Consider these options for raising money in a hurry.
By Janet Groene, F47166
Suddenly you’re out of money and, if you’re like most full-timers, you’re far from any place you’ve ever called home. Whether this is temporary or you expect to be digging out of a hole for some time to come, here are ways to raise cash “” quick, quicker, and quickest.
Clothing and antiques are popular consignment items, but you may find shops that accept anything from a spare wheel to your mother’s wedding ring.
Advantage: Usually no up-front costs.
Disadvantage: The shopkeeper gets a big commission, usually 40 to 50 percent. Items may sell quickly, slowly, or never.
Need to know: Shop owners are choosy and may not accept everything you bring. Know how long your items will be kept, whether the merchant will mark down the price (leaving you with far less than you expected), and your rights to reclaim goods that don’t sell. Payouts may not be immediate. Some shopkeepers pay once a month or only when your account reaches a certain amount.
You can pawn valuables for cash, leaving the items as collateral. If you can repay the loan and interest, you get your goods back. If not, the pawnbroker recoups his investment by selling your stuff.
Advantage: You leave the shop with cash in your pocket.
Disadvantage: You get only a fraction of what the goods are worth. Pawnbrokers assume risk when they make the loan, so they expect to be reimbursed plus make a profit on the sale of the item should the original owner not return.
Need to know: Pawn shops are governed by state law, so the rate of interest, time limits, and other terms of the loan vary according to where you are. Make sure to get your agreement in writing.
Selling on eBay
Many online selling services are available, with some of them specializing in certain categories, such as pets or antiques. The largest and best-known site is eBay, where you can auction almost anything to almost anyone. You might eventually ramp up to a steady income from online selling, but it’s not an instant road to riches.
First, there’s a knack to the entire process, from making your listings stand out in a very crowded marketplace to the lengthy process of building trust through customer feedback. After a sale, customers are asked to rate the seller. Even if you start selling quickly and every customer leaves positive feedback, it takes time to establish a track record.
Advantage: You’re selling to a worldwide audience. Some collectibles sell better overseas.
Disadvantages: You have to pack and ship items, pay a listing fee, and pay a commission on sales. Unless you name a reserve price, you have to accept whatever the auction brings.
Need to know: Entire books are written on successful eBay selling, so expect a long learning curve.
There are many Internet selling communities, but Craigslist is the best known online “classifieds” service. Ads are organized by city, which make it easy for you to get your message to people nearby who want your goods. You list what you have to offer, and only your e-mail is shown. You decide how, where, and when to meet with buyers. You and the buyer make the deal between yourselves. Craigslist doesn’t take part in the transaction.
Advantage: It’s instant, local, and most ads are free.
Disadvantage: It’s anonymous, so be cautious. Items may not sell.
Need to know: You can’t use this service unless you have e-mail and create a Craigslist account.
Yard sale/flea market
This is the easiest and most familiar way to raise cash, and you’ll probably be surprised at how many items in your motorhome will sell like hotcakes. A successful sale starts with choosing the right site and date, preferably at a busy flea market where you can park your coach and sell from under your own awning. Such sites usually cost $10 to $25.
Advantage: At the end of the day, you have cash in your pocket.
Disadvantage: It’s hard work to assemble and price everything, find tables to display it all, and dicker with the public all day.
Need to know: If you haven’t clerked for a while, review money-handling and security precautions. Yard sale scammers are on the prowl, often working in teams. Don’t let anyone inside your coach. Be suspicious of personal checks. Have one or two trusted helpers. And never leave your table and money box unguarded.
The most common mistake is to price items too high or too low. Some customers haggle, but many just walk away when prices are too high. Check the prices of similar products online to get a ballpark idea of what things are worth. If time allows, attend other tag sales to see what sells in your area at what prices.
Borrow against life insurance
Term insurance doesn’t build up lasting value, but if you’ve had a whole life insurance policy for more than a few years, it undoubtedly has built up some equity and perhaps some accumulated dividends. It’s possible for you to withdraw the dividends or borrow against the equity.
Advantage: The insurance company already has a relationship with you, so the money can be sent quickly, and you’re charged a low rate of interest.
Disadvantage: If you don’t repay the loan before you die, it comes out of the benefit paid to your heirs.
Need to know: The equity in the policy might also be used as collateral for a loan, leaving your life insurance untouched, assuming the loan is repaid or something else is provided as collateral.
Sell your library
Books are heavy to carry around, so unload them and get a quick check from www.cash4books.net.
Advantage: The site is easy to use. Enter the ISBN numbers for the books you are interested in selling and see what they are worth. Cash4Books provides a printable, postpaid shipping label plus a packing slip listing books you agreed to send. Take the parcel to the post office and a check is sent as soon as they receive the books.
Disadvantage: Buyers are highly selective, favoring current textbooks and other nonfiction books in very good condition.
Need to know: The turndown rate is quite high, but you might give it a try.
Cash for a structured settlement
If you get regular payments from a lottery win, casino jackpot, annuity, lawsuit, or other agreement that pays out over a long period, look into selling the contract for a one-time cash payment. Do an online search for “Sell Structured Settlement” and dozens of company names will pop up.
Advantage: It’s an easy way to get your money all in a lump sum.
Disadvantage: You’re giving up a long-term source of income in exchange for a short-term fix. It takes time to shop wisely for the best deal from a reliable company. Even then, you’ll probably get far less than if you let the contract play out.
Need to know: There may be tax consequences.
Sell your electronics or cameras. Make an immediate sale of a laptop, GPS receiver, cell phone, or other electronics equipment at www.gazelle.com. Have all the specs at hand when you go online, because getting a quote requires filling out an extensive form describing the item’s model number, capacities, and accessories. If you accept the offer, they’ll pay for shipping and will send you a check as soon as the item arrives. Money comes quicker via PayPal, so consider setting up an account. The service can handle incoming and outgoing transfers worldwide.
Both photo and video equipment have value at www.adorama.com, but the procedure is different. You send the cameras (or other equipment) to Adorama. Upon receipt they evaluate the items and send you an offer. If you accept, a check will be mailed to you. If you reject the offer, they send your items back at their expense.
In this electronic age, it’s still possible to get quick cash from faraway friends or family via Western Union. Transfers can be purchased online at www.westernunion.com, by phone using a credit card, or in person at a Western Union location.