Money Matters: Clutter into Cash

Education Resources, Finance 411,

After a seemingly endless winter, it’s finally spring – or, depending on where you are, more like summer. We’re again venturing outside and getting rid of winter clutter.

Not everyone’s a spring cleaner, but if you are, you may be getting rid of last season’s old clothes and toys.

That’s right, spring is also garage sale season!

This week’s Money Matters is admittedly a bit self-serving as it’s my neighborhood garage sale weekend.

I’ve sorted out some too-small clothes, cute but unworn shoes, etc. I even bought a rolling clothing rack for display.

But I’m beginning to wonder if the getting up early, sweltering in the hot sun and talking to strangers is worth it for a few bucks and inevitably a carload of unsold items at the end. Are there better ways to make a little money from unwanted items?

Your audience may be wondering the same thing.

A great money-focused story, or even series, could compare holding a yard sale with different options:

  • What about consignment?
  • Selling online?
  • Could the tax-write off for donating items instead be a better bet?

A fun way to make the story engaging and real for your audience could be to try an experiment. Track down a few sets of similar items commonly found at garage sales: books, toys, clothes, kitchen items etc. Try selling each set in a different way, or, for more engagement, make it a challenge involving members of your audience! Then see which items did best via different avenues and which sales method came out on top overall.

You’re sure to come up with some insights your audience will appreciate.

And for those garage sale die-hards for whom filling the lawn with items for sale is a spring tradition, here are some questions you should be asking to help your audience cash in their clutter:

  • How should various sale items be priced? Is it better to price-to-sell, ask for an offer or aim high?
  • What about budget? Garage sales can incur some costs (like my cloths bar). How can sellers balance upfront costs with what they expect to earn?
  • What types of items are worth trying to sell, and which should be skipped or could do better via consignment or online selling?
  • What are your local regulations on garage sales? Are permits required, or sales limited to specific days?
  • If sellers do hit it big, what do sellers need to know about taxes on those earnings?

As for my neighborhood sale this weekend, I’m just hoping I don’t spend more buying my neighbors’ old treasures than I earn on my own!

Try this story idea, one from our growing list or your own and submit it for a chance to cash in yourself!

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education