Before anything hits the trash though, take a step back: there are probably a number of items you have stowed away that could earn you some impressive cash. Check out the ideas below, and feel free to share your tips of the trade in the comments.
1. BIG TICKET ITEMS
A brand new generator might set you back between $200 and $2,000 from my latest survey of prices at a popular home improvement chain. My dad has a portable generator he bought when my parents lived way out in the country. Now that they've moved to a more central location, it gets little use and he wants to sell it. Sound familiar? Consider the value. I searched "used portable generator" on eBay and discovered around 75 hits with prices ranging from $50 to $2,400 for items in good condition.
Other big ticket sellers might include snow blowers, ride-on mowers, and even motorcycles or cars. The trick is assessing a fair value and finding the right place to sell. Kelley Blue Book is always the first place to check with vehicles. For the rest, try looking at similar listings in your local paper, Craigslist, eBay, or even on donation valuation charts (as a loose guide). When we bought our house last year, the couple who lived here planned to downsize. They sold their snow blower in two days for $350 by simply placing it outside the garage with a cardboard sign.
2. CAMPING GEAR
We have a whole shelving unit full of camping stuff in our garage. There's anything and everything from lanterns to tents to portable cooking devices to cots and much more. Other frugally minded outdoorsy folks would surely appreciate the care we've taken to keep our gear in working order, so we might try to sell a few things this year. In fact, we bought our large family tent used for a couple hundred dollars — so we know the system works.
If this arena interests you, try sites like GearTrade, where you can buy and sell camping wares or just get insight on appropriate pricing if you'd rather sell yourself. Some items in "excellent" condition attract up to 99% of their original value. There are also a couple area camping groups on Facebook I might contact about larger things to avoid shipping.
3. HAND TOOLS
Let's face it, most of us aren't super handy. But that doesn't stop the hand tools from streaming in as gifts from well-meaning friends and family. Rather than hold onto a tool waiting to be inspired, try selling it. Take this Bosch 18-Volt Hammer Drill, for example. It retails at $219, and a few days ago I found a used one on eBay for $150. This number accords with the $131 average price for used hammer drills listed on Statricks. And it would make a solid return (a little over 55%) on something you might not have touched in over a year.
Keep in mind that certain brands of tools resell better than others, including DeWalt, Bosch, Ridgid, Makita, Milwaukee, Hitachi, Porter-Cable, Skil, and Delta. In other words, that entry-level saw you got a great deal on new might not seem as appealing on the used market. Along with quality, your buyers will be inspecting these tools for wear and tear, so check for any crimped cords or other issues and price accordingly.
4. BUILDING MATERIALS
Most of us have bought and sold on Craigslist, but have you heard aboutDiggersList? Those of you into DIY and home improvement might want to take a look. You can sell your surplus building supplies (or find some to purchase) and get a good portion off the original price. Anything back is better than waste, right?
You can sell your doors, pavers, flooring, wall tile, appliances, circuit breakers, and much more. If you'd rather not list online, try taking out an ad in the classifieds or contacting a local carpentry club. Then consider donating anything you don't sell to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
5. OUTDOOR TOYS
Children outgrow their playhouses and other outdoor toys quickly, so they clutter garages like crazy. Not only can you earn back a good portion of what you paid (depending on the condition) — but the used toy market for items like these is refreshing with each generation of kids born into the world. Before having a yard sale, try local Facebook groups, Craigslist, and even re-sale stores like Once Upon a Child.
Keep yourself safe on the road with these 7 car prep tips!
1. CHECK THE BATTERY
Your vehicle's battery loses 33% of its power when the temperature dips below freezing and as much as 60% of its juice when the mercury falls below zero. So it's wise to give the battery and its charger a once-over to ensure they're performing optimally. A quick trip to your local car technician will quickly reveal whether the battery is winter-ready, or corroded and otherwise not performing well.
2. SWITCH TO WINTER WIPER BLADES AND COLD WEATHER WASHER FLUID
Windshield wipers are crucial to a clear view from the driver's seat — but a nasty winter storm makes their job many times harder. That's why you should consider investing in a pair of winter blades, which are built to withstand precipitation and freezing cold. Most winter blades are encased in a protective rubber shell that prevents ice and snow from hardening on the wiper. The going rate for a pair ranges from less than $20 to about $40, depending on size and quality.
While you're attending to windshield issues, car safety experts also suggest switching over to cold weather washer fluid, or any brand containing antifreeze.
3. STORE A SHOVEL IN THE TRUNK
You're driving down the road when your tires hit a patch of ice that sends you sliding into a snow bank. It's a gentle spinout that causes no injury or damage, but now your front tires are sunk in a heap of fresh snow. You're not going anywhere for awhile — unless you packed a shovel and have the muscle to dig yourself out. The shovel needn't be a humdinger, just something sturdy that fits in the trunk.
4. CHECK THE TIRE PRESSURE
For every 10 degree change in temperature, car tires lose a pound of pressure. That's why it's wise to make sure the pressure in all four tires is in check at the outset of the winter season. In cold weather, any pressure imbalance will be made that much worse.
5. EVALUATE THE TIRE TREAD DEPTH
Car tires in any season need a tread depth of at least 6/32-inch to get adequate traction, according to Tire Rack. If yours fall short, you're going to need to go tire shopping. Wintry road conditions necessitate even more depth than normal to help the tire grooves compress and release snow as they roll. Without sufficient tread depth, spinouts are more likely.
Should you opt for new winter tires, be sure to get a full set. Mounting winter tires on the front of a front-wheel-drive car can prompt sliding while putting winter tires only on the back of a rear-drive car will make turns more difficult.
6. SWITCH TO THINNER OIL
Cold weather thickens the engine oil, which forces the car battery to work double time to get your car running smoothly. But you can give your battery a break and prevent potential engine trouble by switching over to a thinner oil. Most vehicles are served well by a 5W-20, 5W-30, or 10W-30 oil formula, but be sure to check your owners manual for notes on compatibility. It's also wise to have the oil filter changed to maintain fluidity.
7. PACK A BLANKET
Should you get stranded on the side of a highway during a temper tantrum by Jack Frost, you'll be much less likely to run the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, or plain old cold weather discomfort if you've got a warm blanket stowed away in the trunk. While you're at it, it's not a bad idea to add a set of hand warmers, gloves, a wooly hat, a flashlight, bottled water, and a non-perishable snack to your winter weather emergency survival kit. Here's hoping you never have to use it.