How to turn your household junk into a pot of gold and never go broke


Millions of us are sitting on a goldmine — we just don’t realise it. Old DVDs gathering dust, clothes that are now vintage treasures and defunct electronics containing valuable parts are among the gems many of us no longer use.

So if you totted up all items you own around the home, you could be sitting on thousands — or even tens of thousands — of pounds worth of possessions.

Many of us are guilty of either piling up clutter, or binning perfectly good items in spring-clean frenzies.

Pots of gold: If you totted up all the unwanted items you own around the home, you could be sitting on thousands – or even tens of thousands – of pounds worth of possessions

It’s time to change your mindset — starting today. In the first of a two-part series to help you navigate the cost of living squeeze, I’m going to reveal simple tricks to turn the hidden value in your home into cash.

From how to sell items for the most money to the secret to becoming a king or queen of the car boot trade, I’ll guide you through every step.

All the advice comes from my book Never Go Broke (available in all good books shops), written with Storage Hunters presenter Jesse McClure.

Starting with an empty pot, I’ll show you how to slowly build up a standalone cash pile from items in your home.

Then, in part two, I’ll show you how to use this money to become a part-time buyer and seller of all manner of items, turning your cash into more money.

Get it right and it’ll soon become an addictive, exciting — and lucrative — hobby…

Selling items in your home

Look at any items in your home that you no longer use or want as potential money-makers.

Don’t be tempted to bin anything at this stage. Put items you’re selling in a separate box and create an inventory.

Selling these items is better for the environment (and your soon-to-be created pot of cash).

Multimedia: Using a smartphone, you can get an instant price for old books, CDs and DVDs. The key is to download three scanning apps: Music Magpie, WeBuyBooks and Ziffit.

Each app works similarly: you take a picture of the item with your phone camera and, within seconds, the app will give you a price. 

You simply box up the items and send them to the address given by the app. The company will pay postage and packaging, and payment should land in your bank account in short order.

Rags to riches: While you may update your wardrobe regularly, some items you no longer wear can fall into the vintage category, especially designer goods

Rags to riches: While you may update your wardrobe regularly, some items you no longer wear can fall into the vintage category, especially designer goods

Academic books tend to hold their prices well. With CDs and DVDs, it’s collectors’ items that fetch the most — for example, the original Star Wars films.

Crucially, having three apps will mean you can compare results and get the highest possible price for each item sold.

From my research on 17 items, one app offered the highest price seven times, another app six times and the other three times.

If you scale this up and sold 140 books, CDs and DVDs, you could get an extra £70 by securing the best price from the three apps.

Vinyl: With a huge revival in vinyl, it’s vital that you dig through any collection you intend to sell carefully — some can sell for big bucks, especially from star artists or if it is an obscure pressing. 

For example, the Joshua Tree by U2, while a huge album, sold far more copies in CD format than vinyl. That rarity means that vinyl copies in good condition can now fetch up to £80.

The website Discogs is a good place to get an idea of the value.

Clothes: While you may update your wardrobe regularly, some items you no longer wear can fall into the vintage category, especially designer goods. It is believed we’re sitting on a £30 billion pile of unworn clothes. 

Use eBay or a specialist resale website such as Depop or Vinted — just check the fees carefully, take good photographs and write detailed descriptions of the clothes you want to sell.

Or use Facebook Marketplace, which is free of fees for items sold locally, or consider a car boot sale. High Street brands such as M&S and Next usually do well at car boot sales.

Money spinner: With a huge revival in vinyl, it’s vital that you dig through any collection you intend to sell carefully - some can sell for big bucks

Money spinner: With a huge revival in vinyl, it’s vital that you dig through any collection you intend to sell carefully – some can sell for big bucks

Electronics: If you upgrade your television, sell your old one. There is a huge market for second-hand TVs, especially from parents who will buy them for teenagers. 

You’re likely to get at least £50 from Facebook Marketplace, and someone will come to pick it up. Same goes for phones — many of us upgrade and leave old ones to gather dust in drawers. 

But their parts still have value. See how much your old model is selling for on eBay or a specialist phone resale website.

Video games: There has also been a huge revival in retro gaming. Old Nintendo and Sega games and consoles that many families have stashed in the loft have grown hugely in value. 

Check out prices on the website of second-hand retailer CeX to get an idea of how much your lot is worth. Some games have become rare and sought-after, especially if in good condition and with the box and manual. 

For example, Pokemon Blue and Red Game Boy cartridges usually sell for up to £35. But, in mint, boxed condition, they can fetch £1,000 — or more!

Furniture: If you have a bulky item you want to get rid of, make sure you know what it’s made from — some woods are highly sought after and expensive. Even the price of MDF has rocketed in the past few years.

I ordered a new sofa last week and the company wanted me to pay £99 to take the old one away. Instead, I listed it on Facebook Marketplace and have found a committed buyer for £80.

