Today is the last in a three-part series about the Art of Downsizing. Part one was an introduction to downsizing. Then in last month’s Finances post, I shared non-internet options for getting rid of crap. And today we come to internet options for downsizing.
Needless to say, with the vast, seemingly endless, internet comes thousands of selling options. Even if I could somehow capture them, what good would it do? By tomorrow some sites would go belly up while new sites would be born. Therefore, I’m going to focus on the biggies, the ones you’ve heard of and the ones most likely to still be around in a year from now.
I don’t want to repeat too much of what I previously talked about except to say the question you have to start with remains the same. Do you want or need to make money from downsizing or do you simply want stuff gone?
Let’s start with the internet options when you don’t need income. It has been years since I used this first one but a quick search indicates they continue to thrive. And, as near as I can tell, they continue to operate as they had when I was a member a decade ago.
Freecycle.org is a nonprofit grassroots organization whose mission is about keeping good usable items from ending up in landfills. And it’s great on both sides whether you are giving or receiving. Membership is free.
How it worked was I would post an item. Then the first person to reply would get it. I’d give the person my address, leave it on my doorstep and the person would pick it up. Easy and simple. The one downside, at that time and presumable still, was that each available item came via email. So I’d have tens of emails a day. When I stopped using it as much I cancelled the membership to stop the emails from flooding my inbox.
Craig’s List has a “free stuff” section but I haven’t used it so can’t offer personal experience. But Craig’s List has a much different feel than Freecycle. I think of the Freecycle community as people who care about their footprint on this earth and use Freecycle as a way to lessening that print.
I have, however, used Craig’s List to sell items. Craig’s List in my opinion has gone downhill since I first started using it a decade ago. Not the site itself, but the quality and behavior of the people using it.
The experiences I’ve had which has caused me to use it less and less:
- People reply to the post and then don’t follow through. This happens 80% of the time, though it often feels like 99%.
- A buyer wants the item and we make arrangements for the transaction. Then when the person arrives, he/she offers less than the price I posted. This is just rude. If the person wanted to know if I’d take less, he/she should’ve asked before making arrangements to meet.
- Buyers are creepy people too. As a single female, I’ve been made uncomfortable more than once by a buyer. I now try to get the person to come to my work or I make arrangements to have a friend over when the buyer comes to my house.
That said, it remains one of the best options for selling large or breakable items as those don’t easily ship. And, despite my reluctance to use Craig’s List these days, I want to be fair and also say I have had some very positive transactions with delightful individuals.
Craig’s List Caution! The scam I experience on a regular basis is people trolling for my cell phone number. As I understand it, those slime balls then turn around sell your number to companies who send relentless advertising texts. If you get a reply to a post that asks for your phone number to talk about the item, DO NOT reply. They aren’t interested in what you are selling. They probably aren’t even in your area. You and your legitimate buyers should be able to make all necessary arrangements through email.
I love talking about eBay. No question this internet option has been the most surprising and most successful way for me to downsize for cash. In next week’s Listicle, I’ll offer more specific Tips and Tricks for Selling on eBay.
Guess what? When you are just starting you have zero stars and no one has rated you. I translated the strong emphasis on ratings to mean no one would buy from me. Apparently, I’d come to the eBay auction craze too late.
I told this to a friend who had sold items on eBay. She convinced me that it wouldn’t hurt to try as she had success without many stars. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am I spoke to her.
The most intimidating part was setting it all up. There might be other ways to run the money but most people (something like 70%) use PayPal. This meant I needed to establish both an eBay account and a PayPal account since I’d used neither.
It was a lot of steps but eBay walked me through each one. It look less than an hour and I’m pretty slow at such things since I read all the fine print once and the instructions twice to be sure I’m doing everything right.
Fun fact: did you know early in its history PayPal was acquired by eBay to process sales?
By far the thing I like most about eBay is no face-to-face interaction. I never have safety concerns to consider. Nor do I have to leave the comfort of my pajamas to do a transaction.
However there are a few things to consider:
- You are limited to 50 “free” posts per month. Since I only end up selling about 50% of what I post, I sure am not interested in paying a thirty cents fee on something that may not sell.
- The rule of thumb I use to calculate the amount that will end up in my pocket is 85%. You pay a 10% fee to eBay. That fee is calculated on both the selling price of the item and the postage cost. Then PayPal takes a fee for processing the payment.
- These days, as near as I can tell, most people don’t auction their items. Most do a straight sell where you post an item for a price for 30 days. Auction items are up for 10 days at most.
Etsy is a selling option for handcrafted and vintage items so this is not really applicable to this discussion. But if you have things that fall within the broad definition of vintage, this might be worth looking into.
There you have it: my few thoughts on internet options for downsizing. As stated, I’ve made the most money on eBay though, to be fair, it’s also the selling option I have put the most time into. And it does take time. I figure it takes me an hour per item I list. That time is spent researching price points, photographing and writing a narrative for the post.
Back on the first post in this series I said you have to consider the tremendous amount of time to make a relatively little amount of money. It’s absolutely true. It’s most time-effective to simply donate everything and take the tax write off. But that is a decision you have to make for yourself and your circumstance.
Happy downsizing. I hope you’ve found the series helpful. Come back next week for Tips and Tricks for Successful Selling on eBay.