Yesterday I came across an article on MarketWatch talking about how American's are sitting on about $34 billion worth of old cell phones. iPhone's alone account for about $9 billion of that sum. So, what's the deal? Why are so many of us sitting on money we could be saving or using for other purposes?
The answer? According to the article – “one-in-five of those surveyed say they are just ‘too lazy' to sell their old devices. The same number of respondents were worried about jeopardizing their personal data by throwing away or recycling their unused cell phone, while others still don’t realize they can make cash from their old phones.”*
Seriously? I guess I can understand the part about worrying someone will take your personal data – but not knowing you can make cash from them?
This and Charlie's article about saving money by practicing minimalism got me to thinking: How much money am I sitting on. How much are we sitting on that could be turned into cash or making interest?
Just this weekend, we got rid of some old vending machines that had been cluttering the basement. While we didn't get what we wanted for them – we did score some cash AND freed up some space, not to mention a nice kudo from the Mrs! :)
As I'm looking around my office right now – there's tons of things that I don't need anymore and can sell – now! Here's just a sampling:
Old Norman Rockwell Stamps
I picked these bad boys up almost 20 years ago as I was a big fan and was just starting to get into stamp collecting (which was a hobby that didn't last very long). Today, this sheet could fetch probably double its value on eBay.
USB Turntable and Digital Recorder
A few years ago I got into a entrepreneurial streak that included my buying this recorder that could take any vinyl record and turn it into a digital file. I did a couple of jobs and then.. nothing. It was great at the time – but now, it is sitting in the office here under a pile of crap.
Military Payment Certificate
This one is pretty cool – but I'm just not a real collector. I got this from an uncle who served in the Navy. The certificates were issued by the military for men/women as currency while they were serving. I'm not sure they are still using this type of payment – but this 25 cent piece goes for about $10 online.
Abraham Lincoln Framed Photo
I've written about a neat way you can take old photos from the Library of Congress and print them out to decorate your home. I printed several of these and framed them up to spruce up my first home purchase. But when I got married, the Mrs didn't take too kindly to these. I've got several of Lincoln and others who are now collecting dust.
And, I could go on and on. There's books, DVDs, and other boxes full of stuff that I could sell – get rid of. Money – that's sitting around. This is going to be an on-going project for me this year – to keep downsizing and turning crap – into cash. Are you with us?
*By the way – if you are looking to sell off or trade-in your old cell phones – AT&T has a buy-back program you can check into. They also provide instructions on how to delete any old information off your phone, if that is something you are concerned with.
After college, I did a decent job of selling all of my junk. Things like CD’s, movies, old books, and cell phones sold really well online. Since then, the junk has accumulated again. I really need to make time to donate and sell things. I keep reading articles like this and it makes me feel guilty : P
Also, if you don’t want to sell you can always donate your cell phone to soliders overseas. You can google cellphones for soliders. I think I would trust them more with my cell phone info than someone buying and re-selling it.
Aaron – I have never thought about selling our old phones – exactly because the personal information and security reasons. We do have about six phones I need to pull out of the garage and see if there is anything there. Thanks for the tips here about cleaning them out!!! Diane
@Diane – Right, I think that is why many do not sell em. Totally understand that..
I have a giant pile of stuff and I am having a yard sale to get rid of a lot of it. Most of it is junk but I will get a better price if I refer to it as stuff instead of junk.
@Jane – Haha!
Sometimes the problem I have with keeping my small stuff is that I say “I’m going to sell it”, but don’t get around too it. That’s why sometimes it’s just better to donate it. How do you get around this problem? I’d be interested in hearing your ideas.
@Ruser – Pretty smart way to make some extra money when in college!
@Christian – Great! Yeah – some stuff can certainly donate – but why not get some $$!
@Devin – Good question. I agree there is just smaller stuff that can be cumbersome to sell. I like to use Amazon or Ebay (like Ruser) to sell a lot of different items. You can easily list em there. Otherwise, I save a bunch of items for the annual garage sale :)
You bet I’m with you. I listed all my CDs and DVDs on Craigslist last night. I also have a handful of random electronics — cell phone chargers and Internet routers — that I no longer need. Oh yeah, my car is for sale too.
My friends tease me, “Just donate the small stuff!” But even if I make $20 from all this stuff, it’s worth it to me. I also can’t stand to have clutter when I can have some extra cash.
-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money
When I was in college and jobless, I used to buy stuff at garage sales and pawn shops and sell them for a profit on eBay, Amazon, and other sites. When I got a job, I almost immediately stopped doing this despite having several boxes full of stuff to resell. I’ve moved three times since then and have lugged those boxes around each time. I’m hoping to donate or sell the items in these boxes — and plenty of other boxes — over the next few months.