Do you eBay?

gwtamaraApril 30, 2008

Hi everyone,

The iVillage producers are working on a piece about people selling things on eBay, etc., to help pay the bills. While you may not specifically be doing this because of the current economy, I know quite a few of you are avid ebayers -- so, any tried-and-true tips that you have would also be welcomed. Thanks for your help!


GardenWeb Community Manager

In light of the recession, are you selling anything on eBay or Craigslist (or in a yard sale) to help make ends meet? If so, what are you selling? Do you have any selling tips for others interested in making some extra cash by selling some of their possessions?

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It has nothing to do with the recession, but yes, I sell things on Ebay. Mostly, it's stuff I have around the house or stuff that friends give me to sell. Sometimes, I happen to find things at yard sales that I buy and re-sell.

Here are my tips:

1. For the most part, sell only new things or things in very good used condition.

2. Unless it's a relatively expensive item (say, $25 or more), don't bother listing it in more than one category or using any of the fancy templates that Ebay offers. Do take the time to search for the best category.

3. Make sure to post a picture. People like me won't even bother to look if there's not a picture. One picture (free with your Ebay listing) is usually enough (again, unless the item is fairly expensive).

4. Keep your starting bid as low as possible, but not so low that you feel it's not worth it to sell the item. Research a bit on Ebay to see what others are asking for similar items. Some things aren't really worth selling unless you can sell in great volume, as they don't fetch much individually.

5. Keep your postage reasonable and in-line with what others are charging, but don't short-change yourself. Figure out what shipping will cost, then add a dollar or two to make sure you don't lose money here.

6. Write detailed descriptions. Include everything you can think of that you'd want to know if you were in the market for the product.

7. Consider offering a cash-back return policy. I've done it for years (I stipulate that buyer must pay return shipping), and no one has ever taken me up on it. I think it adds a measure of comfort, though.

8. Keep in touch with buyers. Send an email when they win your auction, another when you ship, and another in a week or so to ask if they received the item or to thank them if they left positive feedback.

9. Ship fast, within a day or two. Buyers want their stuff, and it's much too easy to put off.

  1. Familiarize yourself with Click-and-Ship from the U.S. Post Office. You can do everything online, including scheduling pickup by your mail carrier.

That's about it for my tips. Hope it wasn't too long!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 11:43PM
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I don't eBay, Craigslist, or garage sale, to help pay bills, or for any other reason.

As I thought about the subject a bit, I came to the conclusion we (hubby and I) generally don't waste money on "things" to begin with that could be sold. No closets over-flowing with little-used designer clothing/shoes/bags and impulse purchases. No garage full of unused/unwanted/out-grown/out-dated "toys" and electronics (childrens OR adults).

We live on less than we make and follow a budget - including $50/week for groceries. We have no debt other than our house, so we have REAL money (earning interest) to help cover expenses when we go through increases.

If you've found yourself in a desperate situation where you need money fast for regular expenses and you have a "boat-load" of items for sale on eBay (etc.), chances are you really didn't need them in the first place.

If you don't have enough money to pay your cell phone bills, cable TV bills, manicures, pedicures, expensive hair treatments, expensive habits like drinking/smoking/gambling/golf, etc., or out-of-control shopping - perhaps you should learn to do without those things so you can pay for your basics FIRST - shelter, utilities, food, transportation, clothing (and for the most part, people have more than enough of those).

Time for some new life's lessons:

1. Buy it cheaper and pay cash for it (NO CREDIT CARDS, NO PAYMENTS).
2. Make it last longer.
3. Use it less or use less of it.
4. Just because you want it doesn't mean you need it. Wait 24-hours before you purchase something that is unnecessary to figure out the difference.

