Make money and declutter by selling these 5 unlikely treasures

How to Make Money Buying and Selling
How to Make Money Buying and Selling

You may want to take one last peek through those boxes sitting in the garage before donating the contents to your local Goodwill. Turns out there are some surprising items in your home that others are willing to take off your hands for significant cash. Your junk being another person's treasure has never been truer. Here are the items worth knowing about.

1. Coffee Mugs

A couple years ago, I accidentally stumbled upon the underground world of coffee mug collectors. I was doing my annual eBay roundup of all the items in my home that I didn't use, and on a whim, I threw in two coffee mugs that I had no need for. I snapped some pictures, wrote a brief description, put up the eBay listings, and lo and behold, a bidding war erupted on the last day of both auctions. I ended up selling a House of Blues mug for $23 and a Starbucks mug for close to $28.

I was so blown away with the success of my coffee mug auctions that I decided to do some research. I discovered that there are many eBay sellers who fervently search local thrift stores for coffee mugs that they can turn a quick profit on. Coffee mugs that sell really well include anything Disney, vintage restaurant mugs, Starbucks, vintage Pyrex, and mugs with famous people, places, and TV shows on them. Always search eBay "completed listings" to determine the value of coffee mugs. The eBay app allows you to do this while you're in the thrift store to determine if you may have just found a hidden gem.

2. Name Brand Clothing

If you have a closet full of clothing you don't wear anymore, considering selling it rather than donating it. If it's a brand-name label, you have a much better chance of cashing in as buyers are more familiar with sizing and styles. Brands that sell well include American Eagle, Gap, Banana Republic, Land's End, Calvin Klein, Express, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Consider sites like Poshmark, which allow you to create a listing within 60 seconds and quickly have your unwanted clothing in front of a million prospective shoppers. Many Poshmark users have actually created a full-time income for themselves by selling thrift store finds.

Perhaps the best way to sell clothing online is to utilize the power of eBay. Not only can you take advantage of their huge reach, but they make the transaction easy via their interface. Be sure to take good pictures of the item and write an honest description. I like to package the item and weigh it before creating the listing so I can charge accurate shipping fees.

Also, because eBay users are searching for the exact item and size you're selling, be careful when creating auction lots with multiple clothing items. For example, if you're selling men's jeans and you have two pair size 34x34, and one pair in size 33x34, you'll have a tough time selling all three together in a lot, even if they all basically fit the same. You'll have much better success selling the 34x34 pairs together and the 33x34 separately.

Also, don't forget about more traditional ways of selling clothing via a yard sale or at a community or church sale. While you might not get top dollar like you can online, you'll be able to unload a lot of inventory quickly.

3. Baby Gear and Clothing

Don't put your unused stroller, crib, or playpen in the attic. The same can be said for gently used baby clothing and gear. Because baby items are typically outgrown before they wear out, they make for terrific items to sell both online and at local baby shops. Brands that typically sell well include Baby Bjorn, Gymboree, Baby Gap, Hanna Andersson, Graco, Peg Perego, and Children's Place. For best results, sell clothing online via eBay and bundle items together to make complete outfits. They tend to sell really well this way, especially when you take good pictures and write a detailed description.

When selling bulkier baby gear, you have two solid options. You can sell it on Craigslist if you're comfortable with the process, or you can opt for local retail shops like Children's Orchard, Once Upon a Child, or Kid to Kid. Name brands in good to excellent condition have a premium and you can typically get a great deal if you're willing to accept store credit as payment. You can then use the proceeds to buy the sizes that your kids are currently wearing.

4. Past Amazon Purchases

Are you aware of a service from Amazon called Amazon Trade-In, which buys back your past purchases that you have no need for anymore? Once you're signed-in, Amazon will go back through your order history and tell you what they'll buy back, and for how much. I recently tested out the service and was happily surprised when I discovered they would buy back a rarely played Xbox game that we gave our son for Christmas. We bought it for $25 over six months ago, and they'll buy it back for $14. This buyback amount was 25% better that what our local GameStop would pay for it. The best part is Amazon uses prepaid shipping labels which allow you to ship the item back free of charge.

Also, it's worth noting that items don't have to be purchased from Amazon to be eligible for a buyback. From the Amazon Trade-In homepage, click on "Find More Items" and simply enter the item you want to sell, and they'll give you a price quote. (See also: 7 Ways to Make Amazon Pay YOU!)

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5. Old Smartphones

Depending on the age, condition, and demand for your old smartphone, you can make a pretty penny by selling it online. Rather than throwing your old smartphone in the desk drawer, sites like Swappa and Gazelle are great options to consider. Both will happily take your phone, pay the shipping, and give you cold hard cash for your device. You can quickly get a free quote from them by answering a few questions about your smartphone. Do you have an old iPhone 5 (16GB) collecting dust? Swappa will buy it for $112. While devices can show normal signs of wear and tear, they must be fully functional and ready to activate to get top dollar. They'll take broken devices too, just don't expect a big payday.

If you're the type of smartphone user who always needs the newest and greatest, consider selling your old smartphone to one of these sites before the new model is released. By doing so, you'll get top dollar as prices for last season's model plummet once the new model is released. Once you get word of the impending new model, start strategizing your sale and have a cheap smartphone at the ready as a backup during the transition period.

What stuff laying around your home have you been able to sell for some extra money?

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