Several years ago I was in trouble. I was broke with an apartment full of clutter and a big stack of debt.
By the time I was wrapping up my late twenties, I was happily married, but everything outside of my love life was in disrepair. Our home, a one-bedroom apartment, was little more than a disorganized storage facility. Every shelf and closet was stuffed with the spoils of my frequent visits to flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores. I had what I thought was a lot of interesting stuff, most of which I paid very little for, but it was an unsightly mess. My collecting habits were threatening to cross into hoarding territory!
And the chaos on the surface was supported upon a financial infrastructure of confusion. I had a steady, full time job that I enjoyed, but I was still living paycheck to paycheck with no savings and uncontrolled credit card debt. I considered myself a hard worker but I could never get very far ahead.
As you can imagine, I was stressed.
So I decided to change my life.
With the help and support of my wife, we got ourselves some financial literacy and started to live within our means. I spent my evenings sorting and organizing all my stuff. I spent my weekends planning yard sales or donating items back to the thrift stores. Things were slowly turning around, but this was going to be a long and hard slog... Then I sold my first item on eBay.
I knew right then that I had found the answer to my problem. Clearing out my clutter had transformed from a hassle to a fun and rewarding endeavor. It was like all my gathered junk was finally serving a purpose. I had found a way to turn my time and money searching for second-hand treasure, which could easily be considered a waste, into an asset. I also discovered how much I enjoyed researching and learning about the items I had. My passion as a buyer and collector translated easily into a passion as a seller.
By the end of the month I had sold over $1000 worth of junk.
Within a year I had nearly paid off my credit card debt while clearing out a great deal of my hoarded stuff.
Then, I got a smartphone. Now I was really able to step up my game and eliminate a lot of the guesswork. With a tiny mobile computer and internet connection in my pocket, I could make decisions like expert. The entire inventory of the world was now available because I had the ability to quickly look up what it is worth. I now had the power of information!
Since then, I've seen a lot of great items and made some pretty decent part-time income picking and reselling reuse items in my neighborhood. I've also made my share of mistakes.
I've learned what items will sell... Things I never would've thought of before.
I've learned to balance my time and energy.
I've learned how to maximize my auctions and listings.
I've learned where to get items to sell.
I've learned where to sell them.
Most importantly, I've had fun.
These days, my finances are under control. I still work the same full-time job, but my extra part-time picking income has taken me out of the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. I no longer have any debt, I have some savings in case of emergency, I'm able to fully fund an IRA investment account, and my wife and I are even able to afford some occasional luxuries. I like nice restaurants myself.
I now search all the usual thrift shops and garage sales for not only my own collections, of which there are still many, but mostly for valuable items I can resell. Sometimes I spend lots of my free time doing this, other times I go weeks without really caring. After years of struggling, now I'm in charge.
And it feels great.
I am not going to tell you how I made millions of dollars in a ridiculously small time period, because I haven't. To be honest, I'm not even a terribly ambitious person. I'm also not a financial expert. I'm no genius, but I'm smart enough to want to keep learning.
I was fortunate enough to find a financial strategy that worked for me and I want to share it with you. I think my experiences picking and reselling items can be rewarding for you.
Please join the conversation by commenting on posts or emailing me.
Part Time Picker, 2013