In college, I liked to show off my movie collection.
The shelf stood proud in my living room, not far from my TV. It was like a status symbol -- in my mind, at least. When people came over, they knew they had options.
Over the years, I’ve amassed about 100 movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray.
Looking back, I’m not sure which status it might have bestowed on me. At what point do you cross the line from hobbyist to hoarder?
But I was proud of it.
A decade later, the collection is less something I brag about and more something I’m forced to deal with every time I move.
So far, it’s been easier to wrap my movie shelf in packing tape and shove the whole thing into a U-Haul than to actually sift through and decide what’s worth keeping.
But I’m getting married this year, so maybe I’m finally feeling like an adult. Maybe.
My fiancee and I have been listening to The Minimalists podcast lately, and it’s making us look twice at all the junk we have lying around.
The podcast raises the question, “Does this add value to my life?” If not, why keep it?
These DVDs and Blu-rays used to, in one way, add value to my life. But now, they just collect dust in a cabinet.
But now I’ve found a way to make them literally add value to my life.
Even though I hate the clutter, I hate the idea of throwing away perfectly good movies way more.
And I don’t want to just dump them at a thrift store. I paid good money for those once!
There are a few ways I could go about selling them.
I could list everything individually on Amazon or eBay -- but for dozens of titles, that sounds like a nightmare.
I’ve seen some people do OK selling CD and DVD collections on eBay. But even those aren’t guaranteed to sell. And if they do, I’d have to deal with shipping and, potentially, an annoying buyer.
Extra closet space doesn’t seem worth the trouble.
Instead, I tried Decluttr.
Decluttr buys your old media and electronics. The service saves you the hassle of managing a listing, handling payment and dealing directly with buyers.
They accept CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware like cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods.
It looked like a simple way to unload some of our junk, so I decided to give it a try.
I had no idea what to expect going in.
I’m a huge movie fan, and even I haven’t touched most of these DVDs, Blu-rays and Playstation 3 games in years. Would they be worth something to anyone else?
I did some research, and other people who have sold their collections to Decluttr report getting about 50 cents per item.
One user, Gil Flores, sold about 100 DVDs and 75 CDs -- he had so many, he said, that he’s not certain of the exact number anymore -- and made $275, an average of $1.57 each.
Flores had tons of media just sitting in his garage, because he’s moved everything he wants to watch or listen to over to his digital library. He was ready to clear it out -- and why not make some money while you’re at it?
My collection was less impressive, but I had 86 items to sell. It could definitely add up.
I downloaded the Decluttr app and used my phone’s camera to scan the barcode of each item I wanted to sell. The app gives you an instant offer.
For most of my DVDs, the offers were consistent with my research -- between 10 cents and $1 each.
A few surprised me.
I got a $2.10 offer for “MacGruber” (the 2010 Will Forte “Saturday Night Live” spinoff movie) on DVD. I can’t believe I just let it sit on the shelf for six years! I only watched it once, but not for lack of trying. My friends just don’t get the humor.
These are some of the best offers I received:
Altogether, Decluttr offered $54.60 for a combo of 86 titles, including DVDs, Blu-rays and a few PS3 games. Shipping is free, and they take everything in one order, up to 500 items.
Not a bad way to make a little extra money.
More recent and easier-to-sell titles command the highest offers. Reddit users discussing the service note offers of up to $3, $4 or $5 for a few titles in each order.
With about standard prices, a few things about Decluttr stood out and made me choose it over similar services.
While you might earn the same amount of money selling to Amazon Trade-In, it only pays in Amazon gift cards.
Decluttr pays in real dollars, via Direct Deposit, and the payment hit my bank account the day after the company accepted my order.
When we compared offers from similar marketplaces, Decluttr came out on top for prices on electronics.
For example, we asked Decluttr for a quote on an iPhone 4, which my co-worker has been thinking about selling. The site quoted her $75.
