“Wheeling and Dealing” : Buying, Selling and Trading to Make Some Money

In the last few years, since I left my steady job I have moved around a lot and got used to selling things myself. I was never the kind of child who sold game-systems or something like that, it’s something I learned to become comfortable with quite recently.

Bicycle

The first thing I sold was on Craigslist and it was my bike. I cycled it to a train station that was half-way for both the buyer and I. I wanted €50 for it because I had just changed a tyre, and sold it the day I was heading to the airport. The guy who bought it, sat on it and broke it and the pedals wouldn’t move! He got it for €30. The lesson? Sell it in advance so you’re not under pressure, and demonstrate to the person that it works and only after that let them touch it!

Furniture

If you’re moving house anyway, selling furniture you don’t need can make you a little bit of extra money, or even let you break even on it if you have bought it second-hand anyway. That is when I let people come to my home because if they came back, I wouldn’t live there anymore anyway. I have sold chairs and a table. I would strongly recommend double-checking with the person if they have transport big enough, or extra help for larger items, or if they would like it disassembled. So many times people want to start disassembling furniture in your living room when you just don’t have time to wait around for them, or bring a car that is too small and have to disassemble or partly disassemble it.

Clothes

I haven’t had any luck with selling clothing at all. I tried to sell a dress and a top that don’t fit me anymore, but I didn’t get any responses! I’m not sure why. Any ideas?

Small Pieces of Electrical Equipment

This one goes from the experience of buying and not selling. More often, I have met the seller in a café and exchanged the item that way. That way you don’t need them to come to your home if that makes you uncomfortable.

Things I have bought from Ebay Classifieds or Craigslist (might be an idea to see if you have anything similar you could sell):

  • Clothing rail
  • Standing lamp
  • Desk lamp
  • Bedside lockers
  • TV lowboard
  • Microwave
  • Audio Speakers
  • Portable BBQ
  • Scanner

TIPS FOR SELLING

  • Do some research first to see what the item is priced new and also what others are selling it for to see what price you should pay or offer it for.
  • Post good photos. No clutter in the background and natural daylight if possible.
  • If the item comes from a smoker-free, animal free or has been well looked after say so! It makes you stand out from the others who don’t describe it.
  • Say why you are selling the item (got a gift of a more updated one, unwanted gift, moving house, not enough space… etc.)
  • Be honest about scratches or defects. While the person who is buying second-hand isn’t looking for perfection and light wear and tear won’t put them off, it SO annoying to find out you’ve travelled all the way there and the cable is held in by a home-made cardboard stuck on contraption and have already handed over the money (that’s happened to me). A seasoned buyer will either push you hard on the price or walk away.
  • Have change so’s you don’t have to take another discount!
  • Selling on eBay can get you a better price, (research first of all what the competition sold theirs for ). I haven’t personally sold on ebay but i have friends who are eBay pro’s. The reason for that is up until recently the post office has been very far away from my apartment. They do offer weekends where sellers don’t have to pay fees. There is the option that the buyer can “pick up only” (so they collect it from you personally), or the other option is posting it, which means nobody calls to your home if that is more comfortable for you.

TIPS FOR BUYING

  • When buying from the classifieds or at a flea market, i.e. when you are there in person, inspect the item carefully and if it has a flaw, point it out and offer a lower, but fair price. Knowing the going rate helps a lot here, so research is your friend.
  • If the seller also has a second item that you like, ask them to cut you a deal. Most times they will be happy to be rid of two items, especially if they’re moving house or at the end of the day at the flea market and the weather is bad. Rain has got me some bargains I can tell you!
  • Sometimes if something is priced in-between, say for €38, you can offer a rounded down figure, say €35 and the seller normally accepts, happy to have a quick sale and get back to their other stuff they have to do. This works very well when you’re there in person
  • Haggling is all in the charm! Smile, say you’re being cheeky but doing it in a nice way will get you far.

TRADING SERVICES

An old colleague and I used to trade a lift to and from work for a home-made lunch. That worked well for both of us, especially during the winter.

CARPOOLING

In Germany carpooling for longer trips is very common and can save you money if you travel, or make you some money if you drive. I have travelled from Berlin to Hamburg in a 9 or 12 Seater  for €15. That’s a 3 hour journey! Ok it’s not so comfortable, but when you’re interviewing and have no money it will do.

A lot of these drivers do the journey regularly and for that reason purchase the 12 Seater van because it means that not only does it pay for their petrol, but €15 x 11 passengers = €165 return  (x 2 ways) = €330 straight into their pocket! I have asked them and a lot of them do it a few times a week or month…

At the start I was concerned about 2 things : safety and how does it work if you have to do a bathroom stop.

Safety: I personally have never had a problem and I have travelled with male and female drivers. But of course you absolutely have to exercise caution. I only travel in daylight for example and never more than around 3hrs. I tell someone where I’m going too and what time I should be there. Websites like www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de tell you what kind of a car it is and how many seats are left or whether the driver is a woman that only accepts female passengers and sometimes gives comments by former passengers. What I will say about the 12 Seaters is that because there are so many people traveling, it’s quite safe. There’s “safety in numbers” after all ;-)

Bathroom Stop: Just ask before it gets urgent and the driver will stop at the next rest-station.

I really like it, I think it’s a great idea and it profits both people financially and helps the environment. If I had a car, I would definitely do it. I think the more you do stuff like that you see that most people are normal, honest people and aren’t out to get you or something.

I’m not so sure why this isn’t so popular at home, I think people have the idea of the stranger as someone who is dirty or wants to do harm to them. Which isn’t untrue, it’s just I think that the vast majority of strangers are normal. Maybe it’s offputting for people because they think the passenger is going to be annoying and talk the whole way. Quite often the passengers don’t talk at all. Or just make some small talk at the start. The people I have carpooled with tend to be very sort of late 30’s travelled, relaxed kind people or students or travellers. No axe-wielding maniacs to report so far.

Anyone else carpool? It just seems to make so much sense to me!

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