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  • Dave Kinzer

Need More Cash? Sell On eBay

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

(Would you rather listen to this post with additional content? Check out my podcast, "Money on the Brain". Click HERE and listen to episode #11 to learn about selling on eBay.)

There are two basic ways you can solve most money troubles. You can make more money, or spend less money.

Spending less money is usually easier, because everyone, myself included, buys things they don’t really need. But occasionally, making more money is a viable option.

One way to make more money is to sell items on eBay. Selling items on eBay is great because for one, it’s free to list most items for sale. Two, you’ll have a worldwide base of potential customers. Three, it doesn’t require much time to list and ship an item.

Since it’s free to put an item up for sale, go ahead try it. If you list something for a fixed price, as opposed to an auction, your item can remain up for sale indefinitely. If it never sells, no big deal. But if it does, then great- you’ve traded an unwanted and unused item for cash!

You can list up to 50 items for free each month. eBay used to charge between 25 and 50 cents to list something for sale, but they’ve gotten rid of that fee. If you list more than 50 items, however, you’ll have to pay 35 cents for each listing past 50 for most categories.

If it’s free to list an item for sale, how does eBay make its money? eBay charges its sellers a Final Value Fee. This fee will be a percentage of the total of the sale (including shipping costs). For most items, the fee is 10%. Let’s say you sell a set of books for $20.00. You charge $6 for shipping, so the total amount of the sale is $26.00. You would have to pay eBay $2.60 for your Final Value Fee.

You’ll also have to pay a payment processing fee. In the early days of eBay, a lot of people would pay with a check, or send actual cash through the mail. I remember selling a book for $4.50, years ago. The buyer paid by mailing me four dollar bills and two quarters. That’s not going to work today. You’ll need to set up an account with a company like Paypal.

Every time a buyer pays you through Paypal, you’ll be charged 2.9% of the final sale, plus 30 cents. So if we go back to our sale of the books for $26.00, you’d have to pay Paypal $1.05.

Don’t forget to figure in all of your costs when setting your price. In our example, you’d have to pay a total of $9.65 for the Final Value Fee, Paypal’s processing fee, and $6 for shipping. So instead of getting $26.00 from this sale, you’d really net $16.35. Is that worth it to you? If not, raise your price.

If you’re not sure what to put up for sale, just look around- do you have some old DVDs, video games, books, or clothes in nice condition you don’t want anymore? Have countless broken electronic items taking up space in your basement? Great! eBay has a thriving scene selling broken things.

Just this past week, these broken items sold on eBay: Xbox One Elite controller, $31; Iphone 8, $124; Antique brass ceiling fixture, $25; Men’s Seiko Kinetic watch, $39; Vintage pocketknife, $15; 21-inch Imac, $150. Every one of these items had a broken part, or didn’t work right, and people still bought it. So don’t worry if all you can find to sell around your house is junk, someone might buy it.

To get started, go to eBay's website, or download their app. The app makes it especially quick and easy to list something. You’ll probably have your first item listed in ten minutes.

It might take you a while to get your first sale, but once you get going, you’ll have a nice side-income rolling in every month. Then you can use that money to help meet your financial goals.

Good luck!

*UPDATE* I took my own advice and looked around the house for some items to sell. I found three unused Apple items just taking up space in a closet. I like Macs, but I don't like their keyboards or mice. The last time I bought a Mac, I just put the keyboard and mouse in the closet, and continued to use my old keyboard and mouse that I liked.

So I put the Apple magic mouse, a remote control for the iMac, and the keyboard and mouse up for sale on eBay. Within a week, I sold two of the three items!

The magic mouse sold for $29.99, and the keyboard and mouse set sold for $62.00. The remote control hasn't sold yet.

So simply by clearing out a closet and listing some items on eBay, I brought in an extra $92 that month! Nice.

I hope you have some success with this same strategy. I'm off to find more items to sell on eBay.

*UPDATE #2* May 11, 2020- Sold three more items that were just sitting around gathering dust- A remote control for my Mac ($6), a book about herbs ($7), and a manual, strategy cards, and posters that came with a Nintendo game ($15) that somehow I'd carried around with me for the past 30 years.

Sadly, when I went to box up the remote control, I could not find it! I had to cancel the sale. So if you list some things on eBay, put them in a dedicated place so you can actually sell them when someone buys them.

UPDATE #3 June 7, 2020- I found the Mac remote control! I cleverly put it in a box designated for items to sell on eBay, then promptly forgot that I did that. So I sold it, again, for $6. I also sold a 12-year old textbook for $15.99, and a bicycle seat, also for $15.99. I had previously tried to sell the bike seat for a measly $3 at a garage sale.

So I brought in another $38 from stuff just sitting around my house that I wasn't using. Have you found anything to sell yet?

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