From Trash to Cash: 7 Sites to Make Money Off Stuff You Don't Need


Jun 14, 2018
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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about decluttering at home, knowing that we only have a few precious months left before we bring out certain things for extra warmth again. There’s also a big possibility that colder weather means we’re going to need even more NEW things. Like, big bulky things - coats, jackets, mufflers, boots, shovels, portable heaters, etc. Kids have a way of outgrowing their winter things fast, and the climate just gets crazier by the year so I suspect we’re in for longer, colder days and nights ahead.

I’m really not looking forward to overstuffed closets, cupboards, and basement storage. It’s driving me crazy thinking how to accommodate what we already have, plus newly-bought stuff.

With that in mind, I decided to make a list of things I can let go to declutter the house while making way for new stuff. I could do it for free - but hey, if there are opportunities to make money off them, why not? So I thought of how to make money recycling and came up with seven types of things I always seem to have in excess, along with links and apps to where I’ve sold them (or bookmarked for future transactions) in exchange for some quick cash.

1. Old textbooks

My kids, husband, and I just love books. We buy them in basketfuls like we do with groceries. The result is perpetually overflowing bookshelves, side tables, coffee tables, and just about any possible surface one can put a book on. Some of them are precious and have sentimental value, but most were textbooks the kids have outgrown. Now those we can no longer see any use for.

I thought of putting everything in a yard sale, but my husband recommended selling them online via Cash4Books. It’s an easy platform that gives you a price quote, ships for free, then pays you!


2. Pre-owned clothes

Having a couple of kids means there was a grace period of hand-me-downs, so not a lot of spending on new clothes during that time. Then they all shot up like bamboo stalks, and I found myself with an entire closet of barely-used garments that were of good quality and would be a shame to throw away.

Good thing I discovered ThredUp, which claims to be “the largest online consignment and thrift store”. With a BBB rating of A+, along with a great curation of the quality clothes they get on a daily basis, plus good customer service, I immediately knew where to send my kids’ gently-used clothes to sell!


3. Vintage stuff

My mom helped me figure out this one. Goodness knows she has more vintage (and even antique) stuff that needs flipping, or downright letting go of. I thought of consigning them with a quaint antique store in our town, but since their window display hasn’t been changed since the turn of the century, I highly doubted I’d be getting money from my vintage items any time within this decade.

Mom said to try Ruby Lane, which is the online equivalent of a quaint antique consignment shop. They deal with antiques, collectables, fine art, jewelry, and even vintage fashion. You simply register to be a seller after agreeing to their terms of use and meeting their listing requirements, then pay the seller charges and fees indicated on the site. Then you set up a virtual shop with a minimum of ten items to sell.

Oh, and they also credit $100 to your account for every new shop referral (guess who collected that much for recommending me - yep, my very happy, business-savvy mom!).


4. Cardboard boxes

Our cats don’t really mind the mountain of cardboard boxes we have accumulated through the years of package deliveries and moving houses. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion they actually prefer it over the rest of the furniture we have.

Sorry cats, mom needs more room to walk around the house without stumbling over unexpected boxes on the floor.

Good thing there’s BoxCycle, a site I learned from watching the new next-door neighbors while they were hauling in their stuff. They told me they used recycled (but still sturdy) boxes they bought off this virtual marketplace instead of buying new ones. I immediately fell in love with the idea of someone else being able to find a use for our old boxes instead of me throwing them away like I normally do. And why not? It’s economical, eco-friendly, and a great way to make extra cash (unfortunately, while upsetting cardboard-loving felines at home)! What’s not to love?


5. Store receipts

I wouldn’t have thought about this until a friend gave me the heads up but, recycling money is possible too! This is something that’s right up my alley. I’m a hoarder of receipts because I want to keep track of how quickly the price of grocery items have gone up, or so I can compare prices among different stores I frequent over the years. So now I have a bag full of receipts I can just shred into pieces, which I was set out to do until my friend showed me her Checkout 51 app.

The way it works is, you can download the app from either the App Store or the Play Store, then create an account. Once a week, you get a list of new offers which you can buy at your favorite store. The app is there for taking clear photos of the receipts you got for the offer you bought. You can then check off which items you bought in the list to “claim” them. The system processes your receipts, then credits your account with a cash back (you need $20 in your account to request for a check)!


6. Formal dresses

Now, selling trash can become a classy event. And by “trash”, I don’t mean trashy, or even the kind of garbage collected regularly.

I think all of us have a formal dress or suit which we bought to wear for one big event, then never managed to wear again. Formal dresses don’t come cheap, so it’s a pity they just stay in the closet for years, their glamorous details unseen and unappreciated.

I looked around for online sites where I can sell my frilly gowns, shawls, and evening bags, and found one that stood out because 1) it looked really classy, like the kind you’d want to bookmark for your own wedding, and 2) I liked how the store started out, which is pretty much on a search for an online marketplace for second-hand wedding dresses. I’m a sucker for entrepreneurs who boldly address a consumer need, no matter how niche or frivolous that might be. Also, recycling rocks.

Once Wed is a site that allows us to sell our pre-owned formal dresses (it’s a wedding-themed site, but there are sections for bridesmaids and wedding accessories if you don’t feel like parting with your bridal gown yet). The site categorizes the items by designer, price, size, style, material, silhouette, length, color, etc. so it’s easy to classify where your dress falls under.

Once Wed promises a secure online selling platform, and boasts of over 10,000 dresses sold thus far. You can be part of their listing service to be able to connect to potential buyers, pay a listing fee for a year, and start as many listings as you like (they offer discounts for multiple listings). The best thing about it is, the site doesn’t require a commission for any sale you make!


7. Unused, unexpired gift cards

Who doesn’t love gift cards? I personally think they make the perfect presents because it minimizes those awkward “thanks, you shouldn’t have” gift-giving moments when the item doesn’t fit your size, personality, taste, or lifestyle.

Still, there are unavoidable moments when the gift card in question doesn’t have a physical store anywhere near your location, or it’s from a retailer whose products or services aren’t really something you can use.

For moments like those, I turn to Cardpool. It’s a gift card exchange site that allows you to buy or sell GCs. I was intrigued by their promise of up to 92% cash back for every gift card they buy. You simply enter the gift card info, get an offer payout right away, then get paid in cash. They accept both physical and electronic gift cards, which is just amazing because there are several occasions a year when I’d have a boatload of them on hand.

You also get $5 per referral!


The verdict

These may not be a complete list of the best things to recycle for money, but I based the items on stuff I have cluttering up the house. far, so good! I’ve made a decent amount of money while clearing up a lot of surface and storage space I could definitely use. Now I’m strangely looking forward to clearing up the rest of the house to see if there are more stuff I can flip for cash using these sites I discovered.

I think the rule of thumb when it comes to selling quality pre-owned stuff is...well, quality. Don’t be surprised if an item you don’t want because it no longer looks attractive or useful gets rejected, because that’s just plain and simple common sense. Resell items that you yourself would consider a great bargain, and something you’d be proud to own, despite it not being brand-new.

Also, follow the sites’ terms of use and selling guides accordingly. They exist to have transactions done smoothly and in an organized way. Ignoring them and breaking regulations could result not just in getting your item rejected, but getting you permanently banned, as well.

Your turn

I would like to know if any of you here have ever flipped stuff you don’t need anymore for cash. What are they, and where did you sell them? How much money do you get for recycling items you no longer need, but are still in good shape and still usable? I would love to hear them, because I think I might just get in the habit of doing this.
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