Compare that with just $31.85 in her pocket through Glyde, which quotes a marketplace range, connects you with a seller, takes a 15% cut and charges $1-$6 for shipping.
Just for kicks, we looked up what a 32GB iPhone 5 would go for -- it could net $120! The same item would only get $45 from competing site Gazelle.
Decluttr also offered me $55 for my 32GB Playstation 3 game console. I recently upgraded to a PS4, so I only use the PS3 for Netflix -- might as well get paid for it (and have six months of Netflix free).
Speaking of sending your order, did I mention Decluttr covers it for you?
Once you accept the offer, the company emails you an order pack with shipping labels to cover the cost. Just print the labels, pack your items in any box and ship it.
Make it easy and free for yourself, and ask for a box from your local grocery store. They’re usually happy to hand them over -- and it’s environmentally-friendly.
I packed my DVDs in a box I got at the nearby dollar store. You can use any box you have lying around the house.
I’ve held onto these DVDs for years, partly because selling items directly on Ebay and Craigslist is a ridiculous hassle.
As Flores put it, when he found out he could sell his clutter with a simple app, “A problem became nothing.” The hassle is gone.
My main goal was to get rid of these things. That’s what Decluttr is really good for.
You don’t have to manage several individual listings and wait to catch a buyer’s interest.
You don’t have to deal with sales, payment and shipping for dozens of buyers.
And you don’t get stuck with those duds in your collection absolutely no one wants to buy. Typically, you can unload your most unsellable items through Decluttr.
It was much easier getting offers for my movies from Decluttr than it would have been to find a seller for each in the market.
Decluttr reports that they make an offer on nearly every item customers scan -- over 97% of barcodes are usually accepted.
Who’s looking for a “Stripes” DVD, if I’m being honest with myself? I mean, someone should be: It’s a classic.
Fifty four bucks might not sound like much, but it’s basically free money for something I would’ve either thrown away, donated or left unused in a box in the closet.
And, Clements pointed out, when you get rid of CDs, you don’t even lose the media. He still has access to any music he wants through iTunes.
Even with a relatively small clearing out like I did, the extra money can add up! And my experience isn’t unusual. According to Decluttr, the average basket price is between $50-$60.
Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!
As you might expect, it would be a pretty big risk for Decluttr to guarantee money for your items, sight unseen.
They’ll determine the final amount you receive after they look at the items you ship in.
All of my items were accepted, and I received the full payment of $54.60 after Decluttr reviewed my order.
Almost all items will be accepted, users report. Decluttr boasts a 97% acceptance rate and operates on a "reasons to say yes" strategy when going through your stuff.
Here are a few helpful tips from Decluttr’s terms and conditions: All items must have a barcode, and artwork must be intact and in good shape -- no tears, marks or stickers.
However, it doesn’t matter if the disc itself or the case is slightly marked. When you ask for quotes for electronics, be clear about their condition.
Decluttr’s site explains what “good,” “poor” and “faulty” condition mean, so make sure you get a quote based on the honest condition of your items.
The company guarantees to pay the first price a customer was offered for any electronics, or the customer can request to have the item(s) sent back for free, no questions asked.
Overall, scanning barcodes into an app and packing the movies into a recycled box was simple enough work to earn $54.
I think we’re really going to enjoy this minimalist thing.
Better get to work on the spare closet next.
Know anyone who needs a surfboard?
Your Turn: Do you have a collection of CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games or electronics laying around?
Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Decluttr for working with us to bring you this content. It's rare that we have the opportunity to share something so awesome and get paid for it!
Matt Wiley (@wile_style) is assistant editor at The Penny Hoarder. Find him skateboarding around Tampa Bay and frequenting local breweries, dingo in tow.
With all the ways to make money while in college, why not try one that lets you study at the same time? Selling your blood plasma is a simple way to earn cash while catching up on your reading or reviewing class notes.
