How I Made $100,000 Selling Used Items

Today, I have a great guest post from Stacy Gallego on how she makes extra money. Stacy is a long time reader of Making Sense of Cents who has built an amazing flipping side hustle. Enjoy her story! If you would have told me in 2000 that I would finish nursing school, get married to…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: October 5, 2023

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Today, I have a great guest post from Stacy Gallego on how she makes extra money. Stacy is a long time reader of Making Sense of Cents who has built an amazing flipping side hustle. Enjoy her story!

If you would have told me in 2000 that I would finish nursing school, get married to a great guy, raise 6 kids, and make $100,000 in sales flipping used items, I would have told you you were crazy!  flipping side hustle

In 2000, my direction and my life were totally upside down and backwards.

The truth was, I was a 28 year old, newly divorced, uneducated, single mom with twin boys under the age of two. 

Not only that, I was a complete alcoholic, unable to hold a job, and flat broke.

Due to some poor choices, I had totally lost everything – my job, my car, a business, and I was days away from being evicted from my apartment. In all honesty, I had even lost all hope. 

Not the life I had dreamed of or longed for. 

Thankfully my parents offered to fly me back to Wisconsin with my two boys and let me live with them for a while so I could pick up the pieces of my broken life. I’m forever in debt to them for doing that for me. I didn’t realize it at first, but being with family and having support was just what I needed. 

I wish I could say all my problems disappeared immediately, but it took several months to overcome my anxiety, depression, and start new. I got sober and quit smoking and started to see a new hope rise from within.

With the support I got from my family, I was able to start college and prepare for getting into the nursing program. 

This was an exciting time for me and I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But there was still one big problem –  my looming debt that I ended up with in the divorce.  

I remember being at my parents house and looking at the bankruptcy paperwork and the list of outstanding debts I had acquired. I remember saying in my heart, “God, if you get me out of this, I will NEVER do this again.” Even though I wanted to blame my ex-husband for my financial woes,  I couldn’t shake the idea that I had to take some responsibility for where I ended up financially. 

As I stared at that paperwork, my new financial life began. I made a decision right there that being broke and buried in debt was not what life was all about nor was it a road I ever wanted to go down again. 

This new financial life included living below my means, focusing on staying out of debt, saving money, and preparing to live the life I had always dreamed of.

After many years of changing my flawed money thinking and habits, I started to see that life was amazing and beautiful. I stayed far away from debt, had money in the bank, and started to have freedom in my life. 

In 2005, I met and married my husband, John. Believe it or not, we were an eHarmony match!  Thankfully, I was blessed to find someone who was of the same mindset as me. We decided early on that if we didn’t have the cash to buy something, we just simply couldn’t afford it. 

We were the weird ones, let me tell you. We had friends living in brand new houses and driving cars we knew they couldn’t afford. Many times, we were called “cheap” and chastised for living frugally, driving used cars, and saying no to our kids.  

But it didn’t matter.

We had a goal in sight- to stay out of debt and build wealth to live a life of freedom, choose what we wanted to do with our time, and see the world!  

My dad always said to me, “We don’t have to keep up with the Jonses’ because we are the Jonses’!” There is something really special about living a life of total peace and comfort and not comparing yourself to someone else.

And for the past 16 years, living on a budget, giving generously, and having choices has been an amazing way to live – and no new car smell or amazing looking house would have been worth trading it for.

Note: If you’re interested in flipping used items for resell, I recommend learning more at  Turn Your Passion For Visiting Thrift Stores, Yard Sales & Flea Markets Into A Profitable Reselling Business In As Little As 14 Days.

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Dreaming of an RV

In 2018, we had just backpacked Europe for two weeks. I worked for 9 months picking up extra shifts at the hospital and saving cash for us to go on this backpacking adventure. 

We traveled with our two young daughters, ages 10 and 11, throughout all of Spain, France, and Italy and oh what a trip to remember!   

When we got back to the states, we reminisced about our trip. It was amazing, but we realized there were so many places to see right in our own country and we wanted to set our sights on seeing some of those places.

At that time, we started noticing people traveling with RVs. We loved the idea of an RV and all of the perks that came along with traveling in one. 

  • We could make it comfortable
  • It had a kitchen and a bathroom
  • We wouldn’t have to rent a hotel
  • We could bring our dog

My husband and I both thought it would be a great idea to have an RV for travel. In fact, my husband used to own an RV but he sold it so we could pay for our wedding! He had always loved having it and was totally up for buying another one. 

But there was just one problem – You know that little rule we live by?  If we don’t have cash, then we can’t afford it.

Well, my husband reminded me that getting an RV would be a great idea, but I’d have to have the cash to buy it.  

