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Best ways to sell stuff: How to use yard sales, consignment shops, online sales and more to turn unwanted things into cash

Posted Friday, July 10, 2009

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Yonkers, NY — If you’re trying to build up your cash reserves like many these days, now could be a good time to prune your unwanted belongings. Consumer Reports Money Adviser’s July issue offers tips on how to successfully unload your unwanted possessions using yard sales, online sales, consignment shops, and classified ads.

The key to successfully selling your castoffs is finding the right market for them. There are eager buyers for virtually anything that clutters your house, garage, or storage unit. Here are some tips from CRMA’s editors:


Best Items to Sell: Shoppers are likely to snap up clothing and small household goods at bargain prices. So you’ll make the most money if you have many inexpensive and portable items. Anything oversized or too pricey will be difficult to sell in this market. The Process: First find out if your town requires a permit to hold a yard sale. Publicize your sale by placing ads on free Web sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, GarageSaleHunter, and YardSaleSearch. Mention any collectibles you are selling. Make large, easy-to-read flyers that you can post in local businesses and supermarkets. Your Cost: Relatively inexpensive, aside from newspaper ads, your only expense may be $10 or so for supplies to make flyers. Permits will probably require no more than a few bucks.
Best Items to Sell: To decide if you should sell something on eBay or, make sure it’s not too big or heavy and difficult to ship. To get a sense of how popular an item might be and how much it might sell for, check the prices of similar items on eBay’s “completed listings.” You’ll have to register first, but you can do so for free. Click on “advanced search” and then check “show completed listings only.” The Process: You need to write descriptions and take photographs of everything you want to sell, post listings, answer e-mail from potential bidders and ship whatever sells to the winning bidders. Your Cost: CRMA estimates you’ll pay fees equal to about 10 percent of the money you make from items sold on eBay.
Best Items to Sell: Consignment-shop owners generally don’t want to bother with poor-quality furniture, and some may only take antiques. Clothing and household goods should also be in great shape. The Process: Find a local consignment shop, search by ZIP code on the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops Web site ( Once you find a shop, stop by with a few sample items or photos of things you’d like to consign. Your Cost: The shop owners will suggest a price and split the proceeds 50-50 if it sells. They may also reduce the asking price if the item doesn’t sell in 30, 60, or 90 days, after that they may return the item to you. Get the agreement in writing.
Also in the July issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser:

ING Direct and HSBC Direct Top CRMA’s online bank ratings

The veteran ING Direct and HSBC Direct, with scores of 80 and 78, respectively, landed at the top of CRMA’s ratings of online banks primarily because of their consistently higher interest rates. Conversely, low deposit rates and high fees put Wells Fargo’s online bank at the bottom of CRMA’s list with a score of 50.

CRMA rated seven of the largest online banks with a nationwide reach, evaluating four types of accounts—regular and money market savings, CDs, and checking. All the institutions CRMA rated require customers to use Web browsers that support 128-bit encryption for any online transactions. CRMA chose accounts to rate with the lowest balance requirements that did not require additional business with the bank. Fees and annual percentage yields were weighted most heavily, accounting for half the score. They were rated based on the interest rates they pay on deposits (miniscule as they now are); service fees, the ease of transferring funds between accounts; and amenities such as cell-phone banking, electronic bill payment, and integration with personal finance software.

But the online gap between ING and HSBC and other larger banks is no longer as great as it once was. All the banks CRMA reviewed offered cell-phone banking with at least some, if not all, of the major devices and carriers. And all of them support at least one of the two major personal-finance software suites, Quicken and Microsoft Money. Of the banks CRMA rated, Chase was the most egregious assessor of fees, for example, imposing a $12 fee if your money market balance falls below $1,500.

Also in the July issue of CRMA: After loved ones die, do you inherit their debts; eight ways to trim insurance premiums without sacrificing coverage; once in a lifetime bargains in a bad economy, and more.

Consumer Reports Money Adviser is a monthly newsletter that answers tough money questions and provides expert financial advice. Its proven information and successful strategies make any financial decision an easy one. Each month, CRMA provides feature articles and helpful investment, savings, and spending advice that will help prepare consumers for anything life may bring them.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.
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Best ways to sell stuff: How to use yard sales, consignment shops, online sales and more to turn unwanted things into cash
The key to successfully selling your castoffs is finding the right market for them.

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