This stuff has got to go

I tend to trawl a lot of online forums; they run the gamut from health related to shopping to cooking to parenting tips. One thing I have noticed over the past couple of months is that people everywhere are looking for extra cash to supplement their incomes, and they are turning to their peers for ideas. Without fail, the word “sell” comes up… sell your second car, sell your gun collection, sell your stuff.

Take a good hard look at all of the stuff around you. If you’re the “average” American, you’ve probably got a television in every room, game consoles of all kinds (from Atari right on through Nintendo Wii), toys the kids have outgrown, exercise equipment, electronics galore and gadgets and gizmos of all kinds. And let’s not forget collectibles – including sports memorabilia, autographs, stamps, clocks, and the ubiquitous china pig collection.

Let’s be honest with ourselves; those are the things, the stuff, which put you into debt in the first place. In the past, it’s been our collective goal to not only to keep up with the Joneses, but to have more and better stuff than they have.

You may have thought you needed all of these things, at one time, but no doubt, you now recognize that there are other needs, infinitely more important needs, like food, gas, clothing and shelter. Now that you realize what is important and what is not, you’ve likely put the brakes on your extraneous spending, buying nothing unless it is an absolute necessity. But what if your no-new-debt philosophy is not enough to stop the depreciation of the funds in your budget or bank account? What if you still don’t have enough to make ends meet?

Then, it’s time to look around you and make some tough decisions, i.e. what goes and what stays.

If you’re lucky (and anything at all like my mother, the über-shopper cum hoarder), some of the stuff you’ve got stuff stashed away is still in its original bag or box (stashed or hidden in the back of a closet somewhere) and you’ve got the receipt. Good. Now, return it. If it’s long past the store’s policy to accept returns, ditch the receipt and tell them you got it as a gift. Yes, it’s a little white lie, but it’s for a good cause.

As for the rest of your stuff, especially those that are not only collecting dust, but for which you’re still making payments, here are three simple words: Sell, baby, sell.

In the old days, your only option for selling your stuff was a garage or yard sale. Yes, that could be a quick fix, but it doesn’t play to your financial advantage – it just clears up some clutter. It’s been my personal experience that people will nickel and dime you to death at a yard sale – you put a sign out that everything on a specific table is a buck, and you’ve got people offering you 10 cents. And they’re offended when you say no. These are the people who tend to come back at the end of the day in the hope that you’re desperate to unload, and if you are, you’ll settle for that measly dime.

Online auctions are the answer to a compulsive shopper’s prayers. You have a chance to unload that booty, perhaps make a profit, but at the least, pull in a little spare cash. If you do it right. The E-Commerce market is tremendous; eBay alone traded more than $60 billion worth of “stuff” last year. And there are other smaller markets that you can look at, including Amazon Marketplace and Overstock auctions.

Before you list any item for sale, do your homework. Know what its worth in the market, not just the “blue book” value (or whatever book you consult). Understand how the auction site works, who their audience is, and what their fees are. There are dozens of online primers, guides and e-books that can help you start.

If you have sold all you could possibly sell and didn’t make quite the amount of money you’d hoped for or if you’re one those individuals who can’t bear to part with your beloved collection of hand-painted china pigs, you do have an alternative. Let DebtStoppers attorneys show you the other way. With our help, you get to keep the stuff you prize and still find the extra money for the important things that you really need.

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