Here's how to cash in on your clutter

Are some of the items left over as a result of your spring clean taking up space in the attic and just too good to chuck away? Caroline Delaney now earns a few bob from their removal.

I’ve done it in car parks; in a shopping centre, in my car - and once at the docks. Cash has changed hands and both parties left satisfied every time. Once there were even ripe tomatoes involved.

Steady on, I’m talking about selling on or giving away once-useful items that just become clutter when you give up an activity or your children outgrow equipment.

Various second-hand markets mean that baby equipment, sports gear, books, ornaments can all find a new lease of life instead of clogging up garages, spare rooms and attics.

Car boot sales have been around for decades and are great in their own right. A sunny weekend morning pottering around a field examining bundles of old coins and tea machines can be a grand activity.

But if you are specifically looking for a gadget or want to find a new home for that fancy buggy without having to clear a whole Saturday morning to sit by your car then a free ads newspaper or online sales sites are just fab.

Buyers can browse by category or can type in a keyword and can narrow the field to their home county or province if they’re not willing to travel hundreds of kilometres for a dolls’ house or slow cooker. And as well as online selling sites you have the fierce handy Evening Echo’s free ‘pink pages’

I tested the waters with a vase. It was a very pretty prize but wildly unsuited for a busy house with ball-playing children. I didn’t want to just dump it and decided to keep the price very low to just get rid of it.

I measured and photographed it from a few angles and put the unloved vase up on ‘tinder for stuff'

Suddenly it gained eight views in the space of a minute. Then people started marking it with a love heart: this allows shoppers to keep a list of things they are interested in. Of course, just looking at something is no guarantee of an actual sale. If it was I would have a Bentley on my drive and a swimming pool in the backyard. But still, I actually had a little pang: was this really a rare and highly expensive vase? Should I have started with a higher price?

A week went by and my vase had plenty of oglers but nobody had ‘swiped right’ on it yet.

Then I got a text. Was the vase still available?

I was so excited I didn’t take time to play it cool and confirmed that yes, the vase was still on the market.

A flurry of texts followed and we narrowed down a ‘drop site’. It turns out the buyer would be walking children to school past a garage on my route to work. So I pulled in and handed the vase out the window and had a crisp note for my efforts.

I was hooked.

Everything in my shed and house was appraised with a fresh eye.

I polished high chairs, cleaned car seats, gave outgrown bicycles a once-over and enjoyed a frenzy of photographing items and crafting ads.

Soon the texts were coming in. I had been nervous about prank calls or die-hard hagglers. Some people asked if that was ‘my best price’ but most just wanted to pay and be gone with their new purchase.

Some memorable sales include the woman who would only be in my area on a day I had to be at work. She didn’t want another round trip of 80 miles and I didn’t want to take a day’s holiday to gain €45. I took a chance and left the pink bike under a tarp inside the front wall and told her to pop the cash through the letterbox.

I came home from work and the bicycle was gone. There was an envelope with the full amount on the hall mat. My faith in humanity was restored.

You can also just give items away for free. Charity shops can be reluctant to take car seats and it seems a shame to drive to the local landfill and pay to throw them away.

One girl was so pleased with the immaculate and undamaged car seat she picked up that she came to our exchange site with boxes of homegrown fruit and veg and told me to help myself.

However, I did notice that there wasn’t much interest in some items I offered for free. But once I stuck a small price on them they seemed to garner more attention

An antique armchair had to have a more serious price tag. I had paid cold, hard cash for it and couldn’t afford to just give it away despite my need for space it was taking up. The gentleman called within seconds of my ad going out. He asked me to take the ad down straightaway as he definitely wanted to buy it. Buoyed by my other positive sales and swaps I agreed. I could always put that ad back up if the sale fell through. He sent a cheque to secure the sale while he arranged a courier to come from the next county. Thoughts of scams and confidence tricks ran through my head but the cheque cleared within two days as we coincidentally have the same bank. Another happy exchange sorted.

However, I have spotted a few items which I need and must now arrange to buy, so I may never get that minimalist house I fantasise about.


  • Be honest - don’t say something is new, unworn or perfect if that’s not true. Check out the prices for similar items and set your fee accordingly.
  • Take plenty pictures from several angles. You can offer to text these on if you’re putting an ad in print.
  • If you have kept the instruction manuals etc you can photograph these too and tape them onto the item you’re selling. Actually, once you buy any new item it can be handy to pop the manual in a ziplock bag and tape it to the underside so you don’t ‘tidy’ it away over the years.
  • Be prepared to lower your price a small bit or to give back a fiver or token amount once you’re handing over the item. Arrange to meet buyers and sellers at a safe, busy place. Shopping centre car parks are ideal.

  • Give somebody else the details of whom you’re meeting, and where and when you are meeting them.
  • Keep your mobile phone with you - for safety and as the buyer may be delayed or need to change the plans.

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