How to monetize your new 'Tidying Up' obsession

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Myles Ma, CPFCSenior ReporterMyles Ma, CPFC, is a senior reporter and certified personal finance counselor at Policygenius, where he covers insurance and personal finance. His expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, CBS News, USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, and elsewhere.

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Everyone is getting rid of everything thanks to "Tidying up With Marie Kondo," a new reality show from the famed organizing consultant. Kondo has convinced people to toss possessions that don't "spark joy" to leave their homes less cluttered and less stress-inducing. But you don't have to lose your clothes, books and other items for nothing. Your stuff may not spark joy, but it can still make cash.

Kondo suggests going through your possessions in order, from clothes, to books, to paper, to miscellaneous items and deciding what to keep and what to purge. Your old papers probably aren't worth much, but here's how to make money on the other items.

Where to sell clothing

Poshmark allows sellers to photograph and upload items to their online closets quickly using their phones. The site provides pre-paid labels for easier shipping. Selling takes little effort, but buyers can haggle. (Learn how to haggle your way to a better budget.)

Instagram already provides a platform for people to show off their #ootd looks. You can turn your account into a storefront, though you'll have to manage payment, shipping and returns yourself.

Thredup is well-suited for people who want to get rid of a lot of stuff quickly. You order a bag, fill it with clothes, ship it to Thredup and they pay you for the items they accept.

Tradesy only accepts designer fashion, so if you have fancy items in good condition, this could be an option. Tradesy sends sellers a free shipping kit. For items that sell for less than $50, Tradesy takes a $7.50 commission. For items that sell for more, Tradesy takes 19.8%.

Where to sell books

The best place to start may be your local used book store. Call them up to see what they're looking for.

Bookscouter can help you learn what your books are worth. Its ISBN search tells you what other sellers are charging for the books you're trying to sell. It's mostly for textbooks, though.

The Amazon Trade-In program accepts books in exchange for Amazon gift cards. Amazon provides a free trade-in shipping label. You can also take items to a brick-and-mortar Amazon Books location.

Where to sell other stuff

Amazon lets you sell a variety of items. Individual sellers must pay a fee of $0.99 for every item sold, as well as a referral fee, depending on the type of item.

eBay takes 10% or less from each sale and also allows you to sell basically anything.

For those who want to sell locally, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace allow you to list items for free. Transactions using these services are more hands-on: You have to arrange the payment method and meeting place yourself. On the other hand, Craigslist and Facebook won't take any of the proceeds. (Homeowners insurance can help protect the possessions you don't sell. Policygenius can help you find the best price.)

How to sell safely

Selling old possessions online can be lucrative. But it can get weird.

Christina Farley, email marketing associate for Policygenius, sells items on Craigslist and Facebook for herself and her parents, who are downsizing.

"It's so fun for me," Farley said. "I've probably made $4,000 for my parents at this point selling furniture, sports stuff, musical stuff."

In December, Farley sold a Nativity set her family hadn't used for 10 years. The set originally included about 10 figures that lit up, though a sheep and a cow had gone missing over the years. Originally purchased for $200 at Home Depot, Farley posted the set for $125 on Craigslist.

A woman responded, saying she would pick it up at 8:30 that night. The time arrived but no one came. Farley messaged her, "Where are you?"

The woman said she didn't have a big enough car to pick it up, so Farley accepted a request from a second buyer who lived two hours away. While the second buyer was on her way, the first buyer (let's call her Cathy) emailed Farley.


Farley said she already agreed to sell it to someone else. Cathy only took this as a challenge.


Now Farley had two buyers coming to her parents' house for one Nativity set.

"I'm starting to get really nervous," Farley said. "My heart is beating. This was over a Christmas Nativity set, mind you."

Farley sat at a window and watched. A car came down the street.

"Oh my God," Farley said. "Who is it? Is it the crazy lady or is it the woman from two hours away?"

Luckily, the second buyer had made an early enough start to beat Cathy. When the woman had left, Farley messaged Cathy and said the Nativity set was gone. Cathy wasn't pleased.


Exercise caution when selling something to a stranger, said Kelvin Coleman, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. If you're not careful, you can become a victim of fraud or worse, since transactions are in-person.

"Buying or selling items via social sites bridges both personal and online security, so a good rule of thumb is trust your instincts," Coleman said.

To arrange these transactions, use a email address separate from the account you use for dealing with financial or health issues. Limit the information you reveal about yourself both in conversation with the buyer and in anything you post online. Meet in a public place during the day like a coffee shop or library where other people will be present, he said.

If that's not possible, recruit a buddy to be present during the sale, especially if the buyer is coming to your home, Coleman said. Use common sense, Coleman said. If anything feels fishy, call off the deal.

Have you sold anything online? Tell us how it went in the comments.

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