Managing your budget

25 September 2020

Making money from your second-hand items

We are gradually trading in our sandals, summer dresses and shorts for boots, gloves and hats. Autumn is tailor-made for clearing out the wardrobe and perhaps the loft, too. You could even make a bit of extra money with your second-hand items.

Do those bike lights still work? Will we get our central heating working? And where did we put the hi-vis vests again? Now that the nights are drawing in, we are gradually transitioning into autumn mode. The garden chairs can be stored away, and the winter tyres can come out.

For many, autumn is just the right time to sort through their stuff. That old children’s bike in the garage? That unappealing Christmas present that you’ve kept for a year already because you can’t quite bin it. The furniture in the loft that doesn’t go with any of your home décor? Getting rid of things not only clears the house, it often has the effect of clearing the mind, too. A good de-cluttering provides a sense of calm, spaciousness and clarity.

3 quick tips to start well

  • Before starting, be sure to gather enough empty boxes and bags.
  • Reserve time in your date diary to prevent procrastination. Book a couple of hours; an entire day of de-cluttering can be tiring.
  • Tackle one room at a time to avoid chaos.

Donating

You can give away extra stuff to friends, family or to a charity. This is always a better option than taking it to a recycling centre. Another smart alternative is to bring things you no longer want to De Kringwinkel. This organisation recirculates 73,000 tonnes of goods and employs more than 5,000 people. You will not be reimbursed for the goods you give them (or that are picked up at your home).

Second-hand is popular

Of course, you always have the option of selling your stuff. There is certainly a market for it: more and more Belgians sell their things second-hand. According to De Kringwinkel, 2dehands.be and several other segment players, four out of ten households bought at least one second-hand item last year. On average, buyers of second-hand goods spent 118.40 euros on pre-loved items in 2019. For one in five households, that total came to over 200 euros.

The popularity of second-hand goods makes sense because it is both hip and sustainable. After all, the most sustainable product is one that already exists. And with economic factors playing a big role right now, many households are keeping a closer watch on budgets because of the coronavirus crisis.

Many Belgians took lockdown as an opportunity to have a clear out. This meant that many charity shops received unprecedented levels of goods to process.

What about your home? Maybe you have a treasure chest masquerading as a cardboard box in your loft or shed, without you knowing it? If you want to get rid of your stuff immediately, you can take it to a second-hand shop. Aside from local second-hand shops there are also chain stores such as Cash Converters or Troc: they negotiate a price. You receive payment from them either immediately, or after the item is sold.

Four out of ten households bought at least one second-hand item last year.

"Second-hand? From children’s clothes to horror props!”

Too-small trousers, no-longer-loved toys, a three-wheeler too little for growing legs... With two children at home, Xiana Bossaert discovered the magic of second-hand a few years ago. “In the beginning, I took stuff to sell to a flea market. But then you do need to have the people who are interested in your stuff coincidentally passing by,” chuckles the event organiser from Zonnebeke. “I love the atmosphere at flea markets. But online you simply have a much wider audience, plus you don’t have to sit on a chair waiting for them to show up.”

Since 2019, Xiana has sold items on Vinted, which she has regularly written about on her blog. “To start with, I would sporadically offer things for sale on Vinted, but 200 items since then - mostly children’s clothing - it’s become a bit of a hobby,” she smiles. “I regularly buy things second-hand on Vinted. It works a bit like a heart: I use the money coming in from my sales to spend on my purchases. I use the app every day.”

Apart from children’s clothing, Xiana also hunts for second-hand interior decoration pieces. Not only for her own house, but for another, special reason. “In past years, around Halloween, my partner and I have decorated horror houses. They’re often large houses that are either abandoned or slated for demolition. We decorate them according to a theme. During opening hours, dozens of actors lurk in the building to terrify you. Of course, we buy just the right ‘horror props’ second-hand: parts of mannequins, broken saws, gas masks... There’s more than enough inspirational material around!”

Selling second-hand online

Flea markets are another way to sell your second-hand items but online you can reach a much larger number of people. You probably know about 2dehands.be, Facebook Marketplace and eBay already. Recent years have also seen the popularity of Vinted rise sharply. Initially, this app concentrated mainly on clothing, but it is now the place to sell décor, tableware, personal care products and even books. Handy features include a kind of portfolio, and that Vinted sends you a shipping label for you to stick on the package. In addition, there are a handful of specialised sites that are dedicated to, for example, designer furniture, or specific target groups, such as students.

A few advertising tips

  • Make sure that the items look clean. Get rid of stains, dust and other grime. Disinfect anything that can be disinfected.
  • Be honest. Is anything broken, scratched, or missing? Include that information in your ad. This helps the buyer make the right decision and avoids involving you in post-sale discussions. If relevant, briefly mention why you are selling the product.
  • Take clear photos. This way the buyer does not have to ‘guess’ exactly what you are selling. Take a few close-up photos and take some pictures from different angles. Photos are best taken in daylight. If possible, try to take the photos against a solid background.
  • Give sufficient information. Selling a cupboard? Provide the measurements and state what material it is made from.
  • Think up an appropriate title and write the descriptive text. Keep your text to the point and re-read it carefully before you put it online. Don’t use capital letters or odd symbols to get attention. Be sure to use various search terms and synonyms to help people to find you more easily.
  • Ask a realistic price. People who buy second-hand are looking for a good deal. Usually you cannot offer a guarantee for your items, and the buyer cannot simply send the item back. Consider beforehand how much you can or want to lower the price.
  • Consider seasonality. Selling Christmas decorations or ski equipment in the middle of summer? You’ll probably be more successful selling them in autumn or winter.
  • Make clear agreements about payment, shipping and pick up.

Now is the time to take a good look at your budget

Do you regularly sell clothing/items online?