How to: make money while decluttering your home

Let’s face it; most of us really have too much ‘stuff’ in our homes. Clothes, books, furniture, nic-nac’s, tools, sporting equipment…..the list goes on. Things that we perhaps once valued will ultimately sit dormant and unloved in a cupboard or in the garage, taking up space and gathering dust. As Jerry Seinfeld once quipped, “all things on earth only exist in becoming different stages of garbage”.

Is it time you scaled down and simplified your home environment? The good news is that it may be more worthwhile than you first think. Apart from a sense of achievement, there is also handy pocket money to be made. So, how do you go about converting your ‘trash into treasure’?

Here are out top tips to make it simple, safe and profitable:

Step 1: Choosing what to sell
Motivation can quickly wane if you become obsessed with wanting to make money on every single thing. You gradually realise that you have more to get rid of than thought and trying to sell it all will take too much time and effort. The first rule, therefore, is to set a minimum dollar limit for what you will sell. If you don’t think an item will get at least $10 for example, then don’t waste time on it. Give it to charity so you can focus on selling the things that are worthwhile. This can save hours of time in sorting, cleaning, pricing and posting items for sale. Concentrate on one room at a time and sort everything into a ‘charity’ pile and a ‘sales’ pile, Have a space allocated in the home to accumulate, sort and prepare what you will ultimately sell.

Step 2: Preparing items
Items such as toys, kitchenware and clothing will need to be freshly washed. Depending on your method of sale you may need to price tag items – always best done in advance. Mark prices clearly on bright stickers or labels.

For larger items, such as furniture, jot down measurements to include in advertising to boost interest. The same goes for other specifications, such as capacities, age, materials, condition and even any minor imperfections – being honest can gain trust from a buyer and help make a genuine sale.

Selling online? Photography is critical. Keep photos free of clutter, well lit and arrange the items to showcase the best features. Also, take close ups of important details.

Step 3: Price appropriately
Put a realistic and ‘saleable’ price on items. Pricing too high may limit interest, but pricing too low can (strangely) also discourage interest, as people may assume there is something wrong with what you are selling. This is particularly relevant if you are selling online. If you have no idea what a ‘reasonable’ price is then do some research. Simply get online and see what similar items are selling for. If you intend selling at a garage sale, spend an hour the weekend before at some local sales and see how others are pricing similar goods. Remember that second hand buyers are invariably looking to bargain, so factor that into your pricing so you have some ‘wriggle room’ to allow for slight discounts.

Step 4: How to sell
Should you go ‘old school’ or try an online options? Each method has its own advantages and your choice will depend on your available time and what best suits your personality. Here are some tips and features on each method to help you decide.

Garage sale
A garage sale generally limits your sales to a limited audience, however, you have the advantage of targeting locals who can impulse buy a multitude of items. Here are some top tips to increase chances of success.

Before the sale:

  • Check out other garage sales. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – people love to share what has worked for them. Check local papers and your council website to pick a date that doesn’t clash with other community events, such as fetes or sporting events.
  • Inform your neighbours and family and friends who live nearby as they may want to join you in selling their stuff. A greater range of goods is more attractive to buyers. It will also help spread the load of tasks, such as sale set up, signage and advertising plus it will make the day more enjoyable socially.
  • If you don’t have great passing traffic nearby then consider holding a cooperative sale with a friend or relative who has a higher visibility location. You may even have a local church or community group that hosts a car boot sale, which may give you greater exposure than your own front lawn (usually only for a small site fee).


  • Local papers usually have a garage sale category in their classifieds.
  • Many local councils let you register to appear on a page on their website dedicated to advertising local garage sales.
  • Let Facebook friends know you are having a sale and post a pic or two of major items.
  • Gumtree has a garage sale section you can advertise on.
  • Get some signs made up to place on local streets on the day of sale. Aim for high traffic areas and opt for a prominent arrow, rather than writing a full address so it is quickly read and understood. Check local council guidelines for garage sale signage and be careful not to interfere with traffic signage or create a driving hazard. Remove signs promptly at the end of the sale.

On the day:
The setup of your sale area can make all the difference:

  • Use tables/trestles to keep things at a convenient height for buyers.
  • Put similar items together and keep everything neat and tidy. Clothes should be on hangers or neatly folded. Ziplock bags are useful for items that are in pieces like games or toys.
  • Make sure price tags are clearly visible
  • Large items such as furniture should be placed near the front to attract passing traffic.
  • Stay attentive during the sale and tidy up any stock that has been disturbed.
  • Engage with buyers – it lets people know who to give the money too and it makes it more enjoyable too.
  • After the sale: be ruthless with anything not sold and give the leftovers to charity – remember the objective is to de-clutter, so don’t waste all the energy of getting the stuff out by putting it all back.

Selling via Facebook
Before going to an online sales site like Gumtree, consider how Facebook can be used as a sales channel. Generally it will target a smaller audience, but it holds advantages in audience affinity and locality, as well as being easy to use and no-cost. Here’s how:

  • Your Facebook friends may be your most receptive audience because you have the advantage of trust and convenience.
  • Make a Facebook photo album of your what you’re selling and give it a name that indicates what it is, such as ‘My virtual garage sale’. You can enter a description and any specs to go with each photo.
  • ‘Share’ the album on your Facebook page at different times of the day over a period of about a week (although you don’t want to overdo it and become annoying). Vary the ‘album cover’ shot each time to prompt interest.
  • You can then progress to seeking and joining Facebook buy/sell groups, which are springing up all over the country. These are usually locality based groups that are fairly open for anyone to join and are useful for large and small items because people are more willing to look at anything that has the convenience of being local.

Here are the basics:

  • A quick peruse of the group’s page will give you an idea of how people list items and how responses come in via the comments on each item.
  • Photos and detailed description are essential.
  • Once someone is interested, always communicate personal details, such as phone numbers or email addresses, via a personal Facebook message, rather than in the comments section.
  • For security, arrange a public place to meet the buyer to make the exchange (rather than at your home).

Online sales sites
If you haven’t explored the world of online sales sites before, think of them as being like a web based version of the good old newspaper classifieds. Sites like Gumtree give you exposure to a national audience and lots of active buyers, making them a popular option for selling household goods. Here are a few tips for successful use:

  • Providing a phone number in your advertisement allows you to snag buyers while they are ‘hot’, but only give out your mobile number and not your name or home number, to maintain privacy. Alternatively, just provide an email address.
  • Attract more interest by giving a full description with measurements, condition, age, special features, materials or any other relevant details
  • The website Gumtree allows up to 10 photos of each item, so take advantage of this with good clear photos from various angles to best show off each item.

Step 5: recording your success
To maintain motivation, it’s a good idea to keep a record of your sales – you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up. Another motivating tip is to allocate the money raised to a special purpose, like a holiday or some other rewarding goal to spur you on. It can be a lot of fun to experiment with the different methods mentioned here and apart from the benefits of decluttering the home and boosting the bank balance; it could even end up becoming a satisfying hobby.

For more tips on decluttering click here

Have you ever given away or sold something you regretted? Join our conversation below …