Kerrie Urban - The Penny Hoarder

I’ve been selling on eBay for years.

It started with old clothes that didn’t fit, and after gaining some experience, I started checking out thrift shops, garage sales and bulk lots on eBay for items I could buy and flip for a profit.

However, this method had some risk: What if I bought something I couldn’t resell?

The “Free” section of Craigslist was my answer.

I started checking listings every day. Within a week, I found the first promising post: five boxes of men’s clothes, shoes and ties (many designer and new with tags) out on the street, about a mile from my office.

Before I picked up the boxes, I took a quick look through each one and determined three had items I could probably resell.

Once I took them home, I spent about an hour sorting through everything.

Here’s a breakdown of what I found -- and how I turned it into $870 worth of cash, tax savings and free clothes.

Free Clothing for my Fiance: $200

Before I listed anything for sale, I let my fiance look through the boxes and keep anything he wanted.

He ended up taking two pairs of like-new Ralph Lauren khakis, a Ralph Lauren sweater, three silk ties and an unopened travel kit.

The retail value of all of these items likely would have been well over $200, but I based this estimate on what he would spend for similar clothing at places like Nordstrom Rack.

Donation to Goodwill: $125 Tax Savings

Next, I sorted through the boxes and separated items into two piles: resell or donate.

Since the clothes were all brand-name and classic styles, the donation pile included pieces that looked too worn out to resell or anything with minor rips or stains.

I dropped these off at Goodwill and made sure to ask for a receipt -- they generally give you a form they’ve signed and dated and you fill in the rest.

I later looked up the median fair market value for each piece using TurboTax and estimated the total value at about $475, which lowered my tax bill by $125.

Selling on eBay: $545

Before listing the rest on eBay, I did some research and looked at prices for similar items that had recently sold.

I then listed my items as a mix of both auctions and “buy it now” prices. I generally list lower-priced items I expect to sell quickly as auctions, which I did with all of the shirts.

I usually reserve “buy it now” for items that will take longer to sell or are worth higher prices -- think high-end designer handbags, jewelry, clothing and mixed lots and similar items.

But since I had so many ties and eBay doesn’t allow duplicate auctions, I created six separate “buy it now” listings, one for each of the six colors. On each one, I noted I had multiple items to sell.

I may have been able to get slightly more for each item if I’d priced them a bit higher and been willing to relist things a few times if they didn’t sell immediately. However, one of my goals was to get rid of the clothing quickly and minimize clutter, so I priced everything to sell.

I also made sure to take good, clear photos, and searched sites like Macy’s and Eddie Bauer for manufacturers descriptions and detailed measurements of each item.

When selling clothes online, including more detail is better. Buyers want to be sure the items will fit before making a purchase.

After taking all of the steps outlined above, most items sold within a week at the following prices:

  • 100 silk ties sealed in original packaging: $4 each
  • Nine polo shirts (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, etc.): $5 each
  • 10 dress shirts (Eddie Bauer, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, etc.): $10 each

What Else Could You Find for Free?

While this one ad was an exceptional find, if you check Craigslist regularly enough, you’re likely to find some good stuff!

I’ve been checking daily and have seen tons of free clothes, working TVs, exercise equipment, furniture, household goods and more.

Now that it’s yard sale season, I’ve even seen listings for people are giving away all of the items they couldn’t sell.

For better results, try looking at listings in big cities within driving distance and make a day or weekend trip out of it.

Check wealthier towns, check often and be prepared to grab items quickly -- before someone else does!

Your Turn: Have you ever sold free items you’ve found on Craigslist? How much did you make?

Kerrie Urban is a freelance writer and fashionista on a budget, obsessed with finding great deals!

I’ve been a big fan of The Penny Hoarder ever since I discovered it on Facebook, and have found lots of creative ways to earn and save both large and small amounts of money. If I had to sum up one major theme I’ve seen consistently, it’s to regularly take inventory of your bank accounts and credit cards and always be on the lookout for better rates, promotions and offers.