So, get rid of your "stuff" if you must - I see it as a band-aid solution ONLY. Joann23456 gave some really great hints to do that. But also learn some new lessons on how "desperate" was usually preceeded by "BROKE" (didn't have any savings but had a lot of "stuff") and "stupid" (didn't plan for that rainy day and didn't have a budget). Avoid broke and stupid and you'll hopefully avoid being desperate. Kinda reminds me of the old story of the grasshopper and the ant.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 8:31AM
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I have one great eBay tip. The site itself is slow as molasses. So while you're waiting for the shift from your search page to the listing itself, read the GardenWeb forums. Firefox is my preferred browser, but I use Explorer for reading here when eBay has Firefox tied up.

I've bought a few things on eBay, but I often browse there. It's sort of like doing a google search - you start out looking at one topic, and find yourself finding out all sorts of info. eBay can be like wandering through a huge antique mall from an armchair.

We inherited all my MIL's knick-knacks. She had great taste, but her things don't necessarily go with ours. I'll probably sell some of them on eBay one day, so I appreciate Joann's notes. Some, like the return policy, I wouldn't have thought of.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 12:04AM
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Don't really know why I'm responding - probably because AOL already scooped you on this with one of their headline articles a few days ago now already.

I'm with grainlady - house is mortgage free, zero credit card debt, pay cash for cars, and on and on. Always saved with an eye to the future, lived well but within my means, bought what I needed (and sometimes wanted) and tried for quality so it lasted. No I don't eBay, Craigslist, yard sale, or flea market. If I couldn't afford my electric bill because I had a history of buying stuff for no other reason than it filled a gap in my life, I guess I'd have to be satisfied with 10 cents on the dollar and a hope the utilities stayed on.

My intention is not to sound unsympathetic and I beg anyone's indulgence for any offense - I fully comprehend that people are faced with an unprecedented rise in the costs of food and basic commodities; with job losses; unexpected emergencies; catastrophic health issues; educating children; resetting ARMS gone into knowingly or unwittingly. In conjunction with those things beyond our control, we've also seen people faced with runaway foolish spending and conspicuous consumption coupled with a lack of financial savvy and planning. I look at eBay and similar venues as a last desperate gasp for some (not everyone!). It's a cautionary tale - what happens if we snatch an economic upturn from the jaws of recession? Will we have learned anything?

A rising tide lifts all boats; high net worth individuals are paying $3.59 (or higher in places) for a gallon of gas, too or $3 for a pasty loaf of bread. The consensus is they're not affected in any way by any of this. It's kind of interesting how people get to be high net worth, but not so politic to discuss.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 6:03PM
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I've been a buyer on Ebay since 2000, when I got my first home computer. Hubby and I are thinking of selling stuff on Ebay, not a lot, just old hobby stuff we no longer use. He owns somes old stamps and coins and books he would like to get rid of. If we could trade our clutter for cash,it would be great. Good tips,Joann.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 9:01AM
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My hubby and I have been eBay sellers since August of 2000 and we are getting out of it hopefully be year end. It is getting to be a horrid place to sell. Ebay keeps changin policy and now sellers have no protection against scammer buyers. Ebay policy has gotten totally ambiguous and contradictory in many area. And there is not protection against other unscrupulous sellers that come in and steal our own original designs. Sales are down and competition is tough, and then there is the infamous ebay mafia. Not at all like it used to be.

