Can't fit your car in the garage? It might be time to do a deep cleaning. Before anything hits the trash though, take a step back: there are probably a number of items you have stowed away that could earn you some impressive cash. Check out the ideas below, and feel free to share your tips of the trade in the comments.
1. Big Ticket Items
A brand new generator might set you back between $200 and $2,000 from my latest survey of prices at a popular home improvement chain. My dad has a portable generator he bought when my parents lived way out in the country. Now that they've moved to a more central location, it gets little use and he wants to sell it. Sound familiar? Consider the value. I searched "used portable generator" on eBay and discovered around 75 hits with prices ranging from $50 to $2,400 for items in good condition.
Other big ticket sellers might include snow blowers, ride-on mowers, and even motorcycles or cars. The trick is assessing a fair value and finding the right place to sell. Kelley Blue Book is always the first place to check with vehicles. For the rest, try looking at similar listings in your local paper, Craigslist, eBay, or even on donation valuation charts (as a loose guide). When we bought our house last year, the couple who lived here planned to downsize. They sold their snow blower in two days for $350 by simply placing it outside the garage with a cardboard sign.
2. Camping Gear
We have a whole shelving unit full of camping stuff in our garage. There's anything and everything from lanterns to tents to portable cooking devices to cots and much more. Other frugally minded outdoorsy folks would surely appreciate the care we've taken to keep our gear in working order, so we might try to sell a few things this year. In fact, we bought our large family tent used for a couple hundred dollars — so we know the system works.
If this arena interests you, try sites like GearTrade, where you can buy and sell camping wares or just get insight on appropriate pricing if you'd rather sell yourself. Some items in "excellent" condition attract up to 99% of their original value. There are also a couple area camping groups on Facebook I might contact about larger things to avoid shipping.
3. Hand Tools
Let's face it, most of us aren't super handy. But that doesn't stop the hand tools from streaming in as gifts from well-meaning friends and family. Rather than hold onto a tool waiting to be inspired, try selling it. Take this Bosch 18-Volt Hammer Drill, for example. It retails at $219, and a few days ago I found a used one on eBay for $150. This number accords with the $131 average price for used hammer drills listed on Statricks. And it would make a solid return (a little over 55%) on something you might not have touched in over a year.
Keep in mind that certain brands of tools resell better than others, including DeWalt, Bosch, Ridgid, Makita, Milwaukee, Hitachi, Porter-Cable, Skil, and Delta. In other words, that entry-level saw you got a great deal on new might not seem as appealing on the used market. Along with quality, your buyers will be inspecting these tools for wear and tear, so check for any crimped cords or other issues and price accordingly.
4. Building Materials
Most of us have bought and sold on Craigslist, but have you heard about DiggersList? Those of you into DIY and home improvement might want to take a look. You can sell your surplus building supplies (or find some to purchase) and get a good portion off the original price. Anything back is better than waste, right?
You can sell your doors, pavers, flooring, wall tile, appliances, circuit breakers, and much more. If you'd rather not list online, try taking out an ad in the classifieds or contacting a local carpentry club. Then consider donating anything you don't sell to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
5. Outdoor Toys
Children outgrow their playhouses and other outdoor toys quickly, so they clutter garages like crazy. Not only can you earn back a good portion of what you paid (depending on the condition) — but the used toy market for items like these is refreshing with each generation of kids born into the world. Before having a yard sale, try local Facebook groups, Craigslist, and even re-sale stores like Once Upon a Child.
I recently sold a sand box my daughter didn't use much for $30, which is 75% of what I paid for it new. Not only that, I found an eager buyer in less than fifteen minutes on a Facebook mom group. I also took a whole bin of old toys (including a bike, wagon, and other outdoor ride-on) to Once Upon a Child and walked out a half hour later with $121.