Last week I had my first shoot, so I borrowed a camera from my full-time job and used it with one of my own SD cards. However, I don't know how long I'll be able to continue to do that. It became clear that if I wanted to pursue the photography gig, I was going to have to purchase my own camera.
The point of taking on more freelance work was to bring in extra money so I can replenish my emergency fund as soon as possible and then start saving for my future (family, travel, retirement, etc.), but making a large purchase like this was sure to set me back. My first plan was to ask my parents to chip in towards a camera as my birthday present, but I'd still have to come up with several hundred dollars on my own.
Last week, while cleaning out the basement to price items for my upcoming yard sale, I realized I had a large number of DVDs, video games, records, CDs, and books that I no longer wanted... but I dreaded pricing them all. And after all that work, they might not even sell! Then I remembered that Amazon has a trade-in program for select items that you can ship to them in exchange for a gift card balance. This way, I figured, I might be able to get rid of a large number of these items, then use the store credit to help pay for my new camera!
I sat down with the first pile of DVDs and entered each name on Amazon's site to see if they were eligible for trade-in. If they were, I selected the condition of the item (some prices changed based on condition) and printed off the shipping label provided by Amazon. I taped it to a box I already had in my basement, filled it with the merchandise, and dropped the item off at my local shipping center. The shipping is paid for by Amazon, and if they decide upon inspection that any of my items are not acceptable, they ship the defective item back to me free of charge. How could I go wrong?
A little bit of my time resulted in a very successful trade-in: nearly 50 DVDs and video games, over 80 CDs, and my old professional 3-chip camcorder. It took a few days for the shipment to arrive and process, but once Amazon sent me my gift card confirmation, I realized I had a gift card balance large enough to buy a brand new camera! I am the proud new owner of a Nikon D3200 DSLR, an extra battery, an additional SD card, and a camera bag... with money to spare! I didn't have to pay a dime out of my savings to get a new camera; I just sold stuff I already had in the house.
I also brought a box full of books, the remainder of the CDs, more video games and their consoles to Half-Price Books and got some money from them, too. I have dozens of records I plan to take to a local used music store later this week. I continue to post old toys and collectibles on eBay with success. And then, of course, there's my upcoming yard sale. I hope to find new homes for some of my gently used clothing and shoes, furniture, and kitchen items.
My house isn't empty, believe me! I still own plenty of records and movies, and I kept one video game system. But by simply paring down what I did have, I was able to sell the excess and obtain $800 in Amazon store credit.
Yes, I just said eight hundred dollars.
Do you have stuff laying around that you're not using anymore? Do you have way too many CDs leftover from your teenage years? Did you get married and now your DVD collection is sprawling with duplicates? Did you beat all of those video games and now you'll never play them again? Yeah, I thought so.
(This post is not endorsed by Amazon in any way. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author based on her unsolicited experience with the trade-in program.)