Debt-Free in 3: Online Auction Side Hustle

Part 22 Sept Debt-Free in 3

September has come and gone, which means that we need an update to our Debt-Free in 3 series. Once the fun of summer is over, September always seems like the month to roll up your sleeves and get down to business.

And that is what we did.

We “invested” roughly a couple thousand dollars in Herman, and we needed a few things for the house, so we were open to new revenue streams to offset the expenditures. One such source of extra money came about when I was perusing local estate sales.

I love finding treasures at estate sales, but most of them start during the workday and don’t work well with my schedule. And often they are a crapshoot. You may drive an hour out of your way and find that all the good stuff just went out the door.

But then I got hooked on online auctions – and oh my, they can be a lot of fun. My first online auction, I won the bid for several lots. It was mostly housewares that I wanted or that my kids could use. There were a couple items, however, that came bundled with other things that I didn’t want or need. I immediately listed those items for sale and made a decent little profit.

At the next online auction, I went a little overboard and spent more than I had planned. The prices were good though, and I came away with a leather couch, matching recliner, outdoor furniture, housewares, leather chair with ottoman, and … more. I couldn’t find the space to stash all my “wins” and I had spent several hundred dollars.

Tempted as I was to keep or gift all of my bounty, “more stuff” was not the name of the game. I kept the couch ($50) and chairs ($35 and $15), but sold our existing couch for $200. I sold the patio set for just a little more than I paid, passed a few things on to the kids, and kept the rest.

Patio Set

Then I took a little break from the online auctions while I figured out my auction strategy.

There are a few different auction companies operating in our area. It didn’t take me long to figure out which one had the lowest fee, bad pictures, terrible item descriptions, and an even worse website.


The auction site of my dreams. Great photos and descriptions attract bidders. If you find a company with poor quality images and incomplete descriptions – riddled with grammatical errors, you have a lot less bidding competition.

Online auctions can be a fun way to buy items that you want, but they can be rewarding as well as fun if you are buying and flipping the goods for profit. (Especially if you are putting that profit toward paying off debt). However, there are a few things to keep in mind when bidding online auctions.

Online Auction Guidelines:

  • Determine your maximum bid before you start bidding – and stick to it. Nothing deflates a winner’s high faster than realizing you’ve spent way more than intended.
  • Don’t engage in bidding wars – unless you are okay with driving the price up past the items value.
  • Take note of the pickup date/time before bidding. If you can’t make it to the pickup for your pre-paid item, forfeiting the product turns a great buy into a terrible one.
  • Take note of the pickup location. If you are the top bidder at $20 for something that retails for $40 — but then have a 5-hour round trip drive to claim your “winning”, you would probably be better off buying it new.
  • Take note of the auction site fee. Fees vary from one company to the next. Don’t assume that because you paid 10% on a previous auction, that the current auction will also be 10%.
  • Ensure you pickup everything that is yours. Auction employees have lots going on at pickup – sometimes mistakes are made.

If you follow the guidelines identified, and approach the sale with a sense of adventure, online auctions can be a great way to visit new neighborhoods, score some bargains, and possibly make a profit from shopping.

So there you have it. A fun and interesting way to make a profit while taking a bite out of your debt. What about you? Have you discovered a new and interesting side hustle to reduce your debt? Let me know in the comments below!


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