A Guide to Selling Your Unwanted Gifts

Christmas has come and gone. The holiday season is drawing to a close. Accordingly there’s a good chance that a) you’ve got a whole bunch of new stuff, and b) you’ve got a whole bunch of stuff you don’t need or want.

Maybe you received a few gifts you don’t exactly love and you’re too embarrassed to ask for a gift receipt. Or maybe you just need to carve out a little room for this year’s haul. Either way, now is a great time to consider selling some of your unwanted possessions.

Thanks to the hyper-connected nature of the world we live, there are many, many ways to go about selling your things. Some methods are a little more time and labor-intensive, but yield bigger profits, while other methods don’t require much effort at all, but won’t bring you back as much money. You just need to figure out which method works for you.

Direct sales

The fewer parties involved in any sale, the greater the profit left over for the seller. So if you can connect directly with a buyer, you’ve got the best chance to make the most money.

The problem, of course, is how do you do that? You can always start by talking to people you know who seem like they might like or want the item you’re selling, but that’s probably a pretty limited pool.

Your next option is to advertise your sale. You could post a flyer, list your item in the local paper (they still do that), or use an online bulletin board service like Craigslist.

PROS: You can set your price. No middleman, so higher potential for profit.

CONS: Limited to buyers in your area. May take a long time to find someone who wants what you’re selling.

Online sales platforms

Thanks to platforms like eBay and Amazon, you can now sell that crystal parrot your aunt got you for no discernible to anyone anywhere in the world (presuming they want a crystal parrot). These sorts of platforms are designed to make it easy for sellers to post their goods and find interested buyers.

There are two drawbacks to this method. First, sellers are competing against one another, which means that if multiple people are selling the same item, you may find that you have to keep reducing your prices. It’s like the reverse of The Price is Right, with everyone going a dollar below the seller at the top of the list.

Also, these platforms aren’t free and part of your profits will be eaten up in fees.

PROS: Connects you to buyers across the world, leading to faster sales.

CONS: Competition with other sellers and various site fees will eat into your profits.

Used, second-hand, and consignment shops

Finally, you can always take what you don’t want to a store that specializes in selling that type of item and sell it to them (or let them sell it for you, in the case of consignment shops).

This is a good way to get rid of your stuff in a hurry and walk away with some cash in hand. Not coincidentally, it’s also the method that’s likely to yield the lowest profit, because these stores have overhead to contend with, plus they need to make their own profit.

PROS: Fastest, lowest effort way to be rid of your unwanted stuff and make some money in the process.

CONS: Can’t expect to make much money on any sale.

Whatever method you pick, this is a great time of year to think about unloading some of your extraneous possessions. And hey, if you can make a little money in the process, all the better!

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.