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Fiscal Fitness: Get Cash for Your Castoffs
Alot of this stuff is obvious but some I didn't know about.
Old electronics and other gadgets: Most of us have a veritable gadget graveyard somewhere in our home. (Attention Smithsonian curators: I recently unearthed a stack of five-inch floppy discs at the bottom of a closet.) Here are a few places that’ll help you clear out some drawer space and get some cash:
· Gazelle.com buys “pre-loved” cell phones, digital cameras, laptops, camcorders, and other electronic doodads. Once the condition and market value of your item is verified, you'll get a check, PayPal payment, or gift card -- your choice. Recently, an iPhone 3G 8GB fetched $103, and a Samsung Solstice SGH-A887 earned the seller $116.
· Over at BuyMyTronics.com, you can price out what you’ll get before you sell by answering a few questions about the condition of the item and the accessories you still have for it. You can offer anything from PDAs to Apple software to eBook readers.
· Flipswap.com lets you recycle your old phone for cash (or a donation to a charity of your choosing), or trade it in for credit at a store that sells cell phones. At the high end, Flipswap pays out an average of $160 for old BlackBerrys and $220 for iPhones. Even that old Samsung Blackjack is worth $41, or your kid’s old Motorola RAZR around $20.
· Even retailers have gotten into the trade-in business. Costco has a program with Gazelle.com that enables members to recycle their electronics for grocery money deposited on their Costco card.
· And check out the market for your used stuff at RadioShack and GameStop, although stores typically only give you store credit for your castoffs. And at Gamefly.com, you can trade in those video games Junior has tossed aside for credit toward purchasing a new first-person shooter game.
Gift cards: You might think they're duds, but gift cards can be worth, well, almost their face value to other folks. With billions of dollars of gift card balances going unredeemed every year, it's no wonder there's a crop of services to help consumers off-load them.
· You can auction it off, sell it outright (Giftcardbuyback.com), or swap it (Swapagift.com) for something better. You'll typically find a full menu online of cards from stores like Lowe's, Wal-Mart, and Cheesecake Factory, among dozens of others. (Other sites to check out: plasticjungle.com, giftcardrescue.com, and monstergiftcard.com.)
· Don't expect to get full face value: Most pay out anywhere from 60% to 90% of face value. (You'll get top dollar by selling cards from hot retailers, in round dollar amounts, and with distant -- or nonexistent -- expiration dates.)
· Some sites charge you a percentage of the final transaction, and others charge a flat fee. Balances must typically be at least $10 to be eligible for swapping, trading, or selling.
Over at Dealnews.com, they ran a handful of these sites through the paces and recommend selling directly to the site (instead of auctioning the card off to members) and using a combination of sites for the highest payout.
Unused airline miles or points: At Points.com, you can swap, share, or redeem your unused rewards. If your points are spread around, you can even combine them so you can get something -- a gift certificate, song downloads, etc. -- before your points expire. At Loyaltymatch.com, you can sell your loyalty reward outright to another member or trade it for something else. Another option is to donate your miles to a cause. Many organizations are set up to facilitate this transaction directly.
Oddball, unusual, and limited-appeal stuff: To get top dollar for your collectibles and other items that might not have mass appeal, eBay is still the obvious first choice. You don't even need to go through the hassle of setting yourself up as a merchant. Simply take the treasures from your attic to an eBay drop-off location, and they'll conduct the transaction from start to finish. For a fee, of course. At the other end of the spectrum is craigslist.com, a digital town crier where you can list, for free, the stuff you want to sell.
As long as you’re cleaning out the garage … : If you’re burdened by a car lease agreement you no longer want or cannot afford, check out Leasetrader.com and Swapalease.com for some financial relief. These sites match folks looking for a short-term lease with those looking to get out of their contract early.