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10 things you should always buy and sell on eBay

Whether using traditional auctions, or the more popular Buy It Now option, what should you be going to eBay for first? Find out here. 

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    Signage at eBay headquarters in San Jose, Calif., Jan. 14, 2015.
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There's no doubt that eBay has become a go-to place for anyone looking for a deal. But whether using traditional auctions, or the more popular Buy It Now option, what should you be going to eBay for first? And, what should you be selling on eBay to ensure you get the most money for your items?

What to Buy on eBay

For all this stuff, eBay is the place to shop.

1. Personalized Items

Back in the day, a personalized item (whether for yourself, or as a gift for a friend or loved one) was something that cost quite a bit of money. Nowadays, thanks to eBay and international sellers, you can get some truly awesome items for a fraction of what you would expect. I recently used eBay to find a Ghostbusters nametag for my Halloween outfit this year, finding someone willing to custom embroider my last name, in the exact font and colors used in the movie, for $10 including shipping. I was astonished — it was great quality, too. I've ordered nameplates, shirts, hats, monogrammed pens, and so many other items for almost the same cost as it would be without the personalization.

2. Anything Vintage, Rare, or Hard to Find

If you can think of it, you'll probably find it on eBay. If you're into Star Trek comics from the '80s, or souvenirs from Alcatraz, there will be someone out there on eBay selling it — it's why I always go to eBay first when I'm looking for something nostalgic. I've found old TV shows that regular stores won't carry, original Xbox games, action figures from my childhood, and crazy shirts and suits from the 1960s. The best thing about eBay is that you can shop for all of these items in one place, add them to your cart, and do one checkout. Your payment will be sent to the multiple sellers separately.

3. Used and Refurbished Tools

Great tools can be very expensive. Of course, cheap tools may save you money in the short term, but they will break, or worse, cause an injury. But, you don't have to go to the hardware stores and pay top dollar for top tools. The selection you'll find on eBay will stagger you, and will always come in cheaper than those you'll find in stores near you. From power drills and sanders, to wrenches and garden tools, eBay has everything you want — most of the time with free shipping. Just don't wait until the last minute to order something.

4. Jewelry

Provided you know your size (and many places online will let youdownload a sizing chart for free anyway), you can get some insane deals on all kinds of jewelry, from high-end valuables, to $10 rings and necklaces. The selection available on eBay will dwarf anything at a brick-and-mortar jeweler, and you can benefit from eBay's buyer guarantees. I have a bunch of very large, intricate skull rings that I found on eBay for between $10 and $20 apiece. They all came with free shipping, and are made of surgical steel. Would I have liked silver? Maybe, but they look exactly the same and cost 10 times less. I get comments on them all the time, and when people ask which store I got them from, I always say eBay. Most people seem surprised.

5. Automotive Parts

Make no mistake, if you are looking for parts to replace the broken ones in your car or truck, the last place you want to get them is the dealership or specialist supply store. In every case (unless someone would like to prove otherwise), you are going to be paying significant markups, as these places have to support a large staff, building costs, and all the other overhead. When you shop on eBay, you have access to hundreds and thousands of parts from both licensed sellers, hobbyists, and people who find parts at wrecking yards. As always, you'll be protected by a guarantee from eBay, so if the part is not exactly as described, you can get your money back. Just remember, if it's a used part, you want to inspect it very carefully before having it installed.

What to Sell on eBay

For the most part, if you want to be rid of it, someone else wants to buy it.

6. Your Good Quality Shoes and Clothing

When the time comes to clear out the closet in spring or fall, most of us take those clothes and shoes to the local thrift stores. Not so fast. Take a look through your pile and see what you have.

Any high-end name brand clothing and footwear in good condition can earn you a significant amount of money on eBay. An old track jacket that you don't like, or have outgrown, can earn almost all of its money back. Sometimes, you can make more than you paid for it, if the item was a limited edition, or was worn by someone famous in a show or movie. A case in point…the Black Sabbath T-shirt that Tony Stark wore in The Avengers. Before the movie came out, it was a $5 tee. After, people were paying big money for it, until the stores caught on and issued a reprint. So, next time you clean out the closet, make two piles — one for thrift, the other for eBay.

7. Fabrics, Curtains, and Sheets

Mark this one down as another category that most of us think is worthless. Or, at least not worth the hassle of selling. Actually, you'd be surprised. In particular, old curtains that may not suit your current décor could be highly prized by someone theming out their apartment or office, particularly if they have a very distinctive or "dated" pattern. What is out of style to some is very chic to others.

The same goes for sheets, duvet covers, pillowcases, and all those fabric remnants that you have left over from craft projects. You can even sell fabric and upholstery scraps, and I mean the smallest off-cuts. Right now, a pound of leather scraps can sell for $20 including shipping; that's $20 you were about to throw in the trash.

8. Legos

It doesn't matter if you have a complete set, a set missing a few pieces, or a random bucket of assorted Lego bricks — they will all sell quickly on eBay. And, you may be surprised at how much money you can get. I recently found a Lego Star Wars Imperial Destroyer at my local thrift store for $10. It was still in the box, but was clearly not all there. After doing a count, over 30 pieces were missing. I figured I'd throw it on eBay to see what happened, and it sold for over $100. Some of the figures from these sets can sell for $5–$10 each!

What you have to remember with Lego is that the pieces you have may complete sets other people desperately want to build, and they will pay for it. Lego is also expensive to buy new, and that will never change. So, grab your Lego pieces and bag them up. You can sell them by the pound.

9. Anything Collectible

Whether it's rare baseball cards, signed hockey jerseys, vintage vinyl, or a prototype of an Apple computer from Steve Wozniak's garage, these items will fare way better from the auction-style listings on eBay than a fixed priced listing on Craigslist, or even a garage sale. You also have the chance to reach a worldwide audience, which makes the bidding war international. Something you may have gotten $50–$100 for may get you ten times that amount on eBay, if you find the right buyer at the right time.

A prime example of this is the vintage Denver Nuggets jersey I recently sold on eBay. I was planning to list it for $25 on Craigslist, but instead I started it at $15 on eBay. It was a risk, since I could have gotten $10 less than I wanted. In the end, I got $162 for that jersey. Even after eBay takes their percentage, it's still a much better deal.

10. Cell Phones, Tablets, and Other Tech

When you replace your cell phone, you may be tempted to do a trade-in deal. Don't do it. You will get a rock bottom price for it from the store, because they plan to sell it for a profit. Instead, gather all of the accessories, the charger, and hopefully the original box, and sell it on eBay. The thing that attracts people to used smartphones is that they are not tied to a contract. With a little digging, you may also be able to unlock your phone first, making it suitable for any carrier. A phone you may have gotten $50 for from a store could sell for over $200 on eBay, and it's as simple as taking a few photos and creating a listing.

The same thing applies to tablets, smart watches, laptops, and other technology. Even old, broken, and irreparable technology will sell, as it can be dismantled for parts. Do not simply throw these things out until you have first searched eBay for current prices.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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