Recommended reading: 15 Best Sites To Sell Used Furniture

The Search for a Lucrative Side Hustle

This started me on a two month search for a side business where I could earn some cash. I knew I could easily go back to work and pick up shifts. But one thing I learned the year before with working extra shifts was that I had traded a lot of my time in to get the money together for our trip. 

Even though I loved our trip to Europe and it was totally worth the work I put in to get the money, I was exhausted and didn’t have the energy to put that much time into it again. This time I had in mind to work smarter, not harder!

I tossed around the idea of professional dog walking, but I knew I would have to walk a lot of dogs to get the money together. 

I looked into serving court papers – but I didn’t love the idea of serving divorce papers to an angry husband who didn’t have a clue that his wife was divorcing him! Could be dangerous!

I even thought about cleaning houses but then quickly realized, I’m not a big fan of cleaning my own house so why would I want to clean someone else’s house? 

If I was going to work at something for a while to get the money together, it had to be something I enjoyed. 

Stumbling on Flipping!

One day I was reading one of Fitnancials stories about Rob and Melissa from Flea Market Flipper. I watched their video and they talked about their success flipping full-time focusing on flipping larger, higher profit items. 

This quickly caught my attention. I had been selling items on eBay since 2007. I started to sell little things on eBay when my daughters were babies. There was a period of time where I quit my nursing job to stay home with them.

I would pick up inexpensive items and flip them on eBay for a little extra money. 

I called it my “fun money” or my “beauty treatment” money. I would use the small amount of money I would earn from flipping items on eBay to do fun things with my family or get my toenails painted. I used it for extras that weren’t in my budget. 

As I watched the video of Rob and Melissa talking about flipping, something inside of me rose up and just knew this was it! I said to myself, “I can totally do this.” 

Right after watching them, I told my husband that I knew how I was going to get the money together for the RV. I was determined to sell larger, more expensive items and even freight ship big items (even though I had absolutely no idea how to do that!)

Let’s just say my husband wasn’t all that excited about it. He had no idea how to freight ship and wasn’t seeing the same vision that I had to get started. 

After a few large sales with big returns, he started to see my silly little flipping gig was actually a very lucrative business (I will share more about that later).

Within a year and a half, I had $20,000 in cash for our RV and my business was booming!

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Turning $0.50 into $100,000

One of the best things about flipping as a side hustle or as a full-time business is that there is very little overhead to start a great business. 

There are so many business ideas that you can start with. But many of them require a lot of money to start and that can be a problem for some people.

Not so with flipping. You can absolutely start a thriving business with absolutely no cash – and I’ve seen many people do it! 

I started with $0.50! When I got serious about flipping, I said to myself, “I wonder what I could do with just $0.50?” 

That day, I took $0.50 from my wallet, went to a yard sale and purchased a center cap for a Dodge Ram Truck. 

I took it home, cleaned it and put it on eBay. Within 24 hours, I sold it for $75. I took that money and re-invested it and to date, have never put any of my personal finances back into my business. Everything I have in my business today was from the original $0.50! 

That $0.50 turned into $100,000 in sales in just two years!

You can build a business with very little to no money. You only need these four things to get started today:

  • Internet connection
  • Smart phone 
  • A few Items to sell
  • A good attitude

Internet Connection:  You will definitely need to be connected to the internet to start a flipping business. But for the most part, this isn’t something new that you would need to get. Most Americans already have internet. 

You don’t need anything fancy. You just need to be able to access the internet for eBay and local selling apps like facebook marketplace, Offerup, and Craigslist. 

Smart Phone: In order to start your flipping business, you will need a smartphone. Again, you don’t need anything expensive. You will just need to have a phone that you can use to access the internet while you are sourcing.

I use Boost mobile and pay $30 a month for unlimited talk, text, and internet access. Most of us already have a smartphone, so you are probably ready to get started.

A Few Items to Sell: In the beginning, you don’t need to go out and source. Rob and Melissa taught us to use the items that we already have. A good rule of thumb is if you have an item that you haven’t used for over a year, chances are, you aren’t going to use it. 

So why not sell it? You can take a few photos of the item and list it on fb marketplace or Craigslist locally and get some quick cash. When you get some cash in your hands, you can start sourcing other items to build your inventory.

Most of the flippers I know (including myself) started a lucrative business with less than $20.

One of our single moms found an old vacuum in her basement, cleaned it up and sold it for $400. That’s what she used to start her business with!

A Good Attitude: If you are looking for a business to get rich quick and do no work, keep looking. I will be honest. I work hard and I work often. 

Most successful business people have a positive attitude and they work hard at their businesses.

Flipping is like any other business. You have to put the work in, learn from mistakes, and keep going – even if you don’t feel like it! 

