Unfortunately, it can be a sad truth for some people. If you want to keep your house or apartment, keep your water, heat, and electricity on, you may have to give up some of your stuff. I've been there. After I got out of the military, I moved out of state for a job that fell through. I was unemployed and having a really hard time finding a job that would pay more than what I was getting from unemployment, would provide health insurance for my family, and cover our bills. It came down to selling some things just to get by. Fortunately, I had plenty of stuff to sell and was willing to part with if it meant there would be food on the table, and an apartment to put the table in.
I'm no salesman. I'm a pretty meek, shy individual. Trying to sell something and get what I want for it can be a difficult task with those qualities. So throughout the time I spent selling my things, I learned a few things about what you can do to get the money you need with what you have.
First, I'd like to discuss things that you shouldn't do, or that should only be used as a last resort.
- Pawn shops - Taking your stuff to a pawn shop should always be a last resort. Pawn shops are wholesalers. They will give you a fraction of what your item is worth, and sell it for more than you could sell it for privately. They have to make a profit but they will leave you with less than you need. If it really comes down to it, taking something to a pawn shop could help in a pinch. But generally, it seems they will give you about half, or less, of your item's value. The good thing about them is that you have the opportunity to buy back your stuff so long as you can make the interest payments, but it will cost you. It's like your paying to get your stuff out of jail. In the end, you'll get some money and it might be enough, but you can get more if you take the time to do things right.
- Payday loans - They're easy to get. You can get them online and some companies won't even require you to pick up a phone to verify your information. Almost anybody with a job can get them (except military personnel). I say they should be an absolute last resort because the interest rate that they charge is astronomic. If you are in need of a payday loan because you don't have the money to pay your bills, more than likely you won't have the money to pay it back when the payment is due. And if you have to keep refinancing your loan, in the end, you'll end up paying several times what you borrowed.
That being said, I want to move on to the good news. If you have something that's worth selling, somebody will buy it. They may not buy it right away, but if you stick to your guns and persevere, you'll be able to sell it and get what you want for it. There are, of course, several different ways you can sell personal belongings. Craigslist, eBay, classified ads in the newspaper, garage sales, etc. My personal favorite is Craigslist. eBay will make your item available to more people, but I will look at Craigslist before eBay when I'm looking to buy something because I don't want to bother with the time and money that shipping entails. Garage sales are a good option too if you have a lot of stuff to sell at one time, but people seem to want to haggle your prices down further at a garage sale, and because you have so much stuff sitting out, people will try to steal it. Selling a lot of stuff on Craigslist can be a handful if you're selling a lot of different items, but I think it's the best way to do things. Here are a few things I've learned about how you can get the most for your stuff.
- Response time is key. If somebody contacts you and has to leave a message, or if they text or email you, you would be well advised to respond quickly. More than likely, somebody else is selling something similar and if they don't get ahold of you right away they'll move on and buy somebody else's item. If you can't get back to them right away, don't be surprised when they tell you that they're not interested anymore, or worse yet, don't even respond when you return their call or text.
- Price your item above what you really want for it. And before you determine that amount, do some research. Find out what other people are selling it for and price the item based on its condition. You're not trying to rip people off here. What you're doing is giving yourself some room to negotiate without losing too much. You know what your item is worth. Don't sell yourself short. As time went on when I was selling things on Craigslist, I started getting what I was looking for, or more, when I sold my stuff. People are going to try to talk you down in price. That just comes with the territory of selling stuff privately. So set yourself up for success. Don't give them a deal unless you want to. You need the money. They probably don't really need what your selling, they just want it. So don't do anybody else any favors unless you're just feeling charitable. You're trying to pay your bills here, not selling because you feel like it.
- People will low ball you. Big time. People will offer you half of what you're selling it for, or less. Unless you absolutely have to have the money right then, don't even bother. At that point, you might as well go to a pawn shop. As a courtesy, I would at least respond but stick to your guns. If you're selling something that is worth selling, somebody will buy it for what you're asking. If you persevere, you'll get what you're asking for the item, provided you have done your due diligence in pricing it.
The biggest point I want to make is not to sell yourself short. If you give yourself enough time to sell something, you'll get what you want for it. If you stand up for yourself and demand what the item is really worth, you'll get it. If what you're selling is something that somebody else will want to buy, you'll sell it. You have to be honest with yourself and take an objective look at what you're selling. Is it really worth what you're asking? If the answer to that question is no, you may need to reevaluate your situation. If you need money quick and have to sell it today, you're going to lose some money. And sometimes it comes down to that. And if it happens to you, I'm truly sorry. I've been there and it, for lack of a better word, sucks. But hopefully, these points will help you if you're in a jam. They're basic and almost common sense, but they're things I didn't realize when I first found myself needing to sell my things to pay my bills. I look back and realize that I could have gotten a lot more. If you're in this situation, I wish you the best and hope you can get back on your feet soon. Until then, hopefully you can get the most for your stuff and keep your lights on.