Coins: We’ve become a nation of coin collectors — and you could be sitting on some that are worth a pretty penny. Kew Gardens 50p coins regularly sell online for £150 because of how few were minted, but there are other examples of circulating coins that sell for far more than face value on eBay. 

These include Peter Rabbit and Paddington 50p coins, the A-Z collection of 10p coins and the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 coin.

Instruments: One of the strongest resale items, according to eBay, is used instruments in good condition. Parents often prefer to buy second-hand in case their child’s new-found passion is short-lived. Again, Facebook Marketplace can be a good bet, with a buyer turning up to take that guitar off your hands without fees.

Cash for trash finds

There really is free money lurking on the streets. I’ve lost count of the times I have gone for a walk locally and seen furniture on the driveway with a ‘free, take me’, sign, or skips full of salvageable items.

Your job is to see these as moneymaking opportunities with a small amount of effort. It won’t make you a fortune, but they can be little gains that build up.

Swoop on neighbours: Often, people leave packing to move out of their home until the last minute. 

Big, clunky items can get left behind — and movers are happy for you to take things like furniture and bicycles off their hands (just ask permission first). You can then clean these up and re-sell them.

Free finds: One of the earliest Never Go Broke thrills you will get is turning your first ‘freebie’ into cash. 

The key to this is upcycling. Tutorials on YouTube will help you salvage old furniture finds into something resellable, with a little TLC (tender loving creativity) and small outlay.

Dig through the trash: Again, you’d be surprised what gets binned. We’re not talking about going through people’s household rubbish. 

Hidden value: Many of us leave old phones to gather dust in drawers. But their parts still have value. See how much your old model is selling for on eBay or a specialist phone resale website

Hidden value: Many of us leave old phones to gather dust in drawers. But their parts still have value. See how much your old model is selling for on eBay or a specialist phone resale website

But more likely communal areas where items are often cast aside. Examples we’ve seen include a bird cage and a branded beer bucket. Both sold for £10 online.

Jam jars, wine bottles and cork: All of these sell on eBay for small amounts. Often, people use them for craft projects. When we checked, 30 clean jam jars were selling for £10 on eBay, and ten glass ramekin dishes for a fiver.

Ink cartridges, Lego and copper: You can earn up to £1.50 posting used and empty ink cartridges via specialist websites. 

Old Lego can be recycled for money at Music Magpie, and if you’re having house renovations, ensure builders aren’t taking away valuable materials — for example, you can get about £3,500 a tonne for copper wire.

Open a special bank account 

Before you wade into my world of Never Go Broke, open a secondary bank account. This way, you can see your gains and you won’t lose it in the world of day-to-day spending.

One trick to give you an instant head start is to switch an old current account you opened years ago but don’t use much to a new one offering a bonus.

For example, First Direct is offering £175 if you use the Current Account Switch Service. This is an instant boost for your money-making adventure. Just beware it’ll mean your old account is closed.

If you save money from undertaking a finance-related task, such as using a comparison website to drive down your insurance bill, you could move the difference into your secondary account to see a tangible cash boost from your work.

Other simple wins that you can put into this secondary account can be cash-makers such as renting out your driveway.

You’ll also need a smartphone and internet connection. It doesn’t need to be the latest model of phone —but essentially, you’ll require a phone to take advantage of the money-making apps.

And lastly, while Facebook Marketplace is a good place to sell items, watch out for scammers and never click on any links on private messages on the social media platform.

Play the post-it note game

Go into any room in your home. Select half-a-dozen items and write down a rough price you’d accept for each one on a Post-it note and stick it on.

Now go away and research each item online and write down what you’d actually get.

After you catch the bug, you can do the entire room and add up the total value. It’s a perfect exercise in realising how much money you could make on items you no longer use.

Cash in on your talents

Can you sew a button? Are you good at DIY jobs? Do you have a knack for teaching a subject or a specialist knowledge?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you can make money from a generation inept at basic tasks, but who are also time-poor, via the internet and apps.

You can list your skills on Fiverr and Upwork, or post on social media and then charge an hourly rate.

Find out more about making money from your old stuff 

In their book, Never Go Broke, Money Mail editor Lee Boyce, formerly This is Money’s deputy editor, and star of TV’s Storage Hunters, Jesse McClure, explain how you canmake money from your old stuff.

Want to make extra money? The book Never Go Broke could help

Want to make extra money? The book Never Go Broke could help

They have three steps to success:

Step one is building a resale pot from nowhere: selling items from your home, making cash from trash and using your talents for side hustles, among other things. 

Step two involves a resale blueprint from Jesse’s 20-plus years’ experience of buying and selling.

Step three lays out practical places to use your resale pot and how to reinvest it for further gains. 

If you’re new to selling items around the home, start small and don’t try to list everything. Make it part of your day and aim to make £50 or so a week in the beginning.

Starting slow will allow you to see which items sell fast, how to list them quickly but well and it will make it less of a chore. In fact, it should be fun, selling unwanted items and watching the coffers fill.

> Find out more about Never Go Broke 

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