I have seen many flippers come through Rob and Melissa’s Flipper University and the ones that are succeeding have a few things in common:

  • They work hard
  • They learn from their mistakes
  • They problem solve
  • They never give up

If you want to be successful in flipping (or in any business) you have to decide to have a good attitude and have a good work ethic. Your flipping business will depend on how much work you want to put into it and how consistent you are with it. 

So getting started doesn’t take much. Anyone can start a flipping business today. But in order to be successful in the long run, there are a few pillars you will need to have a successful flipping business. 

Five Business Tips That Helped My Flipping Success

  • Invest In Knowledge
  • Flipping is a Business, Not a Hobby
  • Put Time Into the Business every…single…day 
  • Learn From Mistakes Instead of Quitting
  • Surrounded Myself With People Who Believe in Me

Invest in Knowledge: A friend of mine shared a quote with me recently, “Knowledge is cheap compared to ignorance.” 

This is so true! 

When I first got interested in flipping, I knew I needed more knowledge. I realized pretty early on that if I wanted to expand my flipping into larger, more profitable items, I would need someone who had been doing it to show me the ropes. 

When I was first introduced to Rob and Melissa’s course, Flipper University, I was really excited about it. But investing money into it was still scary for me. I struggled to get out of the mindset that I was saving money and that I didn’t want to spend money. 

While I tried to decide if I wanted to invest in the course, I flailed around on my own. I made mistakes. I missed opportunities. And wasted valuable time. 

That’s when I started to reason with myself. I thought about my nursing career.

Becoming a nurse wasn’t easy. There was so much I had to do to even get into the nursing program. It was a big investment of time and more importantly, money. 

The fact was that I couldn’t just become a nurse on my own if I wanted to. I had to complete a nursing program, which was ultimately someone’s years of knowledge put together in a program. 

Someone who had nursing knowledge had to put it together and teach me. And it wasn’t free, believe me. 

So I applied those same principles to investing in the Flipper University course. I knew that Rob had 20+ years of experience and not only that, he was doing it and with excellence!

He was willing to share his knowledge and experience with me and I believed I could take that knowledge and apply it to my own business. 

And I was right. After I got over the initial reluctance to invest money in the knowledge of Flipper U, I went for it! 

I earned my course fees back within the first month and I just continued to get better and better at flipping.

Investing in knowledge was one of the main reasons for my success with flipping. 

Flipping is a Business, Not a Hobby: 

I had tried a lot of side hustles in my lifetime. I went from Multi-level marketing, to blogging, to coaching and the like. 

All of these ventures were unsuccessful – and one of the main reasons for that was I looked at it like a hobby rather than a business. 

If you want to be successful in your business, you need to treat it like that. You need to change your mindset from hobby to successful business.

In the very beginning of flipping, I decided it was going to be a business not just something I did for a few extra bucks. Because after all, I needed $20,000 for my RV, right?

I created structure right from the start by doing these five things for my business.

  • Opened a separate bank account
  • Kept all of my flipping money separate from my personal money
  • Created an LLC 
  • Scheduled hours of work time
  • Clocked into work every day 

I treated my side hustle as if I was really going to work – even though it didn’t feel like it because I loved it so much. I created habits of consistency and structure and my flipping went from a fun “hobby” to a serious business within the first couple of months!

If you are thinking about flipping and you want it to be a serious side hustle or even a full-time gig, write down some steps to be structured and then stick to it. If you do this, you will find flipping to be a real business that makes real money!

Put Time Into the Business Every…Single…Day: 

Just like working a 9 to 5 job, you have to show up every day. If you don’t, you won’t get a paycheck, or worse yet, you will get fired. 

Well, the same goes for your flipping side hustle. If you want it to generate real money, you have to punch in every day…even when you don’t feel like it. 

There were days when I was burnt out, disappointed about mistakes I’d made, or just plain lazy. Those are normal feelings you will have. But if you don’t clock in to your flipping business every day and do the work, you will not get a paycheck. 

Plain and simple. 

Every single day, I work on my business. And the consistency of what I put into my business months ago is the paycheck I’m earning today. The same goes for the time and energy I put into my business today. That will be my future paycheck and so on. 

The one single thing that has helped me in this business is showing up every day and being consistent. There were days I wasn’t feeling it, but I pushed past it keeping my goal in mind. I had a goal to make a great living every month and have the freedom to travel, be with my family, and be self sufficient. 

It has been totally worth it. 

I do these five things every day to maintain a successful flipping business:

  • Spend 15-20 minutes sourcing on local selling apps
  • List something on eBay every day
  • All of my items need to be listed within a week of purchase
  • Constantly review and tweak my listings on eBay for better SEO
  • Provide great customer service to my buyers

Learn from Mistakes Instead of Quitting: 

If you have chosen flipping as your side hustle or full-time business, you already know you will make mistakes. In fact, you will make mistakes in any business. 

