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Ellen Phillips

Today's column features that infamous offender that haunts many of us — clutter — along with a few simple methods to turn your trash into cash. Although eBay immediately comes to mind, the other websites I recommend offer similar deals.

Avid readers who still prefer real books rather than the electronic variety often have shelves overflowing with these treasures. While our area is lucky to enjoy the giant swap store McKay's that carries every imaginable title known to man, there are many other companies that trade and/or sell online. Cash4Books.net offers a quick, easy and convenient solution to sell college textbooks and many used books. It offers free shipping with payment (by check or PayPal) and arrives in about 13 days. To avoid writing all the ISBN barcodes prior to shipment, download the site's free barcode scanner app for Android or iPhone. Amazon.com offers an avenue for sales as well. Bookmooch.com, an international exchange, is free to join and hypes its easy points system, where readers also can help charities, such as children's hospitals.

Cell phones and other technology change frequently. I donate our outdated phones to local charities, such as battered women shelters. But Gazelle.com offers cash for any electronic devices that power on, even if they're a tad beat up. They also pay for shipping. If you want to purchase from the site, you can be assured the used items have passed a rigorous 30-point inspection before Gazelle lists them for sale. For video games, GameStop.com is a perfect spot to trade or buy. Multiple locations ensure small (or older) gamers can find just what they want. And, finally, check out CNet.com to discover the best procedures to get better resell prices on every type of item you own.

In a nutshell: 1. Pile up every device you no longer use, even if it's broken or rusty; 2. Shop around for buyers on Craig's List, eBay or other websites; 3. Know exactly how a payment occurs. Will it entail cash, credit or gift card? Read the fine print carefully.

Cosmetic containers, used or even empty, can bring new makeup. Return six used MAC cosmetic containers to a MAC store to get a free lipstick of choice. A simple phone call to Estée Lauder may result in less (makeup) clutter and a freebie in return. Many Lauder retail counters accept tubes, bottles and jars from competitors and, in return, gift the sender with a free sample of Origins skincare product.

To get rid of used DVDs and CDs, Secondspin.com jumps on discs in good condition, although prices vary per item. For example, Dolly Parton's 2015 "Coat of Many Colors" nets the seller $5 whereas a box set of AC/DC (17 CDs) goes for $106.25. Another great source to check is Decluttr.com. Whether selling CDs, DVDs, books, games, or electronics, just enter a barcode (get the free app) to receive an instant offer price. As an added bonus, if you accept their offer, then package up the items to ship for free!

Gift cards are all the rage now but they can expire or lose value. If you receive gift cards you can't use, you can sell them or, alternately, purchase them at a discount. Raise.com enables users to list cards and deposit sales money directly into a bank account. Carpool.com uses the same principle but pays via an Amazon eGift card or by check. Other such websites are worth exploring, too.

Hobby equipment can become a pretty substantial income source. Meetup.com offers a conglomerate of hobby groups in thousands of cities that get together to do what they love to do. (And, by the way, this site is ideal to "meet up" and join all types of fun local activities.) Photography equipment, knitting supplies, board games and the like are often bought outright or listed for sale. I read recently of a widow who sold her late husband's photography equipment to a local photography club for $2,500.

For those with outgrown athletic gear, visit PlayItAgainSports.com. The largest sporting goods resale company in North America, it offers cash for up to 30 percent of the item's resale value or a store credit for an additional 20 percent. Our closest location is Knoxville with several stores available in Atlanta.

Jewelry, if broken or simply never worn, can bring a mint. Check local jewelry stores. Clearly, undamaged jewelry receives the best price, but even broken chains, earrings and the like can mount up to equal the value of our salvage metal and gems for the jeweler to later reset.

Memorabilia may bring a fortune. Upon the death of a famous musical artist (Michael Jackson, Prince, etc.), collector's items hit light speed in terms of sales. And Barbie dolls in unopened boxes or bundled collectible sets, such as old but in good shape Disney DVDs can bring a pretty penny. Frankly, it's pretty amazing what collectors desire. One man's trash can be another man's treasure.

Contact Ellen Phillips at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.

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