I’ve been meaning to change over my bank accounts for a long time now. I used to have checking and savings accounts with a small community bank that offered high interest rates and benefits, but since People’s United bought them, I’ve been getting hit with tons of monthly fees: a monthly maintenance fee, plus ATM fees charged by both the ATM and People’s.

I’ve also had a high-yield savings account with American Express for years, which I opened when they were offering 4%-5% interest. Now the account earns a meager 0.9%, and after some research, I realized I could do much better.

Finally, I opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred card about six months ago to take advantage of a 40,000 points bonus offer (which translated to $400 cash back). The card’s rewards are OK, but there are better cash-back credit cards out there and I wanted to close it before the company started charging me the $95 annual fee they’d waived the first year.

After browsing the Penny Hoarder for a couple of hours one afternoon, I came with a plan that will not only save me $10-$15 a month in fees, but will actually generate an estimated $1,240 in interest and rewards annually. Here’s how I’m planning to change my financial strategy.

Move My Checking and Savings Accounts

I closed my People’s United checking and savings accounts and moved them to Santander. Santander’s Extra 20 checking account is free with a direct deposit of $1,500 per month.

Plus, each month you can earn up to $20 in bonuses deposited to a linked savings account. The first bonus is $10 for your direct deposit of $1,500 or more, and the second bonus is $10 is for completing two online bill payments using Santander’s portal.

By moving my accounts to Santander, I not only saved $10-$15 in monthly fees but I will earn $240 per year in bonuses.

Total annual bonuses: $240

Open a Kasasa Account

I moved my savings from American Express to two Kasasa Cash accounts. Kasasa is a program I learned about on The Penny Hoarder, that helps community banks stay competitive with larger national (and international) banks. Terms will vary by bank, but generally you need to enroll in online banking and make 12 debit card purchases a month to qualify for a higher interest rate plus other benefits like reimbursements for ATM fees charged by other banks. If you miss a month, you get a lower interest rate, but no matter what, the Kasasa accounts are generally free.

I found a Kasasa Cash account at a local community bank that offered 2% interest on balances up to $10,000. They also offered a free Kasasa savings account at 1% interest on balances up to $50,000. The balance in my American Express account was about $18,000, so I moved $10,000 to my new Kasasa checking account and $8,000 to savings. I set up a small weekly direct deposit to the checking account for the amount I usually budget as spending, to ensure I get my 12 debit card transactions a month without ever touching the $10,000 in savings.

Total annual interest: $280

Try Credit Card Arbitrage

I opened a new credit card to try this credit card arbitrage strategy, also called “stoozing,” I read about on The Penny Hoarder. Credit card arbitrage is when you use the credit card company’s money to earn interest and other rewards by taking advantage of 0% interest and bonus offers. Instead of paying your balance each month, you take the money and deposit it into a high yield savings account.

I opened a Citi double cash back card, which has no interest for the first 15 months and no annual fee, and offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase and 1% back when you pay it off. I moved every automatic payment I could over to this card (gym membership, cable, etc.), plus I plan to use this card for every purchase except the 12 monthly debit card transactions required to earn interest on my Kasasa cash account.

Rather than paying the balance off in full each month like I would normally do, I’ll move the money into my Kasasa Savings account, where it will earn 1% interest. At the end of the 15-month interest-free period, I’ll pay the balance in full out of my savings account. Any money left over will be mine to keep.

I estimate my annual spend to be $24,028 and at 3% (1% interest + 2% cash back) I’ll earn $720. I also closed out the Chase Sapphire Rewards card I’d opened to take advantage of a promotion, and saved the $95 fee I would’ve been charged later this year.

Total earnings (interest + cash back): $720

Grand Total: $1,240

I’ve often heard people complain that it’s too difficult or time consuming to change banks, but I did the majority of the work online in an hour or so. For upwards of $1,200, it’s definitely worth the effort!

Your Turn: How much have you earned or saved by switching to a new bank account or credit card?

Kerrie Urban is a regular reader of The Penny Hoarder and loves finding great deals. She also blogs at The Reward Ninja.