I know so many people who are so afraid to make mistakes that they don’t even start. They completely lose any opportunity to become a flipper because they can’t get over the possibility that they will make a mistake. 

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Are you ready? You will make mistakes in this business. You can count on it. But everything, and I mean everything, can be worked out and the possibility of making mistakes should never be an excuse to not start this business.

When I started flipping large items, I was completely paralyzed with fear. People don’t know that about me, but I was! I was so worried that making a mistake would ruin my business so it was difficult for me to even start.

I sure am glad I moved past that fear, because I learned one amazing thing about making mistakes and that is everything can be figured out. Yup, no mistake has to derail you. There is always a way to work through it.

In fact, the mistakes I’ve made have turned out to be major learning experiences that have protected me from bigger mistakes. 

Many people make mistakes and it can discourage them so much that they are scared to try again. They quit because of the fear of failure.

Don’t allow mistakes to stop you. Learn from them and keep going. I used to have the mindset that mistakes would ruin me. But now I realize mistakes have made me stronger, better, and put more money in my pocket because I just won’t quit for any reason.

Many operational changes have been made in my business as a result of my past mistakes – and believe me, I have learned to not make those mistakes again! And that’s a good thing. 

So learn from your mistakes and don’t quit! Mistakes will make you stronger and they are a normal part of any business.

Surround Myself With People Who Believe in Me: 

A couple years ago, my daughter started getting really low grades. I couldn’t understand it. She was super smart and caught on to things really easily. 

I started digging and asking her questions about why she wasn’t doing well. It turned out, one of her teachers told a student in the class that she didn’t like my daughter.

For some kids, that’s no big deal. But for my daughter, it changed something inside of her for that entire year.

This comment hurt my daughter and not only that, it made her completely unmotivated! She didn’t hand in any good work and she didn’t even care to go to school. She couldn’t wait until the end of the school year to come and didn’t even look forward to going back to school again.

But here’s what happened the next year. She got a teacher who loved her, wrote her little encouraging notes,  and constantly told her she believed in her. She made learning so much fun.   

You can probably guess what happened. She went from C’s and D’s to all A’s! 

She is a totally different person. She loves school and can’t wait to get there in the morning. She jumps out of bed and makes herself look presentable. We have never had to tell her to get on her homework one time this year. She is self-motivated and completes all of her work on her own. 

You see, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you will change your life. It literally changed her destiny and changed her as a person.

If you want to be successful with flipping (or any business), finding a like-minded group of people for support is extremely important! That’s why I absolutely love our flipping for profit group. 

These people supported my dreams and taught me something every single day. Not only did they believe in me to pursue my dreams as a full-time flipper, but others started believing it and finding success for themselves. 

When I made mistakes, they built me up. When I sold something amazing, they were happy for me. We became a supportive family. 

I could not have succeeded without this group of people who taught me and believed in me, shared in my fears and in my successes.

Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is a game changer and it will change your life and destiny. It definitely has for me!

To me, flipping is the best business. It’s easy to start with very little overhead and absolutely anyone can do it with a little knowledge and consistency. 

I have a saying I heard from a missionary who came to talk with a group of us one year. He said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing…poorly.”  If you try flipping and you don’t succeed right away, try it again. If you fail at it, pick yourself up and keep trying. 

Never give up and keep working at it. We are never good at anything when we start, but if we keep at it and stay the course, eventually we become experts.

If you’re interested in flipping used items for resell, I recommend learning more at Turn Your Passion For Visiting Thrift Stores, Yard Sales & Flea Markets Into A Profitable Reselling Business In As Little As 14 Days.

Author bio: My name is Stacy Gallego and I am a married mother of six children. My profession is an RN, but I have recently retired to pursue my flipping side hustle that has created some great income for my family and given me a lot more time to spend doing the things I love.

Are you interested in starting a flipping side hustle?

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. small

    It is a wonderful idea to make money, managing time and selection of products that provides you opportunity to earn good income. thank you very much for sharing your post.

    1. Stacy Gallego

      It’s been totally awesome and anyone can do it! I’ve learned a lot from Rob & Melissa and i love the business model that they shared with me. It’s working so well for us.

  2. Melissa Preble

    I love your story Stacy! I continue to learn from and be inspired by you! Thank you!

    1. Stacy Gallego

      Thanks Melissa! We have a pretty amazing group. I get to learn from all of you amazing people every day!

  3. It’s nice story of how things turned around and seemingly worked out for you.

    1. Stacy Gallego

      Thank you! It’s been a journey for sure.