I do not recommend it to anyone anymore.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 11:34PM
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Hi, I have Ebayed for many years. I've bought and sold. My kids have learned valuable lessons from my selling. When my son wants something new, he sells something he's tired of to get his new item. We have bought items for alot less on Ebay than what we would pay in a store for the same item. Ebay is basically recycling at its best. And most of my Ebay items were not stuff I bought I got tired of. I did a job where I cleaned out a house, a PACKED house and I sold off the contents, and I helped out with Christmas that year, and alot of other years. Mostly I have used my Ebay income to buy presents, Christmas, birthday, etc. So that money didn't come out of our money, it was extra for extras. So anytime I do get tired of something, or want to upgrade, I will list this item and it will find its way to someone who will use it, appreciate it. Now Ebay has changed alot since I first started using it, but I've had more great experiences than bad ones. It's not for everyone, you have to decide if it is right for you.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:02PM
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I have Ebayed for a couple of yrs. now & have had more good than bad experiences. I bought a brand new pair of sapphire earrings for $25 with the Sears $200.00 tag. On the other hand I bought a vintage cigareete case for $4.99 plus sh & h, which was $10 & received it all broken up due to the seller skimping on the packaging. I lost $10. OUCH! I usually do great like the one person said getting things a lot cheaper than I would around here. Everybody gave you some good tips! Just be careful buying or selling because there are scammers out there BIGTIME!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 9:11AM
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So PVP says Ebay is getting to be horrible. I used to travel New York to Massachusetts to Pensylvania to New Jersey to Florida visiting antique shows. Thirty years ago they were great, then Ebay came along and started eating into their sales. The antique shows went downhill, many of them closed. Noe Ebay is going downhill. What's the next big thing? Where can I find bargains?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 8:35AM
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"We live on less than we make and follow a budget - including $50/week for groceries. We have no debt other than our house, so we have REAL money (earning interest) "to help cover expenses when we go through increases.

If you've found yourself in a desperate situation where you need money fast for regular expenses and you have a "boat-load" of items for sale on eBay (etc.), chances are you really didn't need them in the first place. "

Well, pat yourself on the back. You're soooo good.

Last year, I found myself selling airplane parts (avionics and gyroscopes) to pay my utility bills. I aquired these when I owned a twin engine plane while flying for Eastern Air Lines in the 80s and 90s, and earning six digits. Today I'm making less than one third of what I used to. So are you going to call me irresponsible? (Oh I sold my Piper Seneca as soon as we folded) All of us at EAL were supposed to have our seniority merged with Continental, but due to CAL's slick attorneys, we were excluded.

My point is that we never know how our finacial situations change, due to illness, our employers going out of business, etc. I hope that you never have a stroke, and need LTC and end up BK because of it.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 3:11PM
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A local news article profiled a lady who had to sell her Hermes scarf collection to put food on the table... and she was lamented that all her leather jackets may have to be sold too.

And we are suppose to feel sorry for her?

Sorry, tom... but I agree with grainlady (We also have a similar lifestyle to hers...). Too many people have lived beyond their means, filled their houses with stuff, not knowing the difference between 'needs' and 'wants'. I am glad they are getting a wake-up call!

Yes, there are people truly hurting, and I hope they get the help they need.

But feeling sorry for people who foreclose on vacation homes, or people who have to give up the Hummer, or (as mentioned on another board on this site) tweens having to give up bikini waxes?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 4:37PM
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I sell my children's outgrown clothing, toys and other stuff, things we don't need any more, and also things I bought at yard sales (sell those at a profit). This way we keep clutter under control. Everybody outgrows/no longer has use for some things and why should you throw them away? Most charities don't really want used clothes, pots and pans, etc, so we sell them. Also I think almost everybody at sometime has been given a gift or two that they didn't like.

But our real windfall is yard sales and estate sales. We have saved so much money that way. The trick is to only buy what you really need. For example, we got a stove/double oven at an estate sale, only one year old, for $25. Had it 3 years now and it works perfectly. We are able to get certain qualities of carpets and furniture that we could not afford otherwise. Well, okay, we probably COULD afford it, but who wants to pay full price? We have a Saturday date every week- go yard saling, then have a nice lunch. It's our together time, we laugh and talk and are just having fun for about 4 hours. People who know about this really make fun of us, but we are laughing all the way to the bank!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 4:38PM
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Sorry tom418 - envy is still considered one of the 7 deadly sins - and you're right - we DESERVE a pat on the back.

We went through belt-tightening times in the 80's when hubby took a $20,000/year pay cut. We were a one-income household with 2 kids. Thankfully, we didn't have to dip into our savings and investments, lived in a modest, affordable home (we lived there for 23 years) and did what we had done forever - lived on less than we made.

