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I glanced at the computer for the 40th time that morning.

The email tab stayed open all day long so I could see right away when I’d made a sale on eBay.

I loved the rush of the sale.  I even made enough money to help us pay for a vacation.

But it wasn’t long before I had more items in stock than I was able to sell.  And that led to a whole new ball of problems.

When you’re paying off debt, popular advice says to sell your stuff.  That can be good advice.

But if you aren’t careful, it can actually lead you deeper into debt.

Why Popular Debt Advice to Sell Your Stuff Doesn't Always Cut It. We're always told to sell our stuff to help us get out of debt. But is that always great advice? Following these tips can help you pay off debt.

Following Advice to Sell Your Stuff Can Lead to…


You look around the house and find piles of things that you just don’t love anymore.  If you’ve decided to get mad at your debt and truly fight against it, it’s easy to fill boxes with those things.  Do you want that gadget more than you want to be debt free?  I didn’t think so.

The problem is that you have to find somewhere to keep that pile of stuff.  It’s going to take up quite a bit of space, so you’ll probably see it (or trip over it) throughout your day.  How long is “the pile” going to live in your home?

The Rush of the Sale

Selling on eBay can be as addicting as winning a bid on the site.  It feels good to make what feels like easy money from something you had gathering dust in a closet for a year or more.

Now you’re on the look out for more things you can sell.  If you’re finding more things in your home to get rid of, even better!  The trouble is that most of us will run out of valuable things we can’t get rid of fairly quickly.

On the other hand, when you’re shopping you find deals everywhere.  (That clearance toy might earn some extra cash in an auction.)  So you start buying more things and bringing them home.  Just toss them on “the pile”.


When your home is cluttered, it creates stress for the whole family.  You can’t relax, because seeing the piles makes you feel guilty that you haven’t dealt with them yet.

Eliminate as many piles of clutter as you possibly can.  Streamline your home so it can be easily cleaned in a shorter time.  The less you have in your home, the more reluctant you’ll be to bring home more items to keep clean.


You were putting your son to bed when he casually mentioned that he has to dress up like Abraham Lincoln for a school project on Friday.  Life lessons for him aside, you know there’s a black hat somewhere.  You could probably make it work.

But where is it?  There’s so much clutter around that you can’t find it.

Frustrated, you run to the store to buy a hat that looks strikingly similar to the one you’ll find a month later when you get to the bottom of “the pile”.

Disorganization is always expensive.

Sell Your StuffAre You Telling Me Not to Sell My Stuff?

Not at all.  You can certainly make some money to pay off debt if you sell your stuff.  You just have to set some rules.


What stage of life are you in?  If you are working two jobs and trying to get 3 kids to all of their activities, it might not be realistic to plan a yard sale.

Or maybe you have plenty of time on your hands right now.  You can probably look into a variety of ways to sell.  Learn how to list on eBay in a way that gives you the most bang for your buck.  List items on Craigslist and Facebook yard sales.  Anything you can’t sell for a higher price there should be put on a yard sale.

Just Don’t Start a Business

The problem?  Deciding to sell things is a gamble.  You don’t actually know that you’ll be able to sell that item you just bought.  Now you’re risking going deeper in debt.

Once you’re out of debt, you can make an actual business plan and create your own business on eBay or selling locally on Craigslist or Facebook pages.  Until you’re debt free, you need to focus that attention on getting out of debt.

Try Resellers

Rather than trying to sell each item piecemeal, take a box (or 7) straight to a consignment shop.  Try Once Upon a Child, Clothes Mentor, or a local shop.  They’ll be able to tell you whether they can buy your items or not in a short time.  It’s quick and fairly painless.

Get tips for getting the most money selling consignment items here.

Set a Time Limit

Put a date on the calendar.  Anything that hasn’t been sold by that date needs to be donated.  Don’t allow that pile to sit around your home for months while you look for the perfect time to hold your yard sale.

Guilt and chaos from that pile of stuff will often cause you to spend more money.  You might not even realize you’re doing it.  Once you remove “the pile” from your home, the sense of relief will help you to stop spending money in an attempt to keep your home clutter free.

With limits in place, you can sell your stuff and knock out debt.

Just beware of becoming a bit like Pavlov’s dog when you hear the exciting ding of the sales bell.

Bonus tip:  I really struggled with disorganization until I started using the Cozi app.  

This free app has a calendar that both the Hubby and I can use to get where we need to be.  I also love the “to do” section for setting up cleaning routines.

I’ve been using Cozi for years, and I don’t know what I’d do without it!

Have you had luck selling items?  Or has it not earned you as much money as you’d hoped?