Instead, I spent three years in the dining hall cleaning meal trays and scrubbing mystery meat out of institution-sized pans.
That’s when I learned some of my peers had discovered an opportunity to study and get paid at the same time. Twice a week, they trekked to the nearest big city to sell their blood plasma, earning money while catching up on their required reading.
It's been nearly a decade since I graduated, but students are still earning extra cash by exchanging some red for a bit of green.
Courtney McClellan, a student at BYU Idaho, has been selling plasma during the school year for three semesters. She describes it as a great opportunity for her to earn extra spending money while using her tablet to keep up with assignments, or even catch up on television shows when she needs a break from academics.
Sisters Jessica and Melissa Gierach, from Wisconsin, also give plasma to earn extra cash.
Want to give it a try? Here are their tips for making the most of your plasma.
It's common for plasma donation centers to pay between $20 and $30 per visit, up to twice a week.
McClellan said that she was paid $25 for her first session of the week and $45 for her second, for a total of $70 a week or $1,120 for a 16-week semester. Not too shabby!
Want to earn even more? Before you make an appointment, do a quick search online or in your local papers to look for opportunities to make more money. Many plasma centers offer sign-up bonuses that significantly increase the amount you earn for your donation.
If you can't find one, see if someone in your social network can refer you. McClellan said her local plasma center offered a $50 referral bonus when she referred a new donor who gave blood at least four times. To encourage more of her friends to take advantage of the money-making opportunity, she'd share some of her bonus with them.
Chances are, you'll find a way to score a little extra for your first few visits.
When you arrive at the plasma center, you’ll sign in at the desk, fill out some paperwork and wait to be called in for the physical.
McClellan says she's experienced a few issues during the physical which nearly prevented her from donating. She's had times when her heart rate or temperature have been slightly too high, and once was even told not to wear nail polish.
In situations like these, the staff may let you do the physical a second time or simply reschedule your appointment.
Once you get the green light to give, the nurse inserts a needle in your arm. A sterile machine draws your blood out and separates the plasma from the blood cells, which are then returned to your body.
As soon as this process starts, you're free to study or read while you sit for the duration of the draw. Jessica Gierach explained that it takes time to get used to the sensation, and she favors using small electronic devices over reading physical books.
At the end, the nurse puts a bandage on your arm and you're all set to go. From start to finish, the whole process takes less than two hours. Melissa Gierach said that each time can be different, since it depends on how busy the center is and how quickly your plasma is flowing.
To keep your body in optimal condition, take extra care with your nutrition.
Jessica Gierach donated plasma twice a week for most of a summer, but had to stop after a few months because of her body’s low iron levels.
The American Red Cross offers tips for blood donation that help plasma donors as well: Make sure to eat plenty of protein and other iron-rich foods, and drink extra water before and after your donation.
Don’t go in for a session if you're feeling under the weather; chances are you'll fail the physical and have wasted your time and energy in the process.
If you smoke, you should refrain from smoking for an hour before and after each session. Also, you can’t donate if you’ve gotten any new tattoos or piercings within the last 12 months.
The FDA considers it safe to donate twice a week, with a minimum of 48 hours between donation times, though the American Red Cross recommends donating only every 28 days.
The FDA also lays out guidelines for the amount of plasma you can give, depending on your weight. You’ll need to weigh at least 110 pounds and be 18 years old.
While you won't get rich selling your plasma, it’s a great opportunity to get paid while you study. I’m still jealous -- the closest I was able to get to studying while on the clock was to tape a page of notes to the dish-pit wall so I could glance at it between dinner rushes.
Your Turn: Have you earned money by giving plasma? What other ways have you been paid to study?
Charlotte Edwards is a freelance personal finance and parenting writer whose work has appeared in Incomes Abroad, We the Savers, and My Kids' Adventures. She's the wife of a great penny-pinching guy, and mom of two kiddos who are learning about saving and wise spending by earning commission for housework.