for example, you should list your items for sale on a Thursday. Your listing stays up for 10 days, so you'll get two full weekends of exposure by posting your items on a Thursday. Also keep in mind that things are more likely to sell quickly if they're useful for the upcoming season (i.e., hang onto those unused skis and try to sell them in the fall.)
  • Get selling! Try to entice buyers to shop among your other items by linking to your other sale listings and offering deals (on eBay, offer free/cheap combined shipping for multiple items).

True, you need a place to store the items you're trying to sell (make it very "out of sight/out of mind" so that you're not tempted to keep it for yourself -- even write a "Do not touch!" sign to yourself if you've committed to getting rid of the stuff in your bag). You also need to take some extra time beyond your spring cleaning/purging session to make some bucks from this little sales operation.  But it will feel so good to make some easy money!

Most of us set resolutions at New Year's, but our energy is usually sapped from the holidays, and we're stuck indoors with less motivation. I think springtime is far better for setting realistic goals to declutter and be smarter with our spending. You can do it. Go make some cash!