When our family car broke down and was beyond repair, we found an unexpected source of cash. Instead of paying to have our car towed away, a towing company paid us $250 for the car to resell as auto parts.
Various companies buy undrivable cars; check the Yellow Pages under ''Towing Companies'' or check online for lists of those that buy junk cars.
Much of the unwanted stuff in our garages, closets and storerooms also can be converted into cash.
Old electronics: Cameras, cellphones and other gadgets may have value on eBay and other online markets. Even if gadgets are broken, some parts and mechanisms are useful to dealers who repair or refurbish equipment. Just clearly state the age and defects of the products you're selling.
Gift cards: You can swap or sell unused gift cards at swapagift.com, cardaward.com and giftcardbuyback.com.
Exercise equipment: If stationary bicycles and other sports equipment are sitting unused, sell them.
Scrap metal and gold: There's a market for the metals in gold jewelry and even old appliances. Look online or in phone books for scrap metal or junkyard dealers in your area. Gold jewelry can be sold at pawn shops and jewelry stores or through classified ads and various online sites. Shop around for the best offers. Inquire about pickup services for scrap metal items.
Old books: Textbooks, novels and other texts can be sold online through Amazon.com, eBay and other vendors. Bookstores that sell secondhand books typically accept books in exchange for either credit or cash. If you have a really old book or first edition, check online to see how much sellers are asking for the specific books that you own.
Clothing and accessories: Sell garments at consignment stores, which will take a percentage when your merchandise is sold. Children's clothing and toys are especially popular at consignment stores and online.
This is from my latest column in the Miami Herald.