Out with the old, in with the new: How to cash in on your used gadgets

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Don’t let my middle-class upbringing and not-quite-homeless appearance fool you; I am a straight-up hustler. I flip TV’s, speakers, cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, guitars — practically anything with a power cord, really — just to make a few untaxable bucks outside of work and pay for all the overpriced cocktails and concert tickets I want. I’ve been doing it for years now, and not to brag, but I’m pretty damn good at it. I’m here today to share some of my wisdom with you, and give you some pointers on how and why you should sell your used electronics, like, tomorrow.

We’ll start with why you should sell your stuff.

1. You have too much of it

I’ve been to enough yard sales and helped enough people switch apartments that I know this for a fact. Most of us living in this consumption-crazed digital age have more electronic crap than we know what to do with. Go ahead and laugh at those people on Hoarders, but we all do it. I’m willing to bet your garage has at least one old computer monitor in it. I can’t tell you how many people I know that still have the AV receiver they stopped using 15 years ago, just because they’re too lazy to get rid of it, and in the back of their mind they think “I might need this in the future.” No, you won’t. That new one you bought will do just fine, and the old one is just taking up space.

2. Your stuff is only losing value

Unless you hold onto it until it’s old enough to become a collectors item, all of your old electronic crap will only depreciate over time. The rapid progression of technology is a double edged sword — there’s always something new and exciting, but every new generation of hardware typically makes your stuff worth less than it was yesterday. If you resell stuff sooner, you recoup more of the original cost and can put that money toward newer, nicer stuff.

3. You’ve probably been meaning to sell your old junk anyway

So just do it already and stop wasting time.

Where to sell your stuff

Don’t toil with any of those skeezy used electronics buyback services like Gazelle or Glyde. These are the pawn shops of the Internet: they might be quick and easy, but they rip you off like the tag on a king-size mattress. Use Craigslist and eBay to get the most back for your stuff. Selling things in these marketplaces definitely takes a bit more time and effort, but you’re rewarded for that work with higher returns. If you have a lot of crap to sell, and care more about getting rid of it than you do about making a profit, then I highly recommend using an app called Gone.

When deciding which site/service to use, be conscious of your target market. Craigslist is local and eBay is global. Something that might not sell on CL could get you huge returns on eBay, and certain things that would take weeks to sell on eBay might sell in a couple hours on Craigslist. It’s hard to explain, but an example I like to use is the Hello Kitty toaster I once got at a yard sale. I didn’t get a single response when I posted it on Craigslist, but it only took four hours before a bidding war for it erupted on eBay. Specific, niche items tend to do better on eBay because you have access to a wider market, whereas common items like iPods do better on Craigslist simply because they tend to get buried on eBay. It’s impossible to make a simple, overarching rule for when to sell something on one site versus the other, but just trust your judgement and you’ll be fine.

When in doubt, just post on both

To be honest, I only use eBay for about 10 percent of the stuff I sell — the rest is all on Craigslist. Since it’s a localized market, I don’t have to mess around with shipping, and almost all transactions are in cash, which just makes life easier.

Next page: How to sell your stuff

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