John has touched on it before: selling things on eBay. If you’re really serious about saving and building your emergency fund, it’s something you definitely should consider!
We all have stuff in our closets or sitting on shelves that we think we can’t part with but we actually haven’t even touched in years, right? Yes, I’m right. Be honest. You don’t really need those two Thigh Masters in the attic. You only have two of them because you forgot you had the first one since you never used it. (And you bought them both 20 years ago.) They’re in the attic for a reason. Selling things, whether online through an auction like eBay, or just having a yard sale (though you may not rake in as much cash that way) has benefits other than making some extra money: you can also de-clutter your life and get rid of some things you don’t need.
Here are a few pointers if you’re new to the world of eBay:
1. Do a little research on your item before listing it on eBay.
Find out what the average selling price is. You don’t want it to be too high or it won’t sell, but you don’t want to give it away either. Start the bid at the absolute minimum you will take for it; just make sure that it’s a reasonable price. The cool thing about auctions is that if you list an item for a good price, you may end up getting more than you expected in a bidding war!
2. Always abide by eBay etiquette.
Describe your items honestly, ship quickly, and just be true to your word. If a seller has a problem with you, you can be assured that they will leave feedback about it for all to see. That reduces your chances of selling again because people might not trust you. So, be an honest seller and communicate well with your bidders and buyers.
3. Don’t overcharge for shipping . . . or undercharge!
This is an uncertain area if you don’t sell much. Buyers can be pretty sensitive in this area, which is understandable. I don’t want to pay too much for shipping either! But when I started selling I actually lost a dollar or two in the process because I undercharged. If you’re unsure, pack the item and weigh it so you can calculate how much it will take to ship it. Most post offices have scales you can weigh it on and it will give you the postage amount. Or you can weigh it yourself and calculate it on the shipper’s website, usually (USPS, FedEx, etc). Try your best to figure the amount you should charge for shipping before you list it.
4. Be willing to offer a refund.
This assures buyers that you back your product. I personally will not buy from anyone who does not offer a refund, because that means if the product doesn’t arrive the way it was described, there’s nothing I can do about it.
5. Leave feedback.
In the online auction world this feedback is the key to your credibility! Buyers will leave comments on your profile for others to see, whether they’ve had a good or bad experience with buying from you. But it’s just as crucial (and polite) to leave your buyers some feedback so future sellers know they can be trusted.
These are just a few tips of selling through eBay, but more advice can be found all over the internet.
Don’t expect it to be emotionally easy, either. I recently started selling a lot of my stuff on eBay, and let me tell you: selling my Nintendo DS and games kind of hurt! I didn’t really want to get rid of it in case I want to play it again one day, but the fact of the matter is that I haven’t played it in a couple of years. Instead of sitting on my shelf collecting dust, I decided to sell to help build my emergency fund and pay off credit card debt.
You certainly don’t need to sell everything you own, unless of course God calls you to that like the Rich Young Ruler! (I do know people who have done that. We could all learn a lot from him and his story in Luke chapter 18, but that’s another blog for another time.) Take a long look at your possessions and ask yourself: do I really need this? Could I live without it? If the answer is yes (but if you’re anything like me then your answer will always be “NO!” before you really think about it), consider letting it go to someone who will actually use and enjoy it.
I have a friend who was sponsored as a child in Africa. In her letters, his sponsor instructed him to “live simply, so that others may simply live.” That is a quote I have taken to heart ever since I heard it, and I have passed along as well. There’s nothing wrong with having some fun toys and cool gadgets, but if you don’t have money to give generously to others who are truly in need simply because you work just to buy the newest and coolest thing, then it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate our priorities.
In case you were wondering, I don’t miss my Nintendo!
Simplify your life. Live simply, so that others may simply live!
Have you ever sold items on eBay? What tips do you have for the rest of us? Meet us in the comments!