10 Common Yard Sale Items to Resell at a Profit

One common way to earn extra cash in the springtime is to visit yard sales, find items that are worth substantially more than their sale price, buy them, then sell them online for a profit. This is a simple way to make money in a situation where people don't adequately evaluate their items before putting them on sale. They get the return they want, and you get more for putting in that extra legwork.

So, which yard sale treasures can you flip? There are several categories of items that you can often easily resell online at sites like Craigslist and eBay. All you really need is some time, patience and a cell phone. Here are 10 moneymakers to look for.

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1. Vintage video games from pre-2000 video game consoles often command a premium price on eBay, particularly from Nintendo systems like the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy. If you find cartridges for those systems, especially for just a dollar or two, you'll often be able to make a nice profit, especially if the cartridges come with their original packaging.

2. Trading cards can sometimes be worth a premium, particularly Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon cards. Cards with a foiled front usually have additional value, but cards with any noticeable wear are generally worth a lot less. If you notice quite a few cards with a foil front and with distinctly different face designs than the other cards on offer, and you can buy the entire collection for a pittance, you'll probably have some value. Look up individual cards online using eBay, particularly foiled ones or cards with distinctive designs.

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3. Tools that are in good working order can almost always be flipped locally unless the yard sale prices are exorbitantly high. This is particularly true with corded power tools and full sets of tools that are in great shape, as they're often priced low just to get them out of a garage.

4. Musical instruments that work and are $20 or less are almost always flippable for a nice profit. Parents may purchase musical instruments in the hopes of a child's great musical career, then sell them for next to nothing when the child moves on to other activities.

5. Electronics that work and are on deep discount can also be flipped for a profit pretty easily. You'll probably want to check your local Craigslist before jumping in here because local prices for such used items can vary a lot from region to region. Test any such electronic item before buying it. Don't just trust the seller's promise that it works.

6. Vacuum cleaners are often sold because "they don't seem to pick up as well as they used to." But they almost always just need a thorough cleaning to work as good as new. If you can find one that works when plugged in for under $10 and are willing to spend the time to clean it up, you can almost always double or triple your money.

7. Bicycles are similar to vacuum cleaners: They often work wonderfully if you put in the time to clean them up. You can similarly double or triple your money quite easily with an hour or two of careful cleaning. Functional bicycles that are better than department store quality under $40 are almost always worth it. Even department store bikes under $10 or so can be profitable.

8. DVDs and Blu-rays can be profitable if you stick to new releases, Pixar films and box sets and don't pay more than a dollar or two apiece for them. Many people just put out their full collection for $1 each. If you dig in there, you can often double your money afterwards (or more) with a quick trip to eBay or Craigslist.

9. CDs and books can be profitable when bought in bulk, then split up and sold individually. If you can find someone selling a giant box of books or CDs for just a few dollars, it's almost always worth picking them up because you can split them up individually, sell the ones that have individual value, then just bulk sell the unsellable remnants.

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10. Sports equipment from a quality brand will often retain most of its value, so don't be afraid to do a quick Google search when you come across sports gear in good shape. Again, poorly made entry-level equipment probably won't retain as much value, but most sports gear in really good shape for just a few bucks will make you some money upon resale.

If you find these items, don't hesitate to jump on board. At worst, you can sell them at your next yard sale for exactly what you paid for them. At best, you'll turn a nice profit for just a little bit of effort.

Trent Hamm is the founder of The Simple Dollar, a website covering practical personal finance issues for everyone. He is the author of two books, "The Simple Dollar: How One Man Wiped Out His Debts and Achieved the Life of His Dreams" and "365 Ways to Live Cheap." He has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He currently lives in Iowa with his wife and three children.