We owned one vehicle - a 1979 (paid-for) VW Rabbit, back then. I made clothes for the kids and myself to save money, but I had ALWAYS done that. Bought groceries once a month on a fixed budget and had plenty of food on hand and had enough in the garden to preserve and share with those around us who didn't have one. We didn't take vacations until we had the cash saved to do so. We didn't eat out, unless we had the cash after bills were paid to do so.

When we got married in 1971 we made less than $3,000 (two incomes), which was WELL below poverty level, and have NEVER rented. Our home may have only been a 10x50-ft. mobile home, but it was OURS and we sold it for more than we paid for it. That was cheap living while hubby went through college. Eventually hubby worked 4 different part-time jobs at once while taking 21 hours in Architecture, and I worked fulltime during the day and did child care at night and we quickly quadrupled our income before he was done with college. We paid CASH for the hospital bill when I had our first child. Did you know they will take a discounted amount if you pay in cash???

Even back then we didn't need hand-outs, food stamps, or to sell anything to get by. Sometimes I could get by on $5 for groceries a week. So what if we ate pancakes for supper??? We were ALWAYS able to pay our bills. Oh, what bills? We DIDN'T have a phone. Didn't have an air conditioner. We had one old paid-for car. No cable TV. NO credit cards. Didn't have a clothes washer and I often did our laundry in the bathtub and hung it out on a line to dry to save money. Even when we took the laundry to the laundramat, we lugged it home wet and hung it on the line.

Funny, it never occured to me that we EVER had it hard or things were difficult. We enjoyed friends and neighbors who were as poor as we were. We were active in volunteer work in our community. Enjoyed free activities offered by our church and on campus.

Believe it or not, I'd had it MUCH worse growing up - but I digress.

Let me know when you've REALLY sacraficed to be a winner, instead of a whiner...


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 8:55PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

While I am sure that the piece is finished, I will say that my opinion of selling on e-bay is more trouble than it is worth for the measly amounts I would get. Clothes that my children have outgrown are passed on to friends who can use them. I have very little clutter so there is really nothing else to sell. Most of the things I do own, I treasure and would hate to part with them. The only knick-knacks to sell would be things that the in-laws bring back from their travels but would be unlikely to fetch much money (Dh won't let me get rid of them anyway). I do try to keep the toys in check that enter this house too and when the kids outgrow them, those are donated to charity as well. My son's school has an annual rummage sale and by donating to them, it assauges any minimal guilt I have about not supporting the PTO.

Some of our kitchen appliances were purchased on e-bay and thus saved us a bundle of money but many of the items I am interested in now have exorbitant shipping charges, certainly in excess of what the post office would charge.

I do like craigslist but for anyone who posts their furniture, please include a picture. I will not drive to somebody's house and am unlikely to call if I am not really, really interested. We also are not big on yard sales. With the cost of gas being what it is, I prefer to spend my Saturday morning on the couch enjoying a cup of coffee with Dh. While there are bargains to be had, I save money staying home.

Jannie, the best bargains would be found on freecycle.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 1:45AM
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I don't sell on eBay but I have bought things. No, I am not in debt at all and the things I have bought were at a savings. Just last week I bought a bed skirt that I needed. Had I drove around from store to store looking for this particular style and color I would have spent more than the 15.00 it cost me on line.

The majority of my purchases were for music that I could never find at Best Buy or the other major retailers. (CD versions of albums I used to own.) Again, at a great savings in gas and quite convenient on my work break! I don't have many luxuries but I love music and to find a few CD's averaging $5 apiece is a great luxury.

My mom is downsizing after being widowed. I am considering helping her since I have a good eBay reputation and she has many dishes, etc. that she can part with. Especially if you know the name of the pattern or something about marketing the item you have a chance of getting a buyer. Her late husband worked for the phone company and has quite a collection of old phones. She's had wonderful garage sales but instead of getting $5 at a garage sale I imagine that she could get $20 and up for some of these phones to the right buyer. Why wouldn't you eBay? BTW, she is debt free. Don't put the connotation with Craigslist and eBay that the participants are all out of control people in debt.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 5:39PM
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