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Words of wisdom + advice from women within our Sunny Side Up Life Community

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Flipping Clutter into Cash

by Shelly Longenecker

Sami asked me to share my experience of turning clutter into cash.  We have been married 22 years, have 4 kids, homeschool, and run our own business.  During our marriage, we have had definite ups and downs financially. I have always sold our extra stuff when we are done with it – both to free up the space and have the cash for other things.  But, I have also had to sell everything that isn’t nailed down to help make ends meet.  Over the years, I have very easily sold over $10,000 worth of stuff to help our family.  Sami asked me to share how I have been able to do that, so bear with me while I try to take 22 years of experience and boil it down into something concise and readable. 

Before I start selling things, I always have a general goal in mind.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as creating some extra cash for Christmas or being able to fund the next level of a kids’ hobby.  Other times, it’s to generate quick, serious cash to pay a large bill.  One time, we had to come up with $7,000 for an unexpected tax liability and we only had about a month to do it.  That was one of those times that I sold anything and everything I possibly could.  If I remember correctly, I sold $2,000- $3,000 of stuff that month.  I find it’s important for me to know my goal because it determines my desperation level.  If I just need to make a couple hundred dollars so I can buy my husband a fancy Christmas gift, my selling will be completely different than if I must generate thousands of dollars to avoid tax penalties.   

After I set my goal, I focus on developing the right mindset for selling.  Selling stuff isn’t easy. Honestly, it’s a pain and I always have to gear myself up for it. It takes a lot of time, energy, and patience.   The main thing that helps me at this stage is to remember my goal.  If I can keep my mind fixed on the goal, rather than the irritation of selling, it helps keep me positive.  I tell myself it’s a part-time job.  When I approach it as a legitimate financial enterprise, I can give it the time, energy, and patience that it needs to be successful.  

Once I have the right mindset, I can make an action plan.  Of course, my action plan hinges heavily on my goal.  When I needed to generate thousands, my action plan involved a complete purge of my home, attic, and property.  After I did my purge, I could begin my listings.  When I want to generate a couple hundred dollars, I can usually just walk around my house and property just scanning for things and snatch up 5-10 things without purging.  More often than not, my selling is always preceded by purging – sometimes on a small scale (like 1 room or 1 child’s clothes) and sometimes it’s a complete purge.  Before I begin a purge, I read a few blogs on how to purge to give myself a good purging action plan and to gain some inspiration.   Purging doesn’t come naturally to me, so I definitely have to work on it.   

After my purge, I am ready to start listing things for sale.  Before I can list, I do my research. I try to find the best location to sell the type of items that I have as well as determining the appropriate list price.  Personally, I have used Ebay, Craigslist, FB Marketplace, as well as specialty swap sites for specialty items (curriculum pages, diaper pages, clothing pages).   I make way more money for items sold on Ebay, so if the item is appropriate for Ebay, I always start there.  I invested in a cheap, good, used postal scale and I make sure that I always have packing supplies on hand. For the best deal on polymailers, I buy them on Amazon. My favorite format for selling on Ebay is Buy it Now – I find that I make more money when selling this way vs bidding.  When something isn’t appropriate for Ebay, I will list it locally on CList, FB Marketplace, and FB groups.  When I list locally, I list in all 3 places – many times putting my item up in 10+ locations. I always list my stuff in batches.  It saves me time and energy to focus on selling several items at one time rather than one by one. Typically, I do a batch of sales about every few months.    This summer, I decided to do a yard sale since none of my items were selling and I wanted to motivate myself for a total purge.  I didn’t have enough for a yard sale of my own, so I invited friends and family to join. We ended up with a 10-family yard sale and it was a huge success. Between all the families, we made over $2000.   Just our family made $650.  We just took that money and had a 3 day weekend as a family – fully funded from our yard sale.  Since we are debt free and have over 3 months of savings, we can now take our clutter cash and use it for fun things – which is super rewarding.  

After years of seeing the benefits of flipping our clutter into cash on a personal level, we decided to start flipping items for profit as our side hustle.  We have been doing this for about a year now. Last year, we made about $6,000 and this year we are tracking to make more than $10,000 profit.  We do this side hustle VERY much on the side – spending, on average,  about 10 hours a month with skipping some months due to family obligations.  There are lots of ways to flip things for profit, but we have chosen primarily to buy vehicles at auction and resell them.  In Arizona, we can buy/sell up to 12 vehicles a year as a couple before we have to have a dealers license. Our goal is to move 1 vehicle/month.  We buy the vehicles at public auction – focusing exclusively on fleet-owned vehicles in excellent used condition.  We have profited $1,000-$2,200 on the each of the vehicles we have sold.  Each requiring minimal to no effort.   While flipping vehicles isn’t for everyone (my husband has extensive vehicle knowledge), there are many sectors one could focus on if they wanted to flip things as their side hustle.  

All in all, turning clutter into cash is hard work.  It takes having a goal, the proper mindset, an effective action plan, and good old-fashioned hard work. But, in the end, it is completely worth it for our family.

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