National Edition

How 'eBaby Boomers' are finding extra cash in their closets

Published: Monday, March 31 2014 10:15 a.m. MDT

Beckstead says people may have things that are quite valuable. "But it is usually the things they don't think are worth any money," he says.

For example, he says people might think an old Bible from 1847 might be worth a lot of money. But that's not likely because Bibles are extremely common. On the other hand, he says, a book about architecture from the 1990s could be worth $300.

Just because something is old also doesn't mean that it is very valuable. "Generally, something that was valuable when it was sold will maintain its value as time goes on," Christensen says. "Whereas something that was out of grandpa's shed that's 100 years old, doesn't necessarily mean that it is valuable."

How to sell

Christensen, the antiques dealer, worries that people looking to augment retirement or savings quickly might accidentally sell things for far less than they are worth. Beckstead recommends looking online to see what something is worth. But even so, some items may be so specialized that only an appraiser or dealer can ascertain their true value.

"There are things that people have that are valuable that they don't know about," Christensen says, "but knowing that requires such a specific knowledge that it is difficult to know. For the most part, people don't have much that is valuable. It is very rare we find anything of real value."

But having things that are not really valuable doesn't mean that they have no value and can't be sold. Small things sold here and there can add up quickly.

"How can you turn down an extra $500 a month when you can make it with so little effort?" says Collier, the author of "eBay for Dummies."

She says that the process of online sales isn't really that difficult once people give it a try. "Getting started, that is the whole key," she says. "Get started and get in the rhythm. You can't make money if you don't (put the items online)."

Finding help

Christensen, however, doesn't think selling online with services such as Craigslist, KSL Classifieds or eBay is the answer for everything. In many instances, such as with larger and more valuable antiques, it may be easier to use a dealer or someone like Beckstead who can buy items or help sell some things online.

"EBay is good and it's bad," Christensen says. "It is good if you know what you're doing."

Beckstead says getting help isn't that difficult, but that people should ask around to find good dealers and consigners. He recommends looking at antique sellers online and seeing if there are comments about them online. "Call someone with good feedback," he says.

But never assume that something won't sell, Beckstead says. When his mother moved to a new house, he rescued thousands of dollars' worth of things others might have just thrown out, he says. He also recently sold some glass-negative photos damaged in the rain. The person who had the negatives thought they were near worthless because of their condition. They ended up selling for tens of thousands of dollars.

Assets and fun

Sacks, the financial strategist, sees the selling of things a little differently. To him, it is merely transferring assets from one form into another. He says if people think of it in this way, they may use the money differently.

"You should be selling it for a reason: because the thing you are going to be buying has more value," he says. "You shouldn't be selling your assets to just pay off expenses, but to put the value in a better investment."

Collier's attitude is lighter and not focused on a few valuable items as much as it is on selling everything that a person wants to get rid of.

"What's more fun than having people sending you money?" she says. "What is more fun than cleaning out your closet and getting money for it?"

Email: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote